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  • Into the Unseen, the Unsaying, the Unknowing:Whitehead's Mystical Aesthetics in Paul Klee

Philosophy is mystical. Mysticism is direct insights into the depths as yet unspoken.

What things are … refer to depths beyond anything which we can grasp with a clear apprehension.

Alfred North Whitehead

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.

—Paul Klee

I. Science and the Dehumanization of Life

Art and mysticism or negative (apophatic) theology play a central role in the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947): they show him the cosmos from the unseen, the unspoken, and the unknowing, and therefore from "the ultimate mystery of the universe,"1 from "supreme Beauty" (AI, 343), and from "the infinite [primordial]2 ground"3 of all things. This means that Whitehead is looking at the world not as a philosopher of science (that is, with the eyes of reason) but as an artist or a mystic (that is, with imaginative or intuitive eyes); not that Whitehead undervalues logic or the rational mode of thinking, far from it, but it fails to penetrate "the deepest Harmony" (ibid.), "the depths in the nature of things" (PR, 6), the truth hidden deep in nature. Moreover, scientific or philosophical thinking neglects the "glorious beauty of perceived nature" (AI, 321) that strikes the senses and that intuition or imagination can grasp.

Whitehead's emphasis on the union of rationalization and imagination as the very base of science sets him apart from most scientists who emphasize interpretation of facts over and against "the interpretation of experience" as it [End Page 5] constitutes itself into an "integral" whole (PR, x, and 318), or into an "aesthetic experience" (PR, 427). Whitehead's idea that art, religion, science, and philosophy are basically similar, in that they share the common element of creativity, is the very essence of his method. That is why, for example, such phrases as these are of great importance: "The worship of God is … an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable [absolute]. … [The] fertilization of the soul is the reason for the necessity of art. … The soul cries aloud for release into change. … [Art] transforms the soul into the permanent realization of values extending beyond its former self"4—"values" that even science pursues. On the other hand, Whitehead also points out that modern science—with its positivistic, mechanistic, and materialistic basis—abolishes these "values" as less important facts, or it excludes them from "the essence of matter of fact" (SMW, 138), or it reduces them to a mechanism entirely valueless. Modern science, says Whitehead, hides "the glory of God" from disclosing itself; for, without beauty, we cannot perceive God's glory, nor can we experience a sense of wonder, nor can we attain self-realization; without beauty, the human experience becomes "a flash of occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery" (ibid., 280).5

Whitehead turns to art as a way to relieve our pain or misery, to delight us, to refresh us, to rekindle in us a sense of wandering: the impulse necessary for the adventure of "the human spirit" (AI, 351) toward an unseen, unspoken, unknown, and "ultimate reality" (RM, 137). Therefore art, like religion, aims at "something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and … quest" (SMW, 275). Such "quest" or wandering is the very essence of the mystic who seeks God "within the sanctuary of the centered self."6 This "quest" is also of the philosopher and of the scientist who search the universe or nature with a sense of wonder, of religious reverence; without it, Whitehead notes, humankind "will cease to ascend in the scale of being. Physical wandering is still important, but greater still is the power of [End Page 6] man's spiritual adventures—adventures of thought … of passionate feeling … of aesthetic experience" (SMW, 298).7 A philosophy that can integrate such diverse "adventures" into a harmonious whole is organic, and therefore akin to mysticism. As Evelyn Underhill observes, "True mysticism is active and practical, not passive and theoretical. It is an organic life-process, a something which the whole self does."8

The present article touches on a theme that has scarcely been explored by students of Whitehead, such as Donald Sherburne and Brian G. Henning, to mention only these two: that Whitehead's speculative philosophy, which is oriented to a mystical aesthetic view of reality, provides a frame of reference within which to interpret fine art, specifically that of Paul Klee (1879–1940). This mystical thread of Whitehead's philosophy has also somewhat been neglected by twentieth-century students of religion, of culture, and of art, such as, for example, William Dean, David Martin, Bernard E. Meland, and Susanne Langer. This neglect is perhaps associable with a desire to uphold the pragmatic and the empirical, as well as the secular and the sacred, over Whitehead's Platonic genealogy. The cultural, the pragmatic, and the empirical basis of Whitehead's ideas have well been understood. What is less appreciated is the extent to which his achievement may also be a product of mysticism—that is, as rooted not only in the limitations of thought and language, but also in detachment, humility, love, beauty, presence, the whole, the unspoken, the unknowable, and zest as elements of mysticism.

II. Philosophical Mysticism: The Limitations of Thought and Language

Whitehead goes back to the Greeks, primarily Plato and Aristotle, but especially Plato, for the origin of our modern ideas of science, particularly physical science (SMW, 43). But Whitehead also looks at Plato as an artist or a poet.9 He tells us that, if Plato's philosophizing leads him to the transcendent world of Ideas, of Forms, it is not only because he is a lucid thinker and a superb logician but also because of his imaginative or intuitive reasoning to which knowledge of the transcendent, of the mystery, of "ultimate reality" (SMW, 134) is accessible. Plato, writes Whitehead, has "always succeeded in displaying depth [End Page 7] of metaphysical intuition" (AI, 213); and in Plato's mathematical intuition, Whitehead places not only the subsequent development of science but also the origin of Christian theology (SMW, 22)—which he reinterprets in the light of evolutionary philosophy, following Henri Bergson, and, to some extent, in agreement with the paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

Plato's notions of "the Ideas" or Forms, of "Harmony," and of "Mathematical Relations" (AI, 188)—which Plato drew from the Pythagorean tradition, and which are "proportions," or logoi, or words, or analogies, or ratios—stand at the base of Whitehead's philosophical mysticism. These "proportions" or "mathematical relations" render all things interconnected, thereby transforming "the manifoldness of the many into the unity of the one" (ibid., 194, 192). As with Plato so with Whitehead, this "unity" is not only a rational or an abstract "unity" but also an aesthetic or an intuitive "unity" by participation of "'the 'opposites'" (PR, 531)—order and disorder, good and evil, subjective and objective, internal and external—and by participating in the Unity or the One. As in Plato so in Whitehead, harmony is beauty; and beauty is "proper proportions" or relations among the various components of a "composition" so as to yield an interrelated whole, and in particular their concrete manifestation in the beauty of any form of art—a poem, a musical melody, a statue, a building such as the Parthenon (AI, 190)—which gives us pleasure: "We are overwhelmed by the beauty of the building, by the delight of the picture, by the exquisite balance of the sentence."10

Still following Plato—who invokes a "Supreme Craftsman" for creating the world as an orderly process (AI, 189)—and to a certain extent the apophatic tradition of Plotinus,11 of Augustine, of Dionysius the Areopagite, of Meister Eckhart, of Nicholas of Cusa, of Simone Weil, and of Thomas Merton,12 [End Page 8] Whitehead claims that God "is the mirror which discloses to every creature its own greatness,"13 and "He is the poet [artist] of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness" (PR, 526): "the trinity which traditionally has been assigned as the complex aim of art" (AI, 345). Art is thus for Whitehead revelatory in the religious sense; its forms, he tells us, are those of sacrament: "The outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace"—which is "creative action" (RM, 127–28), or what Jacques Maritain calls "creative intuition."14 For Whitehead, then, art, like religion, and like philosophy (PR, 23), is a process of creation, of intuitions, of creative "genius" who—"as if touched by a spark"—introduces something new in the world: "A new expression forever evoking its proper response" (RM, 129–31). The visible or expressive "sign" points not only to something objective, notes Whitehead, but also to something beyond itself, in which case it is a symbol or a metaphor.

