Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Razor's Edge

Razor's Edge 60" x 40" sewn photographs 2013

detail 1

detail 2

detail 3

The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over:
thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.

The only book I have ever read and reread more than once is W. Somerset Maugham's  
The Razor's Edge.

My own Razor's Edge is not meant as tribute to Maugham nor to his novel, but as an exploration of a particular state of anxiety that comes from the fear of the unknown. An exploration, not just of any fear and not just of any unknown, but an exploration of that nearly debilitating bucket of anxiety that comes from the fear of death.

When I conceived of this piece I was thinking about and feeling an intense awareness of walking a narrow path on which balance is crucial yet difficult to maintain. If I should fall off this exiguous edge where would I land? Would I land? Is the deeply dark chasm that exists alongside the path as devoid of gravity as outer space? If so, I would be destined to free fall forever.

Maugham begins his novel with the quote from the ancient Hindu text the Katha-Upanishad, which is also called “Death as Teacher” (A fact I hadn't known until now). Further reading of the scripture reveals: 

May we light the fire of Nachiketa *
That burns out the ego, and enables us
To pass from fearful fragmentation
To fearless fullness in the changeless Whole.

The phrase "fearful fragmentation" resonates; reflecting not only the visual aesthetic of the piece but also my mind.

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