Trees, oil enamel on wood, 24x24" 1997

Tree Names

We are quick to judge scientists as atheists and science as anti-religion. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that each language system manifests ideas, feelings, and complex understandings in different ways, and the choice of words builds a path to crystallize a thought.

That scientists have been naming living organisms, botanical curiosities, undersea creatures, planetary and underwater features after myths, explorers, artists, painters, poets, astrologers, heroes, heroines, and immortals not to mention a pilot from the 9/11 crashes-- attests to their interest in things that cannot be fully explained. Like cavities in rocks on faraway planetary surfaces, where mystery abounds or deep image prehistoric trees that loom large even today.

This work is an elegy to that spirit, with an intense love for naming (I had to take the liberty myself to name one tree, whose name came to me in a dream--can you find it?). The border between fantasy, imagination and clear-cut documentation is not always evident), of bringing history, myth, and creativity to the forefront of scientific exploration-or is it the other way around?

Sometimes the names jump up and tickle you--they tell stories--they merge and procreate, not unlike Stephen Mallarme's letters from words in a poem (when he sleeps)--they get up and re-configure themselves at will and whim! So too with names of trees-- they branch out into poems and chants and epic stories by their queer juxtapositions. They leap out at you the way that images leap across the boundaries of a page in poetry