Symbols, explains Whitehead, are inherent in the very fabric of life, writing: "Mankind has to find a symbol in order to express itself. Indeed, 'expression' is 'symbolism.'"15 By "expression," Whitehead means the embodiment of the life of feelings in an external form (MT, 27). Moreover, Whitehead is of the opinion that reality enters human consciousness through symbols, indeed, as mathematical or as scientific formulae or equations that he considers "worthy to rank with those mysterious symbols which in ancient times were held directly to indicate the Supreme Reason [Craftsman or Artist or Maker] at the base [End Page 9] of all things" (SMW, 91). He goes on to say that philosophy, science, religion, language, and art are forms of symbolism, or "modes of thought [perception],"16 whose aim is to come to grip with "the deep experience of organic existence" which philosophical mysticism illuminates and brings to our consciousness. "Philosophy is mystical," writes Whitehead; and "Mysticism is direct insights into the depths as yet unspoken," or as yet cannot be known, since "The great difficulty of philosophy is the failure of language" (MT, 32, 174, 49). No matter how far philosophy stretches the usage of words, or even "redesigns language," comments Whitehead, words "remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap"; and no matter how coherent, logical, applicable, and adequate (PR, 16, 6, 4) is the philosophical or rational scheme, our insights are only glimpses of Reality; they are "slight, superficial, incomplete" (AI, 164).

Whitehead sees clearly that the ultimate basis of knowledge is "humility before logic, and before fact" (PR, 25): whatever one knows is limited by the feebleness of language—indeed, "Language halts behind intuition," or else obstructs intuition because of vague, or of erroneous presuppositions. Humility places Whitehead in a state of wonder and awe before "the subtle beauty of a flower in some isolated glade of a primeval forest"; humility leads Whitehead to see that "the unknown" (MT, 49, 120, 62), "the unspoken," and "the ultimate mystery" are also realities that must be considered on our path to knowing; humility teaches Whitehead that "the Certainties of Science are a delusion. They are hedged around with unexplored limitations" (AI, 198)—both from the past and from the very method itself: "The defect of a metaphysical system is the very fact that it is a neat little system of thought, which thereby over-simplifies its expression of the world" (RM, 50). Humility makes Whitehead realize that language "breaks down precisely at the task of expressing in explicit form the larger generalities—the very generalities which metaphysics seeks to express." Even when it knows, humility speaks of "how shallow, puny, and imperfect are the efforts to sound the depths in the nature of things … [and] the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to the finality of statement is an exhibition of folly" (PR, preface, x).

It is precisely because language "breaks down," metaphysics "over-simplifies its expression of the world," and philosophical statements are "shallow, puny, and imperfect" that Whitehead turns to poetry as the language that can explicate "the deep experience of organic life" or can express "the integral experience" [End Page 10] with the wealth of "ultimate feeling" (PR, 16, x, 318). Hence "Philosophy is akin to poetry" (MT, 49–50), and "the poetic insight of artists" (PR, 14) and "the religious insight" (RM, 115) of the mystics—"contemplatives and poets [artists] understand each other," says Jacques Maritain17—can overcome the limitations of language and "the thinness of so much modern metaphysics" (PR, 318). The artist, or the poet, or the mystic sees things in their "primeval" or "primordial" (PR, 529) reality, "on the edge of consciousness" (MT, 5; AI, 366), where, in the opinion of Raimon Panikkar, negative or apothatic theology lies.18 "It is one function of great literature to evoke a vivid feeling of what lies beyond words," writes Whitehead, and to suggest "meanings beyond its mere statements. On the whole, elaborate phrases enshrine the more primitive meanings" (MT, 5, 117).19 These "primitive meanings" that literature discloses refer to the depths beyond anything that we can grasp logically or metaphysically and with a clear understanding (SMW, 135; MT, 43). Hence it is difficult for language, for science, and for metaphysics to express ultimate meanings of things (AI, 164, 198), concludes Whitehead, when "We know more … than we can express … in words" (RM, 123), or when "We experience more than we can analyze [verbalize]" (MT, 89). We experience the world or reality as a perpetual becoming, a creation forever unfolding "meanings as yet unexpressed," but which "are achieved by recurrence to the utmost depths of intuition for the refreshment of imagination" (AI, 291, 203–4).

So it is that language is limited in dealing with "evolving notions which strike more deeply into the root of reality" (RM, 127). Language, observes Whitehead, has become superficial, reductive—that is, it simply conveys the "average matter-of fact"—and abstract,20 leading away from the concrete environment or experience (MT, 38–39). Yet at the same time language is for Whitehead our human nature, not as split consciousness—as in Descartes—but as fusion of thought and feeling, or of mind and body—as in Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Language is so important to Whitehead that he goes so far as to say "that the souls of men are the gift from language to mankind"; it is a means by which we are connected with the world; it is a gift that allows our past to be relived in the present through the memory; it is "the systematization of expression," the [End Page 11] embalming of an historic tradition; it allows us to recreate the world; it frees us from "bondage to the immediacies of mood and circumstance"; it is "the product of advancing civilization" (MT, 33–37, 41); it preserves "the wisdom of the world";21 it reveals as much as it conceals (AI, 153).

Thus, there is in Whitehead "not simply the clearly sayable and knowable … [but also] the completely unsayable and unknowable," according to Frank Burch Brown.22 This "unsayable and unknowable" is the mystical; it is, according to Nicholas of Cusa, the limited or inaccessible power of thought and of language to "leap across this wall of invisible vision" to where God lies hidden in the luminous darkness of silence—a theme that is developed in other figures and also indebted in varying manners and degrees to the great Neoplatonic leaven transmitted to Western speculation. "But this wall is both everything and nothing," continues Cusa; "For you, who confront as if you were both all things and nothing at all, dwell inside that high wall which no natural ability can scale by its own power."23 Not just our natural ability, but also our sins blind us to seeing or to knowing God, or they make us see God "veiled." But if we want to see God unveiled, beyond all veils, concludes Cusa, we must enter into the "cloud, mist, darkness, or ignorance." To be in darkness, in the cloud, in ignorance, is the only way that "the inaccessible light, the beauty, and the splendor of [God] can be approached without veil";24 it is not a discursive, but a contemplative approach to the ineffable One of Plotinus before whom we remain "silent";25 or, as George Steiner observes, "What lies beyond man's word is eloquent of God."26 Precisely because we remain silent, or we want to hear the eloquence of God, we worship. Worship, writes Whitehead, "is a surrender to the claim for assimilation, urged with the motive force of mutual love. … The power of God is the worship He inspires. … The worship of [End Page 12] God is not a rule of safety—it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable [the absolute]" (SMW, 275–76).

