Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? painted by French artist Paul Gauguin seemingly posits the ultimate interrogation in front of its beholders and elicits imaginative responses from them. On the canvas situates almost the whole lifetime journey of the human species from merely a screenshot. Hence, Gauguin captures the uncapturable by visualizing an impossible landscape from his experienced perceptions and embodied vitality. His interpretation of being lives between shapes and colors from multiple layers of his artwork. The inscription on the original painting, however, has no question marks and all words are capitalized. Such inquiries about We echo themselves from a self-responsive manner and thus offer a novel perspective of thinking about Us. As Edmund Husserl (1968) proposed in the phenomenological tradition: “Wir wollen auf die ‘Sachen selbst’ zurückgehen [We must go back to the things themselves.]” This tradition leads to the development of careful descriptions of the structure of our lived experience as embodied subjects. The purpose of this essay is twofold: firstly, to cast some light on the relationship between body and world through my experiences and then, to pursue the way of seeking depth of being, using Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception. Gauguin’s painting speaks to itself, reacts to its own questions, and fulfills its own meanings; so does our lived body.
Keyword: contingency, meditation, imagination, depth of experience