Anxious-Buddha presents the art and themes of award-winning digital artist Charles H. Carver

Through aesthetic experiences themselves, or mindful descriptions of their richness, the content at Anxious-Buddha places you in the bond between two creative worlds— the world of natural perception, or what Maurice Merleau-Ponty called naive (pre-reflective) perception— and the world of mental considerations about perceptual content, which tend to cycle back into the ever-refreshing perceptual stream itself, and thereby guide it to completion as a new accomplishment: a full blown content-of-consciousness.

Perception: The Mystery Grove 

The primary emphasis of the art presented throughout this site is fundamentally the same: the hidden and widely misunderstood process of perception. In today's popular notions about imagery, value is often proclaimed to lie in the "conceptual" realm— the realm of narratives, ideas, and social activism. Thus, an emphasis on the perceptual and sensuous as stand alone features is often treated as devoid of humanism and depth in comparison to images that incite us emotionally, challenge us to action, or tell a story. Despite this functional trend there is a deeper, more serious stratum that is missed when we choose to actively neglect our basic capacity to linger and retain at least a tiny glimpse of the perceptual magic that goes on prior to the maturation of even the most rudimentary idea or thought, no matter how noble. As science has confirmed in every age, (and today it is neurobiological investigations that are often the most penetrating), the enchantment at the heart of sensation lies in the fact that it is an active and living process— a coupling and dance with distal physics— even when entirely at the service of functionality. That is to say, there is no passive "copying" or "mirroring" of a ready-made world in the aboriginal sweep of perceptual processes: there is an active completion of that world in a specific situational context: ours. But we are also, in the end, the symbolic species— we are oriented to the conceptual and virtually represented world of ideas, as opposed to our active participation in the revealed style of the physically present. It is that ingrained idea-realm that inevitably leads us, today, to our perceptual experiences. Nonetheless, amidst the flood of cultural habits and modern trends, we need not lose the capacity to hesitate— to see, and to feel again the inception of that prior magic even as it readily extinguishes itself in the fruition of a  functional context.

About The Art & Subject Matter 

Thinking: The Metaphysic

Although the art and photography presented here are either concerned with, or the presentation of a perceptual dialogue, overt conceptual thought instantiates a 'meta' process, a secondary representation about that which was merely presented naively in perception. By virtue of that relationship— the relationship between the active nature of perception and its conceptual derivatives— thought is always ultimately "about" a metaphysic, even when vigorously proclaimed otherwise. But ironically, it too, although a meta secondary process, is still a physical process— and therefore not the experience of a process that resides 'outside' of nature, regardless of the content and assertions it arrives at.

These two domains: the domain of art and mindfulness in pre-reflective perception and the domain of thought and its intrinsic metaphysical trajectory (in the form of an 'as-if' concept and context), sets up the antagonistic subject matter— i.e., the Anxious (thought) and the Buddha (perception) of Anxious-Buddha.

After reviewing the imagery and the animations, see the Poetic Narratives and the Philosophy-of-Mind Essays to engage your own Anxious-Buddha journey. The Poetic Narrative "Doubt Dialogues" metaphorically renders the basic challenge: the task of Being in the manner of Ever-Becoming; as we must at some point take the leap and live a form of self doubt— i.e., the lack of a self-contained set of meanings and interpretations that will remain forever unchallenged. The Philosophy of Mind essays weave together the other side of that doubt— the seemingly lucid aspect (though paradoxical) of what was rendered negatively through the gaps and "negative space" of poetry and metaphor, as they each hint to the more forceful "unknowable" aspect that will always accompany assertions of 'the known'. This two-sided relationship is always at play on Anxious-Buddha.

Sentient Song by Charles H. Carver
Consciousness itself is a project of the world, meant for a world which it neither embraces nor possesses, but toward which it is perpetually directed. (Maurice Merleau-Ponty)
Sensation, natural perception, reflection, language, myth and science — each are spontaneous movements of the human spirit which come to fruition in form, in action, and in the meanings they embody. We naturally enact form and meaning, and each moulds us according to the style of our species and the creativity of our culture. The sediments run deep, but ultimately beneath the habitual concepts we adhere to by tradition; beneath the lucid and the purposefully directed employment of the intellect, we discover still another fertile ground. It is the Mystery Grove whereby our senses naturally couple to the distal environment which gave rise to their function and style, and raise it by their power to the status of completeness, to the living— to Being. The natural world lives through us and we according to its formative hand. Here, beneath interpretation and judgement; beneath True or False: a world coalesces in the living senses from a horizon we can only belatedly ill-conceive.
Here, we cannot even question the self-evident “there-is” which the senses move to complete and act upon — we gain only the possibility to doubt the subsequent judgements we have brought to accompany it on the way to an elaborated and functional set of meanings. But that is the world’s most primary and buried meaning: the simple, bold and astonishing “There-Is”. Here, biology and spiritual mystery are not at odds — for it is our biology which describes the latent potential and the functional style which our senses employ — and it is our perceiving being which is manifest through that exchange. We are a living instance of that very process — the necessarily forgotten process of perception. For us, the mystery does not refer to meanings sought or functional purposes queried. It hints to a more primordial and potent simplicity: the blatant and astonishing There-Is, whose coupled other side we naturally are.