Saturday, August 15, 2009

As Above, So Below

Central Anatolia, Prayer Rug. 17-18c

"I have become convinced that a [woven] carpet [as having reached their pinnacle in early Turkish village carpet weaving], when it is a good one, reverberates with some kind of primitive and archetypal force, that it has in it some kind of being, that it connects with some primitive, almost animistic “soul of the world” — and that the carpet must be judged, in the end, according to the degree to which it does, or it does not, make a connection with this force.

In this sense, it is in its power, very much like the great bronze castings of the Chinese Shang dynasty, which establish an almost magic force, by establishing themselves as beings, in some realm, which connects us to itself, to which we are connected, which is an absolute realm of beings, and whose functioning is almost entirely animal-like, spirit-like, not matter-like, almost conscious — it is as if the thing, the bronze, or the carpet, establishes itself in my own belly, as a voice, speaks with my own voice, exists with my own force, and forces my awareness of an ultimate mother, or an ultimate creature of which I am a part — and which exists in me.

This nearly animistic view of carpets is consistent with the recent discoveries, already mentioned, that have centered around the tradition of prehistoric art in Central Anatolia. The essence of the view which lies behind these discoveries, is that what we naively call beauty, and what we experience as artistic force, lies in the creation of an object which speaks directly with my own inner voice, that there is, at the heart of all things, a single voice of universal blackness and thickness and light, that speaks in all tongues, and that holds all force into itself.

A carpet, when it holds the almost magical force which all carpet lovers recognize, holds this force, because, to some degree, it embodies this original voice, lets us see this original animal force that exists in ourselves. I believe the same is true, of every artifact. As a builder, I am trying, every time I make a building, to reach a connection with this force, and to make a thing, which fills us, with this animal and animistic force. The force, though primitive, and almost alien, is that underbelly of ourselves, which makes us human. Though unrecognizable, and almost taboo, because it is by turns violent, lustful, peaceful, and absurd, is nevertheless that thing which, to the degree it comes to life in us, makes us live innocently as people in the world."

--From Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art: The Geometry of Very Early Turkish Carpets, Christopher Alexander

Thanks to: The College of Mythic Cartography