A few yesterdays ago, Socrates declared that all philosophy comes down to this: “Search for the celestial pattern. As you find it, establish it in yourself.”
It turns out we can undertake this search with the simplest of tools.
The compass – that circle-drawing jig available at any hardware or art supply store – turns out to be a deceptively profound instrument. With every circle it draws pi, the ratio that a supercomputer could crunch until the end of time without ever reaching the final digit.
We have no idea how ancient the compass really is. Going back to Pythagoras & Euclid, there were just three tools regarded as essential. All art, architecture, and invention could be accomplished with a compass, straightedge, and the human hand.
On a patch of sand or a sheet of paper, you can design a world in minutes. Geometry is how potential becomes actual.
In the original Greek, geometry means the measure of the world. To the ancient perspective, measuring outward is simultaneously measuring inward. There’s no iron curtain separating the realms of matter & imagination. As you discover the order, patterns, and beauty of the cosmos, you explore the harmony of your own psyche.
When the compass needle sinks into paper, it marks a zero-point of pure potential. A world springs from the void. The circle inscribed around that point symbolizes the universe – the monad or ultimate Number One – containing anything & everything. All the geometry arising in that world is a manifestation of One as it explores its endless possibilities. One, after all, is the only number that goes into all the others.
If you play around with a compass, or watch a kid figuring out how it works, sooner or later a beautiful pattern will arise. Six circles overlap exactly around one central circle. This is known as the flower of life or genesis pattern (as it corresponds numerically to the 6 days of creation and 1 day of rest described in Genesis).
As this irreducibly simple pattern expands, it sets all of geometry on its course. It reaches to the stars, and organizes life at all scales. Draw the pattern yourself and you’ll get a feel for the harmonic laws of nature.
For an arithmetic dimwit like me, this method of drawing turns out to be an elegant way to appreciate mathematics as the universal language.
As your drawings expand into the shapes & patterns of nature, your hand retraces the lines drawn by the ancient explorers of consciousness. The inherent beauty of these forms, such as the hexagonal lattice of a honeycomb or the spiraling curve of a nautilus shell, flashes upon your mind’s eye.
Without even trying, you align with whatever force causes energy to become matter. The geometry mirrors the harmony within you, as one brilliant pattern recognizes another. Gradually, it dawns on you that in a way your really are the center of the universe – the compass point within a boundless circle of creation.
All the artwork in these portfolios came from the magic of this simple drawing technique with compass & straightedge. I look for a balance of opposites: line & curve, light & shadow, equilibrium & expansion. While most of my drawings get lost in complexity, the successful ones retain simplicity, elegance, and efficiency – the hallmarks of Nature herself. Whenever I step back from a finished composition, the result is a surprise, something I could never premeditate.
If it’s true that nothing is new under the sun & moon, my work is about finding novel arrangements of what’s most ancient. My hope is for us to catch a glimpse of the hidden blueprint behind what we take for granted all around us.