The following is a virtual interview with Michael Rhoades. The dialog took place on Saturday morning, November the 22nd, 2014. The interviewer wishes to remain anonymous and so will be referred to as “AI” (anonymous interviewer).
AI: Good morning Mr. Rhoades.
Michael: Good morning. Please, call me Michael.
AI: Michael, thank you for taking time to talk with me this morning. I am really excited to find out more about you and your work.
Michael: My pleasure.
AI: So first of all, for those who might not know, you are an oil painter, a computer visual artist, a composer of computer generated music, a philosopher, a writer and a theorist… and I suspect there are many other aspects to who you are.
Michael: Well, I am a human being… like any other… simply creating a reality in which to play. We are all, apparently, in the same boat. We are all multi-faceted beings doing what we do.
AI: Fair enough…
Michael: I feel that to focus upon the self and its actions is to limit ones perceptions to an incredibly minute aspect of a much broader view. We simply do what we do.
AI: And yet, we all learn and grow by experiencing things from many different perspectives… would you agree.
Michael: Yes, well… hopefully…. that is why we are here today.
AI: So how would you describe yourself?
Michael: I often tell people that I am just a kid with crayons. Whether those crayons are oil paints and pallet knives or computer algorithms… whatever… I am just a grownup kid expressing.
AI: A very prolific kid… How can you have that perspective? Your compositions have been presented in countless prestigious concerts around the world. You have lectured at some of the top universities; your paintings and installations have been experienced by thousands of people.
Michael: (laughs) Well, I find that such a perspective removes the ego from the situation.
AI: Why is that important? Success and egotism often seem to go hand in hand.
Michael: I have been prolific, which I attribute to a long-term attitude of creating, developing and listening to… a state of mind that is conducive to creative expression. This comes from silencing the mind, which is impossible to do when there is ego involvement. The ego, since it is a construct of thought, is constantly fighting and struggling to continue. The only way it can sustain itself is through thinking and believing in the thoughts. Silence the mind, and you no longer squander your energy in perpetuating this imagined self-perception… the ego. Remove the ego and the creative mind is free to express and one then has the energy to make it manifest.
AI: That is interesting. I have never seen it that way before. But, how can you survive without thinking? That seems quite impossible.
Michael: Well, try it. Do not take my word for it. Silence your mind, if only for a moment, and see what happens. What do you have to lose? It is an ego-perpetuated perspective that enthrones thought as the master. The best thinkers in our society are the most celebrated of personages, however, it is only when thought realizes its own limitations and so steps down from the throne, ruling one’s life, that true intelligence is possible. Thought can and should be used for practical purposes… used as a tool but not allowed to run rampant as the master of one’s actions. From this one finds great energy and creativity. It has been said that if there is a snake in your path, you simply avoid it… it requires no deliberation. The same could be said about your house being on fire. You do not think… you act. We are highly capable beings and even more so when we are not dominated by the ego and its machinations. Act… but do not react.
AI: That’s a very interesting and unique perspective. I will pause to consider it later when there is time for introspection. For now, it provides a good segue to talking about your latest musical project: “Amber Orbs in a White Infinity”. If my count is correct it is your twenty-first published musical project. Quite an amazing accomplishment considering that you have done that in addition to all of your other work. First of all, how do you realize so much work?
Michael: It comes from a perspective of non-linearity… both of time and space. When one does not feel it is an absolute that time is sequential and space is contiguous… things change. Suddenly, there is a chink in the armor of our conditioned views of “reality” and time and space begin to become more pliable. I like to site the example that quantum physicists are currently discovering and exploring this aspect of our multi-verse. Albert Einstein was one of the first physicists to become well known for exposing this counter-intuitive view of time and space with his theories of relativity… part of which states that perception is dependent upon perspective… So, one can accomplish much more than what our limited thoughts might lead us believe we can… We can rest when we die… until then I plan to experience and express as much as I can, which begins with freeing the mind of pre-conditioned perspectives. This allows for one to be prolific but also, and more importantly, it engenders creative freedom and the freedom to create.
AI: Whew… each of your statements could be discussed for hours or days or months…
Michael: It is a lifelong… moment-by-moment choice for each of us… there is no foreseeable end to it. So creativity is then a lifestyle. It is not a decision to pick up whatever materials you have a talent for working with and then to engage or employ creativity. It is a personal perspective that one grows and expands.
AI: With the Amber Orbs project, to me, you seem to be suggesting that our “true” state is that of being white strands of all knowing light existing in an infinite whiteness. The orbs on the strands are lifetimes we create and experience… that come and go and that awareness, consciousness or enlightenment during those lifetimes causes them to have a powerful amber aura or glow. I notice also, that the amber glow seems to be able to break free of the strands of light and exist apart from them. Consciousness, then, causes a continuance that is not dependent upon the dream of life that is taking place in the white orbs. It is how we become infinite beings. Is that what you are attempting to communicate?
Michael: When someone asks me what I see in a painting I created I state that I simply see paint. When a person looks at or listens to my work, they imprint or project their own perspective onto it. They take what I have assembled and assign meaning to it. That is why I love to create art that is abstract. It allows the listener or viewer to interact with the work. This interaction is often unconscious but it is happening nonetheless. So I provide a suggestion with an allusion to form but the experiencer fills in all of the blanks. Great fun… isn’t it!!
AI: But do you believe that my perspective, that the Amber Orbs project and its meaning reveals our true reality, is correct? Was that your intended meaning?
Michael: First of all, I do not trust or believe my thoughts. Experience has shown that I can think anything I want to and call it real. Tomorrow I will think something different from today. So while it is fun to explore trains of thought, I realize it is an imaginary journey. Secondly, and much deeper, I do not believe or trust my own perceptions. The mind is so tricky. We could be completely delusional in all we think and experience and if we are how would we know? This life seems to be real so I play with what it is perceived to be at any time… but I do not deceive myself into believing that it is real or that it is not. So whether it be amber orbs and strands of light… or accidents of the natural outpouring of an expanding universe… or, most likely, something that is completely incomprehensible… it matters not… I am playing with my thoughts and perceptions… nothing more or less than you. I make no claim to meaning or to some superior knowledge.
AI: Wow, you are completely untenable. I love it but it leaves me holding the bag! (laughing).
Michael: Well that seems to be the human predicament… to make the bag and then to hold it!! (laughing) Some people think within the box… some people think outside the box… for me… there is no box. It is a distant memory of a self-imposed prison from which escape seemed impossible. But the bars of that cage were made of smoke and mirrors and so they are stepped past with no impedance. The only resistance is imagined in the mind.
AI: How intriguing. I want to hear more but, I am sorry to say, we are out of time… at least as far as I can tell… (laughing) but I want to say that I have found much of what you have said to be quite inspiring and I am anxious to experience more of your work. I will be listening to “Amber Orbs in a White Infinity” from a completely different perspective the next time I hear it.
Thank you, Michael, for taking time to address my simple questions.
Michael: Thank you for listening…