Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Broken Thread: Long Live the Gate Keeper

David  W. Ecker, Artist,  Philosopher,  Educator
The last day of 2013 was the passing of an era, almost unnoticed, as all the players have moved on in spite of our indebtedness to our mentor and pioneer in the quality of life: David W. Ecker. And yet this quiet giant of phenomenological inquiry who taught us all how to see, how to listen, how to write, how to teach, how to be... has passed from this earth, a true broken thread  to the past.  Even though I had a doctoral degree and was newly arrived at New York University, my colleague David Ecker began my real education about art as experience and the basis for understanding our experience of life. He has always been my mentor and my catalyst.

I was mystified that since his passing on December 31, more than two weeks ago, almost no one was honoring his presence and his passing through any public sharing. PLEXUS, an International community-based art experience over which Ecker had significant influence and experience, appeared not to have noticed he's missing among us. I was hoping to read some tribute from PLEXUS since Dr. Sandro Dernini, who is the heart and spirit of PLEXUS, was one of Dr. Ecker's greatest allies and collaborators. I am delighted that now the PLEXUS FaceBook site is posting images and celebrating the work of this man who was both an elegant scholar and an articulate maker of art and events.

And the website ISALTA that sprung from the genius of his ideas and conception has become so dormant that there is no memorial tribute... as though everyone believed the dream died long ago. In fact, the web address ISALTA has become the index page to the activity and interests of Dr. Carleton Palmer who was David Ecker's protégé . Admittedly, ISALTA as a website exists only through the efforts and perseverance of Dr. Palmer. But it has been a source of concern that when I give the ISALTA web address to friends and colleagues who have been excited about the philosophy underlying ISALTA, there is nothing of ISALTA at that address.

I am encouraged by some communication from Dr. Dernini in which there are plans to dedicate future projects to David Ecker, and I anticipate his passing becomes the opportunity to honor him in the process of text, and the creation of works that his leadership has encouraged and inspired.

I call David Ecker the Gate Keeper because it was the vigilance of his vivid consciousness that kept our efforts true and honest to the integrity of pure inquiry as the nature of experience. He was such a splendid advocate for phenomenology, because it was central to all that guided his actions and interactions. When people first met David, they expected him to explain "Phenomenology".  He always refused, but not directly. He would just smile and proceed to have us learn through engaging in inquiry and description of specific encounters with works of art. He taught by example much more than by lecture. Sitting in on his "experiments" was always such a revealing process because he helped us uncover our direct perceptions, edit out the garbage, and emerge with a deeper sense of our experience.

1 comment:

June Julian said...

My beloved mentor & inspiration, my heart is broken. I just found out today...