My exploration with symbology started in early high school, but back then I was using imagery like an infant uses words: without real intention, mostly experimental, just to see what sounds I could make. The Bipedal Eyeball was one of these sounds. Early on, to me, it meant nothing. It was drawn as an attempt at surrealism or satire, done to get people thinking, to be uneasy, but altogether rather hollow.
As I developed my work, they stuck around. I tested the water with different symbols and different stories, but the Pattern Seeker focus, as it would become, rang truest to me, most natural, and most original. The more time I put into them, the more meaning I imbued them with. I developed secondary symbols as a cannon, a world for my little besties and a language to tell their story.
My struggle with originality began later. A series of "convergences" left me feeling as though I couldn't create my own ideas. I would think up a philosophical idea that I thought was revolutionary, only to find my brilliant, new idea was that of a 400 year old philosopher. It was more than frustrating, it became an existential crisis, culminating in the loss of the Bipedal Eyeball.
A friend discovered this drawing by Christopher Pearse Cranch in 1839 and sent it to me with what was unnerving news. The "Transparent Eyeball" was a visualization of a concept by Emerson of the same name. Though not visually identical, this was my Bipedal Eyeball, actually, what it foiled, the Reflective Eyeball was my Bipedal: A metaphor for the human condition, that which sees only the superficial, and in doing so, loses a sight of something more encompassing. Emerson believes that by seeing nature as a Transparent Eye is to see God, and though problematically idealistic, I would tend to agree.
There I was, having lost the only thing I could cling to as uniquely my own, and too wrapped up in my own ego to understand that this wasn't a loss at all. It was validation, a convergence of minds. This would lead me to open up into spirituality and the collective conscious, but more than that, I found peace of mind. I learned to embrace the dialogue I was a part of; not as one who creates, but one who joins in the collective rhythm, a collaborator, and a more unencumbered part of the forest of existence.
One of the heaviest struggles we, the pattern seekers, face is the question of what is real. This question has beaten me into the ground, devastated me, and unraveled everything I could hold onto as sound. There is a part of me, the tormented and fearful part, that wishes I was being hyperbolic, but I am not. I lost my sanity, and it wasn't until I submitted and relinquished it that I found something better. Sanity is unachievable, and to strive for it is madness. It isn't until we embrace our own insanity that we get the closest we can ever be to being sane: awareness, honesty, openness.
At the center of this relationship, and the base of my symbolic dialogue stands the Bipedal Eyeball.
The Bipedal Eyeball These fickle, little beasties are slaves to their vision and curiosity. They seek patterns in everything, and in doing so, do not see the pattern that dances in front of them so plain to feel: the web of existence, the ebb and flow of a unified infinite.
They lose the forest for themselves, led by their ego, discovering their own patterns and mistaking feeling for knowing. Subject to short-sightedness, they see only what captures their attention: what is bright enough for them to focus on. They release everything else into the darkness of the non-real.
On two legs, they see themselves as one whole thing; and though they have the vision to see that their feet freely scamper across soft soils, they do not often notice where their feet fall or what they trample. They see the roots between which they run, but miss the tendrils that grow into their legs and permeate their bodies. Their sight makes them blind. Their need for knowledge draws them farther away from truth. By seeing, they see nothing. They are cursed by their own disposition: capricious, self indulgent, and fearful. They are explorers: cartographers of dreams.
The Moth The eyes adorning the wings of the Polyphemus Moth are an illusion. They speak to the will that the pattern seeker searches for where there is none. With every beat of its wings, it sets in motion the rhythm of the forest and the movements by which everything is ruled. The Bipedal Eyeballs do not determine the rhythm they run to, but match the cadence of the moth. They have no control. They merely join in the collective rhythm, this song of the forest.
The Mayapple It is then natural that the Bipedal Eyeballs can be found in the groves of Mayapple, rejoicing under the mottled shade of their broad leaves, and rapt in a microcosm of self adulation. The Mayapple, a common woodland wildflower, bares a small, pungent fruit which is irresistible to these energetic creatures. Though poisonous, the eyes see only a sweet sanctuary. In small quantities, the apple’s toxin is relatively harmless, but the more it's consumed, and the more dependent those who eat it become, the more the toxin builds. In the groves of the Mayapple these creatures are made, and in its shade they are undone. Though the forest is vast and nourishing, these creatures soon go mad by their addiction to this one flower. They cannot see past the dense thickets of stems and leaves, disoriented by their disease; but they live on. Consumption soon becomes all they know, until they refuse to leave the safety of their groves. They are dependent, addicted, naive. The Bipedal Eyeball is slave to its disposition, and the Mayapple is its cage.
