Koans by William Lumpkins
I am grateful, once again, to Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, for spotting new aphorists in out of the way places. His latest dispatch comes from New Mexico and the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe:
Wandering through an exhibit of 14,000 years of New Mexico art, panhistoric from the earliest native artifacts up to the vibrant contemporary scene, I encountered the abstract watercolors of William Lumpkins (1910-2000). I was intrigued by his paintings and also by one of Lumpkins’ koans printed alongside one of his works. Besides painting, Lumpkins was a forward thinking architect who early on designed buildings to exploit passive solar. His aphoristic koans show his abiding interest in Zen Buddhism as well as the concerns of art making. Reading all his short writings would require transcribing the index cards he left behind in a few wooden boxes. The few Lumpkins’ koans that I was able to track down were printed on the last page of a 1987 exhibition catalog (“Koans by William Lumpkins,” William Lumpkins: Works on Paper 1930-1986, The Jonson Gallery of the University Art Museum, Albuquerque NM, 1987):
Affirm not or deny not lest you limit your vision.
A cult of images, symbols, hymns, all clichés are but a framework of imitative practices and lead not to the Zen mind.
Go to your paper and color each morning freed from the grip of innumerable yesterdays.
The unplanned image emerges utterly complete.
When one breathes, listens to the song of the birds, feels the wind, is wetted by the rain, associate each act not with a memory but rather experience each as a thing just discovered.
Detachment is not indifference.