In a book club with friends, we are reading At the Existentialist Café by Sarah Bakewell. It is a challenging book. More than a century ago, in the university town of Freiburg, in the south east corner of Germany, Edmund Husserl drew on earlier philosophers and developed the philosophy of phenomenology.

In brief, this is a method of philosophical exploration, to describe things, i.e. phenomena, as we experience them, reaching out into the world with our minds (termed intentionality) and applying a tool called epoché to boil away second hand or received ideas. Phenomenology sidesteps old philosophical questions about the nature of the mind or of reality by looking instead at the interface between the mind and reality.

Sitting at a table, looking at a vase of flowers, I tried to clear my mind. I drew in white conte crayon on white paper without looking. I developed the image by painting with clear water that skated across the white crayon resist. I dragged the dark green crayon lightly around the paper so it largely spared the dry white drawn areas and coloured the clean damp paper. I then tried to reach out to the flowers in my mind, rapidly outlining their shapes in blue, and picking out some leaf shapes in yellow.

This concept of phenomenology seems to describe what I try to do when drawing. Irrespective of my draftsmanship, for me drawing is a reaching into the world and using visual imagery to “describe phenomena”..

3 responses to “Phenomena

  1. I came across phenomenology, phenomenologists at college, studying Sociology. Must say, they were a popular group with the class, revising. I had the feeling, when some of them were out studying ‘society’ they ran the risk of disappearing into it and not coming back to ‘report’. Sure it has happened.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s