One example of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love’s principal themes would be the painting “Christ Listening to Stereo.” It depicts a youth on a bus in New York City. The image reveals how the youth is at once physically part of a larger setting while remaining, via his personal stereo, completely separate from it. Immersed in his interior pleasures, he claims a connection to the creative artist who made the music and who allows him to not only share in the expressed creative passion, but to utilize the same as a kind of soundtrack for his own anticipations, memories, desires, needs, or fears of the moment.
Similar and yet very different scenes are frequently enacted in such public spaces as parks, malls, back yards, office buildings, clubs, and street corners. They all make the person part of a larger whole even while many individuals continue to exist primarily as isolated fragments of that whole. The following poem published in the book takes its title from the painting:
CHRIST LISTENING TO STEREO
The clashing knives of sorrow
and screeching profanities of history
melt into bronze pools of deeper meaning.
Eternity is this holy-fool jazz-tune composed by Love.
The sound of salvation is the sound
of understanding: why we bother to breathe at all.
And one leaf touching the earth explodes like a symphony.
The words “I Love You”
kill, and resurrect millions, in less than a second.
(from ELEMENTAL the Power of Illuminated Love)
Poems like “The Homeless: Psalm 85:10,” “Botanical Gardens #2” and “Return to Savannah” echo experiences similar to those described. Others, such as “Every Hour Henceforth” and “Self-Knowledge in the New Millennium” are more transpersonal in nature. Shared social conditions and activities can produce different outcomes for different people. They can reflect powerful rewards—such as economic advancement or political prestige––while some may produce states of perpetual despair leading to the destruction of self and “others.”
In addition to the above considerations, ELEMENTAL serves as a model for future similar projects. More than anything else, it maintains that all humanity is on a quest to experience qualities of compassion and love capable of helping to sustain both the individual and the greater society. Because such a journey tends to take place as much within as without, the visual imagery and linguistic portraits incorporate both levels of that reality.
The final testimony, however, to the project’s validity, came not from the artists who channeled the vision. It came from the members of the Telfair Museum of Art’s Friends of African-American Arts association, the museum’s director at the time, Steven High, and a list of “Gracious Contributors” that included former Mayors Floyd Adams and Otis Johnson, the late great man of jazz Ben Tucker, and dozens more.
It is true that only a thousand copies of the first edition of the coffee-table-styled book were published. Some might argue it could or should have been substantially more. However, those recognizing the significance of the unique achievement may opt to view it as a unique opportunity to build upon its already proven value.
NEXT: Text and Meaning in Elemental the Power of Illuminated Love Part 3: The History Lesson
author of The River of Winged Dreams
and Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry
More on ELEMENTAL and the Text and Meaning Series by Aberjhani
- Text and Meaning in Elemental The Power of Illuminated Love Part 1
- Text and Meaning in The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Part 1
- Text and Meaning in The Civil Rights Act of 1964 Part 2
- Text and Meaning in T.J. Reddy’s Poems in One-Part Harmony 1
- Putting Text and Meaning to the Guerrilla Decontextualization Test (part 2)
- Text and Meaning in the Life of Nelson Mandela Part 1
- Text and Meaning in Robert Frost’s Dedication: For John F. Kennedy Part 1
- Text and Meaning in Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus Part 1
- Text and Meaning in Langston Hughes’ The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain Part 1
- Text and Meaning in Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance Part 1
- Text and Meaning in MLK’s I Have a Dream Speech Part 1