The Liberation of the Knots

Not merely an Amandla for Mandela
welcoming him into the house
of the heart, but in these mandalas
Philip Taaffe has created from
his immersion in love for India—
where women at dawn on thresholds
of their homes shape mandalas of
rice flour or even pigment of flowers
to protect house and all within it from
forces that might do them harm—

the knots abound, the knots abound,
in gestures that reflect the intricate
interweaving of all things in motion
or still, reflect as well the tangling,
the negations of the negation
and the knottiness of the nut
when it’s opened to reveal
the inside of its mystery, the
alphabet of the oldest language:
complexity and simplicity as one.

And the revelation goes direct
to the gut: that these are paths
—these knots—made by one
continuous act of writing
a line whose ultimate goal
is the mending of all the tears
in the face of the world through
the attainment of the ecstasy
when they are liberated
in order more than knot to be.

At which moment you realize that
this is no mere graphic adventure
in “aht”, but the path of mandala
(called Rangavalli in the north and
Kollam in the south), comes also with
the sounding of the sea of oils in the
resonant and reverberant tradition
of Japasutram, by which each breath
of syllable sends out a vibration like
a line of light upon the darkness of mind,

and to look is to hear and to hear
is to see before your very own eyes
a multicolored mezuzah un-scrolling
from the doorpost, with hearts and
spirals and stars of majestic joy
at the unity of North and South
and the sweet sound of the tearing
away of eyelids all over the world,
the better to see the total liberation of
the knots in order that indomitable Beauty be.

Jack Hirschman
March 20, 2014

 

Philip Taaffe, "Rangavalli Painting (L)," 2014. Mixed media on canvas, 14 1/2 × 17 3/4". Rangavalli Paintings Courtesy of the artist and Studio d'Arte Raffaelli, Trento.

Philip Taaffe, "Rangavalli Painting (D)," 2014. Mixed media on canvas, 13 1/2 × 12 1/2". Rangavalli Paintings Courtesy of the artist and Studio d'Arte Raffaelli, Trento.

Philip Taaffe, "Rangavalli Painting (I)," 2014. Mixed media on canvas, 13 3/4 × 15". Rangavalli Paintings Courtesy of the artist and Studio d'Arte Raffaelli, Trento.

Philip Taaffe, "Rangavalli Painting (M)," 2014. Mixed media on canvas, 14 × 13 1/2". Rangavalli Paintings Courtesy of the artist and Studio d'Arte Raffaelli, Trento.

 

Contributor

Jack Hirschman

ADVERTISEMENTS