Updated September 17, 2014
ART JOURNALIST [“Framing the question,” a sermon in itself nowadays, a la Mike and Chris Wallace]: Since Modern Art took over the picture about a century ago, and discovered the Inner Eye, there has been no end of controversy over the roles of both artist’s eyes, Inner and Outer. As an art journalist I’ve been pursuing that issue. I've interviewed most of the world's top artists and critics – just finished interviewing the president-guru of the Carmel Karma & Chakra Canvas & Cutaneous Art Club. Always, at the mention of the Inner Eye their eyes glow with an inner light, violet, mystical. Frown, flame, fear, or blankness, with pique and umbrage, take over when I merely bring up the subject of the Outer Eye.
You’re a realist painter, totally unknown, but yours seems to be the only voice known to Google as expressing an unfriendly opinion of the Inner Eye. So I’d like to hear what you have to say, up close and personal.
But first, I note on Blinkedin.com that you’re not only an artist but also a physician, formerly a professor, so bring us up to speed on the anatomy of the Outer and Inner Eyes, in clear, concise, anatomic, scientific terms, please. Do you mind if I wear Google Glass?
OUR ARTIST [adjusting his horn-rimmed glasses]: Thank you. Pleasure and privilege. To Google and glass, if not to the Modernist's Inner Eye, a glass eye at best, I'm friendly.
Science, which couldn't exist if it were not for the Outer Eye, knows the Outer Eye inside and out, has been dissecting and describing it in the most technical language for centuries, can test it a hundred different ways, parameterize it, map it down to the last rod and cone. Ask your ophthalmologist.
The Outer Eye is a consummately, I must say intelligently, designed and engineered anatomic organ, embedded in a socket in the skull, and functioning specifically as the portal for perceiving and processing light, and thus images, from the real world outside. As depicted by models on your ophthalmologist’s desk and diagrams on Wikipedia, it is sphere in which a lens of variable thickness and refraction as controlled by rim muscles precisely focuses light from varying distances from the eye upon a single dedicated spot in which are micro-sensors more powerful than any charge-coupled device, making up the retina which is more complex than a 100-core motherboard, which funnels into a specialty conductor of signals, the optic nerve, functioning like a computer bus, which as connections and tracts ramifies throughout the brain to sundry nuclei, ganglia, and nexuses at all levels, spreading to the autonomic nervous system, giving you palpitations and shivers, but especially to the left brain’s frontal cortex from which come the sharpest kind of scientific analysis and consciousness. Exactly as I learned it at the dissection table and from Gray’s Anatomy – embellished a smidgen.
JOURNALIST [Tilting her head to the proper angle of journalistic aloofness and adjusting her Google Glass]: Which brings us to the Inner Eye. You were saying---?
ARTIST [removing his glasses, frowning professorially That’s the hard part. And there could be recriminations. You could be blacklisted. Are you sure---?
JOURNALIST [flipping an errant strand of hair from her right eye, which dislodges her Google Glass and jiggles her artesian-crafted Horus-Eye earrings]: I'm a fearless journalist. Before art I did Global Warming.
ARTIST: OK then. The problem is, nobody knows exactly what the Inner Eye is, or where it is. Science says it’s outside its domain, none of its business. Gray’s Anatomy never heard of it. Wikipedia throws up its hands and pleads for disambiguation. If the Outer Eye is as real as a golf ball, the Inner Eye is as virtual as MTV, as unpredictable as a blonde in the Kingdom of Oz or Obamacare waivers, as elusive as T.S. Eliot’s Macavity the Cat who was never there, as vaporous as incense, as elusory as happiness. Ask your psychic or maharishi. Don't ask science, ask a seance.
As original equipment from the manufacturer, Outer and Inner Eyes came settled into the right and left brains where they shook hands across the corpus collosum, like Canada and America waving at each across the border. The Outer and Inner Eyes came as a bundle, connected in series, in sync, integrated, interacting, in harmony and in balance, supplementing and complementing each other, the one revving up as the other coasts. So they were happily married, one tending the baby while the other tended the tractor, and then the twain would join in song around the hearth. They were in partnership, like Abbott and Costello, Sears And Roebuck. That’s how it was in the beginning. But, like the long ago conjoined supercontinent of Pangaea, the Inner and Outer Eyes have drifted apart, like the continents.
