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Reply To: The Hour Yields, with Mythologist Joanna Gardner, Ph.D.



I find what you write so beautiful:

In my own experience, it was in the odd, in the most unimaginable, yet very  real and true —  that weird, impossible, improbable thought took over my entire being.  And when the beloved image looked back, there was no effort to hold the gaze, the gaze was held by an energy far stronger than any other energy before this.  As if time stood still?

In that moment of stillness, my image of myself changed. Previous images of self  dissolved, and the information gathered through that one gaze, permeated my neural pathways.

When you say, “When the beloved image looked back” is so very akin to Indian viewpoints in viewing art. In India, when the art object is viewed, it is viewed with the notion that as we gaze upon the object, the object is gazing back at us. As we see it with our eyes, it sees us with its eyes, and we see ourselves through the object’s eyes as it sees itself through our eyes. It seems as though this notion and way of viewing and seeing ourselves reflected in the eyes of the art object comes naturally to you–for me, it was an exercise I had to do for a class I was in. I suppose this may however come naturally to many others–when we put ourselves into the frame of a film through our identification with a character, or put ourselves into the photo of the house seen on the border of the forest, or see ourselves on a sunny tropical beach in the middle of a northern winter storm…yet that is still seeing ourselves in the frame and not necessarily seeing it looking at us–we are busy projecting ourselves into the frame but not always thinking about how the frame is regarding us…I love that phrase you wrote.

I wrote a poem about this for a class I took in which we viewed slides of Indian art and then were asked to be mindful of the image looking back at us as we looked at it. Thus, there is transcendance. And stillness in the eyes, I see. I will include the poem in the forum where we can share our own work. In viewing the slides, I was pulled to the slide of the deity Ganesha, and wrote about Ganesha; in much of it I project myself and my own ideas onto Ganesha (as this idea of being seen by the artwork was new to me and as I was getting used to it) and then in some parts in the poem I do acknowledge Ganesha looking back at me. It was a wonderful exercise by instructor Al Collins at PGI.