I remember this piece started almost purely from a desire to try and nail down a visual and textural vibe of hard light on crusty stone or plaster that was inspired by a Nicola Samori painting.
I picked Pan unconsciously but as I was painting it became a meditation on him, the sign of Capricorn, man (the MANIMAL) and nature. When you're sitting in front of a subject for hours you get some really good thinking time around it's themes and ideas.
I thought a lot about myself as a being in nature. About animist and Heideggerian ideas about the really important distinction between seeing ones self as separate, or part and parcel to nature, and nature as living being. What's hurting our planet is the idea that we're separate from it. We are nature too!
Nature is smarter, more powerful, efficient, creative, and productive than any person could ever hope to be alone. The technology that pumps our blood through our veins, turns the air we breathe into energy, converts friggin light into energy for plants, allows us to see the world through our eyes, it's amazing. And we don't consciously do any of it with our intellect or rational mind, it's all already here chugging along, and will be here long after you and I are gone. And we're just plopped here playing in it. That same technology runs everything, it's a cohesive, holistic system of which we are *integral*. But, we still look at nature as "dead" in a way, as something to be used as a means to our ends; only the separate, inert, broken eggshells of a gooey Humpty Dumpty. but just as much as we use nature, nature is using us. Using might not be the right word, but it's a two way street, it always is. Humpty Dumpty is a BEING, not just parts.
You could even say that the entire pursuit of humanity since our inception has been to understand and decipher nature, to put Humpty Dumpty back together. But we don't put him back together by pushing the pieces, using our intellectual monkey minds to solve the puzzle or will it into being. Nature pulls us to her, we don't need to *do* anything except be attentive and listen carefully, and we'll receive what we need to know.
When you're using a tool and it's working perfectly you don't even think about it or notice it, it's a perfect extension of yourself and the expression of your intentions. There's not as much of a distinction between you and the tool as subject-object, all you're thinking about is how nicely your work is going along. But when the tool breaks it's glaringly obvious that there's a hammer or brush or keyboard or internet connection getting between you and what you're trying to do.
The other themes that came up when thinking about this was the sign of Capricorn and the role pan plays in it, as well as the wild part of man that comes from being a literal animal in nature. Capricorns have been described as the mullet of signs, business by day and party god by night (the Astrology Podcast :)), they work really hard and play just as hard. There's two main things I thought about most with this, the first being the drive and achievement and struggle of climbing the mountain of success that is Capricorn. The other being the root of Pan in panic. This comes from the myth of Pan being disturbed during an afternoon nap and shouting so loud it scared everything around him. I think nature, or deeply wooded and secluded areas, can do this. Where they almost reject something like a loud obnoxious, unaware human from within itself. Where one can start to feel that there's an immense and tremendous power deep at the root of the woods, a primordial fear and terror arises, that they REALLY don't belong there, and that they're completely vulnerable and at the mercy of the mountain.
This could just be an echo and projection of this learned separateness we feel about nature or some sort of genetic memory of however many humans dying alone in the wilderness. But I think the solution is a switch from a pushing and active approach to nature to a receptive one. When you listen you can hear what it's saying and approach it in a way that it won't reject you. And instead of having all that natural power as a knife at your throat, you've got it as a gentle hand at your back pushing you forward.
Thank you for reading!