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BY ED MIRZA 12/2004
ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION 1. ENCHANTMENT AND ART Animism Qualities within enchanted consciousness The ‘Disenchantment’ of the World Suzi Gablik’s Views of Disenchantment and Reenchantment in Art Gablik’s disenchanted art Gablik’s reenchanted art 2. SHAMANISM AND GENIUS Shamanism The shaman personality type Sickness Initiation: death and resurrection Masters of ecstasy The cosmology of the shaman Concluding note on shamanism Genius 3. ANALYSIS OF DISENCHANTED ART The dehumanisation and disembodiment of art Rationalism and classicism Abstraction and figuration Genius and heroism in abstract and figurative painting 4. ANALYSIS OF REENCHANTED ART Historical trends in reenchantment Fantasy Art Romanticism Symbolism Surrealism Magic Realism Present forces of reenchantment Outsider art Examples of Outsider art Art of the insane Children’s art, the art of the insane, and animism Occult artists
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 5. OTHER PERSPECTIVES ON REENCHANTMENT The genius and the shaman compared Shamanism and mental otherness Insanity and animism Insanity and the collective unconscious Hypo-mania and creativity Insanity and dialectic reason Schizophrenia and shamanism Shamans and geniuses as the outsiders The possible contribution of post-colonial critique to the reenchantmant of painting 6. AN ASSESSMENT OF THE EXISTENCE OF ENCHANTMENT IN PAINTING’S PRESENT SCENE Francis Bacon Lucian Freud CONCLUSION
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THE REENCHANTMENT OF PAINTING
by Ed Mirza
Abstract This paper shall begin by introducing the term Reenchantment and its relevance to the History of Art. It shall then go on to explain the links enchantment has with the primitive‘animistic’ world view. Then it shall examine the relevance of the shaman to this world view, and the Post Modern surge of interest in this phenomenon. After exploring the definitions, this paper finds that the shaman is to be understood as a relatively rare individual exclusively possessed of an innate potential for magical power. After describing Morris Berman’s notion of cultural disenchantment as an account of a move from an animistic world view to a transcendent one, this paper shows how Suzi Gablik interprets for art the same understanding of disenchantment. It is argued that Gablik’s prognosis for Reenchantment may be seen to be misguided due to an erroneous notion of genius - as a property of a disenchanted and ego-centric society - and on an incomplete understanding of the phenomenon of Shamanism - which fails to stress the Shaman as an unusual individual. It is seen that Gablik in her attitude to both genius and the Shaman seems not to acknowledge what may be seen as a specially endowed individual. This paper considers the similarities of these two concepts and how they link to enchantment by indicating their relation to psychology; mysticism; notions of the insane; the outsider; and divine and demonic possession or inspiration. Content to observe only the similarity of the concept of genius, the paper considers that similar traits may be exhibited by special shamanic individuals, and that the recognition and placing of such individuals and their potential - as well as an animistic world view - at the centre of art discourse would constitute a Reenchantment of art. The essay also considers the importance of Post Colonial Critique to Reenchantment as hints of an integration of ‘primitive’ world views to Western. After considering recent artwork for candidacy for Reenchantment, the essay concludes by considering the ways in which a shaman may yet produce art in the current context. Introduction The concept of the Reenchantment of art has been introduced to the history of art by Suzi Gablik in her book The Reenchantment of Art (1991). It will be seen shortly that the enchantment to which the term Reenchantment refers is by one definition what western culture calls ‘magic’. ‘Magic’ in its turn refers to a set of phenomena which are only feasible within what may be called an ‘animistic’ world view. This animism is seen to denote the common world view, both prehistoric and world wide, which preceded and exists outside what many art historians call ‘the Cartesian revolution’, which may in turn be seen as the starting point of the western post Christian apotheosis of the ego, and of rational pursuit, which has resulted in the market centred and carbon technologically developed culture called ‘western’. The paper shall begin by explaining in more detail the concept of the western journey from enchantment to disenchantment and possibly to reenchantment in terms of Morris Berman and his page 4 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 book, The Reenchantment of the World (1981), which may be seen to have provided the basis for Gablik’s book. The paper shall then describe Gablik’s views on disenchanted art and then on reenchanted art. It will be seen that her descriptions involve dubious references to shamanism, a questionable critique of the relevance of genius and excellence, and an inexhaustive representation of the possibilities that have already, and which may presently, exist within art history. Following this, this paper shall present a fresh precis of Shamanism, from which it shall emerge that Gablik makes no mention of a prominent aspect of shamanism which implies that excellence, authority and exalted ability, are an integral feature of it; and that Shamans are rather rare individuals distinguished from the majority of humans either by an innate potential or by a very particular initiation experience. It is to be seen that this is thoroughly out of keeping with what may be described as Gablik’s entirely egalitarian view of reenchantment which features the hatred of excellence. For Gablik the Reenchantment of art may denote many compassionate and benevolent gestures, but also seems to exclude genius; it may also be seen that this is part of her negative attitude towards excellence. She appears to align genius with disenchantment and with an ego-oriented culture. This essay presents the definition and a brief precis of genius, and suggests why Gablik may be seen to have been mistaken to suggest that genius cannot figure within a Reenchanted art. Then an alternative approach shall be taken to breaking down the question of what a disenchanted painting actually is. This shall include an interpretation of disenchantment by means of the concepts of the ‘de-humanisation of art’ and the ‘disembodiment of art’. There shall also be identified the relevance to this question of the abstract figurative polarity within painting, and how this links with the opposed concepts of genius and the heroic. The revised precis of shamanism and genius this paper proposes are then drawn upon for their implications in terms of the reenchantment of painting, this includes a consideration of what they may have in common. The paper then proposes a series of subcategories which have not been mentioned in Gablik’s book, and which may be understood as forces in the reenchantment of painting. These categories include: society’s attitudes to the ‘insane; the outsider; multiculturalism; psychedelia; psychoanalysis; and the occult. The previously misrepresented concepts of genius and the shaman are each examined for their relevance to each of these categories in turn. The paper shall also observe extant historical impulses towards Reenchantment which are rendered permissible by the conceptual revisions this paper presents. The paper acknowledges Suzi Gablik’s failure to do so. It shall ultimately be seen that the breakdown this paper proposes yields a more subtle and more readily identifiable series of strands to the question which may be seen as theoretically more rigorous. Along the way the essay shall seek to provide examples of painters and painting relevant to each aspect of the Reenchantment of art as they come up point by point. 1. Enchantment and art Neither Berman nor Gablik make it clear why they have chosen the word enchantment for their books. Neither offer an etymology of enchantment, and both use the word only about three times in page 5 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 their books. Their definitions of it are to be inferred only from their arguments. It will be necessary to discover the implications of the word enchantment, in order to explain this area. In The Oxford English Dictionary the two definitions of enchantment are: "The action of enchanting or of applying magic or sorcery", and "Alluring or overpowering charm; enraptured condition; (delusive) appearance of beauty." 1 From the nature of the texts, as shall be later seen, it is clear that the magical definition is that which they have in mind. There may be drawn up a general historical model by which to understand enchantment. This is the common western historical viewpoint that humanity’s attitude all over the world has passed from magic, to religion, to science. Enchantment, for Berman and Gablik implies the world view thought of as magical. It may be seen that the magical world view persisted, even at the same time as religion, until the dawn of the scientific revolution, or the enlightenment. The theories with which this paper is concerned observe that the principle shift in consciousness during the enlightenment is that which is outlined by the philosopher Rene Descartes. The shift is quite simply the doctrine that matter has no indwelling, or ‘immanent’, ‘mind’; that rather, ‘mind’ is separate from matter. Synonymous with ‘mind’ in this matter may be understood the words soul and spirit. The magical world view may be seen as built on the assumption of the immanence of mind in matter, and it may be seen that this is the assumption necessary for such things as voodoo dolls, and the naming of tree ‘spirits’, and the use of magical stones, to name a few examples. This view point was disproved rationally and named ‘primitive’ by common enlightenment philosophy. Enlightenment philosophy may in some ways be seen as built on this disproval. This may be seen as a decisive transformation which may also be viewed as the transition from a view of tri-partide man (with mind body and spirit) to bi-partide man (with only mind and body). Morris Berman writes: "The view of nature which predominated in the west down to the eve of the Scientific Revolution was that of an enchanted world. Rocks, trees, rivers, and clouds were all seen as wondrous, alive, and human beings felt at home in this environment".2 For Berman, “The identification of human existence with pure ratiocination, the idea that man can know all there is to know by way of his reason, included for Descartes the assumption that mind and body, subject and object, were radically disparate entities... .”(pp. 34-35 Berman)3 Suzi Gablik writes: ‘Reenchantment, as I understand it, means stepping beyond the the modern traditions of mechanism, positivism, empiricism, rationalism, materialism, secularism and scientism - the whole objectifying consciousness of the Enlightenment - in a way that allows for the return of soul.’ 4 Berman notes that the enchanted world is more ‘alive’ than the disenchanted world. The description is apt, since the clearest way to describe historically this way of life, is in terms of the concept of ‘animism’. This word may be seen as synonymous with enchantment in terms of a philosophy of the world, and has enjoyed a more seminal historical coverage of the matter in question. Animism
1 2 3 4
Greater Oxford English Dictionary Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World, p.16 Ibid, pp. 34-35 Suzi Gablik The Reenchantment of Art, p. 11
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 Sigmund Freud gives a definition of ‘animism’ in Totem and Taboo (1950) “Animism is, in its narrower sense, the doctrine of souls, and, in its wider sense, the doctrine of spiritual beings in general. The term ‘animitism’ has also been used to denote the theory of the living character of what appear to us to be inanimate objects... The word ‘animism’. originally used to describe a particular philosophical system, seems to have been given its present meaning by [Sir Edward Burnett] Tylor.”5 Freud derives much of the basis for his writings on primitive culture from the writings of the aforementioned anthropologists, Frazer and Tyler. Freud may be used to sum up the western attitude to primitive culture when he goes on to say about ‘animism’: “what led to the introduction of these terms was a realisation of the highly remarkable view of nature and the universe adopted by the primitive races of whom we have knowledge, whether in past history or at the present time. They peopled the world with innumerable spiritual beings both benevolent and malignant; and these spirits and demons they regard as the causes of natural phenomena and they believe that not only animals and plants but all the inanimate objects in the world are animated by them.” The departure that Berman and Gablik argue that Descartes postulated, as shall be more directly explained, was that matter and nature were dead - not ‘animated’, and ‘disenchanted’. This is the sense in which they use the words enchantment, disenchantment and Reenchantment.6 It is the manifestation, influence of or on, of this spirit realm to which the term magic refers, whether it is psychic influencing of another person, healing, telepathy, or visual and charismatic experiences. Totemism, cursing, all elements of magic down to the present times derive from the prehistoric animistic philosophy. Qualities within enchanted consciousness Berman and Gablik do not extend their ideas to the areas of recent and contemporary magic traditions; but for them what is highly important within the enchanted world view is that on a general level the consciousness and particularly the relationship between people and ‘the earth’ is significantly different from that of the majority of the people of post enlightenment consciousness and the modern western world. It may be seen that Gablik and Berman correlate a range of more specific qualities within enchanted consciousness with enchantment. These may be rounded up into a series of points: a different relationship to others, a different relationship to the body, and a different relationship to the earth. Berman writes “if there is any bond among the elements of this ‘counter culture,’ [i.e. reenchantment] it is the notion of recovery... of our bodies, our health, our sexuality, our natural environment, our archaic traditions, our unconscious mind, our rootedness in the land, our sense of community, and our interconnectedness to one another.”7 Gablik writes: “What is being addressed, from one point of view, is the history and philosophy of western civilisation. For we may see here a late manifestation of the Cartesian split between body
Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo, p. 88 There is another means by which to describe this situation. That is the recognition of the ‘immanence of God’. The presence of spirit or spirits within matter is exactly synonymous with this definition. 7 Gablik (quoting Berman), p. 22
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 and mind and matter, and the consequent separation between man and nature. The resulting loss of a holistic8 consciousness has created and awareness of the interrelationships between man and the world around him. Thus we have a dialectical view of man as separate from, even opposed to, nature and the subsequent exploiting and ravaging of nature... In a certain sense what we have here is a geography of the mental landscape of our time.”9 Berman develops his own terminology for the matter and explains that in the enchanted world people manifest ‘original participation’, ‘participating consciousness’, or ‘hermetic consciousness’. “The essence of original participation is the feeling, the bodily perception, that there stands behind the phenomena a “represented” that is of the same nature as me - mana, God, the world spirit and so on. This notion, that subject or object, self and other, man and environment, are ultimately identical, is the holistic world view.”10 ; “...what I shall refer to in this book as ‘participating consciousness” involves a merger, or identification with one’s surroundings...”11 ; “The “Hermetic wisdom,” as it has been called, was in effect dedicated to the notion that real knowledge occurred only via the union of subject and object, in a psychic-emotional identification with images rather than a purely intellectual examination of concepts.”12 These terms, for Berman, signify a tribal consciousness within which, there is either no, or an extremely minimally developed ego consciousness. The ego is understood here as the artificial paranoiac construction made by each child in order to cope with their condition in the world, it is seen that the ego cannot actually relate to others, cannot create and is a false self. Ego consciousness, may be described as a purely intellectual construction, in keeping with Cartesian philosophy but not able to embody an animistic world view. The alternative to ego consciousness is seen to include an enhanced and involved emotional and physical relationship between peoples, and even with minerals, plants and animals. Berman also speaks of ‘the poetic, or pre-Homeric mentality, in which the individual is immersed in a sea of contradictory experiences and learns about the world through emotional identification with it."13 This is seen to be a property exclusive to the enchanted world, and virtually obsolete in the ego driven modern western world, it is seen as a state of being the ego cannot manifest. For both Gablik and Berman, a big part of Reenchantment constitutes the resurgence of this type of immersive, relational, and emotional consciousness. Another distinction made by Berman is that between digital and analogue knowledge. Digital knowledge is seen as acquired intellectually, whereas analogue knowledge is acquired in the above ‘pre-Homeric’ sense: “Let me dance to you an aspect of tacit knowing,” Isador is saying: let me show you what life is really about. It is not merely that what we consciously know is only fraction of reality, but that incompleteness of knowledge is the source of knowledge itself (if I could dance this book, I wouldn’t have to write it. If western science could somehow achieve its program of total
‘Holism’ as a term has not been introduced in the earlier parts of this essay. It may be seen as an alternative phrase to indicate reenchantment philosophy. It is also synonomous with ‘cybernetic theory’ - also explained by Berman. Berman has explained one of the principles of holism and cybernaetic theory in that“no part of such an internally interactive system can have unilateral control over the remainder or over any other part. The mental characteristics are inherent or immanent in the ensemble as a whole.” (Berman Ibid, p. 244) 9 Gablik, p. 81 10 Berman (op. cit.), p. 77 11 Ibid, p. 16 12 Ibid, p.73 13 Ibid, p. 71
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 14 certainty, at that very moment it would know nothing at all.” Strictly speaking the animistic world view can be seen as gradually superseded in a series of sweeps up to the present day. The virtual complete submergence of this consciousness appears not to have been caused until the seventeenth century, when it was achieved via the Cartesian revolution. Since that time, culture saw animistic consciousness mostly eclipsed by ego consciousness. The ‘Disenchantment’ of the World The ’disenchantment of the world’ which can be seen to be the background for Suzi Gablik’s disenchanted art is recognised by Berman as having been a progression working though Socrates, Plato, the Semitic religions, through to the Enlightenment and Descartes. As has been said the essential shift is from a tripartite view of man to a bipartide view, or from mind within matter to mind as separate from matter. Socrates’s dictum to form a rational self that observes was seen by Berman as the foundation which led to empirical science, as part of the way in Enlightenment man had developed a view of himself as detached observer, as a controller of nature. It may be understood that this was a viewpoint that placed paramount importance on the faculty of reason, which found its final expression in the philosophy of Descartes. Such a view point may be described as rationalism. This rationalism can be seen to have been used to construct a universalising philosophy based on empirical observations of matter. Another word for this is positivism. It may also be seen that this growing emphasis on the intellectual feature of humans also gradually produced a culture increasingly focused on the development and mobilisation of the ego function. It may be seen that the Semitic religions also tended to stress the transcendent rather than the immanent, and that this too contributed to man’s growing sense of detachment from nature. Berman notes: “[In Descartes’s] Principles of Philosophy , the world spirit of the alchemists had become a world mechanism..., with mind expunged from matter...”15 Rationalism was also increasingly endorsed by the church, probably as part of its effort to secure economic security and public credibility. Organised Christianity and the new scientific tradition may be seen to have gradually removed enchantment from the public consciousness. It is to be understood that rationalism was also taught in the education system. It is apt to say that enchantment also became unfashionable during this time; for Berman: “the forces that triumphed in the second half of the seventeenth century were those of bourgeois ideology and laissez-faire capitalism. Not only was the idea of living matter heresy to such groups; it was also economically inconvenient ... if nature is dead, there are no restraints on exploiting it for profit.”16 Kant later expanded on the development of rationalism and supplanted theological arguments for God, with a notion of ‘pure reason’ and provided many theorists and thinkers with a world view in the eighteenth century: a mechanical world view within which self preservation is held as the first rule of thumb for determining ones ‘duties’, so that if you respect others, they’ll respect you. It is the imperative on self preservation that Gablik criticises, or the notion that to preserve oneself now
14 15 16
Ibid, p. 254 Ibid, p. 111 Ibid, p. 126
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 with pure reason will render one in a position to assist others in a possible future even if it means generating physical or emotional discomfort in the present. There is no intimation of any sense of hermetic unionship with others since such things are by this time philosophically impossible. All sense of social conduct may be seen as supposed to be arrived at intellectually. This may be seen as steps towards the ego oriented western culture within which the art world at this time flourishes. For Berman: “The quality of ego-strength, which modern science regards as a yardstick of mental health, is a mode of being-in-the-world which is fully “natural” only since the renaissance.”17 He writes: ...the triumph of the puritan world view, which concomitantly repressed sexual energy and sublimated it into brutalising labour, helped to create the “modal personality” of our time - personality that is docile and subdued in the face of authority, but fiercely aggressive towards competitors and subordinates.”18 From Berman’s point of view, “It becomes difficult to demarcate sharply between innate and acquired when the infant is subject to a socialisation process that begins with it’s first breath.”19 It may be understood that what is being said here is that disenchantment is based on the repression of the unconscious and the body. So from all this it may be seen that while enchantment is synonymous with animism, disenchantment is synonymous with the primacy of the ego function and rationalism. In sight of the described transition, it follows that the art market and artistic production in general may be seen to reflect it. Suzi Gablik identified two strands to post modernism. While one is ego centric and essentially based on rationalism, the other constitutes an insidious reenchantment. Suzi Gablik’s Views of Disenchantment and Reenchantment in Art Gablik’s disenchanted art At first, for Suzi Gablik, disenchantment in the art-world manifested in what she calls the ‘dominator model’ of modernist consciousness. “[b]ehind modernism [sic] itself lies the struggle for autonomy, with it’s mystique of an autonomous artwork, beyond all ethical and social considerations, and an independent creator, who likes to see himself as independent and in control of things, impervious to the influence of others [...] [which] locates modern aesthetics within the “dominator” model20 [...] [t]raditional myths such as the masterpiece, the individual genius [...] are being deconstructed [...]”.21 A lot of deconstructuve postmodern art is about stripping away the ideological myths that held modernism together, particularly with what critic Craig Owens has described as “that mastering position”, the hegomenic, masculine authority that has been vested in western European culture and its institutions.”22 It may be seen that fundamental to Gablik’s book is the split between Hermetic consciousness and ego consciousness. While art that proceeds from the ego function is disenchanted, art that proceeds from hermetic consciousness is enchanted. Gablik conceives also that Romanticism was governed by an egotistical drive, which she calls individualism; also the concept of the masterpiece; the value of
17 18 19 20 21 22
Ibid, p. 159 Ibid, p. 126 Ibid, p. 164 Gablik, (op. cit), p. 62 Ibid, p. 123 Ibib, p. 17
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 technical virtuosity; the genius cult; and heroic Modern values such as in Abstract Expressionism, Gablik also regards as disenchanted. Her argument appears to amount to an assertion that the values upheld within each of these categories also imply alienation and domination, which she sees as characteristic of the disenchanted world. For Gablik, Modernism 23 stands as the summit of egotism reached in western arts culture, with the genius cult, and a disenchanted attitude of repressive attitudes to hermeticism leading up to it. It may also be seen that the second World War did a lot to condition the situation in favour of these isolated, self oriented stances, particularly in America. For Gablik: “Modernism did not inspire what Octavio Paz [( to )] refers to as “creative participation”. Rather, its general themes were alienation and displeasure with society. Based on the heroic but belligerent Ego, inflated and cut of from its embeddedness in the social world, it encouraged separation, distancing behaviour and depreciation of the “other.”24 She writes: “Alienation, the systematic disorder of the modern artist, virtually precluded any connection with the archetypal “other”, because of the refusal to cultivate the feeling of connectedness that binds us to to hers and to the living world.”25 “Fitting into this myth of the patriarchal hero became the first precondition for success under modernism for both men and women - an archetype in which the feminine value of relatedness was virtually stripped away.”26 “Certainly it is the case that that the artist who survives best in contemporary “left hemisphere” culture, as Jose Arguelles calls it in his book The Transformative Vision, is usually the one who internalises and adopts it’s rational values”27 In particular for Gablik, Ricard Serra (b. 1939), is to be regarded as a personification of this trait. “Serra demands absolute autonomy for his art;” Gablik has written in Vogue magazine, “his works are intentionally self sufficient.they stand upright and alone, isolated in positions of heroic rectitude, as if the posture of standing without support, of solitary rootedness, is an expression of resistance to external pressures.”28 “The ego works from a need to win, to come out on top. In the case of Serra, if the artist wins, he becomes a hero; if he loses, he becomes a victim.”29 Gablik perceives this as the basic set up within which the Modern heroic artist is pitted against society and either emerges victim or victor.