Silence, Thomas Merton tells us, is concrete; it "clears away the smoke-screen of words that man has laid between his mind and things"; and in that silence, continues Merton, we discover pure or naked reality and love. "When we have really met and known the world of silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality."27 Whitehead likewise does not "trust entirely … language to contain reality." In fact, Whitehead believes that language as the expression of consciousness is "a figment of the learned world" (MT, 36)—what he calls "'The Fallacy of the Perfect Dictionary'" (MT, 173), or the "'fallacy of misplaced concreteness'" (PR, 11). Whitehead points out that, unlike "the learned world," the primitive world expressed thoughts in myths and in rituals—indeed, "Mankind became artists in ritual" (RM, 21); and humankind became theologians, philosophers, and scientists as well, we should add. The language of myths, and of rituals is not the language of logic, but of the spirit, of feelings, of emotions; it is the language of "the vivid fancy of primitive men in an unfathomed world … or [the] recollection of some actual vivid fact"; it is, in sum, the language of the world speaking to them, and they, in turn, responded with primitive or crude ideas that have "the supreme virtue of being concepts of objects beyond immediate sense and perception" (RM, 23–26). Hence Plato, points out Whitehead, has said that "the deeper truths must be adumbrated by myths" (MT, 10); and all myths, Max Picard points out, "emerge from the twilight of silence,"28 and they are expressed in symbols as revelation of the transcendent in the immanent, in Whitehead's opinion (MT, 120).29

Myths and rituals serve Whitehead as witnessing to a certain "unity of the whole" between "primitive men" and the world (RM, 21). Analogously, poetic art conveys to Whitehead "the brooding presence of the whole on to its parts," as well as "the concrete outlook … [and] the inward thoughts" of human beings. Moreover, poetic art, by rendering "our concrete experience," makes us "see that the element of value … of being something which is for its own sake, must not be omitted in any account of an event as the most concrete actual [End Page 13] something. … Value is an element which permeates through and through the poetic view of nature." Such a "view" points Whitehead to the idea that "nature cannot be divorced from its aesthetic values" (SMW, 127, 110, 136); in aesthetics, "the whole" discloses the "various parts" (MT, 62), and this "whole" is not actualized by logic, but by an "immediate" and direct contact with the "whole"—as in the mystical experience30—defying the materialism and the mechanism of science with the emphasis on abstraction, on the parts, and on the external relations of things (SMW, 125–28). We cannot know any part, says Whitehead, without knowing the "whole" (MT, 61). Yet each part or detail is not just a part or a detail, but a detail or a part in the whole, symbolized for Whitehead in the sculptures on the famous porch of the Cathedral at Chartres, which lend "themselves to the beauty of the whole." Yet, "Each detail claims a permanent existence for its own sake, and then surrenders it for the sake of the whole composition" (AI, 339, 364; MT, 109).

For Whitehead "the whole" in the Cathedral at Chartres mirrors, or is an image of, the whole in us as Trinitarian beings of Instinct, Intelligence, and Wisdom that he believes cannot be torn apart: "It is the case of the whole emerging from its parts, and the parts emerging within the whole" (AI, 60). These elements cannot be torn apart because they are the concrete manifestation of "The Whole" (MT, 110), which for Whitehead is the Deity, God, the final Harmony or Unity in virtue of which there exists "value," a sense of worth beyond ourselves. "The unity of a transcendent universe, and the multiplicity of realized actualities, both enter into our experience by this sense of deity. Apart from this sense of transcendent worth, the otherness of reality would not enter into our consciousness" (ibid., 102). To the extent that Whitehead retains "the unity of a transcendent universe," he enters the sphere of negative or apophatic theology as, again, in the words of Raimon Panikkar, "the experiential awareness of the Whole and/or the study thereof."31 Therefore Whitehead is compelled to describe philosophical language as mystical; that is, as "dissimilar similarities,"32 or as "opposition of contraries,"33 or as [End Page 14] "coincidence of opposites,"34 or as "contradictions"35—which has had a long history in religious and philosophical thought,36 including in the dialectical idealism of Hegel,37 the dialectical materialism of Marx,38 and the psychology of C. G. Jung.39 At the end of Process and Reality, Whitehead concludes with a sweeping series of opposites or paradoxes, ending with, "It is true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God. God and the World are contrasted opposites in terms of which Creativity achieves its supreme [final] task of transforming disjointed multiplicity, with its diversities in opposition, into concrescent,40 with its diversities in contrast" (PR, 528).

Transformation stems from God's creative love for the world, and, through "the motive force of mutual love," we return the world back to God in Christ: "The solitary Man on the Cross"; the supreme or ultimate "contrasted opposites"; "The world lives by its incarnation of God in itself" (RM, 19, 149). Incarnation alone teaches how to grasp the transcendent in the immanent, to perceive the world as that God who is becoming and who at the same time is revealed. The whole of the mystical tradition attests to this transcendence in the immanent. "The tendency is no longer to regard God 'out there' at the summit of the cosmos," writes Thomas Merton, "but as the 'absolute future' who will manifest himself in and through man, by transformation of man and the world by science oriented to Christ."41 [End Page 15]

Love is the mystic way;42 but not as "self-devotion," says Whitehead; rather, as a love that "passes from selfishness to devotion," or that "transcends … individual personality" (AI, 371, 367); the deep-seated "longing of the spirit" (RM, 83) toward self-realization in the Unity of all unities, or in the Harmony of all harmonies—which Whitehead calls "Peace [as] the intuition of permanence" (AI, 369)—or in the Whole of all wholes that permeates us, and not just to a part, says Nicholas of Cusa, but also to an "image" or to an "icon" that mirrors the Source, the Unity, the Harmony, the Whole.43 Cusa proposes to uplift us to the transcendent Image or Icon of God by art, or by sensuous forms, since he, like Whitehead, sees the artist as a "mirror" of God. Unlike God, who "without any material form brings into being not a likeness with a defect but a true essence," the artist, explains Cusa, not only needs something from which to create, but the created image has some defects as well:44 "Even the greatest works of art fall short of perfection," says Whitehead (MT, 62), in agreement with Cusa.

