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Chapter Fifteen of Marcia Brennan's Flowering Light: Kabbalistic Mysticism and the Art of Elliot R. Wolfson
Elliot R. Wolfson, Skytree , 2006. © Elliot R. Wolfson.

Flowering Light -- buy from Rice University Press. image --> “Words are wings woven / by tongue&tooth.” And by the strokes of a brush or the lines of a pen. If words on a page andbrushstrokes on canvas can be imagined as the individual filaments that make up the plumes of feathers, then books and paintings can be viewed metaphorically ascreatures of flight. The ideas they contain can also be seen as mysterious presences that crawl through the narrow pathways of the mind, across the dark,fertile terrain of the creative imagination. In the depths of this receptive ground, ideas take root and flourish, then slide and shimmer through lushbranches, while overhead, birds perch lightly on outstretched arboreal limbs.

Imagine that you are walking among the trees that grow in the garden of flowering light. As you allow your mind and body to float, youfeel as though your spirit has become interwoven in the patterns of the tree limbs that form an intertwined canopy overhead. Words come freely into yourconsciousness. As you continue to walk, the words turn into winged presences that flutter before your eyes, gently transforming into different colors,shapes, sizes, and patterns. You suddenly feel as though you have reached a place where philology and ornithology have become a single subject. Whilecontemplating the vision of words on wings, you look down, and you see a bright white feather standing on your path, perched upright on a bed of ivy. You pickthe feather up and carry it home, knowing full well that you can use this plume to write your own stories, as wings make words.

Wolfson’s painting Skytree (2006) is an etheric image in which clouds appear to be woven from violet and whitefeathers spun into delicate, floating configurations set against an intensely blue sky. Passages of modulated white pigment reveal scattered hints of lavenderand magenta, while subtle orange undertones are discernible within the tangled limbs of the painting’s illuminated ground. Compositionally, this abstract imageevokes the silhouette of a blossoming tree, a plumed presence standing where wisps of clouds have become rooted in the sky.

Wolfson has noted that this painting is related to the image of the Shekhinah , and that in kabbalistic symbolism the Shekhinah is sometimes described as a tree. Descending from the heavens, the Shekhinah is said to provide a source of celestial grounding for the earth, as this emanation of divine light occupiesa foundational position at the base of the sefirotic schema (fig. 7). Yet as Wolfson also observes in Alef, Mem, Tau , it is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that carries the ambivalent feminine associations ofthe final sefirot : “In zoharic symbolism, Malkhut [another name for Shekhinah ]is linked symbolically to the Tree of Knowledge, which is identified further as the Tree of Death.” Wolfson, Alef, Mem, Tau , p. 259, n. 71. Thus exemplifying another expression of the coincidentia oppositorum , Wolfson observes that these intertwined images are related “to the mystical enlightenment that discerns thatdeath is contained in life, that the demonic is in the divine,” and that in zoharic sources, death is figured as a “female, primordial serpent.” Wolfson, Alef, Mem, Tau , pp. 173- 74.

This vertiginous interplay of the terrestrial and celestial domains, of life and death becoming clothed in shifting veils oftrees, serpents, and flights of light, becomes expressed in poetic form in Wolfson’s “feathers of text”:

golden
feather
stroke
serpent
spleen
slithering
down
faltering
sight
in night
become
night
incalculably
dark
tunnel
light
vision
split
tipping
point
memory
tumble

As in so many of Wolfson’s poems, the spare vertical structure of “feathers of text” resembles a ladder, with each word representinga descending step. Much like Skytree , “feathers of text” can be approached as a diaphanous tissue of transient consciousness, a visionpresented through an aesthetic reversal of rooting down from the source while pulling up from the root. Variously composed of golden feathers and shimmeringsnakeskin, the body of the poem forms a hybrid, chimerical creature: that of the paradox. The term itself is composed of the prefix para, which indicates a senseof direction, specifically a location that is beside, alongside of, or beyond; while the root, dox, descends from dokein , which means to think or to seem. Regarding the concept of paradox in relation to mysticism, skepticism, and transcendence, see Matthew C. Bagger, The Uses of Paradox: Religion, Self-Transformation, and the Absurd (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007). A paradox thus presents an open invitation to think alongside of—or alternatively, thegift of thinking beyond—which in moments of ascending consciousness may lead viewers through a descent into open sky as they climb down the lines of a poem.

As embodiments of paradoxical creativity, Skytree and “feathers of text” represent coincidentia oppositora that simultaneously encompass the tunnel and the journey, the darkness and the light, eros and thanatos, theslithering snakeskin and the golden feathers. Conjoined by a single shaft of doubled meaning, the story of the fall can thus be read as a story of flight, avision drawn in a single stroke yet projected onto a split screen. Taken together, Skytree and “feathers of text” present complementary paradoxical visions in which creatures of land and sky offerthemselves as vehicles for the eye and mind to take flight. Words are wings.

Questions & Answers

a diagram of an adult mosquito
mubarak Reply
what are white blood cells
Mlungisi Reply
white blood cell is part of the immune system. that help fight the infection.
MG
what about tissue celss
Mlungisi
Cells with a similar function, form a tissue. For example the nervous tissue is composed by cells:neurons and glia cells. Muscle tissue, is composed by different cells.
Anastasiya
I need further explanation coz celewi anything guys,,,
Calvin Reply
hey guys
Isala
on what?
Anastasiya
is air homogenous or hetrogenous
damiane Reply
homogenous
Kevin
why saying homogenous?
Isala
explain if oxygen is necessary for photosynthesis
Allice Reply
explain if oxygen is necessary for photosynthesis
Allice Reply
Yes, the plant does need oxygen. The plant uses oxygen, water, light, and produced food. The plant use process called photosynthesis.
MG
By using the energy of sunlight, plants convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen by photosynthesis. This happens during the day and sunlight is needed.
NOBLE
no. it s a product of the process
Anastasiya
yet still is it needed?
NOBLE
no. The reaction is: 6CO2+6H20+ solar energy =C6H12O6(glucose)+602. The plant requires Carbon dioxyde, light, and water Only, and produces glucose and oxygen( which is a waste).
Anastasiya
what was the question
NOBLE Reply
joining
Godfrey
the specific one
NOBLE
the study of non and living organism is called.
Godfrey
Is call biology
Alohan
yeah
NOBLE
yes
Usher
what Is ecology
Musonda Reply
what is a cell
Emmanuel Reply
A cell is a basic structure and functional unit of life
Ndongya
what is biolgy
Hawwi Reply
is the study of living and non living organisms
Ahmed
may u draw the female organ
MARTIN Reply
i dont understand
Asal
:/
Asal
me too
DAVID
anabolism and catabolism
Sani Reply
Anabolism refers to the process in methabolism in which complex molecules are formed "built" and requires energy to happen. Catabolism is the opposite process: complex molecules are deconstructed releasing energy, such as during glicolysis.
Anastasiya
Explain briefly independent assortment gene .
Otu Reply
hi
Amargo
hi I'm Anatalia
Joy
what do you mean by pituitary gland
Digambar
draw and lable the cell
Ameh Reply
why homones are destroyed soon after completing their role
Nyirenda Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Flowering light: kabbalistic mysticism and the art of elliot r. wolfson. OpenStax CNX. Dec 09, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10611/1.1
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