Frank Serra, St John’ Rotary Arc, Steel, 1975/80
Although Modernism may be regarded in a literary sense as extending from 1890 to 1930, Abstract expressionism in America was foremost until the 1960s, and is also regarded as Modernist. While there is some blur as to when it is conceived that Modernism ends, it is generally conceded that Post modernism begins in 1960. 24 Ibid, p. 60 25 Ibid, p. 61 26 Ibid, p. 62 27 Ibid, p. 47 28 Ibid, p. 63 29 Ibid, p. 68
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American in the 1950s may be regarded as a centre for heroic Modernism in art. American Abstract Expressionism of this time may be seen to reflect these values. Many other artists may be seen to reflect these attitudes. However, from the preceding it has been seen that Gablik also seems to identify the value of skill and of the master with this position. It is an important point within Gablik’s book that genius and the pursuit of excellence is conflated with disenchantment. This is one of the most questionable parts of her theories. Gablik’s reenchanted art Gablik gives a number of examples of activities and art forms which she conceives to be in line with her vision of reenchantment. One of these is the diary of a woman who gradually cleared out a polluted river, which had for some considerable time been used as a public rubbish dump. Gablik also mentions the conception of a portable wheeled metallic capsule within which the homeless may sleep, and under which they may during the day collect cans for recycling. Earth rituals with an animistic flavour also feature. Another woman befriended for a span a company of those who collect the rubbish from people’s homes in some part of America. All of these may be seen as a return to a ‘holistic’ consciousness, or to ‘cybernetic’ consciousness30. They may be seen as examples of hermetic consciousness or enchantment. The woman who cleaned out the river relates how she began to make a friend of the river, and sensed that it was a living being, which she was healing - and that their friendship grew as it was healed, and how she sensed the river’s gratitude. She documents a growing link with the river as a living being, which for her was a first experience of animism. Then the concern for the homeless or for those who may suffer some social alienation, as may have been the case with the rubbish collectors, exhibits a form of compassionate behaviour obviously more in line with hermetic consciousness and with emotional participation, and removed from purely egotistical concerns. Recycling as a means for self sustenance also recognises ecological concerns (holism), but may also be seen to acknowledge that the bottles too have individual lives of their own (animism) and a part to play in the destiny of the planet. Earth rituals also witness the animism in nature. These all point to the pre-Enlightnement viewpoint of mind within matter. Another example Gablik gives is Tim Rollins and the Kids of Survival. Together, under Rollin’s leadership the underpriveliged children produced large callaborative paintings based on literary sources. These were part of the boosting of the self esteem of these individuals at the disadvantaged outset of their lives. Gablik observes that these are ways of stepping out of ego driven consciousness. “It is obvious that I am pointing to a historical transformation of the Cartesian and Kantian aesthetic traditions, based on autonomy and mastery, into artistic practices based instead on the interrelational, ecological, and process character of the world, and a new sort of permeability with the audience. [i.e. in earth rituals] Where the dominator value system created distance and separation, the integrative trend of partnership creates and demands contact and nearness, both metaphorically and concretely.”31
(see footnote 8) Ibid, p. 163
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When Gablik includes ‘earth rituals’ she also includes references to the already mentioned shamanism. She writes: “This [reenchantment] represents a fundamental challenge to the concept of self we have just been describing, a different model of communicative praxis and openness to others than the historical self of modernism, one that does not use the image of the hero as its archetype but is more like the Shaman.”32 She goes on to say about the earth ritual aspect of her version of reenchantment: “the remythologizing of consciousness through art and rituals the one way that our culture can regain a sense of enchantment”33
Publicity Illustration from the School of Wisdom, (Est. 1920 by Count Von Keyserling) It is clear that Gablik my be seen as correct to state that her examples imply alternatives to ego consciousness and that they imply reenchantment. They begin to fulfil the qualifications for ‘hermetic consciousness’, animism and enchantment. However, it is worth noticing that on significant matters she is either not thorough or misguided, and that there may be other possibilities for reenchanted art. It has already been suggested that her attitude towards genius and excellence appear worthy of revision, but Gablik also seems to exhibit a very peculiar interpretation of Shamanism, and it implies an incomplete representation of the historical accounts of the Shaman. At yet another point Gablik’s text is to be seen as misleading: Gablik makes no mention of what may be regarded as repeated impulses towards reenchantment that may be identified throughout and at definite junctures within art history. 2. Shamanism and genius In the study of primitive societies, to which the term ‘animism’ relates, the presence of shamans makes itself felt. In The Oxford English Dictionary the definition of Shaman is: ‘A priest or priest doctor among various peoples of northern Asia [...] Also more recently, with recognition of the wide spread similarity of primitive beliefs, the term denotes especially, a man or woman who is regarded as having direct access to, and influence in, the spirit world which is usually manifested during a trance and empowers them to guide souls, cure illnesses etc."34 Since the study of the reenchantment of art has brought to light animism, the shaman, for his capacities within the spirit world is of high interest. It appears that his vocation is as an all round expert of the spiritual forces and inhabitants which the animistic world recognises.
