By Tom Wachunas
“…for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” - Psalm 103:14
“…We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” - Romans 8:22
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…” Phillipians 4:6-8
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
The inveterate Word nerd strikes again. On one level, this most recent work of mine - titled “Precedent” – began in a spirit of disdain. Actually, hate would be more accurate. I’ve come to hate the attachment of the word unprecedented to just about every report and opinion on this protracted pandemic season of ours. As it is now, too much of humanity is floundering in a merciless vortex of anxiety and anger, confusion and conflict, medical mayhem and moral malaise. And no measure of political poppycock and prattle can alleviate our pain.
But,…unprecedented? A rarely mentioned, much less researched, COVID side-effect is its power to turn us into blithering amnesiacs when it comes to remembering our plagued history as a species on earth. Call it an Anthropocene nightmare. Britannica.com defines the Anthropocene epoch as the “… unofficial interval of geologic time, making up the third worldwide division of the Quaternary Period (2.6 million years ago to the present), characterized as the time in which the collective activities of human beings (Homo sapiens) began to substantially alter Earth’s surface, atmosphere, oceans, and systems of nutrient cycling ...”
These days, I’m thinking that the Anthropocene should be renamed the Entropocene, as in entropy – our collective, ongoing decline into profound disorder in virtually every aspect of existence. There is indeed a precedent for my newest painting. I think of it as a topography of a tautology. I / we have been here before, again. And so I repainted a work from nearly four years ago. I wrote about that painting (shown here above) in a post from early 2018, titled, ironically enough, “Can the past have a future in the present?”
The old painting exists now only as a digital image, a memory. Meanwhile, traces of it are still present in the new work. It isn’t an alteration so much as an altaration – a performative, sacrificial prayer to reach for the promised peace of God while living in a troubled world. I fully believe that it is that peace alone which will overturn our entropy.