Yet both Cusa and Whitehead say that all great works of art aim beyond material things; they aim at ultimate reality, at the mystery, at the "Truth of supreme Beauty [which] lies beyond the dictionary meanings of words" (AI, 343). As for Cusa so for Whitehead, art and intuition are the way by which the mystic and the philosopher or the scientist can achieve ultimate insights into "the deep experience of organic life"; and, as for Cusa so for Whitehead, art brings into unity "contrasted opposites," thought and reality, the self and the world. Whitehead gives us truly an admirable mystical philosophy that succeeds in bringing together into an organic whole the most rational scheme and the unknown, the unspoken, and the unseen of the mystical experience. For Whitehead, it is not a question of abandoning thought, language, and the knowable for mysticism; rather, it is a question of reciprocal knowing and appreciation: metaphysics is informed by mysticism as mysticism is by metaphysics (RM, 31). Ultimately, it is a question of "humility before logic" and before the glorious beauty and wonders of creation, which awaken in us a sense of "holiness … of the sacred, which is at the foundation of all religion" (MT, 120), and of all art, I might add, and even of science, teaches us Albert Einstein.45 [End Page 16]

To just what extent is Whitehead's mystical aesthetics of organism echoed in the art Paul Klee is the theme of the section that follows. It is important to keep in mind Whitehead's central idea: that in an organism "the plan of the whole influences the very characters of the various subordinate organisms which enter into it" (SMW, 115), and that this whole is grasped intuitively or by the inner or contemplative eye.

III. Klee's Art of Organism

"Nothing can be rushed," writes Klee of the creative process. "It must grow, it should grow of itself," as things grow in nature. This "growth" aims at the creation of the whole, which "is not easy to arrive at," says Klee. Hence we do not yet have "the whole," but "we have found parts," since we discover parts in the whole through our "penetrating vision and intense depth of feeling."46 Klee tells us that as he creates, he "dissolve[s] into the whole of creation,"47 or participates in, or is in communion with, the living universe. "The dialogue with creation is for the artist the condition sine qua non. The artist is man; he is himself nature, a parcel of nature in the atmosphere of nature. … The artist therefore creates some works, or participates in the creation of works, that are the image of God's work."48

Indeed, in the felt beauty of Klee's Full Moon (1919) (which, in my opinion, evokes the biblical narrative of creation as it unfolds out of chaos, of the abyss, of the unfathomable, as it also does Eros [1923] with its abstract geometrical form of the triangle), in the luminous ethereal beauty of the Southern (Tunisian) Gardens (1919) (where one is absorbed in the silence and in the light of creation, two elements of the way of the mystic), in the red sun of the Landscape at Sunset (1923) (where we participate in the rhythm of nature, as though day gives way to night), and in the dream world of the Landscape with Yellow Flowers (1923) (where birds, plants, clouds, the sun, and the moon are in a silent dialogue with one another, and with nature), Klee is truly in communion with, but at the same time hidden from, creation, which points him to that ultimate enduring principle that is designated by God. In these works, if we allow the color tones, the shapes, the lines, the dots, the squares, the triangles, [End Page 17] the spheres, the textures, the play of light and shadow to speak, the Unseen, the Unspoken, and the Unknown of creation come to presence. Then, tells us Whitehead, the glorious and vivid values of the works of art are enjoyed for their own sake: "The habit of art is the habit of enjoying vivid values" (SMW, 287).

It is creation—though somewhat in abstraction—that comes to life in Klee's art in a joyful harmony. Therefore it is "a false dichotomy to think of Nature and Man," says Whitehead. "Mankind is that factor in Nature which exhibits in its most intense form the plasticity of nature" (AI, 99), and God is the "antecedent ground conditioning every creative act." Every "creative act" therefore leaves the world with an impress of God (RM, 148, 152). Hence Whitehead, like Klee, considers the work of art a prolongation of nature; it is, in Whitehead's words, "a fragment of nature with the mark on it of a finite creative effort" (AI, 348). Klee perceives plastic Nature in lines, tone values, colors, measure, weight, and quality in such a way as to create from these a "living picture" that is whole or harmonious, so that each in its place is right and none clashes with the other. Should they clash, the artist must add a different color value or a counterweight "to restore the equilibrium."49 In all great works of art, insists Whitehead, "a miraculous balance is achieved" (MT, 62)—which is the unification of "contrasted opposites." With the achievement of this "balance" or "equilibrium," a work of art looks at us with the greatest depths of feeling or emotive force: "serene or severe, tense or relaxed, comforting or forbidding, suffering or smiling."50 In other words, the work of art speaks to us, it has meaning for us, it absorbs the whole of us—body and soul—it transforms us by leading us "beyond the most beautiful things" to God: "I only try to relate myself to God," to be "in harmony with God," observes Klee. "Art is like Creation. … Art imitates creation."51

As with creation so with art, all things unfold, all things change—the universe, says Whitehead, is a process where everything is interconnected and everything interpenetrates one another, so that all things change and endure, and the world marches on following the life-cycle of an organism: "becoming and perishing" (AI, 354). The mountain endures, continues Whitehead, but after ages it dies, and in time a different mountain emerges, but it is a new mountain (SMW, 126). Thus Whitehead places the emphasis on the unfinished, continuing evolving, and ever new dimension of creation, and each new creation "embraces [End Page 18] the whole" (RM, 108–9). So too in art, "It is precisely the way which is productive; becoming is more essential than being," notes Klee.52 The "way" of the artist is like the growth of any organism, explains Klee, and, as the organism assimilates the diverse material from the environment, so too the artist takes in "the passing stream of image[s] and experiences[s]" and integrates them into an organic whole with continuing emerging components connected with each other.53 This process is analogous to Whitehead's "subjective aim" (AI, 325; MT, 152) of an occasion or of an experience that aims at "self-creation" (PR, 37), omitting nothing from the environment, but integrating the various elements from the environment into its own creation or realization.

Klee illustrates the growth of the work of art by resorting to the simile of "an apple tree in bloom, its roots and rising saps, its trunk, the cross-section with the annual rings, the blossoms, its structure, its sexual functions, the fruit, the core with its seeds"54—an organization of states of growth. As the apple tree receives its sap from the root, Klee goes on to say, so "the sap flows to the artist, flows through him, flows to his eyes. Thus he stands as the trunk of the tree. Battered and stirred by the strength of the flow, he molds his vision into his work." Just as the crown of the tree unfolds and spreads in time and in space, so too the work of art, "and the beauty at the crown is not his own. He is merely a channel."55 The seed from which the root of the tree grows is "the idea."56 It is "the idea" concealed behind visible forms that Klee wants to show in his art: "Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible."57 Whitehead likewise stresses this concept: "Art is a message from the Unseen. It unlooses depths of feeling from behind the frontier where precision of consciousness fails" (AI, 349).

Art, observes Whitehead, can immortalize the temporary, by seeing it in the light of eternity (AI, 364), of "supreme Beauty"—indeed, of the "Divine Eros as the active entertainment of all ideals, with the urge to their finite realization, each in its due season. Thus a process must be inherent in God's nature, whereby his infinity [eternity] is acquiring realization." Whitehead points out that in the Symposium, Plato associates erös with "an inward ferment, an [End Page 19] activity of subjective feeling" (AI, 349, 357, 364, 189) urging the soul toward realization—that is, wholeness. Let us recall that in the Symposium, "the contemplation of beauty absolute" renders the soul whole—as at the end of the Phaedrus Socrates prays to the god Pan to give him beauty in his soul, so that "the outward and inward man be at one."58 To contemplate "beauty absolute" is to behold it with our inner vision. This means that we experience beauty more in the "silence of our eyes"59 than in the words of our mouths. It is from this silent or contemplative vision that we are led "to create many fair and noble thoughts,"60 or many beautiful works of art: "'Don't talk, painter, paint,'" says Klee.61 In that Divine Silence, we become both the whole and the part of what is to Whitehead that final "Beauty [Harmony] with which the Universe achieves its justification" (AI, 381).