Ibid, p. 67 Ibid, p. 48 34 Greater Oxford English Dictionary
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The word ‘Shaman’ appears within the discipline of anthropology applied to individuals regarded as having “magico-religious” powers, it is clear from the texts that they may only exist within an animistic setting. The word shaman is understood to be derived through Russian, from the Tungusic ‘saman’. Some will suggest this original word means ‘seer’. This may be seen as apt since the Shaman is sometimes described as the psychic antennae of a community. It is said that among numerous abilities, they may also sense forthcoming invasions, and weather conditions. Yet while shamans may possess these abilities, Eliade distinguishes the shaman from other sorcerers and healers who may muster similar feats; Eliade writes: “Throughout the immense area comprising Central and North Asia, the magical religious life centres on the shaman [...] through this whole region in which the ecstatic experience is considered the religious experience par excellence, the shaman, and he alone, is the great master of ecstasy.”35 This, which is in line with the Oxford Dictionary definition, pertains to the shaman’s ability to journey to other spiritual realms in ecstatic states. Eliade asserts: “a first definition of this complex phenomenon [the shaman], and perhaps the least hazardous, will be shamanism = technique of ecstasy.[sic]”36 This confirms that the shaman may well have magical powers, or his real distinction is as ‘master’ of the so called spiritual realms. The 1960’s bore witness to a boom of interest and literature on the subject of the shaman, which coincided with Post Modernism. This may be seen as in line with what Suzi Gablik designates as the second, reenchanted strand of Post Modernism. It is connected with New Ageism, colour therapy, alternative therapy, forms of Neo Paganism, popularised astrology, tarot, and an interest in oriental religious practise. This appears to have arisen in unison with the 1960s drugs culture. Many spin off businesses and societies exist now which have their roots in this time. The corresponding cult of natural magic and paganism may also be seen as a resurgence of the ‘animistic’ world view. It may be seen that because these activities presuppose the existence of animism, such activities may for many be designated as shamanism. But this is not altogether obtuse however when it is observed that the shaman does begin to appear as a kind of father and ancestor to all animistic manifestations wherever they may exists on the entire planet. The shaman personality type Since the shaman appears to play such an unavoidable and potent role in enchantment, it is fitting to relate the nature of this figure more deeply. It is to of note to observe that while it may be seen that all humans contain the possibility of becoming shamans, it appears that some unusual ones are born with a peculiar potential in this area. In these cases it often appears to manifest itself within the individual as certain “calling”, and often there is little choice but to follow it. These ‘candidates’ may also be seen to manifest a number of peculiarities which may be seen as interesting in terms of the reenchantment of art. For Rogan P. Taylor in The Death and Resurrection Show (1985), “The overall picture of the youth who is a likely candidate for a quest for supernatural powers is one which many readers will recognise. Such a lad has become a literary type in fairy tales and legends from many parts of the world. He is the ‘lazy boy’, precocious and unhappy with the ordinary world. He is unaccountably moody or queerly sick, often lonely and separated from his real parents. An orphan-outsider [sic]
Ibid, p.4 Mircea Eliade, Shamanism, p.4
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 who thinks he must be special. Above all, or rather beneath all, he is the dreamer, the visionary, who lets his imagination run away with itself. He is the one who must go to another world in order to live in this [sic] one.”37 Added to this may be Eliade’s observations, he writes: “[...] the shamanic vocation is manifested by a crisis, a temporary derangement of the future shaman’s spiritual equilibrium.”38 and, “The shaman begins his new, his true life by a “separation” - that is [...] by a spiritual crisis that is not lacking in tragic greatness and beauty.”39 Sickness It seems that the candidate is eventually in one way or another over taken by a famous ‘sickness’; whether this is emotional, physical or both. It appears that this ‘sickness’ is a pivotal concept around which the whole shamanic phenomenon revolves. It is seen as an inevitable and vital part of the shaman candidate’s journey to becoming a shaman. During the sickness the candidate will make visionary or dream journeys to the ‘underworld’. These journeys are often related to involve frightening and harrowing encounters with ‘spirits’. Initiation: death and resurrection Then it is common to read an account of a highly traumatic initiation, or a transformation, in which the particular human changes from a being with shamanistic traits into a shaman. This process seems to be undergone either in isolation or with the full recognition of members of that human’s society. It is often described as a death from which the candidate is subsequently resurrected. This again happens on a visionary plane for the human, in dream or in a trance. It invariably involves a vision of being physically dismembered and put back together again. Once they have emerged they are understood to be fully in their power. This is described in detail by Rogan Taylor. After describing the initial mental, emotional, or physical “sickness”, and the candidate’s involvement in a visionary or dream journeys to the ‘Under World’, where he encounters the spirits, Taylor writes that in one of these visions: “he is caught, [by the spirits] sometimes tortured and eventually his body is cut up into pieces. This dismemberment is always followed by a magical recovery, usually with the assistance of some mysterious being or creature who re-members the poor candidate by sticking his limbs and body back together again, recreating him as a shaman. This crucial ‘resurrection’ allows the hero (for now he is such) to ascend to the Upperworld in mystical flight, where he is received by the gods and taught many new things. The story comes to an end with the hero’s joyous return to the Middleworld, where he wakes up and finds himself a shaman with power.”40 For Eliade: “[A]ll the ecstatic experiences that determine the future shaman’s vocation involve the traditional schema of an initiation ceremony: suffering, death, resurrection.”41 Eliade also relates: “The content of these first ecstatic experiences [...] almost always includes one or more of the following themes: dismemberment of the body, followed by a renewal of the internal organs and viscera; ascent to the sky and dialogue with gods or spirits; descent to the underworld and
Taylor (op. cit), p 24 Mircea Eliade, 1951 Forward to Shamanism, p.2 39 Ibid, p.13 40 Rogan P. Taylor, (op. cit), p. 26 41 Mircea Eliade, Shamanism, p.33
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 conversations with spirits and souls of dead shamans; various revelations, both religious and shamanic (secrets of the profession).” Eliade goes on to say that although in some accounts all are included, in others only two may be, but that this may be due, “[...] to the inadequacy of our information, since the earliest ethnologists were content with summary data.”42 Masters of ecstasy It has been seen that Eliade describes shamans as ‘masters’. It has also been seen that they receive teachings and instruction during their visionary experiences. The shaman’s subsequent seances and healing abilities appear to involve a technical approach to their ecstatic capacity. The shaman even after initiation may also be apprenticed to an older shaman and instructed in technique. Rogan Taylor says: “[...] there existed a vast heritage of accumulated knowledge, orally preserved by the initiated shamans. Although the primary encounter with the spirits was very often private, as in illness, and a complete initiation could theoretically be undergone entirely alone, the more usual pattern involved considerable learning at the hands of the old shamans. [...] When it became obvious that a young man or woman had experienced an appropriate supernatural event, he or she would probably become apprenticed to an older shaman. It could be five years or more before the pupil could graduate fully into the shaman’s role. [Here] the young shaman truly ‘gets his act together’. [sic] [...] so the apprentice shaman journeys to the other worlds again and again, and his ecstatic capacities [are?] refined and encouraged by the master shaman”43 The following also reinforces further the breadth of the distinction between the shaman and the nonshaman: for here it is observed that the shaman may undergo performances sanctioned by their community, in order to secure their faith in his vocation and in his extraordinary abilities: “To be in the company of spirits does not make a shaman. It is what a shaman can do [sic], as a result, which counts. Part of a new shaman’s trial-by-performance is designed to demonstrate precisely that the shaman possesses the spirits, rather than the opposite. The shaman must show mastery [sic] over spirits and control of forces which, uncontrolled, create sickness. If the candidate fails to do his his tribe are liable to reject any claim to shamanhood.”44 Such demonstrations may take the form of seances, but also often forms of entertainment: for Taylor “[...] much of the show is a pantomime of moments in Hell. [sic] [...] all kinds of tricks with fire, holding red hot coals in his mouth, walking through smouldering embers, [...] spectacular leaps from tree to tree, [...] The shaman must sometimes generate heat as well, [...]”45... Eliade writes: “[B]oth in North Asia and elsewhere in the world ecstatic election is usually followed by a period of instruction, during which the neophyte is duly initiated by an old shaman. At this time the future shaman is supposed to master his mystical techniques and to learn the religious and mythological traditions of his tribe [...] But [...] we cannot properly speak of an initiation, since the candidates have actually been “initiated” long before their formal recognition by master shamans. [...] even where there is a public ceremony, [...] it only confirms and validates the real ecstatic and secret
Ibid, p.34 Taylor (op. cit), p. 31 44 Ibid, p. 33 45 Ibid, pp. 33-34
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 46 initiation, which as we saw is the work of spirits [..]” Eliade also observes a “public initiation ceremony [which] included the candidate’s walking over hot coals; if the apprentice had at his command the spirits that he claimed to posses, he could walk on the fire without injury.”47 The shaman may then become the helper and healer of their community. Healings may involve a seance within which the shaman may exorcise spirits recognised as causing the illness, and thereby save the soul of the stricken. It seems that after the extremity of their ordeal, and because of the spiritual assistance they have accessed, shamans were fit to alleviate the ordeals of non-shamans. Taylor writes: “The shamans were experts at such [guiding other in such] therapeutic voyages because they had been to Hell themselves and returned safely.”48 Taylor also adds: “The shaman’s initial problem, is, then, a concentrated version of the general human problem. His subsequent self-cure is, consequently, a cure for the human condition itself [sic]. It is the condition of separation anxiety which, although slumbering in the psychic background, often becomes acute during illness or misfortune.”49 This would imply that the shaman also serves, perhaps in his seances as an existential and emotional support to their community. This would obviously imply a heightened capacity for empathy. The cosmology of the shaman The shamanic cosmology view for Rogan Taylor is represented as Middle world, Upper world and Underworld. This is also the case for Mircea Eliade in Shamanism (1951), seemingly the most highly researched text on the matter: “[T]he universe in general is conceived as having three levels sky, earth, underworld... the essential schema is always to be seen, even after the numerous influences to which it has been subjected; there are three great cosmic regions.”50 The trance states bring them access between these worlds. (This entire ecstatic philosophy may also be resolved in terms of the meditative techniques of Zen and Sufism, in which the journey of consciousness through the chakras experiences corresponding visions. In this sense the access to the other worlds may be seen as achieved via a journey through the human body. Western magic too uses a terminology of ‘pathworking’ which refers to visionary journeying in meditative or trance states, visionary experiences, or the waking up of powers may also be actualised in western magic by the insighting of names of power, which are seen to embody vibrations particular to each bodily energy centre or power.) Concluding note on shamanism Suzi Gablik does not mention the pervading historical sense of the Shaman as a form of ‘master’, or exalted technician in their field. It may therefore be seen that Gablik advocates a form of enchanted egalitarianism based on a false premise. Her description does not seem to account for the quite definite distinction there unquestionably appears to be between the shaman and other humans, let alone the arduous initiation process. Neither does she account for the distinction which could also be
Mircea Eliade, (op. cit), p.112 Ibid, p.112 48 Ibid, p. 22 49 Ibid, p. 41 50 Ibid, p. 259
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 accorded those beings with shamanic potential. It is also worth pointing out that it would be incorrect to assume that Reenchantment necessarily implies an attitude of conviviality, which Gablik also seems to represent. Shamans are often either white, black or grey, and may act on their own personal will, and not on a common will for humanity. Gablik’s account of shamanism is not very rigorously factual, and this may mean we may expect different forms of art within a reenchanted world view. Genius Where Suzi Gablik touches on the subject of genius a fault is apparent which impacts on her notion of the nature of reenchanted art. Genius can be seen to have no relation to an ego oriented vision, and yet it has been noted that Suzi Gablik conceives that the acceptance of ‘genius’ may not figure within the reenchantment of art. However, with respect to its actual meaning, this paper observes that there is considerable reason for considering genius an important dimension of enchantment. There follows a summary of the permutations of the word Genius: the original, as may be found in the Oxford English dictionary is: “with reference to classical or pagan belief: the tutelary god or attendant spirit allotted to ever person at birth, to govern and determine his character, and finally to conduct him out of the world... (a person’s) [sic] good, evil genius: the two mutually opposed spirits (in Christian language angels) [sic] by whom every person was supposed to be attended throughout his life.” This conception of genius can be seen to have been subject to a decisive transformation in the 18th century after the influence of the philosopher Kant. His definition may be understood as a human quality as opposed to a Divine quality: “Genius is the inborn quality of mind by which nature prescribes the rule to art - for this reason genius cannot describe or scientifically reveal how it produces, for the same reason, the producer of a work of genius does not know the source of the ideas which conduced to it, nor can he, according to a plan, or at will, think out these ideas and communicate them with instruction to others, so as to enable the latter to produce similar works”51 . The notion of genius as rare human trait appears to have caught on among many romantic writers, notably Goethe. This trend led to the second Oxford Dictionary definition: “Native intellectual power of an exalted type, such as is attributed to those esteemed in any department of art, speculation, or practice; instinctive and extraordinary capacity for imaginative creation, original thought, invention or discovery. Often contrasted with talent.” A seminal report on the nature of gifted children who may be regarded as ingenious has concluded that these individuals not only possess superior intellect, but also physique, capacity for work and emotional adjustment. But at this point it is enough to say that in the original sense, the genius is not subsumed within the realm of the ego, and may therefore not fall in with Gablik’s description of Modernism as ego driven. The cult of the genius, is distinct from the notion of embattled and heroic egos. It is understood that the genius is separate from the artist and works through him. This is in no sense the realm of the ego. Gablik’s attitude may therefore preclude important possibilities for Reenchantment that did exist within Modern painting. These strands in modern painting shall be explained at a subsequent
Emmanuel Kant, Kritik der Untertskraft, Vol. i. p 24
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Ed Mirza moment.
