The Cloud of unknowing

John Cage
“I learned the traditional reason for making a piece of music in India: “to quiet the mind thus making it susceptible to divine influences.”
Lou Harrison, meanwhile, was reading in an old English text, I think as old as the sixteenth century, and he found this reason given for writing a piece of music: “to quiet the mind thus making it susceptible to divine influences.”

“A sober and quiet mind is one in which the ego does not obstruct the fluency of the things that come in through our senses and up through our dreams. Our business in living is to become fluent with the life we are living, and art can help this.”

This echoes The Cloud of Unknowing, a 14th Century mystical text in line with the teachings of contemplative traditions throughout the world.

“The Cloud’s de-emphasis on the activity of the intelligence represents a seemingly archetypal impulse hinted at even in Platonic texts: that the ultimate reality which the mystic seeks to experience is finally beyond the grasp of the intellect (Louth, p. 13).”
“the very soul grew silent to herself and by not thinking of self mounted beyond self.”
“The Cloud of Unknowing, a masterpiece of simplicity that distills a complex mystical epistemology and discipline into engagingly readable prose, embodies a paradox. It offers a method by which the suitably disposed reader may practice an advanced and even austere form of contemplation – the divesting of the mind of all images and concepts through an encounter with a “nothing and a nowhere” that leads to the mysterious and unfathomable being of God Himself. Yet as the account of this exercise unfolds, the genial and hospitable tone of the author humanizes the austerity of the method and persuasively draws the reader into what Evelyn Underhill calls “the loving discernment of Reality””[Patrick Gallacher]

And more art references here, from Susan Sontag and Hannah Hoch: Craving for the cloud

And here Sontag’s Thinking Against Itself

The Cloud of Unknowing teaches that to prepare ourselves to receive a gift of understanding, we must enter a state of quiet stillness, suspended between heaven and earth. Above lies a “cloud of unknowing”, which our understanding can never penetrate. Rationality is only in the way of experience of the real. To access the Real, one has to suspend the “I” and to do so, one has to pass through a state where one no longer knows anything.
In other words, The Cloud of Unknowing is the bridge between naturalism and nihilism.
“The basic argument concerns the justification of knowledge (or epistemology) in light of one’s world view.”