Art, continues Whitehead, reveals the depth of beauty, it is the highest manifestation of human consciousness, it disciplines our inner being, thereby introducing good and evil, and it nourishes the soul. Above all, art is for Whitehead the key that unlocks "the depths in the nature of things" through the artist's vision: "The world spreads wide beyond the deliverances of the material sense, with subtleties of reaction and with pulses of emotion."62 Such a vision is what Whitehead calls "sense-perception" or "presentational immediacy," which "is only of importance in high-grade organisms." For Whitehead, the artist is a high-grade organism, in that the artist deals in "direct experience," which is "infallible"—for "what you have experienced, you have experienced."63

This "direct experience" or "presentational immediacy" is not only the "penetrating vision" of Klee; it is the vision of the modern artist as well, in the opinion of Donald Kuspit,64 and of Herbert Read.65 Klee's "penetrating eye"66 seeks to penetrate to "the region of that secret place where primeval power [End Page 20] nurtures all evolution";67 or to grasp "the womb of nature, at the source of creation, where the secret key to all lies guarded";68 or to know "The real truth … [which] remains invisible beneath the surface."69 In sum, what Klee is seeking, in a profound yet robustly secularist mode, is an analogical yet anonymous bespeaking of "the reality that is behind visible things":70 the "ultimate mystery" that "lurks behind the mystery, and the wretched light of the intellect is of no avail"71—a mystery that can, however, be penetrated by "the living flame of love" (to use St. John of the Cross's exquisite metaphor). This love flows through Klee's hands, through his eyes, through his mind, and articulates itself in the work of art;72 this love is the very "fire … to create," and is transmitted "through the hands, leaps to the canvas, and in the form of a spark leaps back to its starting place, completing the circle—back to the eye and further."73 As in St. John of the Cross so in Klee, this love is detached or disinterested: "My love is distant and religious," writes Klee. "In my work I do not belong to the species, but am a cosmic point of reference. My earthly eye is too far farsighted and sees through and beyond … things."74

"My love is distant and religious"; distant, in the sense that love does not deal with practical (utilitarian) needs and ends; religious, in that "love detaches itself from creatures to ascend to God and comes down again associated with the creative love of God," in Weil's opinion.75 This coming "down again" to the world has a Christological dimension to it: "We must not help our neighbor for Christ but in Christ," continues Weil; "May the self disappear in such a way that Christ can help our neighbor through the medium of our soul and [End Page 21] body."76 Through detachment, or a certain disinterestedness in self for the sake of being interested in the other—or in this case the work to be realized, as many in the Christian tradition insist—we become instruments of a God who identifies himself with the world through Christ. Whitehead expresses a similar vision, stating, "Care for the future of personal existence, regret or pride in its past, are alike feelings which leap beyond the bounds of sheer actuality of the present. It is in the nature of the present that it should thus transcend itself by reason of the immanence in it of the 'other'" (AI, 375–76). In Religion in the Making, Whitehead says: "The world lives by its incarnation of God in itself" and, therefore, through Christ, "the solitary Man on the Cross." This is why, for Whitehead, "if you are never solitary, you are never religious." Whitehead goes on to say that "religion is what the individual does with his solitariness. The reason … is that universality is a disconnection from immediate surroundings. … This element of detachment in religion is more particularly exhibited in the great reflective books of the Old Testament" (RM, 149, 19, 47–48)—as well as in the books of the New Testament, particularly in John and Paul.

This "disconnection from immediate surroundings" implies a connection with the world in true and authentic works of love and of peace; or, in the words of Whitehead, it implies an attachment to "higher forms of love [that break] down the narrow self-regarding motives," or an attachment to a love that "passes from selfishness to devotion" (AI, 371), which, for Weil and for the Christian mystical tradition, is charity or agape. Hence detachment or "distance" or the "cosmic point of reference" is not indifference or being uninvolved; it is, rather, being involved with the world, not from selfish motives or desires but from "devotion" or "reverence" (ibid., 109), so that we may open ourselves to the beauty or to the light of the world, which, says Klee, emanates "not from here, / not from me, / but from God,"77 who is seen or found through love joined to pure detachment. And that is the essence of mysticism, which, as Evelyn Underhill has told us at the beginning of the article, "is active and practical, not passive and theoretical. It is an organic life-process, something which the whole self does; not something as to which its intellect holds an opinion."

This understanding of mystical religion accords, in my view, with Whitehead's existential and radical involvement with the world, and also with Klee's art as the expression of pure detached love, which places him in direct, organic contact with the whole of creation, in the continuity of nature in its birth, growth, and decay, of which we are part. As in nature so in the creative act [End Page 22] there is continuity: "Like a circle may start anywhere, the idea may be regarded as primary. 'In the beginning was the word.'"78 Beginning and ending indicate temporal succession. Hence the creative process takes time, says Klee; it is constructed by "the unification of opposites"79 piece by piece, just like a house; and "Character, too, is movement [time]," concludes Klee. "Only the dead point as such is timeless. In the universe, too, movement is the basic datum."80 Space, too, is for Klee a temporal concept; he is immersed in it. After all, says Whitehead, "we are in the world and the world is in us," and the world is all around us; in a sense, concludes Whitehead, "the world is in the soul" (MT, 165, 163).

So that both time and space merge in Klee's vision to create a moment in the flow of river time, bathed in the feelings of the unchangeable, of the invisible, of the eternal, of timelessness, of the unsayable, of the unknowable. This moment is nothing but a Presence; it is the moment in which Klee dissolves himself in, or is one with, nature and is ready to make visible "the essential character of the accidental,"81 or what lies "invisible beneath the surface." In sum, this is the moment of creative expression, of intuitive insight, of inspiration. Klee writes: "I begin logically with chaos, it is the most natural start. In so doing I feel at rest because I may, at first, be chaos myself. … Everything vanishes around me, and works are born as if out of the void."82 We encounter a similar language in Whitehead, apropos of knowing the nature of existence: "We must grasp the essential character of that depth which … is the mainspring of the ascent of life" (MT, 44–45). Both Whitehead and Klee seek for this "essential character" of things, which is a search for the totality, for the wholeness, for a Presence that is real or concrete and is not our own projection.