In the cases of both Genius and the Shaman Gablik appears to have been less than thorough. Neither, in their true sense, seem compatible with her egalitarian vision of Reenchantement, although both, in the strictest of senses are thoroughly qualified to be features of Reenchantment. Genius and the shaman are also worthy of comparison with respect to this question, although each, ultimately, has a separate impact on the Reenchantment of art, this comparison shall be made at a subsequent moment. 3. Analysis of disenchanted art The dehumanisation and disembodiment of art It emerges that it is apt to assert that the disenchantment of art may simply be viewed in another way - as the ‘dehumanisation’ of art. But in speaking of the human it is necessary to observe that he is distinguished from animals precisely by his faculty to reason, just as he is distinguished from the angels by his ‘frailty’. Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) defines man as ‘rational soul participating in the intellect of God, but operating in a body.’ Greeks and Romans viewed human as ‘rational’ [Arisotle]. But what emerges here, as this essay has observed, reason alone may not be the most complete expression of the human. The following will explain why, again, the reason function though so unique to humans and so prized after the enlightenment, when taken alone, may be understood to produce dehumanisation, and how this may be reflected in painting. One account of the dehumanisation of art is given by Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) as the cessation of the representation of humans - or figurative painting. Figurative art itself can be seen as landscape, narrative, and other modes that reference the human body. It is clear that not an an isolation of the faculty of reason but a distinct reduction of the other faculties may be conducive to certain forms of visual art. While abstract painting may not be completely intellectual, it may be understood that some forms of abstract art can appear as a primarily ocular experience with little reference to the body or feelings. The reduction of the presence of figuration in painting may be seen to disavow the cult of shamanism or ‘hermeticism’, ’animism’, bodily awareness and sex. It is plain that there are parallels here between this notion of the omnipotence of reason, or of ocular oriented faculties, and the emphasis on ego development that characterises modern society, and which has been explained earlier in this essay. In the case that the painter is drawing on the unconscious for the forms within their painting, it can be seen that the source for the image is the irrational, in many cases the visionary experiences shall be activated by the manipulation of particular energy centres situated around the body. The irrational, for Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) was tantamount to the unconscious and the inhuman. Nature he regards as inhuman. But it is the way in which the unconscious is manifested within his body that may be expressed by the painter. It appears that such methods of production of abstract painting though possible are hardly documented and barely existent, and it remains that any plane populated with abstract forms alone denies a substantial degree of human identification.
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hard-edged disembodied absract painting:
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Apparition, 118.75 x 118.75 cm, oil on board, 1959 organic abstract painting:
Joan Miro, The Birth of the World, 75 x 65 cm, oil on canvas, 1925 (the Hardedged Absraction, though arguably developed in an organic fashion, does less to evoke representative associations, as is the case with the Joan Miro.) If it seems that the dehumanisation of art as an isolation of the faculty to reason consists in a contradiction in terms if it is understood that the defining faculty of the human is reason, it must be understood that while it is their distinguishing factor, reason, for humans, is to be considered an additional feature, and that emotion, the body, the underworld, Nature, and the angelic realm are also very real and vital possibilities within the human experience. It is is not reason alone that constitutes the human as the protagonists of Reenchantment would assert, it is a great deal more. It is in this sense that disembodied and non-representational art may be argued to be dehumanised. Magic does not occur via intellect alone and thus such art is also disenchanted. A most extreme expression of the tendency towards abstraction may be found in the manifesto of Art-concret, a Parisian based abstract art magazine founded in 1930 (perhaps more so since it was page 20 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 within a context of figurative painting). If one considers the cerebral nature of Abstract art as can be garnered from these statements from Gabo, Mondrian, Malevich it can be seen as completely intellectual. These extreme forms may also be found in de Stijl, and in the paintings of Malevich and Constructivism. It is notable that the developers of Constructivism did so in conditions of extreme privation after the Russian Revolution. At the same time, the paintings of Mark Rothko, and Barnet Newman were painted with an explicit view to embody the viewer, by referencing his physical presence via size and design features. Other abstract paintings may consist in the somatic imprints of the more gestural expressions within the tradition. The Art Concret manifesto: “1. Art is universal 2. The work of art should be entirely conceived and formed by the mind [sic] before it’s execution. It should recieve nothng from Nature’s formal properties or from sensuality or sentimentality... 3. The picture should be constructed entirely from pure plastic elements, that is to say, planes and colours. A pictorial element has no other significance than ‘itself’, and therefore the picture has no other significance than ‘itself’’. 4. The construction of the picture should be simple and controllable visually. 5. Technique should be nmechanical, that is to say, exact, anti-impressionistic. 6. Effort for absolute clarity”52 Figurative painting during these times has some cross over with Abstract expressionism, particularly in the works of Wellem De Kooning. Forces of dehumanisation may also be identified within figurative painting. Figurative painting too may manifest properties of disembodiedness, ocularity, and dehumanisation. Norman Bryson points out this difference, drawing distinction between the nature of Byzantine art and some western painting. The embodying properties of Icons were seen as at times facilitated by architecture. Rationalism and classicism It may be seen that disenchanted painting coincides with more classical periods, such as Modernism is. A classical period may be seen as characterised by a prevailing standard of beauty, and humanistic scholarship, that to an extent, a distance is set up between the historian, as detached observer (which is the Cartesian concept), and the world as dead matter. Abstraction and figuration It may also be seen that the polarity that exists between figurative and abstract painting composes a field within which to identify directions in the disenchantment and Reenchantment of art that resonate with the two strands that Suzi Gablik noted within post modern art. Modernism itself in terms of painting is usually seen as characterised by figuration and abstraction as two dominant and opposing trends. While Paris was the centre of the figurative, America was that of the abstract. After World War Two there was a tussle between abstract and figurative art, to gain
(as translated in) Anna Mozynska, Abstract Art, pp. 104-5
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 cultural eminence. Yet it can be seen, that America, after WWII became a ‘superpower’. It dominated art history as many European scholars moved to it’s academies - it developed an over view of European art history as Erwin Panofsky says, by virtue of its distance - ‘it was not caught up in local theoretical struggles’53 . The art that dominated here at this time was Abstract Expressionism. Painters such as Lucian Freud, or Pablo Picasso, in contrast to the dehumanised products of abstraction, may be understood to have taken what some scholars call ‘the path of empathy’. The paintings appear to record an interchange between sitter and artist involving far more than mere intellect. The link between such empathic and psychological insights and Berman’s notion of ‘original participation’ and with Gablik’s concern to renew contact with the body is easy to see. In the any of the embodying arts, whether Icons, some abstract expressionism, or a Francis Bacon, the notion of bodily, or emotive ‘Participation’ is more relevant. In spite of this, and in spite of the arguable humanistic tendencies of some of Abstract Expressionism (namely taschism, gesturalism, its lyrical aspects, or its ‘expressive dimension’) the dehumanised geometric, or flat plane art of formal relations as the dominant trend both in the galleries and in art theory can represent a strong force in the cultural dehumanisation of art. The process was championed by the critics, in particular Clement Greenberg (1909-94) and Michael Fried, whose views dominated - and a great stress was laid - in a similar manner to the Russian Constructivists on the avoidance of political subject matter - which can be seen as necessarily human. Thus, the developments to which these descriptions point, may be seen as a primarily disenchanted, egotistical, and dehumanised epoch. Genius and heroism in abstract and figurative painting As has been observed, Suzi Gablik voiced objection not only to the dominance of the ego but also to the possibility of genius within a reenchanted culture. Again, these questions have relevance to the differences between abstract art and figurative art. ‘Genius’ is more readily associated with members of the figurative strand of painting, while abstract expressionism the main vogue of the dominant American trend was heroic. The notion of hero is also more applicable to the manifestations of abstract expressionism since size and grandiosity were among its central concerns. This ‘heroism’ was also attached to American landscape which appeared as a run in to abstract expressionism. Heroism and ego development have an important commonality and the expression of both within the ego dominated development of America from New World to ‘super power’ and cultural centre may be understood as symptomatic of disenchantment. Of course it is arguable that an abstract painter may work from genius, and the lines between egotism and heroism are also blurry, since presumably it is only a vain concern with heroism which is identifiable with hard-faced egotistic manifestations. Gablik mentions that the notion of ‘genius’ is a instance of these malevolent ‘Modern’ values. And it appears that for Gablik, genius and the heroic and egotistical are simply rolled into one and treated as superfluous. Again, as has been observed in this essay, by definition, genius can in no way be excluded from Reenchantment (as neither can genuine heroism) and is not to be understood as part of the ego. For what ever reasons, heroism has been more readily associated with abstract painting, genius with figurative and hence with what this
Erwin Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts, p.
