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Objective Art & Intentional Inexactitudes
"So, whenever the Babylonian learned painters wove or embroidered with colored threads or colored their productions, they inserted the distinctions of the tonalities of the colors in the crosslines as well as in the horizontal lines and even in the intersecting lines of color, not in the lawful sequence in which this process really proceeds, in accordance with the Law of Sevenfoldness, but otherwise; and in these also lawful 'otherwises,' they placed the contents of some or other information or knowledge."
Finding the Otherwise
The above refers to the art of painting, but the concept of 'otherwises' and their use in the 'artificial', now called art, is much wider; Gurdjieff applies it also to rituals, symbols, ceremonies, dances, writings, architecture, social customs, theatre and music.
In a recent article I approached the question Are Icons a Form of Objective Art?. This indicated that Objective Art can be found in Christianity. The article said: "Icons are not naturalistic and do not represent the world we sense, imagine and usually live in".
In connection with Christianity this statement can be formulated: Christianity is not naturalistic and does not represent the world we sense, imagine and usually live in. Christianity is not historic, but deals with another dimension of time and existence. The Christian 'intentional inexactitudes' are in its writings, paintings, rituals, ceremonies, mysteries, architecture and music. Understood in this way these 'products' and 'productions' are full of real knowledge, intentionally put there and reaching us from the past. It is a Legominism in the Gurdjieff-terminology.
What Are these Otherwises and Inexactitudes?
I find that the whole of the Christian Tradition comes under the Law of the Otherwise, particularly when it is studied in the writings of the New Testament; it is more frequently presented in this part of The Bible, but can be found in the Old Testament as well. When Christianity is studied this way it is also possible to see why Gurdjieff said that he was teaching Esoteric Christianity, the part that is hidden, but which can be discovered.
Question: are these details taken from The Bible historic facts or examples of the Law of the Otherwise:
Much could be said about the big bang and which way God had control over it. If God meant to create man in His own image, he did a lousy job. Paradise has still not been found, although many travel brochures claim so. The tree of knowledge was in the Paradise, so we can not find it either. How did God send his son? How can a virgin be a virgin in the way the Church canons define: before, during and after the birth? And so on.
If we accept these strange things as real historic events and, like it has recently become popular, go after the historic origins, then we arrive, and can only arrive at the history, the past and not what the inner message is: the present, now and 'I am'.
Is the Virgin a virgin or an Otherwise?
Icons tell the story of the Mother of God and they have a way of showing us something that is difficult to catch from a written narrative. This is partly because images relate in us to the more essential part, the emotions, instead of the verbal grinding mill that we call thinking. Moreover, Adam and Eve 'knew' and were driven out - something different must enter.
The Church authorities accepted the Mother of God as part of the official story in the meetings from the fourth to the sixth century. Among the Icons where Virgin Mary is often shown are icons about her birth - quite clearly an event without any basis on any historic fact in the outer world.
Looking at the event of her birth Richard Temple writes:
The birth of the Virgin means here the spiritual birth of which all traditions speak. It is a birth of a new life within that of a human being. This new life can, in turn, if it is properly nourished, give birth to a yet higher kind of new life: Christ. (Ref. 2)
The Church building is said to represent heaven and paradise, it is an unnatural place. Yet I enter the Church quite 'naturally' in spite of all the indications pointing towards something very different. Everything is artificial and otherwise.
There are some very odd customs that those entering the Church are repeating in their different ways. Coming in to the building many of them make 'the Sign of the Cross' and go on to take a candle and lighting it in front of the icon of their choice they again make the sign. Some of the people visit all the icons in front of which candles have been lit, light their own and do the sign. When standing in front of an icon some of them give it a kiss. Some drop down to their knees, bow down to the floor, kiss the ground, stand up and do the sign.
The Liturgy starts and tells a story, which has been designated for today. Most people stand still and listen, making the sign at the appropriate places in the Liturgy. The priest goes round and send incence in front of the icons and the people, who bow towards the priest and make the sign again. Most of the Liturgy is sung by the priest and if there is a choir it will perform similar old melodies, the oldest from the 2nd century. This goes on for one to two hours depending on which Church the Liturgy is performed. In the Monasteries the services are performed many times a day all through the year and lasts up to six hours.
The information of the creation of the inner world in ourselves is veiled in a story that looks historic. The meaning is on another level. The events described and acted can take place in each of us at any moment. The story exist to point this out and it is difficult to see how these 'inner life events' could be spelled out more clearly.
Ref. 1: G. I. Gurdjieff: Beelzebub's Tales, Chapter 30 Art, p. 475
Ref. 2: Richard Temple: Icons and the Mystical Origins of Christianity, p. 157-8