Klee experiences this creative moment so intensely—as does the scientist or Whitehead in the moment of discovery—that it seems as though he is "flying off to the infinite [absolute],"83 or as if, in the words of Georges Poulet, "its transience gives way to everlastingness, as if time stands still and becomes eternity."84 In other words, the creative act is in time but it is also a movement [End Page 23] of self-transcendence, of a flight from time. The creative act is not only self-transforming—as for example in Klee's Glass Façade (1940), and the Captive (1940), which are "eschatological"85 in nature—it also makes possible the transformation of the world, which Whitehead believes is to be accomplished at once by humankind and God (PR, 528). Klee lives with the spiritual understanding of the horrors of the world86 and creates from the purest detachment, from the inner life of solitude. "In the end, we are alone on this earth," writes Klee,87 which is to say, "I am not here, / I am in the depths, am far away … / I am far away … / I glow amidst the dead"88—a detachment that contributes to the attainment of ultimate divine purpose. Klee writes: "From the uncertain / something shines, / not from here, / not from me, / but from God … / Light-in-itself."89 Hence Klee's art is the image or icon of God's divine art.90 Hence it confirms Whitehead, who writes: "Throughout the perishing occasions [experiences] in the life of each temporal Creature, the inward source of distaste or of refreshment, the judge arising out of the very nature of things, redeemer or goddess of mischief, is the transformation of Itself, everlasting in the Being of God. In this way, the insistent craving is justified—the insistent craving that zest for existence be refreshed by the ever-present, unfading importance of our immediate actions, which perish and yet live for evermore" (PR, 531).

As for Whitehead so for Klee, we must have "that zest for existence" that leads us to God, who is love, and in whom the creative action completes itself: "What is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world," writes Whitehead. "By reason of this reciprocal relation, the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world. In this sense, God is the great companion—the fellow-sufferer who understands" (PR, 532). Klee shows us that God is his "great companion," for he "turns his suffering into song, but the melody is full of doubt and despair," since he knew that he was going [End Page 24] to die, and wanted to be "entirely in harmony with death"91 where he could listen to the voice or eloquence of God's silence, and be in peace. "This," concludes Whitehead, "is the secret of the union of Zest with Peace:—That the suffering attains its end in a Harmony of Harmonies. … The adventure of the Universe starts with the dream and reaps tragic Beauty" (AI, 381). Klee bears witness to such a dream and tragic journey, for, he reflects, "The longer the journey, the more one feels the tragedy of having to become movement without already being movement. … Never quite to get there, where there is movement without end!"92

What Klee, then, wants us to experience as we contemplate his paintings is to be "refreshed by the ever-present" presence of God. He wants his art to consume us by "that zest for existence" that makes life worthwhile. He wants us to seek the dream journey so that we can attain ever deeper perception of the eternal, of the "supreme Beauty" of creation. Klee wants his art to transform us, to blot out ordinary time by making us experience the "invisible," the "ultimate mystery"; he wants his art to reveal the silent inner life of the human soul, a soul, in Klee's case, whose capacity for joy equals the capacity for suffering, as, for example, his Love Song by the New Moon (1939)—a song that, in my opinion, evokes the mystical vision of St. John of the Cross, and which may be described as a "song in the night." Yet it is a song of joy, of light even in the darkest night. It is, in sum, a song of love, yet full of hidden tears, because true love is always accompanied with the tears of wandering, of searching, of waiting, of suffering. True love is, as St. Catherine of Siena teaches us in her Dialogue, "tears of fire, shed without physical weeping."93 Then, and only then, our life is a presence—that is, an integral whole. Is it not "the Presence in nature" that Whitehead discovers in the Romantic poets of Wordsworth and of Shelley that leads him to the "integral experience" as total presence? Is not this total presence "an underlying eternal energy" that spreads itself in dynamic continuity?94 And, is it not "the whole of nature" that Wordsworth and Shelley place before Whitehead's eyes that leads him to question the scientific method as being "too narrow" (SMW, 124, 154, 121–22) to grasp the "deep [whole] experience of the organic life?"

In Shelley's lines from his dramatic poem Hellas, Whitehead discovers that understanding is limited in its approach to the continually changing and [End Page 25] transforming world, a world that spreads from the finite to the infinite, and from the many to the One. "Worlds on worlds are rolling ever / From creation to decay, / Like the bubbles on a river, / Sparkling, bursting, borne away" (MT, 44). This endless, eternal, and ever elusive nature of the Shelley's "worlds" is, however, immanent in the One, in the Whole, which Shelley sought—as did Plato, Plotinus, Whitehead, and even Klee. In the poem, Shelley makes the sage, Ahasuerus, speak of

the OneThe unborn and the undying. Earth and ocean,Space, and the isles of life or light that gemThe sapphire floods of interstellar airThis firmament pavilioned upon chaos,With all its cressets of immortal fires. …this WholeOf suns, and worlds, and men, and beasts, and flowers,With all the silent or tempestuous workingsBy which they have been, are, or cease to be,Is but a vision …Though is its cradele and its grave, no lessThe Future, and the Past are idle shadowsOf thought's eternal flight—they have no being:Nought is but that which feels itself to be.95

Klee somewhat echoes this idea, which, like Shelley's, reflects Whitehead's aesthetics of organism tinted with a Platonic idea, or archetype. Klee writes:

The deeper he [artist] looks, the more readily he can extend his view from the present to the past, the more deeply he is impressed by the one essential image of creation itself, as Genesis, rather than by the image of nature, the finished product. Then he permits himself the thought that the process of creation can today hardly be complete and sees the act of world creation stretching from the past to the future. Genesis eternal!96

For Klee, as for Whitehead and for Shelley, we are indivisibly woven into the flow of Time, the Whole, the One, the Unity, the Circle; we are what nature has created; and nature is what we know, not by knowing but by the fact that we are nature's unfathomable knowledge that is inseparable from our existence; we are, in a way, nature's never fully fathomed specimen or organisms, for our [End Page 26] knowing is one with existing as that by which all presencing may be, yet which never is itself sheer presence—that is, silence. Klee's quasi-abstract art is a kind of silence. He observes: "Words are really at quite a remove from the essential mystery; tone and color in themselves are the mystery."97 Klee identifies the mystery with the "Light-in-itself."

IV. Conclusion

What Klee gives us in his art is a spiritual quest, a meditation on the destiny of humankind, on the metaphysical relations of the adventure of the human spirit and of art, which causes him to stand outside traditional art, to distort or deform natural forms, so that "nature [is] reborn."98 For Klee, natural things are so unreal that he can only make them real by "abstract [plastic] elements"99—such as points, lines, squares, colors, planes—arranged into a whole, but which, seen concretely, represent a "star, vase, plant, animal … or man."100 Though "abstract," such an arrangement springs from Klee's creative fire or love—indeed, from utter solitude, from a silent life of humility, in that he is simply a channel, a bridge, a mediator; he simply gives us what comes to him "from the depths. He [Artist] neither serves nor rules—he transmits."101