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 essay has identified as the ‘path of empathy’. There is no literature to explain this, but the implications may be again that genius has been intuitively understood to be part of what this paper has identified as a step in the direction of Reenchantment. The other implication is that Suzi Gablik’s rejection of genius bars a very important series of painters who may be credited with at least moving towards Reenchantment. 6: Analysis of reenchanted art Historical trends in reenchantment It is apt to consider whether it is suitable to speak of the Reenchantment of art at all since it is viable to assert that European art has never been enchanted, but both Classical art and Northern art can be seen to have enchanted roots. In the absence of magical healing scrolls or of spirit inhabited fetishes, after the Icon, the history of art strictly does not include magical art within its breadth, unless as shall be shown, the more humanistic and empathic may be seen as a criteria. Strictly speaking enchantment in the fuller sense has existed as subject matter alone within European art. However, as if a development of the empathic lineage, this section not only acknowledges these enchanted influences of the past but also subsequent trends which also, by the explained definitions, are to be seen as leaning to the enchanted with increasing potency up until the Modern period. The Paganism of Greece survives in Arcadian allegory from the renaissance on, and Germanic art is infused with a irrational subjectivism which emerges as susceptible to folk, phantasmagoric and demoniacal content - which still found its expression in German Expressionism with Die Bruche and Die Blue Richter [see Wilhelm Worringer]. The Baroque delight in chimerical orgies, and Arcadian fantasy can perhaps be put down to a yearning for enchantment during the ravages of war, pestilence and famine. Arcadia plays an important role again in Romanticism, as does the subjective and the irrational; and in a minor form, the occult. Romanticism was also a strong genius cult though often witness to the latter convolutions of the term contemporaneous with Kant. A still more explicit concern with enchantment then emerges again with symbolism, this involved an increased appetite for the occult. Surrealism can be seen as an attempt to probe the unconscious,and attempt to escape the ‘empty’ abstraction of much art, a return to figuration, the occult was not unfelt in this tradition. It can be seen to have become less the centre of art history and culture now. Magic Realism ‘The path of empathy’ arguably trodden by Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, has been a more or less steady feature of figurative painting, and particularly in some portraiture. It perhaps finds expression in painters such as Marc Chagall, and Egon Schele.
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5. Present forces of Reenchantment Outsider Art In the medical profession, sectors exists for the recognition and treatment of those who may be regarded as psychically disfunctional and antisocial, this is part of the process of institutionalising, and ministering of drug treatment, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis. These categoreis have some cross over into areas of religious and occult experiences, wherein it is considered those claiming such experiences may be also psychically malfunctional, they also cross over also into criminal, other antisocial behaviour and alternative experiences generally. These subjects all affect psychological theory which also considers the ways in which the philosophy of a mass and social codes are built up. Within art history, a discourse exists which concerns the art of the socially excluded. One of the early exponents of this was Jean Dubuffet (1901-85); and the term he used to categorise the art he was concerned with is Art Brut. Between the years 1945 and 1976 Dubuffet amassed a collection of over 5000 works by persons of the above categories and presented them to the Chateau de Beaulieu where they were inaugurated. There exists a category also since then which is simply Outsider Art. This creation of a forum for the artistic creations of those who may be categorised as one of the above may be seen as another impulse towards the Reenchantment of figurative painting. It may be understood that such a thing was made possible by the ambiguity recognised about the definitions of normal experience and behaviour, and which point to possible revisions of the underpinning philosophy, which is precisely what the reenchantment of art is. The artists Debuffet chose include mystics, schizophrenics, and visionaries, but also persons simply regarded as eccentric, also persons who claim magic and psychic powers, but also those who have been categorised and insane for varying behaviours and attitudes. Examples of Outsider art Ferdinand Cheval (1836-1924) created Palais Ideal in Hauterives, France between 1879 and 1912. “he worked in his spare time, often at night, but never wavering in his belief that he was working towards a revelatory structure that would justify his toil.”54 A large functioning architectural space with myriad decorations. Such a work of art may be understood as more the work of a solitary, or someone who wished to do something unusual. Leonard Knight (b. 1931) began Salvation Mountain in California in 1985. He said of his environment: “I would say, for the most part, God did most all the thinking and the planning, and God put me in this place. And I believe that he guided my paintbrush an awful lot, because, honest, when I started, I could dig with a wheelbarrow and move sod, but that was about the it of my ability to paint.”55
Colin Rhodes, Outsider Art, p. 179 Ibid, pp. 188-189
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Ferdinand Cheval , Palais Ideal, Hauterives, France, 1879-1912
Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain, near Stab City, Niland County, California, United States, begun 1985
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Ed Mirza Art of the insane
It has been noted earlier on that Sigmund Freud has made comparisons between the psychotic state of mind and the primitive, with his discourse on the omnipotence of thought. Such attitudes are also evidenced in examples of Outsider Art. It also seems that dialectic reason as understood by Morris Berman may be seen as present in such art. Elaborate webs of association are built up, which may be seen as a paranoiac or fantasy world or cosmology, constructed by the individual in view of an impossible situation; an alternative world view which makes the world more understandable to its creator. Animist like conceptions feature strongly in such schemas. “... in the case of artists who are schizophrenic, the means by which the thoughts are broadcast or intercepted are conceived of as machines... as in the machines of Robert Gie[‘s].... obsession with radio waves.”56 This may be seen in Circulation of Effluvia with Central Machine and Metric Scale.
Robert Gie, Circulation of Effluvia with Central Machine and Metric Scale, [crayons on paper?], c. 1916 For Elka Spoerri the scrap books collaged from magazines and newspapers by “Wolffi ...a semiliterate peasant, who spent the last thirty five years of his life incarcerated in Swiss asylum were “a rediscovery of the world of his own which he had invented and built.”57 Another schizophrenic artist was Willem Van Genk (b.1927) created similar collages in which ‘a cacophony of discreet images, drawn mainly from printed sources, jostle and eventually coalesce into narrative’58 : ‘The inner voices that Van Genk hears alert him to external threats , from the Catholic Church and, more latterly, the ideological march of Communism... to the dangers posed by the nexus of threads that he believes conspire to destroy us... The world conspiracy is orchestrated, he believes, by hairdressers who assume a role in his terror... His sense of powerlessness can be briefly overcome by donning raincoats which afford him the protection he needs in the street. That this is an essentially magical sublimation of exterior power is attested to by the fact that the energy contained in each coat is usually spent after a single outing.”59
56 57 58 59
Ibid, Ibid, Ibid, Ibid,
p. p. p. p.
131 132 133 136
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Ed Mirza Children’s art, the art of the insane, and animism
Colin Rhodes points out the similarity between the approaches of a child and a paranoiac artist August Natterer (1868-1933): “spatial relationships are subordinated in both cases to the artists’ [sic] to present a detailed account of a particular place. However, the paranoiac content content of Natterer’s work, in which a quiet rural landscape is revealed as containing evil in the shape of a witch’s head, is absent from the child’s schematic inventory.”60 [illus - see pages 38-39 in Rhodes]. There are discourses to the effect that there are notable similarities between the child’s view of the world and animism, this may be seen as reflected in this comparison. Occult artists Into this category also falls visionary or mediumistic art. These artists claim that some force guides their hand as they work; for example Helene Smith (1861-1932). During trance she would make visits to Mars. She produced pictures of her experience, but said: “The pencil glided so quickly that I did not have time to discover what contours it was making. I can assert without any exaggeration that it was not my hand alone that made the drawing, but that truly an invisible force guided the pencil in spite of me. Another example is Pearl Alcock (b.1934) who painted Magic Tree. She began drawing when she was fifty two after a severe depression. She said: Early in the morning I am freed from all cares. There is no need for second thoughts or an eraser, the drawing works itself out delightfully. everything goes on its own.’61 A more famous example of this kind of artists is Rosaleen Norton ( -1979) “Her heyday was... the late 1940s and 1950s. She was known to the public as an eccentric, bohemian witch-lady who wore flamboyant, billowing blouses and vivid bandanas...”62 “[F]rom 1940 she began to experiment with self hypnosis as a means of producing automatic drawing.”63 apparently having an interest in the methods of Salvador Dali and Yves Tanguy: she said “these experiments produced a number of peculiar and unexpected results... and culminated in a period of extra-sensory perception together with a prolonged series of symbolic visions.”64 Her paintings were concerned with magical literature and Drury claims they became demonic. He writes of one: “Roseleen’s representation of Mars-the warlike entity-... shows a powerful human male torso with the winged head of a hawk. The god has a scorpions’s tail and clawed feet and very much embodies a sense of power and aggression. he holds a sphere in his right hand which could almost be the puny globe of earth, under his influence.”65 Jean Debuffet did not wish to include Naive art within his Art Brut since he did not regard it as isolated enough from the art history discourse. Yet in terms of outsider art, it may also be considered for its animistic, childlike quality. Much of this type of art also crosses with ethnic art and all of it may be explained in terms of the distinction between animism and the enlightenment. Naive art does form a large part of the art market, and in some senses features close to its centre, where works that deliberately negates skill is favoured. Examples range from Henri Rousseua to Beryl Cook and Grandma Moses. Within this category may also be included ethnic art.
