In the infinite sphere of the soul, one part of which is experienced as colors, another sounds, another movements, and so forth, all vibrate simultaneously, so that a vibration in one region communicates itself to another. From these vibrations of the diverse regions of the soul an accord results, and this accord is life; and when this accord is expressed, it constitutes art. And it so happens that this is the expression of life, the reverberation of life itself.
—Pierre Leroux, Pertaining to the Poetry of Our Time, 1831
Reverberations of Life
ur lives unfold as an endless stream of moments; a mysterious display of shifting visions, feelings, sensations ...crisp and flaky lichens encrusted to an old stone wall; scents of damp moss and purple lilac under the dry shavings of a birch tree; cold shimmering jewels of moonlight scattered on ice encrusted snow... these impressions follow down the pathways of our senses, into our hearts and minds, and lay to rest within our souls.
Dwelling in the depths of the unconscious, they are rarely seen or felt, yet play a part in the sense of who we are, and who we come to be.
From time to time, these inner impressions, or noumena, are reawakened. In a spontaneous instant, something in our environment —a pungent smell, a bitter taste, a haunting melody— may arouse a strange yet familiar feeling inside us; much like two strings sounding in unison, the outer vibration of the phenomenon we experience draws out a similar resonance from within.
These noumena can appear quite vivid—such as the fragrance worn by a past love, awakening emotions as tacitly real as if their presence had returned... or rather vague, like the familiar voice of a stranger, whose face we cannot place, yet feeling somehow to be known.
Although these remembrances may take an infinite variety of forms, they all share a common quality—in the moment of re-collection, they remind us of something that somehow feels important; something that had receded from our conscious mind, yet our soul did not forget. Like an ancestor visiting us within a dream, our memory echoes the presence of its past, and then dissolves into the sleep from which it came.
s physics and the great contemplative traditions reveal to us, the totality of the universe exists as a unified, vibrating whole, composed of an infinite number of 'parts'.
Yet as individuals, our rational minds lack the capacity to feel such unity—they perceive the world of time and space linearly, taking a single perspective on each moment, and fixating upon a single object within this point of view.
To grow beyond the confines of this limitation, we must allow the sphere of our awareness to access the living intelligence of our senses, emotions, and perceptions in their entirety. In this way, we perceive our experience not simply as an abstract and isolated occurrence, but as a dynamic and ever-changing synergy; a dance of constant correspondence between whole and part, between the inner and outer dimensions of life.
Through embodying this unified way of being, a deeper harmonic order of experience is revealed to us, whereby we understand how various inner and outer phenomena intuitively relate to one another—such as a calm feeling of melancholy, a song written in a minor key, and a moonlit ocean.
Awakening to such correspondences, we are then able to comprehend and communicate their qualities through gesture or language. Yet once again, this process cannot be articulated by a dialect born from the linear mind; it requires a more intuitive and holistic approach—it requires the language of metaphor.
The great conductor, composer, and pianist Leonard Bernstein spoke of how metaphor 'accomplishes the supremely difficult task of providing a name for everything'. Bernstein explained how music and the arts can be seen as powerful metaphorical languages that give voice to the 'psychic landscapes' of our experience, allowing us to communicate the ineffable aspects of the human condition that could otherwise not be shared.
hether born from corporeal sensation or creative fantasy, truly great, and truly meaningful works of art invoke these metaphorical 'vibrations of experience'. Awakening the dynamic interplay of noumena in both creator and perceiver, such art draws all into a state of mutual resonance, aligning us with a greater sense of unity through the fundamental feelings of experience we all share.
Just like the alchemical perfumers of the old world, who boiled down their carefully gathered botanicals in hopes of revealing their quinta essentia, the artist receives the living energies of our experience; distills them down into potent artistic forms, and through creative expression, reverberates their essence back out into the world.
Throughout all times and cultures, individuals have devoted themselves to this sacred task, placing immense dedication, time, and sacrifice into works of art that arouse feelings of depth, beauty, and meaning within those drawn into their presence.
Like memories of those passed long ago, the creations of such individuals remain. Carrying on as currents of an endless river, flowing alongside all who've come before... they wait to be remembered, to be born anew, and reverberate within our souls once more.