Home page‎ > ‎My Writings‎ > ‎

Talking with Adam Blatner about mandala

posted Dec 20, 2012, 9:31 AM by Annalisa Ippolito
It is a great pleasure and honour for me exchange some words with Adam Blatner about Mandala.
In his blog Mr. Blatner wrote about himself “is a multi-faceted fellow: amateur philosopher, contemplateur of contemporary cultural trends, confabulator (i.e., one who at times brazenly makes stuff up, like the word “contemplateur” -- meaning one who thinks about stuff), playful part-elf, promoter of imagination as well as more rational modes of thought, and so forth.”
During his long experience with people like a “depth-socio-psychologist” he studied and used mandala. I asked him to share with us some of his experience.
Annalisa Ippolito: Mr. Blatner, could you tell us about your experience with Mandala? How did you begin creating and studying mandalas?
Adam Blatner : I started around 1966 with a variety of designs such as the Chartres Labyrinth, but when the fashion of “buttons” was popular around 1973- 1980, I began to fiddle with geometry, small star-figures with designs in them, especially forms that involves 5 - 13 points, sometimes more or less.
A: In your texts you described the importance of archetypes. What differences between the traditional Tibetan Mandala and personal mandala in relation with “archetypes”?
AB: archetypes as described on my website are simply the imaginal expression of the mind's tendency to perceive and impose meanings on its perceptions and creations. Regarding the mandala, there is an innate tendency to find a center, and to perceive that things tend to relate to each other and the center in terms of layers and opposites, so geometry and circles are part of this. They also offer a satisfying aesthetic sense of wholeness.
A: Can you tell us something about your Mandalas?
AB: I confess that they're doodles, well organized. I make little effort to be perfect, but rather discover that if the pictures end up being somewhat symmetrical---often superimposed on some geometric scaffold, a square, a seven-pointed or nine-pointed star, with little sub-circles around the points, for example, it ends up looking interesting. My own fun is then discovering configurations that are amusing and interesting in the doodles. One can imagine “meanings” for the different configurations, but originally they just came forth through what seemed like random movements of my hand holding the pencil or pen. Often I do a pencil drawing, laying on another layer of detail, and then I pen the main figures and erase the underlying lines. You can see many on my website.
A:There are some connection between Mandalas and your “psychodrama”, (complex of role-playing-like tools and concepts that can be used to amplify the nature of communications, and applied to enhance the effectiveness of therapy, education, and other forms of applied drama)?
AB: No. Well, only at an abstract level: I value spontaneity, and the drawings are spontaneous. Psychodamas are also improvised enactments. But other than this common element, no connection.
We're talking about people becoming involved and active rather than passive and living vicariously. We're talking about personal empowerment in the face of a media-celebrity establishment offering a super-reality experience from the outside.
So psychodrama, spontaneity training, action explorations, real people co-creating, in art, in dance, etc.---it need not be all that polished, but it's authentically alive.
I like your wonderful mandalas, but more than the mandalas, I like the idea of your doing the creativity, your being alive and excited and discovering as you go. You're quite talented, but I want everyone to discover and enjoy their own talent, as modest as it may be.
The fellow who invented psychodrama, Jacob L. Moreno, wrote in a poem earlier in his life that more important than the creation is the creator--- the you doing the creation, the living person discovering. Much that is created is provisional, amateurish, unfinished, a model, a doodle, an idea that needs to be developed. Sometimes that idea never gets fully developed. Hey, it's okay! Your personal life and psychological and social process is really more important than any product.
So I guess I'm a bit of a populist. I honor art, but there's so much of it that most people are getting the sense, “Oh, I could never do that… so why should I try to do anything?”  And so I promote folk singing and song fests, folk dancing and other dancing where more people can discover that even if it's not “great,” hey, it's fun, and more, “I” am doing it, not just watching it.
It partakes a bit of Plato's allegory of the Cave, that sometimes we watch life and begin to think that what we watch IS life.
A: What are the most common mistakes and prejudices about mandala that you had to face in your long-lasting experience?
AB: I may not have had enough experience to notice mistakes or prejudices. Perhaps one is that they must be done well, mainly in color. I am biased a little in my feelings that my own work pales in comparison with your lovely constructions. On the other hand, my figures are joyously free and have all sorts of little sub-figures in them that are slightly asymmetric. And that also has another kind of aesthetic value.
There are many people, perhaps most in my country, who so far don't know the word “mandala” or find these figures particularly interesting.

A: Who or what is an inspiration for you, there is a particular person that resulted to be crucial in your life regarding the mandala? Or some book?
AB: I have a goodly number of books on mandalas, and they may impress me at a subliminal level. Some pictures I like more than others. The general field of sacred geometry has been a significant source of inspiration.
A: Do you have other project with Mandala in the future?
AB: Well, not a project exactly, but it seems to me that here might be a form of populist art. What I mean is that I am interested in getting people actively involved in creativity instead of being spectators to someone else's work: Doing instead of watching. The advance of electronics and mass media has led to a sense that a person can enjoy more the finely developed art of another---which is okay to a point, but we're well beyond that point. People are becoming hypnotized and dis-empowered and have given up doing their own work. It may be less wondrous than an outside expert, but, hey, it's their own.

A: Thank you for sharing your personal vision!

For more info visit his website    
http://www.blatner.com/adam/cartoons.html   gets more to the mandalas  
Or http://www.blatner.com/adam/cartoons/mandalameanings.html  
or  http://www.blatner.com/adam/cartoons/mandalas/aata1109.html
But this is too general:   http://www.blatner.com/adam/default.html
and his blog    as is this… http://blatner.com/adam/blog/?page_id=2
To contact him: adam@blatner.com