Ibid, p. 137 Ibid, p. 151 62 Nevill Drury, Echoes from the Void, p.104 63 Ibid, p.106 64 Ibid, p.106 65 Ibid, p.112
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This recurrent thread of automatic drawing, as it appears in Bacon, Surrealism, the discourses on Genius, and in visionary art, of course finds resonance with psychological observations, such as those of Jung. This field is complex with varying terminologies and accounts. But uniting them all is this conception of outside forces working through the individual. This as a schema has a recurrent presence in the discourses of art history. Carl Jung comes close to systematising this with his discourses on the unconscious. Such discourses could help elucidate the links this has with artistic creation, and explain means for the reenchantment of painting. If it can be understood what these manifestations commonly spring from, such an understanding may effect the social philosophy and social attitudes to some features of these conditions; this as said, could be a highly important part of the reenchantment of painting. Animism may be seen as featuring in all of these types of art. Children are thought by many theorists on the subject to naturally possess an animistic view of the world, the art of the insane appears to commonly involve such an attitude, prehistoric and non-western art also very much contains it. The link between children's art, the art of the insane, and animism would be very much part of reenchantment. Surrealism also seems to blend visionary experience with a representation of the common western world view; it does this through a dialogue with dream and irrational drives such as the unconscious. Thus it may be seen that animism is common except among those parented and educated within the western post enlightenment culture. Thus it may be seen that critical theory that questions the philosophy of the enlightenment, and particularly Descartes, could help to understand these different experiences and the part they may play in human life. Outsider art has a large presence in the art market. However, it is largely peripheral. Much of it does not involve skill. Although much visionary art contains high degrees of illustrative skill. The views pertaining to the importance of the irrational, and to the possible legitimacy of animism appear to be unfashionable in art criticism. It therefore follows that art which may be seen as produced from such sources, remains peripheral. 5. Other perspectives on reenchantment Genius and the shaman Compared Gablik has been seen to dismiss genius but also what appears in the final analysis to be the central thrust of shamanism: the cult of the person of difference, and of the extraordinary person. The cult of genius and that of the shaman may be seen to share at least one thing: they both consist in the recognition of, and in the accordance of value, to persons regarded as remarkable, special, or outstanding. This appears to have high relevance to the reenchantment of painting. While it is not straightforward to parallel the phenomenon of genius with that of the shaman, they may be seen to have some links, and some things in common. In the present times these words are loosely used, and ‘genius’ in particular is a often a very crude attempt to categorise a number of phenomena. In itself, the shaman appears a more definite distinction, partly because the term is less likely to be used by those not acquainted with the traditions of shamanism. However, the lack of clarity, and the ignorance towards these matters may page 28 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 be so prominent that genius may quite often be confused for shamanism. In itself this may be enough to explain why the shaman and the genius may be seen, by many accounts, to share traits. However, in the final analysis, where genius may be seen to appear a number of things may be observed which are akin to shamanic manifestation. In recognising what genius and the shaman may have in common it may noted that both at one stage exhibit manifestations such as those mentioned earlier, in the part entitled ‘the shaman personality type’. Both in this sense also begin to resemble some common understandings of the ‘artistic temperament.’ In this they may share moodiness, psychological instability, (there is a fashionable history of the link between insanity and genius), reclusive tendencies, but also the ability to regularly and consistently astonish individuals with creative manifestations. Genius and shamanism may also be seen to share rapid thought association; a mercurial, kaleidoscopic personality; a mysterious charm; psychological perspicacity; exalted intuition; prodigious empathy; prodigious memory; poetic output; the rapid acquisition of diverse skills, and a heightened capacity for labour. But, above everything, it is abidingly clear, whatever the scenario, that both genius and shamanism have relevance to The Divine. The genius is an angel; and the shaman has ‘conversations with angelic beings’. Both may in this be also simply regarded as involving at some stage or another an ‘extrahuman’ presence; this remains the case even when for the shaman this ‘presence’ is a ‘spirit’, and not an angel. In terms of how they are different, however, it is clear that the shaman is defined by his initiation process. It needs to be understood that this initiation places the shaman in an entirely different order than genius. The initiation may be seen to provide the shaman with possibilities not to be matched by any other human. Thus it may be seen that while genius is an angelic quantity, the shaman is ultimately a human: just a transformed human. This is the case even though it may be conceived that the shaman may have a genius too. The interesting area where the two areas merge is where they both connect with the ‘artistic temperament’ (which, in the case of the shaman, is usually before initiation and instruction). It is possible that such an emotional turmoil or isolation may be caused by the genius, or by the emphasis within shamanic embryos of the ecstatic capacity. This may be because the human does not have the emotional preparation for such a manifestation, or that in the case of the shaman the kind of suffering which involves such psychological turmoil and death is necessary. It is likely to be because the human in both cases feels isolated and singled out by their experience. It may be seen that this kind of abnormality is likely to cause mental aberration and confusion in most exposed to it. The various abilities accorded to each type, shamans and geniuses, may be accounted for by both sharing in common the ‘extra human’ dimension, even though it is conceivable that these manifestations are to be regarded as a development of human possibilities. Both seem to involve this accentuation of human potential. It may also be seen that shamanism, in its ecstatic capacity, and in its methods of spiritual evocation, includes a kind of technique of the access to the angelic, and to genius. Shamanism and mental otherness It has been seen that both genius and shamans have links with the discourses on insanity. It has been speculated above that this could be partly an emotional response to an isolating experience; it could page 29 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 also be seen as to some extent linked to an amount of freedom from conditioning. It may be seen that in a shamanic tribe any figure showing signs of possible future shamanhood may likely be treated carefully, perhaps taken into the care of the elder shamans and offered encouragement in his journey. In the present Post Modern society, however, such a figure would likely be relegated to the peripheries. It would also be likely that such individuals would qualify for a number of definitions that society has for mental abnormality. It may be seen that the psychological condition involved in believing in magic; in mediumistic states; in spiritual possession; in ecstasy; and of in bouts of creativity, may all qualify for, or have resonance with, definitions of insanity. It may also be seen that reports of voices in the head, and of hallucination (visual perception without external stimuli) may both issue from shamanic persons or those categorised as insane. Genius also implies the presence of a separate being manifesting itself within a human, and this too has resonance with the reports of those classified as insane. There is also an obvious correlation between this sense of genius and the condition of possession or mediumship. All of these are treated in various ways within art discourse. There are discourses which note the links between insanity and animism. There are also discourses which note the links between animism, insanity and creativity. At the same time there are in this time discourses which reconsider cultural definitions of mental illness and suggest alternative viewpoints, ways of learning from them, and point to the possibility of a positive contribution from some of these individuals. These discourses may be seen to be reflected to an extent in Art Brut. These discourses may be seen as relevant to the reenchantment of painting. Insanity and Animism Both Freud and Jung observed the links between psychotic states and primitive humanity. Freud observed a fundamental resort to animism on the part of the person exhibiting the given state. In Totem and Taboo Freud notes that the neurotic will be afraid that their thoughts may affect people in adverse ways, ‘I have adopted the term ‘omnipotence of thoughts’ from a highly intelligent man who suffered from obsessional ideas and who, after having been set right by analytic treatment, was able to give evidence of his efficiency and good sense. He had coined the phrase as an explanation of all the strange and uncanny events by which he, like others afflicted with the same illness, seemed to be pursued. If he thought of someone, he would be sure to meet that person immediately afterwards, as though by magic...all obsessional neurotics are superstitious in this way, usually against their better judgment.’66 Freud also observes that a contemporary individual may develop obsessional behaviour similar to that of the ‘primitive’ in relation to tribal taboo: ‘equally lacking in motive and equally puzzling in their origin “touching phobia” - a moral conviction that violation will lead to intolerable disaster” ... “the most that an obsessional patient can say on this point is that he has an undefined feeling that some particular person in his environment will be injured as a result of the violation” 67 Since both shamanism and genius involve the the presence of something “extra-human”, both may also be observed to have something in common with somnambulism, mediumship and spiritualism,
Freud, Totem and Taboo, p.100 Freud, Totem and Taboo, p, 31
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 which, in their turn are all observed to have links with ‘hysteroid’ or ‘epileptoid’ persons. As Somnambulism would suggest, most cases involve the particular being falling into a trance state of some sort, then they may among other things read thoughts, prophesy, or mediate dead persons, or even become ‘possessed’. The hearing of the voices of dead ancestors are common among such persons. It is of course clear that similar events may be observed, as well as radical changes in personality and mood swings, in such a thing as schizophrenia. It may be seen that the medium may appear to make associations and mimic others with a deftness and alacrity not native to their usual waking state. Jung notes that somnambulists may display a“heightened unconscious performance [...] [by this] we mean that peculiar automatic process whose results are not available for the psychic activity of the individual”68 Jung also goes on to write “...there are cases of somnambulistic heightened performance... which postulate a highly developed intellectual activity of the unconscious... the intellectual exaltation which many somnambulists display during ecstasy, though rather uncommon, is a well observed fact” Jung quotes one investigator in the field, one Gilles de La Tourette (1857-1904): ‘We have seen somnambulistic girls, poor, uneducated, and quite stupid in the waking state, whose whole appearance altered as soon as they were put to sleep. Before they were boring, now they are lively and excited, sometimes even witty.” 69 Or, “ The patient, who in actual life is nothing but a simple country girl, then resembles an inspired seer. Her features become transfigured, her movements flow with grace. Famous figures pass before her mind’s eye. Schiller appears to her in person and plays with her. He recites his poem to her. Then she herself begins to recite, improvising in verse the things she has read, experienced, and thought.”70 It may be seen that this may be explained either by genius, spirits, or at least, in Jung’s words: “a receptivity of the unconscious far exceeding that of the conscious mind.”71 Freud was ultimately an atheist who also wished to assert that all notions of spiritual force were undesirable. Jung however, appears to have left the question open, he may be seen to have replaced, all notions of spirits, angels or The Divine with the unconscious.. he writes “Even though our critical arguments may cast doubts on every single case, there is not a single argument that could prove that spirits do not exist. In this regard therefore, we must rest with a “non-liquet.” ...These phenomena exist in their own right, regardless of the way they are interpreted, and it is beyond all doubt that they are genuine manifestations of the unconscious. The communications of “spirits” are statements about the unconscious psyche, provided that they are really spontaneous and are not cooked up by the conscious mind. They have this in common with dreams; for dreams, too, are statements about the unconscious...”72 Freud in general averts any argument in favour if the existence of spirits. While Jung may also be seen in his theories to posit biological roots for animism in the psyche, Freud seems more wary of notions of such a link, but not entirely biased against such a conclusion: “The similarity between taboo and obsessional sickness may be no more than a matter of externals; it may apply only to the forms in which they are manifested and not extend to their essential character. Nature delights in making use of the same forms in the most various biological connections: as it does, for instance, in the appearance of branch-like structures both in coal and in plants, and indeed in some forms of
