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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Near Death Art

The Light                                
I am currently writing this from the intensive care unit of a major hospital near my home. Last Sunday night I nearly died. It wasn't truly a heart attack, technically speaking, but close enough. My cardiologist tells me it was an "electrical" problem. The upper part of my heart wasn't communicating with the lower part. I was in no pain but I did experience a shortness of breath, and passed out before the paramedics could get me loaded on their gurney. I don't know if that counts as a "near death" experience but again it's close enough insofar as I'm concerned. In any case, now, four days later, I'm doing well enough with my brand new pacemaker and two new heart stents (I already had one from ten years ago) that the doctors plan to release me to a "stepdown" unit (basically ordinary hospital care) later today. I should be going home tomorrow. The marvels of modern medicine never cease to amaze me.
Near Death by Fuzzy
Very few events in my life fail to bring to mind something having to do with art. The Light (top) very closely resembles what I felt and saw as I passed out. Although I "came to," in just a few minutes, the image sticks in my mind. What I saw was in no way spiritual. No "out of body" experience either. It was very abstract. But then, death itself is abstract, about as abstract a phenomena as can be imagined in that few people living today can imagine it. And those who have experienced the proverbial "near death experience," only vaguely agree as to the images they've encountered. As you can see by the similarities in the images such as Near Death (above) by Fuzzy (probably an assumed name) and The Light (top) as well as Near Death Experience (below), 2005, Ean Claud Outrequim, what they have in common is a relationship to infinity as understood and imagined by modern man. True, "near death experiences" are so rare that its unlikely any of the three artists are drawing from any more than second-hand accounts. Moreover, such experiences virtually never happen to artists.

Near Death Experience, 2005, Ean Claud Outrequim
Near Death Experience, Far Dareis Mai
Reports of "near death experiences" virtually all have some form of spiritual element, sometimes quite subtle, sometimes extremely realistic. And, sometimes they have been know to be fabricated, which adds yet another element to such accounts and thus the images reported. In any case, being a Christian believer, I would have expected my dying mind to have conjured up some sort of spiritual reference. There was none. Which is why I doubt that I, or any of the other works seen above have much more than a stereotypical relevance to the phenomena. I was kept from any "near death experience" by the incredible skills of first the EMTs until they got me to the emergency room, then the doctors there who installed an emergency pacemaker to maintain a sinus rhythm while I was life-flighted to a heart catheterization unit where my two blockages were discovered and stented, and a permanent pacemaker installed. My wife tells me I was quite a fighter...I fought them every inch of the way to the point that two legs and one arm had to be restrained as I continually vomited up undigested green beans from dinner some twelve hours before (okay that's probably more than you wanted to know). Perhaps that was more along the line of Far Dareis Mai's Near Death Experience, (above left, minus the green beans). Erica Grimm Vance's, Bellevue 14 (below) may well be a closer representation of the "near death experience. First, it's not labeled as such while having a figural element combined with that of infinity more common with such art.

Bellevue 14, Erica Grimm Vance
In any case, thanks be go God and all those believers who asked him a favor regarding my recovery, I am now home, at my desktop, trying not to fall further behind in my daily mind-wanderings. I usually stay a week ahead. Now I'm only one day ahead. That means a week or so of trying to catch up, not to mention typing up my daily journal (one day of which I have no memory of whatsoever). I'll have to rely on the wild retellings of my wife, whom I suspect may have an a tendency to exaggerate.

This artist may have watched to many opening
ccredits from old James Bond movies.


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