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Philosophy of 'Attention'

"[Nietzsche's] cosmic principle of creative evolution, in contrast to Darwinian evolution, proposes that evolution is not guided by accidental mutations and adaptations, but by a teleological force which regulates the development of life from a lower spiritual state to a higher. This force is directly felt by human beings as aspiration, and by embracing this aspiration, according to Zarathustra, the individual can overcome himself and evolve."

- Nietzsche and Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Some rather intense years of philosophical, spiritual, and psycholinguistic study stir behind my recent work, titled:


to what you hold on

to what you let go

Below is my best effort to summarize those studies to enrich the reader's relationship with the artwork.


You must first understand Evolution as systematic reaching and releasing. In ever-changing circumstances, Life holds on to what works, and lets go of what no longer serves its purposes.

As a human being, you wield the power of will over your personal evolution. You can, and will evolve according to where you direct your will, your faculty of attention. Accepting this premise as true, you must then understand that words are the most powerful tools your will can use to realize your goals. By controlling your thoughts and speech, with wise use of your attention, you may release from your life all that does not serve you. You may reach for, grasp, and hold on to all that will.


The visual art piece 'Attention' is composed from two texts. The first is a college textbook titled "What is Life?" which covers such subjects as biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Also the source of the images (cells, DNA, etc.) I also used its chapter subheadings to collage the following sentences, extending radially from the center:

Life histories are shaped by continuously varying traits.

Some traits are controlled by thought in order to evolve.

In translation, experiments enable us to capture evolution in progress.

Controlling variables makes experiments more powerful.

Human communication and language abilities evolve to indulge and advance natural patterns of expression occurring right before our eyes.

As energy is captured and converted, life can be imagined.

If you can understand the meaning of this one sentence, then you can understand the whole piece.

Essentially I am making a psycholinguistic argument. Language shapes reality. Specifically, the language that you use shapes your reality. Speech and thought shape reality.

The hands (the same as the hand that comes "out of the mist" in the poem Memory), are cut from images of DNA sequences, cells, muscle fibers, etc. These are the "natural patterns of expression" occuring right before our eyes. These tiny bits by themselves don't seem to have consciousness, but from these our conscious self emerges. And how do I know that a conscious self emerges? Because I can say so, with words. Or, in the immortal words of the 17th century French philosopher René Decartes: