Friday, March 8, 2024

Ekphrastic Expositions


Ekphrasis? One explains things from one’s own point of view. We expound with emotion, with insight, with knowledge, and even with a pleasurable amount of guesswork. So too do we live in the canvas of our lives. So too do we build upon our perceptions. And the original work, the poem, the painting, the photograph that we expound upon, given the creative springboard that gives rise to our own voice, is as ancient an ekphrastic exposition of our minds as would be a gift from a Greek muse.

Ekphrasis? It’s the big words that can be off-putting. The very chiaroscuro of our elucidations can be too much of a juxtaposition, and without a ready mental formula to deduce what is being read, or heard, the brain gives up. The ears tune out. We get bored. Why not just be simple? Collectively, we feel little responsibility toward assimilating every new concept. It is the rare individual, here and there, who wishes to ‘know everything.’ There simply is too much. Yet inherent to the ‘dumbing down’ of society, as we eschew big words for little ones, and as we hook into Hemingwayesque pithy pronouncements, such as those anchored in the sea of an Old Man, over a predilection for Victorianesque prolific phrasing, such as those surrurating amongst the shifting sands of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, is that the vitality and richness of a living language stalls. Keep it simple. Do not ask me to look up a word. Make your references clear. Do not ask me to look up a Title. Make your references obvious. Do not ask me to read for too long, listen for too long, watch for too long, sit for too long, converse for too long, or think for too long; I just want to scroll at my phone. Its screen does not challenge me to stick to something, unless it interests me. I can flick through stuff. I can text without worry about correct grammar. My auto type will correct spellings, most Lee. So what if it makes miss steaks.

The argument for clear articulation is a double-edged sword. Ekphrasis, at best, explores one’s thinking under the Damoclean concept of evolving spiritually, responsibly. But in conspiring freely, our self-awareness by contrast becomes a consummate concentration, enslaving us to self-centricity, egoism, and independent connection. Huh? Yes, we can connect with others across the globe, but at large we get to say what we want, independently, even irresponsibly, and indubitably self-serving. Our every action, however, impinges on all, not just around us.

Chiaroscuro? Day and night have their smudging hours. The middle ground of left and right is where action yields to compromise, to complicity, to compassion. Integration, by degrees, becomes a fuller acceptance. How to accommodate that our own throne of responsibility, which is the human condition, is to be under that sword of Damocles, where every thought, and action, can be questioned, usurped, overturned? Very few things in our world are absolutely and totally and inalterably ‘right’. We are, as a species, too easily fragmented, dissociative, warmongering, and contentious to be lumped into a wholesome group, such as those with the collective brain of termites, or bees, or butterflies. Our metamorphosis is generally individualized, and random, and even a choice, or not. Yet still, mankind evolves more by accident than by design, however much an individual’s chosen cultural group, or not, may control our thinking. At issue is the meaning behind ‘mankind’s evolving.’ Unless we are entirely given to all of us simultaneously becoming loving and compassionate towards each other, as a species, we remain primitive, collectively speaking. And therein lies the rub; integration, fully, would have one accept ‘all’.

Ekphrasis, then, is a Greek word meaning, ‘exploring with a detailed description’. But it is not about the selfies we take with our cell phones, or where we’ve been, what we’ve done, and what’s on our plate. It is rather about the degree of our sensibility of our responsibility toward The Whole. It is not about moralizing and controlling; it is about understanding. It is, after all, about one for all, and all for one.

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