Monday, 14 May 2012


Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "X - Surviving in the World of the Fitter"
Handmade collage with drawing and photographs
This is my first attempt for "Project X"
Those who have read my early blog posts know that I devoured all of Ken Wilber's books back in the 1990s. It was a profound period of reconnecting with my own truth, and Ken had a way of putting it that resonated with me in a very luminous way. After that my life got rather chaotic and my concerns turned away from the theory of spiritual thought to more palpable issues. It didn't mean that I abandoned them but in a sense I felt that I had reached a limit of how much I needed to know and that I felt comfortable and reassured with the knowledge I had hitherto acquired. I was aware of Ken's presence on the web but wasn't able to access much material of any interest because I didn't feel I could afford the membership. It was quite a lot of money for someone who wasn't sure they were going to be visiting the site regularly, especially as I had started to have severe difficulties with reading. A year ago I was suddenly invited to present my art at the site's art gallery and got free membership in return. There were loads of audio files that I uplodaded onto my phone or listened to while doing mindless chores - most of them are talks with Ken Wilber. It's actually taken me this long to reconnect on a deeper level with the integral teachings, and it's slow progress as I don't find that time to listen to the audios that often. 

One of my major concerns has been elitism. The newsletter is full of smiley, if not beautiful, faces and the promise of uplifting philosophy. I wasn't sure I fitted in. My path has been quite dark and after a certain "honey moon phase" in the 90s when I did all that spiritual research I haven't felt that visions of spiritual promise were enough. Many of the audio files I listened to were inconsequential to me because the messages were basically repeating what I already knew. There is some new theoretical view points, especially Wilber's theory of quadrants, is prominent. I just don't feel that it's helping me personally. 

There was a turning point when I watched a short video of Michael Schwartz talking about integral art. Michael is a distinguished American art critic who was the one making the choice of which of my collages were to go in the art gallery, who helped me choose a title, and who wrote a short essay on my work. However, the art presented in the video was quite bland and New Agey. It was mainly about subtle and causal energies and deities... I was a bit disappointed. The burning question I had dwelled on for quite some time became so pertinent I just had to write to Michael and ask him about this. Namely, could the art work I am doing at the moment fit in with the integral world view if it's not overtly spiritual but the intention behind it is spiritual? I trust Michael and was hoping to raise an important issue but also get some clarity. At present I'm feeling very strongly about being a spokesperson for all those people out there who are suffering with invisible illnesses and who have therefore become outcasts of society. Of course, my own experiences are at the core of my vision as usual. The problem is that I have to point at this problem with a very clear indication of just how bad it is. I then hope to also present a vision of some kind of solution or positive attitude, albeit not knowing at the moment how I'm going to go about it. Well, Michael wrote me back and said very kindly that my letter  radiated compassion. To be honest, I don't know how much compassion I feel for all of humankind but I do feel somewhat driven in spite of personal health issues that are dragging me down - this is after a period of over ten years during which I wasn't feeling I had an artistic direction. You can read all about it on my art blog. 

Vivi-Mari Carpelan: "Affected by X" and "Fragmented by X", copyright 2012
Handmade collages with photographs and copies of own text
Michael Schwartz also explained that he was going to present some of my collages during the presentation about integral art and why it's important, however he felt the pieces were too complex for this type of lecture. He said that there is certainly an attempt within the integral movement at finding ways of dealing with the problems of this reality on a grass root level, but most people who come to for answers are still in the stage of self-development (i.e. the "honey moon phase" I mentioned earlier). It's obviously an important stage for everyone and I can totally understand that a lot of discussions are aimed at this audience. They are not necessarily responsive to art about shadows and paradox. In the initial phases, the art that will go down well is going to be mainly about the spiritual awards we reap if we pursue our path... rather sweet and other worldly, a lot of the time. He feels this kind of art can still be integral. I'm aware that a lot of the art I'm producing isn't jolly, because I have to show just how bad the situation is. However my intention is to add more and more positive notes, as there is strength and wisdom to be had from this form of suffering, but also from the diversity of experience these people may express. I still have to think how to present it.  No matter - for each their own.

One of Ken's talks was particularly interesting. While he's openly pessimistic about politics today as many of the world leaders of today are on a very low level of personal development and this is something to be seriously concerned about since they are not interested in the good of all mankind, he encourages people who adhere to an integral world view to self-identify. Other groups within society self-identify, and it makes them stronger. He estimates that only about 4 % of the whole population has an integral frame of mind. Now how do you recognize this specific mentality? Well, if you believe that all things are interconnected, that separation is an illusion and that life really is a "whole", then you're probably of an integral frame of mind. You will probably also believe that every level of development has a place on Earth and therefore they are worthy of your tolerance and respect. Like I said, the only problem is that immature people are in charge of important decisions with world wide repercussions. 

If so few people are spiritually conscious in the way Ken Wilber is promoting then it also means these people will feel pretty lonely. What's the use of being wise if there is nothing much you can do in a world like ours? This hits a soft spot in myself. Boy do I know about feeling lonely and helpless, and wondering what point there is to doing anything for the good of all mankind when nobody seems to care? Ken says, try and stay true to yourself and don't fall into the trap of trying to adapt to the level of people around you. Whatever you do, whether it be working as a dentist or as an artist, you can be integral in your approach. You may not want to talk about it much, as you have probably already discovered that people aren't in general very interested in what you have to say. You simply have to become creative in your way of putting a message out there. There are integral viewpoints that do struck a cord with the general public if expressed in a language they can understand. You have to think deeply about this. This is clearly not a time to be arrogant and so self-contained that no communication can take place "across the borders", so to speak. And of course, the wiser you are the more aware of this problem you will naturally be. 

A lot of people who do good in the world aren't the ones that anyone take much notice of. It is hard to set egotistic concerns aside and work for the improvement of our living conditions in spite of not knowing whether there are any results or rewards to be had. You just have to keep going. Sometimes small groups can change attitudes on a world wide scale, it's just a matter of timing, phrasing and general methods. Everyone has a heart, and most people will resonate with certain matters of conscience and human rights when the time is right even if not all the implications are fully understood. 

I'm working on "Project X", a series of images that are meant to express the fatalistic situation in which people with invisible illnesses find themselves in. They are outcasts of society, misunderstood by the healthy and discriminated by the right wing part of society especially. I'm only addressing a tiny part of the problems present in society today, and may only be noticed by a small number of people. But I have to do something and this is what I have decided to do now. It's a tentative, explorative... we shall see how it goes. I can only do what I can do.

I just noticed that part of one of my pieces of art (albeit with the wrong title) was used in this article about "attracting your beloved" on

Read more:
My art blog
About "Project X"
The Creative Spark (audio) 

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