The Waining Gibbous The moon presides over the nocturnal realm of the Bipedal Eyeball, washing it in light. To the beast of vision, the loss of this light is a loss of its world, so the presence of a Waining Gibbous signifies the coming of nothing. The Waining Gibbous is loss, but the Waining Gibbous is an illusion.
Of course, the moon itself is not lost, but in constant change. The new moon goes nowhere. Free from the burden of sight, the moon floats, devoid of delusion, weightless in space. It is free from the whims of the pattern seekers too. It cares not for their fears, and laughs at their attempts to control it. The moon is locked in no cages, and exists out of reach. It is joyous in its undiluted, unfiltered, and unrestrained beingness. Though they will not cease their pursuit, the Bipedal Eyeballs will never find the moon, because that isn't what they're looking for. They exist as moon shadows, cast through the darkness, and that is all they will ever know.
The Frog's Song Frogs are sensitive to pollution—the toxic byproducts of our diet—and are often some of the first to go when an area is threatened. Their croak is then a sort of battle cry for nature, an exclamation of resilience and symbiosis.
The Frogman's song serves as a musical beacon, guiding wayward eyes back to a place of balance and providing them an opportunity to close their eyes. The frog offers up his song as a sacrifice to the air, imparting his knowledge onto the wind. He does so not for the eyeballs but for a purer reason: for the sake of doing so. He is a reminder to anyone that takes the time to listen that we are all part of the dance, the cycle, and the forest. Music has a way of bringing us into the present and removing us from judgement: it's a language for those who need none.
Not many hear the voices in the wind; and of those who do, few can speak the language.
The Forest The forest is not a simple collection of trees, soil, and mushrooms, rather, it is the interconnection of all these parts. The trees, soil, and mushrooms are the forest, but the forest is not them. It is everything and nothing at all, because it is no "thing". The forest is being in a unified totality. The forest pervades all. There is no end to the tree's root and the start of the soil, it is all one forest, and can only be appreciated in honesty as a whole.
In the forest, there are no beginnings or ends, no creations, no time, no space, no things at all. These all exist only in the mind of those who see the forest as made of trees and other non-things. The forest exists as a continual flux, an infinite; not because it goes on forever, but because it exists in defiance of ever. It is acategorical and unknowable, and in this way does not exist at all. Existence is a delusion of those who believe what they see.
The Viper After a recent excursion into the Upper Amazon rain forest, my art underwent yet another metamorphosis: a more spiritual one. During my 4-month, Covid-19 fueled lockdown in Ecuador, I began to notice the patterns and synchronization of my experience and within my journey. I began to hear a music that had been playing all along in the background. Many of these synchronicities centered around the snake, and now the beast has come to symbolize a connection to this phenomena. The snake has taken form as one of the most powerful and universal motifs throughout human cultures, and it is often in close relationship to the archetypal Magician. It is a symbol of balance, knowledge, power, and the infinite. My discovery of the snake was whimsical, magical, and totally unplanned; but as it grew as my own personal symbol, I began to discover how pervasive it is. Because of this, the snake is, to me, the ultimate falling into place: the truest synchronicity. The snake has come to represent my spiritual journey into a world of uncertainty and discovery. It is dangerous because it is powerful. I fear the snake. I love the snake.
In particular, the pit viper, the most beautifully endowed of the snakes, has served as my spiritual guide throughout this experience. The pit viper, among many uniquely serpentine attributes, possesses three different kinds of eyes (the traditional water-based eye we animals all share; the pit, a "dry eye" which has evolved above land to sense heat; and the "third eye," a primitive light-sensing organ on the top of it's head which is directly linked to the Pineal gland and is associated with the regulation of body function and connection to the environment) though the third eye is what interests me most. It represents a connection to our intuition; intuition being the subconscious experience of senses or knowledge we are not consciously aware of.
In a lot of ways, I have adopted the pit viper as my token: a familiar of sorts. It is the consumer of dualistic thinking and dogma, the eater of the Bipedal Eyeball, and the destroyer of the binary. It is the infinite. It is, like all things, the forest; and I am its humble, ignorant student.