What Klee transmits to us is the inner life of things, their soul, the anima mundi of the Platonists, including Whitehead who, like Klee, believes that we must recapture that "living" experience in which we know nature not as an object, a thing, but as alive, as felt, as Presence, as Whole. However meaningless Klee's living pictures first appear, nevertheless, if we pay close attention to them, they can reveal the presence of things, thereby finding ourselves in communion with the invisible and the unspoken—indeed, with the "primordial ground" of things that to Meister Eckhart "is a simple silence, in itself immovable, and by this immovability all things are moved."102 Klee's quasi-abstract art opens us to our inner world, and it takes us beyond ourselves. The true value of living art, teaches Whitehead, is that it "transforms the soul into the permanent realisation of values extending beyond its former self": Beauty, [End Page 27] Truth, and the Good, the images or icons in this visible world of an invisible, transcendent, and divine order. "Apart from God, there would be no actual world," writes Whitehead. "The actual world is the outcome of the aesthetic order, and the aesthetic order is derived from the immanence of God" (RM, 150, 101). The human quest, tell us Whitehead and Klee, bears not only on the secrets of nature but also on the mysteries of the spirit and on the hidden God. Truly, Klee's art is a response to the "ultimate mystery" of the universe, as is Whitehead's organismic aesthetics, and both teach us that, if we are to find God in a Godless universe, we must find him through love. [End Page 28]

Angelo Caranfa
Stonehill College
Angelo Caranfa

Angelo Caranfa is an emeritus scholar who taught philosophy at Stonehill College and at Bridgewater State College. His areas of interest are twentieth-century French aesthetics and aesthetic education. He has published articles in numerous journals and is the author of three books: Claudel: Beauty and Grace (1989), Proust: The Creative Silence (1990), and Camille Claudel: A Sculpture of Interior Solitude (1999).


1. Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: Macmillan, 1961), 207; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as AI.

2. Throughout the article I use other words in brackets to illustrate the multivalent nuances of the word in the original quotation.

3. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), 529; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as PR.

4. Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Macmillan, 1954), 276, 290–91; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as SMW.

5. This link between beauty and the meaningless of existence is also made by Hans Urs von Balthasar in The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, ed. Joseph Fessio S. J. and John Riches (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983), 1:18–19.

6. Joan Chittister, Illuminated Life: Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2000), 98–99.

7. Whitehead's idea of spiritual wandering suggests the Old Testament tradition expressed in Deuteronomy 26: 5: "My father was a wandering Aramaean."

8. Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (Stilwell, KS: A, 2005), 59.

9. See John Herman Randall, Jr., Plato: Dramatist of the Life of Reason (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970), chap. 9.

10. Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought (New York: Free Press, 1968), 61; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as MT.

11. See Lewis S. Ford, "Process and Eternity: Whitehead Contemplates Plotinus," in Neoplatonism and Contemporary Thought, 2 vols., ed. R. Baine Harris (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), 1:205–20.

12. Although it may be tempting to regard the article's emphasis on the apothatic dimension of Whitehead's thought as an over simplification, it is perhaps more fitting to see Whitehead within the Neoplatonic genealogy through Plotinus, who definitely was a philosopher theologian. Whitehead is not a theologian, in the sense that his elucidations are guided by the claims of Revealed religion. Nonetheless, he does reflect in the depths several themes that Plotinus develops, which are brought together in the visions of Augustine, Dionysius, Eckhart, Cusa, Weil, and Merton, and which ultimately draw from Plato's thought. My reading of Whitehead appears to support this belief, and it is in no way incompatible with Whitehead's method being described by some students of Whitehead as "empirical" and "intuitive." In other words, there is a legitimate use of the term apophatic that is compatible with being "empirical" and "intuitive" in regard to reasoning, i.e., certain modes of reflective analysis, which endeavors to consider comprehensively the given radical plurality of beings as implicating a primary principle that is not (a) being. This is why the article occasionally mentions in passing other figures not directly related to Whitehead, but who echo similar focuses and attainments. In this regard, see, for example, Jens Halfwassen, "The Metaphysics of the One," in The Routledge Handbook of Neoplatonism, ed. Pauliina Remes and Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (London: Routledge, 2002), 189. Also, for further material on this question, see vol. 2 of the above-mentioned collection, Neoplatonism and Contemporary Thought, ed. Baine Harris, particularly the following essays: Oleg Bychky, "A Neoplatonic View of the Dialectic of Absence and Presence in the Nature of Artistic Form," 163–80; Aphrodite Alexandrakis, "Does Modern Art Reflect Plotinus' Notion of Beauty," 231–42; L. E. Goodman, "Neoplatonism: Unity and Plurality in the Arts," 243–57; Alicia Kuczynska, "The Epiphanies of Traces in Art: Post-Neoplatonic Visualizations of the Invisible," 257–68; Werner Beierwaltes, "Some Remarks about the Difficulties of Realizing Neoplatonic Thought in Contemporary Philosophy and Art," 269–86.

13. Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York: Meridian Books, 1960), 148; hereafter cited parenthetically in the text as RM.

14. Jacques Maritain, Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry (New York: Pantheon Books, 1953).

15. Alfred North Whitehead, Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect (New York: Fordham University Press, 1985), 62.

16. Whitehead shares this view with Ernst Cassirer, Benedetto Croce, R. G. Collingwood, and his former student at Harvard Susanne K. Langer—a view that Albert Hofstadter describes as the "'expression theory of art'" in his Truth and Art (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), 15.

17. Jacques Maritain, Art and Faith: Letters between Jacques Maritain and Jean Cocteau, trans. John Coleman (New York: Philosophical Library, 1948), 83.

18. Raimon Panikkar, The Rhythm of Being (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010), 201.

19. In this connection, it is worth recalling Ludwig Wittgenstein who looks at language not from the meaning it discloses, but from its usage.

20. See Donald A. Crosby, "Language and Religious Language in Whitehead's Philosophy," The Christian Scholar 50, no. 3 (Fall 1967): 210–21.

21. Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education and Other Essays (New York: Free Press, 1967), 49.

22. Frank Burch Brown, Transfiguration: Poetic Metaphor and the Languages of Religious Belief (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 8.

23. Nicholas of Cusa, "On the Vision of God," in Nicholas of Cusa: Selected Spiritual Writings, trans. H. Lawrence Bond (New York: Paulist Press, 1997), XII. 47.

24. Ibid., 244.

25. Plotinus, Plotinus: The Enneads, trans. Stephen MacKenna (London: Penguin Books, 1991), VI. 9. 3; V. 3. 14. For an analysis of Whitehead's thoughts as they relate to Plato and Plotinus, see David Rodier, "Alfred North Whitehead: Between Platonism and Neoplatonism," in Neoplatonism and Contemporary Thought, ed. Baines Harris, 1:183–203; Ford, "Process and Eternity: Whitehead Contemplates Plotinus," 205–19.

26. George Steiner, Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature and the Inhuman (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998), 39.

27. Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude," in Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, ed. Lawrence S. Cunningham (New York: Paulist Press, 1992), 244.

28. Max Picard, The World of Silence, trans. Stanley Godman (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1952), 89.

