empty canvas : wondering mind | book eight

creating from wonder


1  wonder and wondering
2  unfold your myth
3  veritable vestments
4  Buddha-body
5  the heart of the story
6  animated grey matter
7  a sanctuary for the secret senses
8  playing with process
9  metaphorically speaking
10  objets trouvés
11  deconstructing and recycling
12  shape-shifting
13  quantum realities
14  culture and creativity
15  the three questions


(pdf 529 KB)

Zum Erstaunen bin ich da
I am here to wonder
– Goethe

Excerpt from wonder and wondering
We can talk about wonder and wondering in so many ways – it’s one of those words in English that baffle foreign language students. We call something ‘a wonder’ when it is an astonishing thing or accomplishment like the Seven Wonders of the World, or when it is miraculous like the birth of a babe. It is also the “emotion excited by the perception of something novel and unexpected, or inexplicable.” And sometimes this emotion of astonishment can be “mingled with perplexity or bewildered curiosity.” (Shorter Oxford Dictionary) And again, it’s the state of mind in which these emotions are held. When we observe something marvelous, wonder-full, we are filled with wonder, which is like being infused with awe.

But then we sometimes say “I wonder…” and there is a shift in meaning. To simply say, “I wonder” usually implies doubt. Yet to preface a phrase with “I wonder if…” is to imply curiosity. In French, it becomes “Je me demand …” – I ask myself. Then it implies that I’m going to explore, to inquire in and of myself about something. The way I’ve used the word wondering in this series of books embraces all these meanings. For to wonder in the sense of exploring, with doubt and curiosity, is to never be far from the wonder of marvel. Perhaps the greatest wonder of all is that we have the ability to wonder, to reflect. And to have that capacity as a natural by-product of being alive provides endless amazement.

The Greeks said that to marvel is the beginning of knowledge and where we cease to marvel we may be in danger of ceasing to know. Marvel and wonder go hand-in-hand, and their offspring is true learning. One of the most exciting things about the kind of activity that occurs in the art room is that it is firmly grounded in experimental processes. We are, as novice or professional artisans, deeply involved in both wonder and wondering. Questions are the life-blood of the artisan, and the prime question in any artisan’s mind is “What if?” This is a question that makes many parents and teachers wince. At the same time, it’s the one that generates exploration and experimentation in the fields of science, sports, philosophy – what area of human endeavor can be excluded from its penetrating, “But maybe…”?

While ‘Creating from Wonder’ is the last e-book of activities and projects in this series, it marks the beginning of the synthesis of all the experiences we’ve had as we moved through the previous books. It closes the circle. It brings us back to the wonder of perception and to the space in which that-which-is can speak. But we arrive there richer in every way – richer in insight, in technique, and in our ability to play with the unfamiliar. The empty canvas is our lover, at last. […]

– miriam louisa simons

They say that every snowflake is different.
If that were true, how could the world go on?

How could we ever get up off our knees?
How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?

– Jeanette Winterson

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