On meeting Stephen Jenkinson – and the talk I gave in Sigtuna
it's funny: i found Die Wise in one of the free curbside mini-libraries that people have set up in my neighborhood, back in... 2016, maybe? completely by happenstance. i think that was the first book that really got me looking for something more challenging than Internet Atheism or room-temperature Buddhism. i didn't even realize i was looking for something like that before i found it by accident. haven't re-read it since; i'll have to dig it out again, after traveling this far down the path it started me on.
Thank you for this. I adore Stephen Jenkinson. Die Wise is one of the most memorable books I've ever read.
It's wonderful that his work is influencing yours.
My father has been visiting this past week. I haven’t seen him in a dozen years which has left me to regularly wonder if this will be the last time I see him as well. I have been trying to give him the grand tour of where I live yet so much of it feels pretty hollow in the context of last visits leaving me searching for gratitude among the many, many heartbreaks. Impeccable timing on the post and introduction to Stephen Jenkinson’s work. Thank you.
I'm off to check out Die Wise, thanks for sharing. A few months ago I was listening to James Finley, a Western contemplative teacher, who talks alot about Thomas Merton, Meister Eckart etc. His articulation of the spiritual landscape was beautiful and evinced a deep understanding of that/this place. A minute later he was talking about his wife passing. "I'm a mess, a complete mess, wondering around, not knowing what to do". Out of all of that audio, it is that moment of vulnerability that stuck with me the most. So transparent; not trying to reconcile or "spiritualise" the insight, just putting both out there, an unconstrued baring of oneself.
Thanks Dougald for this post and links to the videos, it is thrilling to see the work of Vanessa and the corruscating humour of Stephen - what a sweet cheeky dude!
Also, very interesting to see your own talk - I love this call to creativity but I'm also a painfully aware of the colonial roots of the artist, and the art market as an appendage/advertising agency of and for capitalism. To be fair, I'm sure you have acknowledged this and for ease of communication you are using this title, but for me the actions, of which art encloses, need to be redistributed into the practical crafts from which they have sprung - to the innate skills of the human animal and situated in the land which is the material.
I'm not one to make over complicated definitions but 'artist' is super loaded with 'man genius' and sits strangely within the decolonised context. Surely this position will also be broken - not least because you can't eat, wear or shelter under art - or then you can and it is a distributed title; artist cook, artist tailor, artist builder. I follow your argument and have traced it myself through not least Joseph Beuys and William Morris. It seems part of giving up this world is giving up the glamour of fame that the artist necessarily inhabits and perhaps seeing it in the people round the table.
I make a living carving for the artist Anish Kapoor and have a ring side seat at the ersatz spectacle of true endeavour within monstrous commercialism, I'm not complaining. My own work has been a journey through social communal projects, into free feasts, foraged and swapped - within and without the context of the gallery. My partner and I are sketching out a space sort of underneath and beyond art, like you say at the edge, but all around. A kind of commons of skills that will make up the provisioning of fantastic clothes and furniture, rugs and bedspreads. This, like food will become a communal endeavour where everyone will necessarily have to take part. Caring for the less able (from our rough calculations will take up most of our time).