The Art of the Line

Published on by Catherine Toulsaly

Tree & Serpent, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ontology of Absence



Reaping intervals disappear in the silent blanket of Nothingness while lines cut through the chaos mounting above the dimly lit surface in a cadential hierarchy of events. The tuning of the Multiverse as it expands and evolves pluridimensionally occurs with the adjustment of interval sizes so as to fit the scale for use and meet specific sounding and echoing requirements from the rhizomatic Nothingness to the far reach corners of the Multiverse.

We suggest that Nothingness is a time domain. There exists a deep connection between island universes, and ways in which imaginary time and real time are encoded into each other. The search is on for missing links in a symbolistic language across the Multiverse. The communication rests upon a repertoire of markings carved into the canvas of time. Mathematics, starting with algebra and geometry, offers symbolic means. It reveals a creative expression caught by the human gaze of preexisting feelings. While its expressive power opened a passage, a system of forgotten signs built a graphic support and an archive of a vibrational dialogue within the biology of the mind. 

In 1927, Alfred North Whitehead wrote in Symbolism: its Meaning and Effect that there is one great difference between symbolism and direct knowledge. Direct experience is Infallible. What you have experienced, you have experienced. As we tread waters to better challenge ourselves, we become wary of using familiar colors to paint across the line all that we have not yet experienced. Retracing one’s steps through the muddy waters of memory, we look back at the shadowy symbols sprung out of Nothingness. Inside the mind plays out the collective Unconscious while the inner ear hears keys of a whispering silence. It is aware of time passing, and deciphers the profound subtlety in evolving shapes. Dots, circles, and lines of the gaseous medium contract and expand into spiral galaxies and wiggling nebulas. Itinerant lines, coming and going, sustain a geometric awareness.



Perception is multileveled. Beyond screening the presentational immediacy, it involves sensing Nature's intrinsic meaning as if all grains of sand were catching the same breeze. Poets are commentators of aesthetics. They force surfaces and depths, drawing inspiration from symbolic references. Poets are Nature's heirs. As such, they feel a direct connection through the symbols of the Universe. Symbols, poets argue, write the code behind dissonant notes that rattle the Universe to the point that it may be out of tune. Dissonant notes, they feel, play a role they are born in, clueless of what they are yet to become.


A transfer of feelings takes place by means of communication. When poets habit themselves to the dazzle of light, they see shiny beings playing peek-a-boo in the woods over the hills, flights of fiery birds above the shore, spirits through the double mirror, flashes of cosmic energy, particles’ trajectories extending across islands of the Multiverse and a celestial bridge at the collapse of time. The late James Hartle wrote that there is an ensemble of alternative possible universes, whether they arise at every quantum state or follow their specific evolution, as in the case of the Universe that we experience.


Alfred North Whitehead furher explained that symbolism is very fallible, in the sense that it may induce actions, feelings, emotions, and beliefs about things which are mere notions without that exemplification in the world which the symbolism leads us to presuppose. He added that it is the task of reason to understand and purge the symbols on which humanity depends. Nonetheless, tomorrow’s realism is today’s foretelling tale of future explorers stretching arm and hand to lift the veil, hoping to shed a bright light on the outline of a dim reflection beyond the Earth’s blue dome. Pushing further the four corners of reality, poets chase the manifestation of concealed elements and hidden signals. Their inner ear touches the trail of feelings at the intersection of Nothingness and Being. 



For the transdimensional Consciousness, Nothingness coexists as a fundamental constituent of reality. Dreams evoke an ancient path. They are filled with abstract lines etched deep in the recesses of the Unconscious. They speak of an eagle watching over two raging dragons and tell a mental riddle of the Queen ant in a cave at the center of the Multiverse, guarding watchfully the entrance of a celestial portal. A spiritual ballad composed, like a medley, from musical sounds, painted lines, and carving void recalls the story of stars born out of giant molecular clouds, that passed unto planets and their ecosystems their magnetic energy.


NGC 346 (NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, Nolan Habel (NASA-JPL))



The provocative effect of Nothingness is evidence of the ontology of absence and entails a necessary shift in human consciousness. In the search for the first moments and the origin of our Universe, I noodled on the idea of the red maple being the first tree to wake up in Spring. Still, it is not the source of everything, just a sampling of what is yet to come. No single point of emergence exists out of the rhizomatic Nothingness.

Underneath is a continuous, rhizomatic domain of the imaginary time seemingly prior but actually intertwined in the very manifestation of discrete quanta. The rhizomatic approach brings up the image of a young pianist performing Bussotti’s piece, who bends forward to reach under the lid and plucks the strings before straightening his back up to strike keys on the keyboard. It describes countless streams of a watershed irrigating the above layout of a physical landscape. The topology of a rhizomatic Nothingness hinges on non-locality and continuously draws a map of extensional forms and shapes as entangled points rise. Spooky action at a distance refers to the coexistence in multidimensionality of underground stems connected to each other in such a way as to constitute the rhizome of Nothingness, any point of which is and has to be connected to another. 

From Mille Plateaux

From Mille Plateaux


The main characteristic of a rhizome is that it is not made of units but of dimensions, or rather of moving directions. Like the sharp spines of a porcupine, lines move in all directions from the Quantum Multiverse. Whether they are pointing horizontally or transversally, orthogonally to each other, or vertically, they thicken into broad strokes and bundle themselves up from microscopic to macroscopic objects, swirling and rotating so that they transmit the motion of time. 

How can we move away from the conundrum of something appearing out of nothing? Compositional redundancy in the poets’ bodies of work is only a stepping stone in the collective learning process. A standstill becomes a platform upon which the eye contemplates the interplay between the mind and time. It serves the purpose of reshuffling thoughts so as to return to the essence of the dialogue, the framing of a resonance. The mind, granted with a kaleidoscopic field of vision, is bound to look into each reflecting surface.

The Art of the line is the skillful dance of the imaginary pen whose calligraphy follows the pace of instantiated bits of time, drawing beable shapes. The Art consists of converting time from a non-linear to an observably linear form that scatters in all directions. It presupposes not the prior probability of antecedents but their coexistence as pluridimensional components of actual subjects.


             Enigma of the First



              Lines elongate and become



             Bodies with a horizontal



             Lines from which the light spills



             Abstractions draft and trace the



                                                                           The Art of the Line


James N Bennett, Motivic Trees, Network Analysis, and Bartók’s Eight Improvisations on Hungarian Folk Songs, No. 5, Music Theory Spectrum, Volume 45, Issue 1, Spring 2023, Pages 1–19,

Bogue, R. (2014). Scoring the Rhizome: Bussotti’s Musical Diagram. Deleuze Studies, 8(4), 470–490.

Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, Mille Plateaux

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