29. See Louis Dupré, The Other Dimension: A Search for the Meaning of Religious Attitude (Garden City, NY: Double Day, 1972), 254–56; Hans-G. Gadamer, Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Hermeneutical Studies on Plato, trans. P. C. Smith (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1980), 68–69; and Randall, Plato: Dramatist of the Life of Reason, 199.

30. The mystical experience as an immediate and direct contact with the truth or depths of things is also advanced by William James, in The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature (New York: Modern Library, 1994), 412–13; by W. S. Stace, in Mysticism and Philosophy (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1960), 66–70; and by Evelyn Underhill, in Mysticism, 12–15.

31. Panikkar, Rhythm of Being, 244.

32. Dionysius, "The Celestial Hierarchy," in Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works, trans. Colm Luibheid (New York: Paulist Press, 1987), II. 4. 141C.

33. Augustine, The City of God, trans. Marcus Dods, D. D. (New York: Modern Library, 1950), bk. XI, 18.

34. Cusa, "On the Vision of God," X. 40.

35. Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace, trans. Emma Craufurd (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1952), 89–93.

36. See Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion, trans. Rosemary Sheed (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958), 417–23; Eliade, Mephistopheles and the Androgyne, trans. John Cohen (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965), 108–24; Eliade, The Quest: History and Meaning in Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), 168–75; Eric Newman, The Origin and History of Consciousness, trans. R. F. C. Hull (New York: Pantheon, 1954), 8–10.

37. Friedrich Hegel, Phenomenology of the Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977).

38. Robert C. Tucker, ed., The Marx-Engels Reader (New York: W. W. Norton, 1978), 106–25.

39. See Jolande Jacobi, The Psychology of Jung, trans. by K. W. Bash (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1943), 45

40. Whitehead defines concrescence as "'growing together'" to convey the notion "of many things acquiring complete complex unity" (AI, 303).

41. Thomas Merton, "Contemplation in a World of Action," in Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master, ed. Cunningham, 384. Yet the defect of Whitehead, as I understand him, is that he, unlike Merton and the Christian mystic tradition, secularizes God to the radically extreme (PR, 315); moreover, he, unlike Merton and the Christian mystic tradition, addresses God in an impersonal way; finally, Whitehead, unlike Merton and the Christian mystic tradition, does not elevate love to the idea of charity or agape.

42. Underhill, Mysticism, 62.

43. Cusa, "On the Vision of God," II. 11.

44. Cusa, "On Seeking God," in Nicholas of Cusa: Selected Spiritual Writings, trans. H. Lawrence Bond, IV. 48.

45. Albert Einstein, The Quotable Einstein, ed. Alice Calaprice (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996), 145–61.

46. Paul Klee, "On Modern Art," in Modern Artists on Art: Ten Unabridged Essays, ed. Robert L. Herbert (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-All, 1964), 91, 77, 88.

47. Paul Klee, The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, ed. Felix Klee (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1964), 345.

48. Paul Klee, Théorie de l'art moderne, trans. Pierre-Henri Gonthier (Paris: Denoel, 1985), 43, 46.

49. Klee, "On Modern Art," 82–83.

50. Ibid., 83.

51. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 344–45.

52. Ibid., 307.

53. Klee, "On Modern Art," 76.

54. Paul Klee, "Paul Klee, 'Creative Credo,' 1920," in Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics, ed. Herschel B. Chipp (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1971), 186.

55. Klee, "On Modern Art," 76–77.

56. Klee, "Paul Klee, 'Creative Credo,' 1920,"184.

57. Ibid., 182.

58. Plato, "Phaedrus," in The Dialogues of Plato, 2 vols., trans. B. Jowett (New York: Random House, 1937), 1:279.

59. Mother Teresa, No Greater Love, ed. Becky Benenate and Joseph Durepos (Novato, CA: New World Library), 10.

60. Plato, "Symposium," in Dialogues of Plato, trans. Jowett, 1:210–11.

61. Klee, "On Modern Art," 75.

62. Ibid., 58.

63. Whitehead, Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect, 16, 6.

64. Donald Kuspit, The Cult of the Avant-Garde Artist (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 5.

65. Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Modern Art (London: Faber and Faber, 1952), 17–43.

66. Klee, "On Modern Art," 87.

67. Klee's "primeval power" corresponds, in my judgment, to Whitehead's "underlying eternal energy" or "underlying activity" or "substantial activity" that enables reality to emerge "for its own sake" (SMW, 154–57). As in Klee so in Whitehead, this "underlying eternal energy" is both beyond the intellect and language. See Elizabeth M. Kraus, The Metaphysics of Experience: A Companion to Whitehead's Process and Reality, 2nd ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1998), 36.

68. Klee, "On Modern Art," 89.

69. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 374.

70. Klee, "Paul Klee, 'Creative Credo,' 1920," 185.

71. Ibid., 186.

72. See Angelo Caranfa, "Glimpses of Silence: Creative Love and the Way of the Mystic in Paul Klee," Religion and the Arts 21, no. 4 (2017): 490–513.

73. Klee, "Paul Klee, 'Creative Credo,' 1920," 185.

74. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 345.

75. Weil, Gravity and Grace, 57.

76. Ibid., 40.

77. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 312.

78. Klee, "Paul Klee, 'Creative Credo,' 1920," 184.

79. Ibid., 185.

80. Ibid.

81. Ibid.

82. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 176, 386–87.

83. Klee, "On Modern Art," 88.

84. Georges Poulet, "Timelessness and Romanticism," Journal of the History of Ideas 15, no. 1 (1954): 6.

85. Will Grohmann, Klee, trans. Norbert Guterman (New Yok: Harry N. Abrams, 1985), 124.

86. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 313.

87. Ibid., 176.

88. Ibid., 308.

89. Ibid., 312–13.

90. Paul Klee, The Thinking Eye, trans. Ralph Manheim, ed. Jurg Spiller (London: Lund Humphries, 1961), 67: "Through the experience that he has gained in the different ways and translates into work the student demonstrates the progress of his dialogue with the natural object. His growth in the vision and contemplation of nature enables him to rise towards a metaphysical view of the world and to form free abstract structures which surpass schematic intention and achieve a new naturalness—the naturalness of the work. Then he creates a work, or participates in the creation of works that are the image of God's work."

91. Grohmann, Klee, 11, 44.

92. Cited in Grohmann, Klee, 124.

93. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue, trans. Suzanne Noffke, O. P. (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), 161.

94. See Angelo Caranfa, "Literature, Art, and Sacred Silence: Whitehead's Poetics of Philosophy," Journal of Speculative Philosophy 29, no. 4 (2015): 474–502.

95. Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Hellas," in The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (London: Oxford University Press, 1923), 768–73; 776–85.

96. Klee, "On Modern Art," 87.

97. Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898–1918, 393.

98. Ibid., 79.

99. Klee, "Paul Klee, 'Creative Credo,' 1920," 186.

100. Klee, "On Modern Art," 84.

101. Ibid., 77.

102. Meister Eckhart, "Germon Sermon 48," in The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense, trans. Edmund Colledge and Bernard McGinn (New York: Paulist Press, 1981), 198.

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