Wednesday, 27 February 2008

a 'fullness of time'

"If someone possessed the skill and the power to draw time and all that has happened in time during six thousand years or will happen before the end of time, into the Now of the present, then that would be the 'fullness of time'." Meister Eckhart, sermon on Luke 1:26,28.


Meister Eckhart's idea of a 'fullness of time' is a valuable idea for thinking about and understanding the experience of the "force" of paintings and drawings. The uncanny shifts in temporality that may be noted after the study of an artwork are the experience of a 'fullness of time', the artwork's 'fullness of time'. Naturally, this is not a re-launch of artists as the demiurge or divine creator. Instead it is a way of thinking: the person, place or thing artists represent only exist in the one, still and unique image, yet for the skilled artist this subject is never shown as atemporal, it always intimates a present, and thereby a past and thus a future too. So it is their paintings or drawings are charged with a 'fullness of time'.

Naturally, as with so much aesthetic reflection its theorisation is somewhat dry and even tedious, but a sensitivity to the 'fullness of time' in artworks offers an important way to look into and at them. Experiment with it. Indeed the capacity of an artist to capture the fullness of time, is a defining feature of the triumph of an artwork. So much of what masquerades as art is shallow and lifeless because it is empty of time, or else it encompasses a temporality akin to a stagnant puddle. Perhaps this is because so many artists are paid by the hour, or else they would gladly settle for a grubby weekly wage (with overtime paid in fame and status of course) if they were offered one by greasy palmed, blind picture hawkers; but let us not sully metaphysics and aesthetics with dirty street talk, we'll save that for a very, rainy day!