The Outer Eye has stayed put, anchored within the skull. Not the roving Inner Eye. It is nomadic, as far-ranging as the Mongols and as aimless as a Colorado driver on pot. In ancient man, with his limited knowledge of geography, the Inner Eye was manageable and dependable. In Biblical man the Inner Eye was confined to his heart or bowels, in Greek man to his pneuma. In modern hominoids who know more about anatomy, it has usually been sighted somewhere in the skull in the right brain, probably in the paleopallium. although NMR studies suggest that it is abandoning the bony cranium altogether, and heading south for flabbier cavities there to burgeon into the largest organ in the body, larger than the brain itself or even the fattiest of livers, with headquarters in the pelvis or scrotum, or taking over like carcinomatosis, or like a parasitic wasp’s egg inserted into a caterpillar and turning into a larva eating out the caterpillar’s insides, or has escaped the body altogether and wafted away to the soul, or atop a pyramid, usually on the back of a dollar bill, increasingly worthless. Carl Sagan and cocktail party Shamans say it is everywhere, everywhere in the cosmos, like dark matter, indwelling the sun, cosmic dust and galaxies and redwood trees, your soul, everywhere but the Outer Eye, which has atrophied, like that of a blind fish in a grotto. Evolution has happily ignored the Outer Eye and let it be, but has been hard at work on the Inner Eye evolving it faster than a fish’s legs, winding up, via Picasso, with three eyes on the same side of a flounder-flat face.
The realist painter’s Outer and Inner Eyes are like Johann Sebastian Bach at the organ, his right hand informing of the pure theme and the left hand and both feet, maybe his nose and chin, answering with elaborate counterpoint and arpeggios. The Outer Eye is the single-minded nerd graphic designer typing CSS markup bit by bare byte and in exact syntax whereupon the screen erupts into exploding fractals of a million kaleidoscopic colors and shapes. The Outer Eye is the art director’s memo outlining what the painting should depict, say, Washington on his horse; the Inner Eye is the brush upon the canvas painting Washington looking to his right and the horse to his left, against a lowering sky. Ideally, the Outer and Inner Eyes work together like a gardener plants real seeds (what his Real Eye sees) into fertile ground (where the Inner Eye works), to achieve something very natural, the more natural the more ohs and ahs, yet beyond nature. Nature couldn't do it alone. The Outer Eye is boss, the manager; the Inner Eye improves on what the Outer Eye sees, shapes, balances it; tends, prunes, like a gardener starts with an abandoned quarry and causes a Butchart Gardens to exist. The Inner is a jeweler faceting and polishing a diamond that the Outer has mined. The Outer Eye sees and instructs and the Inner Eye stores, uses, responds, makes it happen, creates. The Inner Eye retains and moderates and processes what the Outer Eye perceives. When you close your Outer Eye the Inner Eye kicks in and you still see the image. The Inner Eye thinks it doesn't need the Outer Eye but the Outer Eye knows it needs the Inner, like Christ said that even He, God, could do nothing of Himself but needs the Father, and how, without Him, man can do nothing, but with Him, all things. But nowadays mankind thinks all power is Inner Power, innate within him and not external, just waiting to be released by the proper incantation. The Inner Power like the Inner Eye is in no need of God, much less the Outer Eye.
JOURNALIST, LOOKING ASKANCE: There you go again, bringing God into it. OMG!
OUR ARTIST: The Outer Eye sees what there, and He's there, he that hath an eye let him see.
By the way, what a realist painter sees by his Outer Eye when looking at a landscape – he sees composition – is different from what a realist birder sees – a rare patoo bird camouflaged among the leaves, not the rolling hills – or a realist land developer – he sees fields of waving asparagus and where the WalMart will go. But all see shades of what’s out there, and what can be done with it.
Physicists, surgeons, and realist painters live in the reality continent a.k.a. the Outer Eye. Poets, political and gender scientists, hippies, emergent free-thinking thought leaders, and Modernist painters (generic term; actually painting anything isn’t required) are far away in the legendary lands and rain forests and foggy swamps of the Inner Eye, as oblivious to the reality civilization as savages staring up at airplanes, going where no man has gone before while stepping into dung blobs, and not cleaning their sandals off.
The Modernist painter clamps the Outer Eye shut, hard, like a kid determined not to see the spinach on the table.
Contemptuous of his Outer Eye, a Modernist painter sees the Outer Eye as an abusive spouse and gets a messy divorce from it that is splashed all over the tabloids, or thinks marriage itself is servitude and goes on protest marches. To a Modernist painter the Outer Eye is a slave master to be revolted against, leaving the Inner eye untethered, free-floating, bobbing – liberated!
The Modernist painter’s Outer Eye has atrophied from disuse, or she has extirpated the Outer Eye like something loathsome, a grade IV melanoma, an abscess. Offended by her Outer Eye the Modernist painter has unwittingly taken the scriptural advice to pluck it out (Matthew 5:29). It's worse than that. You won't hear it from the mainstream media but the Inner Eye is bullying and abusing the Outer Eye and quietly waging a War against The Literal Eye,
JOURNALIST, GOING BUG-EYED: No! No! Exactly wrong! It's the Outer Eye that's the Nazi Eye, wants to control the innocent Inner Eye and enslave it, gas it! Oops, lost my journalistic aplomb, there. You were saying?
OUR ARTIST: As they used to say at sporting events, programs! programs! Get your programs -- can't tell the victims from the abusers without a progra As I was going to say, the Inner Eye needs a seeing-eye dog to lead it around. Needs the New York Times art critic or an art gallery docent, or an Obamacare regulation, to interpret what’s hanging on the wall. The Outer Eye already knows.
Adrift and liberated from reality, the Inner Eye sees things the Outer Eye can not see because there’s really no such things out there to be seen, anywhere, even as the Inner so proudly insists, the one point of agreement.
As to reality, by default, by design, the unchaperoned unsupervised Inner Eye is self-licensed to mutate, mutilate, pervert reality, -- rendering it unrecognizable and laughable, all the more awardable. The mind of the Inner Eye is prone to be blown, all the more awardable. The envelope please ...and the coveted Golden Inner Eye for most unrecognizable and most mind-blown, goes to---!”
Not many eons ago the Inner Eye was the organ Modernists used to visualize blotches and drips, or black haloed white capitalist apes, or iconic urinals, or limp pocket watches. But now it isn’t limp time pieces on horizon-to-horizon grids any more, or blackened capitalists, or merely blotches and drips on canvas that the Inner eye sees, but sweet pink Transgenders and rainbow Diversity, and sun-bright Buddhist or generic spirituality so dear to the incense and ionizer crowd, and very real red blood oozing between pointy teeth and over blackish lips, or the Virgin chock full of excreta, so dear to the Transgressives. The Inner is the land of trances and transes. So whose creative property is the limp Inner Eye now? Duchamp’s, Salvador Dalí’s? The Dalai Lama’s? The Dumpster’s?
Untethered, the Inner Eye floats and flits hither and yon on its magic yoga mat named Creativity, into another galaxy far away, named Creativity. With no NSA to check it, the magic mat may be hijacked and simply disappear into the depths and murk, like Malaysian flight 370, or escape -- be liberated from -- earth orbit and the last ergs of this earth's magnetic field, disappearing into far fields of shining cosmic dust, named Creativity.
But I could chuckle at all that silliness. A splat is a splat and that’s that. Our great art critic the honorable Hillary has it right – what does it matter? Outside of Saachi’s and Southeby’s Auctions and the MoMa, that is.
However, abandoning Winsor Newton paint and going for body fluids as the media of choice, is harder to shrug off. But the practitioners themselves laugh it off, chuckling all the way to the bank, laughing all the way to court, knowing the case will be thrown out. Shrug, LOL.
But when the Inner Pie-Eyed Eye, clutching silliness, chuckling at obscenity, laughing at reality, arrogates – arrogantly arrogates – unto itself dominion over not only creativity but also moral values, proclaiming that only within its bleary-eyed self, not the frontal cortex nor the heart, nor ethics, nor religion, nor God, nor the court, lies all – I’m not making this up -- all honesty, all truth, true honesty, honest truth, inconvenient truth, blue-haloed splatted-splashed truth – that’s going too far. With a straight face, not laughing, the bugged-eyed Inner Eye proclaims that only it, atop its mountain of feces, can cut through the blur, its own, and see truth. Once derisive of truth, the blood-shot Inner Eye now claims to be the only source of truth. That’s not just a paradigm shift in the roles of the Outer and Inner Eye, that’s a worldview revolution, the agent of world societal revolution, already crashing down upon us. That’s not a sea change, that’s a tsunami. I am not amused.
JOURNALIST [wiping her Google Glass and trying hard to stifle a laugh]: I am amused. Say, why don’t you just ignore your good ole Outer Eye at your easel just once, just once, like everybody else does, and let that Inner Eye of yours – exploding out of control for figures of speech and rants anyway – take over and go with the blobs, daubs, splashes, splats on a canvas. You could exhibit at the Carmel Karma & Chakra Canvas & Cutaneous Art Club, I could get you an invitation, no problem. Grand prize, for sure.
Inner And Outer Eyes
Eyeball to Eyeball
An art journalist interviews our artist about those eyes
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