Saturday, May 9, 2015

How Merton might have described Ad Reinhardt's paintings

Ad Reinhardt

How Merton might have described Ad Reinhardt's paintings:

"It is in this darkness, when there is nothing left in us that can please or comfort our own minds, when we seem to be useless and worthy of all contempt, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed and devoured, it is then that the deep and secret selfishness that is too close for us to identify is stripped away from our souls. It is in this darkness that we find true liberty. It is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties us and makes us pure. Do not look for rest in any pleasure, because you were not created for pleasure: you were created for spiritual JOY. And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and spiritual joy you have not yet begun to live." - Thomas Merton

From New Seeds if Contemplation, Chapter 25

Quoted in "Ad Reinhardt and the Via Negative / The Brooklyn Rail", an article by John Yau.


  1. It's uncanny: it's as if each, Merton's words, Reinhardt's painting, is saying the same thing, when they're brought together side by side.

    1. Yes. I find myself wondering if that is what they intuitively recognized in each other when they met at Columbia -- Merton, Lax and Reinhardt.

    2. 2cents

      ah the happy monk at his best
      all ways dragging around a black cloud
      for security menny menny do this and
      call it spirituality better to take a big
      drink of tennessee's best and smile -

      happy happy blessings ---------------- boK

    3. I'd guess that tennessee's best and the abandonment that the monk speaks of are pretty close to the same thing.

    4. Maybe that black cloud is contrition. Maybe it helps us to understand there's more than temporary satisfaction, which is, indeed, a gift, but not all. It's then when we can be open to joy, I'd say. I went from flowering shrub to shrub today, gazing at the flowers, noticing that so quickly they're falling to the earth; that the pleasure of the looking is temporary (a blackness here) coming along spring after spring. The joy persists, though, as I'm mindful of the cycles, not only for me, but for people who've seen these changes in the past and for the people who will see them in the future.

  2. 2Ccents

    a good response
    is as golden apples
    on a silver tray -- O.T.

    blessings _____________________ boK



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