Friday, November 27, 2020

Weltinnenraum / Synchronicity and more of one thing leading to another / With Blogger playing tricks with fonts and spacing and formatting

Recently, a friend mentioned that she had found an unusual book on the "free" table of the apartment complex where she lives.  The book turned out to be Grapefruit, Yoko Ono's square yellow book of instructions and drawings first published in 1964, before she met John Lennon.  I remembered looking at the book 50 years ago and expressed that I knew of the book and hoped she would enjoy reading it.  My friend has written poetry since childhood, and the book caught her attention because she saw Yoko's instructions as poems of a memorable nature.  She was born too late to experience the Beatles firsthand.  I'm not sure how much she knew about Yoko Ono when she picked up the book.

Last Sunday in a socially distanced masked visit with my friend, she brought it out and asked if I would like to borrow it.  (Given my growing awareness of the alarming surge in COVID-19 cases in our county since my visit with her, I have decided to refrain from any more socializing during the next few months.)

It may have been in a bookstore in Santa Cruz in 1970 that I eagerly looked through Grapefruit, Yoko Ono's small book of instructions and drawings, for the first and only other time.  The book had evolved from her 1964 limited edition version (500 copies), with an added introduction by John Lennon and new instructions including pieces such as "SKY EVENT for John Lennon," which ended with:

"Do not talk loud or make noise, as you may scare the sky"

and was followed by:

"SKY event II


Do the sky event in your mind

THEN go out into the street and take photos to document the event

If the sky event in your mind takes place in another city,

ask a friend in that city to take photos for you."

My recollection is that I was delighted by some of the instructions and disturbed, dismayed, even horrified by others.  I didn't buy the book and blocked out the instructions that upset me.  Reading the book in its entirety this week, I remembered some of the instructions as if I had read them yesterday, some even more delightful, some even more upsetting ("ON RAPE").  The following set of instructions intrigued me, but I had only a vague recollection of ever reading them before.  In 1970, of course, I didn't have Google Translate and would have puzzled over the German word, only able to guess what it might mean in the context of the instructions.


Walk to the center of your Weltinnenraum.

Leave a card.


Cut a hole in the center of your 




Shuffle your Weltinnenraums.

Hand one to a person on the street.

Ask him to forget about it.

1964  spring


Google Translate:

Weltinnenraum:  Diesen Raum der Erfahrung, der sich in der Präsenz ereignet auch zwischen Mensch und Welt nennt der Dichter Rainer Maria Rilke Weltinnenraum

Weltinnenraum:  The poet Rainer Maria Rilke calls this space of experience, which also occurs in presence between man and world


The photo at the top of this post caught my attention because, coincidentally, I had made similar marks on one of my recently completed mandalas.  

The marks were based on a drawing in India ink that I made in 1967 or 1968 during my freshman year at UC Irvine.  I titled it "God."  The drawing was made on an 8-1/2 x 11-inch piece of paper and was a single line that went up and down in small varied increments across the center of most of the page, which I had placed horizontally.  I had not thought of the drawing for years but when it came to mind, I decided to incorporate the idea into the mandala I was working on this week.  A college acquaintance had expressed that she loved my "God" drawing, and so I gave it to her all those years ago. 


I've continued thinking about the concept of Weltinnenraum.  George Harrison's song, "Anyroad," came to mind early on:

I keep traveling around the bend
There was no beginning, there is no end
It wasn't born and never dies
There are no edges, there is no size

Oh yeah, you just don't win
It's so far out - the way out is in (am's italics)
Bow to God and call him Sir
But if you don't know where you're going
Any road will take you there

I'm almost finished working on Mandala #54.  Maybe I'll finish it today.  Maybe there will be a 2021 calendar with 12 mandalas after all.  These mandalas may well be Weltinnenraums. Thank you, Sabine and Robin and Ellen, for your encouraging comments.

Rainer Maria Rilke

For some reason, in the context of "weltinnenraum" that poem came to mind.  During my early years of counseling for PTSD, a Gestalt counselor I worked with for several years quoted this to me, changing Rilke's "man" to "woman":

Winning does not tempt that woman. 
This is how she grows: by being defeated, decisively, 
by constantly greater beings.


If I understand the word correctly, I sense that COVID winter is opening up weltinnenraum.

"... One single space pervades all beings here:
an inner world-space. Silently, the birds
fly through us still. Oh, I who want to grow,
can gaze outside: a tree will rise inside me ..."


dritanje said...

I particularly like the colours of your latest mandala, all those reds and purples, feel right for this time of year. And Rilke too, though he works for every season. Yes I think right now, with lots of inner space, we have the chance to feel a merging and union of self with all that seemed outside of us, beyond our window. Keep well. M

am said...

M -- My current mandalas have drawn inspiration from the experience of your vivid imagery and emotion in Deepwater Terminal. Coincident with Thanksgiving I read your poem "Grand Canyon" and was moved by the stirring imagery from Indian Country. I've been reading no more than one poem a day. Each poem has a rich, color-filled and sustaining quality that continues to engage me throughout the day that I read it and often beyond that day. Earthy, contemplative, musical.

"... The hurdy-gurdy in the mind
Grinds music like a harvest
Old scores; compiled
Into a simple melody; ...

Today I read "Rio Grande" where "the language is landscape / and grows in a time / that is different from ours."

Anonymous said...

I never read anything by Yoko Ono. Her perspective and reality seem so utterly different from mine.
I did discover today that it is the anniversary of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. So of course i went to listen to it, and it brought tears to my eyes.

am said...

robin andrea -- Thank you for bringing to my attention the 50th anniversary of the release of All Things Must Pass. My emotional connection to that music runs deep, too.

Sabine said...

Several years ago, we visited Duino castle, which is located directly on the shores of the Mediterranean sea outside Trieste. The setting is spectacular, the climate gentle all year round, the area rich in natural resources, with a wide range of local food sources, vineyards, and so on.

As I was leaning on the banister of the top balcony looking at the sea towards Venice in the far distance, I tried to imagine Rilke standing in this exact spot. He lived in the castle during a time of severe depression, writing his Duino elegies and poems, incl. the one mentioning the Weltinnenraum. I found it difficult to accommodate the beauty of the surroundings with depression.

Later in Trieste, a stunningly beautiful city, I visited the places where another troubled (for lack of a better word) poet and thinker, James Joyce, had spent 10 miserably poor and alcohol addicted years. Their time in this area overlapped but there is no evidence that they ever met, yet at a time when both were very creative and clearly unhappy.