Carl Gustav Jung, Psychology and the Occult, p. 83 Ibid, p. 90 70 Ibid, p. 97 71 Ibid, p. 83 72 Jung Psch, Occ. p. 139
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 crystal and in certain chemical precipitates. It would obviously be hasty and unprofitable to infer the existence of any internal relationship from such points of agreement as these, which merely derive from the operation of the same mechanical causes. We shall bear this warning in mind, but we need not be deterred by it from proceeding with our comparison.” 73 Insanity and the collective unconscious Jung is an exponent of the theory of the ‘collective unconscious’. It is by means of this that he explains the similarity of mythological imagery pertinent to patient’s experiences. It may be understood that this appears as a genetic memory of collective mythology and symbols. Jung also uses the same premise to postulate that animism and religion may be linked to biological functions. Jung: “It is,of course, not easy to prove the existence of the collective unconscious in a normal person, but occasionally, mythological ideas are represented in his dreams. These contents can be seen most clearly in cases of mental derangement, especially in schizophrenia, where mythological images often pour out in astonishing variety. Insane people frequently produce combinations of ideas and symbols that could never be accounted for by experiences in their individual lives, but only by the history of the human mind. It is an instance of primitive, mythological thinking, which reproduces its own primordial images, and is not a reproduction of conscious experiences.”74 Hypo-mania and creativity One other psychological disorder stands out as having a particular link with art. The condition of exalted intelligence above described may be seen to have resonance with the condition of ‘Hypomania’: a psychological disorder which from one point of view, may be linked with paranoiac and frightening ideas, but which is from another point of view often linked with the poetic imagination, and with creativity in general. A famous writer on the link between “Hypo-mania” and art is Kay Redfield Jameson ( -), herself a sufferer of Manic-depressive disorder, who famously wrote Thinking From the Right Side. In Touched with Fire (1993), also a well known book on the topic of possible links between insanity and creativity, Jameson writes: “Two aspects of thinking in particular are pronounced in both creative and hypo-manic thought: fluency, rapidity, and flexibility of thought on the one hand, and the ability to combine ideas of category or thought in order to form new and original connections on the other,” 75 This has some resonance with the ‘Heightened intellectual powers peculiar to some somnambulistic states. It is possible to impute this to some other being - a genius, or a spirit - talking ‘through’ the given person. However, Hypo Mania may also be seen as an entirely conscious intellectual process instigated by some form of anxiety to understand or perform. There is also much literature which observes the mental states of those who practise artistic creation, and it is found that certain brain waves are increased in certain arrears which also increase with mental illness. To quote but one of the many literary examples Jameson cites Berlioz: “sometimes I can hardly endure this mental or physical pain (I can’t separate the two, especially on fine summer days when I’m in an open space like the Tuileries Garden alone. Oh then... I could well believe there is a violent
Freud, Totem and Taboo, p. 31 Jung (op. cit.) p. 118  75 Kay Redfield Jameson, Touched with Fire, p. 105
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 “expansive force” within me. I see that wide horizon and the sun, and I suffer so much, so much that if I did not take grip of myself I should shout and roll in the ground. I have found only one way of completely satisfying this inner appetite for emotion, and that is music. Without it I am certain I could not go on living.”76 Insanity and dialectic reason It may be seen that what Jameson describes as ‘new and original connections’ achieved by hypo manic thought has a resonance with “Dialectic reason” which Berman mentions in the Reenchantment of the World. Here Berman may also be seen to observe links insanity may have with animism. He writes: “Without going into too much detail, it is necessary to point out that a major part of the psychotic experience is the return to the perception of the world in Hermetic terms. That madness is the best route to this perception I tend to doubt; but the fact that madness triggers the premodern epistemology of resemblance does suggest that the insane are onto something we have forgotten and that (cf. Nietzsche, Laing, Novalis, Holderlin, Reich...) our sanity is nothing but collective madness”77 ... Berman amply quotes R.D. Laing (1927-1989) on this matter, who may be seen to be one of the most well known theorists in this area. Laing writes: “True sanity entails in one way or another the dissolution of the normal ego, that false self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality; the emergence of the “inner” archetypal mediators of divine power, and through the death a rebirth, and the eventual reestablishment of a new kind of ego-functioning, the ego being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer.”78 Berman also supports Laing’s observation that “the type of reasoning involved in schizophrenia is the same as that at work in art, poetry, humour, and even religious inspiration”.79 Berman observes the Surrealist Rene Magritte (1912-1967) who produced an image which represented a form the bottom half of which was a bottle, while the top half was a carrot. It may be seen that metaphorical comparisons, which are a device of poetry, may be a feature of dialectic reason and used in painting. Berman seems to imply that the creation of metaphors and other irrational combinations are resonant with the experiences of insanity. Schizophrenia and Shamanism It may be the case that what were once celebrated and recognised as positive - shamanism - in an individual, are now simply regarded as a positive value or end, just a failure to be effective in an acceptable psychologist well known for his theories that some forms of mental schizophrenia, may be regarded as a form of ‘failed shamanism’. indications of something tragic crisis without any way. R. D. Laing is a abnormality, particularly
Laing postulates, “[...] the split of our experience into what seems to be two worlds, inner and outer [...] we need not be unaware of the ‘inner’ world. We do not realise its existence most of the time.
Janeson, p. 122 Berman, The Reenchantment of the World, p. 131 78 R.D. Laing quoted on p. 232 of Ibid 79 Ibid, p.232
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 but many people enter it, unfortunately without guides, confusing outer with inner realities, and inner with outer [...] in our present world, that is both so terrified and so unconscious of the other world, it is not surprising that when ‘reality’, the fabric of this world, bursts, and a person enters the other world, he is completely lost and terrified, and meets only incomprehension in others’80 Laing continues into what may be seen to resonate both with Jung’s Collective Unconscious, and with shamanism: “[...] this journey is experienced as going further ‘in’, as going back through one’s personal life, in and back and through and beyond into the experience of all mankind, of the primal man, of Adam, and perhaps even further into the being of animals, vegetables and minerals. In this journey there are many occasions to lose one’s way, for confusion, partial failure, even final shipwreck: many terrors, spirits, demons are to be encountered, that may or may not be overcome,”81 Laing’s view of the schizophrenic experience appears to indicate it is something forgotten, and which society attempts to hide, with tragic results: “no age in the history of humanity has perhaps so lost touch with this natural healing process, that implicates some of the people we label schizophrenic”82 “[...] we need [...] an initiation ceremonial, through which the person will be guided with full social encouragement and sanction into inner space and time, by people who have been there and back again.”83 The first thing to observe is the possible applicableness of the theory of ‘inhabitation’ to each instance of mental abnormality mentioned above, in genius, in shamanism, in somnambulism in hypo-mania,, and schizophrenia. It is concept which relies on the animistic world view, and which is claimed in a huge range of mental abnormality. The importance of dialectic reason and its relevance to animism has been observed. But it may also be seen that it would be via such an approach as Laing’s to the insane that the path of empathy may be trodden. Empathy may in some senses be seen as similar to inhabitation, it seems to involve an intuiting of the others feelings. It is this kind of permeability of matter that animism postulates. Empathy may also conceivably feature a sensitivity to the body of another. The reorientation of art criticism to account for animism would probably shed a different light on the art of those who may be understood to have shamanic experiences. This area may be seen to constitute an important aspect of the reenchantment of painting. Shamans and geniuses as the outsiders From whatever point of view, whatever the constitution of genius and shamans is, they are abnormal, and in the minority. This is in one way enough to place them in the category of outsider in itself. This is proverbially the case with the genius in the social sense, and they are often alienated and there are accounts of ostracism. It has been seen that shamanism is no longer prevalent as a culture in contemporary Europe, and so the shaman must in many ways necessarily be alienated. Even though genius may be seen as socially ordained, it can be seen that in a sense the genius is at the core of culture - as it were inside; but the fact remains, that the pronouncement marks a profound disjuncture between the individual and the majority of humanity.
R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise, p. 103 Ibid, p. 104 82 Ibid, p. 105 83 Ibid, p. 106
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 It has been mentioned that when humans have given painters the label genius, this can have many subjective, and herd instinct impulses. It is fair to say that common consensus coincides on the figures Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, these appear to be the artists people are most ready to describe as genius. Van Gogh is a very obvious link between madness and art. He was reclusive, depressive, injured himself, and committed suicide. Michelangelo, was a-social and did not wash for three years. Leonardo was criticised for being occult and was also a loner. Picasso, and Raphael, it may be seen, did not show such a-social traits. But it must be remembered that any pronouncement of someone as genius implies they are distinguished from the majority of humankind. These lines of enquiry all point to the question of difference and its essential inclusion in Reenchantment. Animism and its related phenomena, may be seen to have become related to all that is ‘other’ to the west. Animism may be seen as the body, the irrational and even the shadow, (the repressed qualities) the west. It has been observed also that in terms of the cultures of Zen and Sufism the shamanic journey is seen as a journey through the chakras, energy centres situated around the body. It is through the bringing into consciousness of these energies that many states are seen as accessed, including the encounter of spirits and the seeing of visions. The discourse of Post-colonial critique indicates a means by which western culture has sought to embrace cults of difference, not only of the socially excluded but also of non western culture. The possible contribution of post-colonial critique to the reenchantmant of painting It has been noted that animism is linked for the most part with non-European countries and with non-European primitives. A feature of post modern thought is ‘post-colonial critique’. Gablik’s notion of two strands of post modernism - one of which may contain post-colonial critique may be understood in the light of Jean Francois Lyotard’s (1924-98) definition of the Post-modern: “I will use the term modern to designate any science that legitimates itself with reference to a metadiscourse [...] making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, [...] such as the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth. For example, the rule of consensus between the sender and addressee of a statement with truth value is deemed acceptable if it is cast in terms of a possible unanimity between rational minds: this is the enlightenment [sic] narrative, in which the hero of knowledge works toward a good ethico-political end - universal peace. As can be seen from this example, if a metanarrative implying a philosophy of history is used to legitimate knowledge, questions are raised concerning the validity if the institutions governing the social bond: these must be legitimated as well. Thus justice is consigned to the grand narrative in the same way as truth. Simplifying to the extreme, I define post modern as incredulity toward metanarratives.”84 Aside from the resonance this has with ‘holism’ and with Cartesian critique, the further implications of this idea with regard to issues that are related to reenchantment shall be indicated below by noting the ideas of two recent theorists who fall into the category of ‘cultural critics’. It can be argued that instrumental to reenchantment is ‘post colonial critique’. It was in parallel with the enlightenment, that colonialization moved apace. Thereby England imposed the Cartesian world view on other cultures, and history was written in terms of its philosophy. The psychology of colonialism may understood in this way as a global construction of the Other from the perspective of
Jean Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, p. xxiii
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 European thought. For Homi K. Bhaba, in The Location of Culture (1994) “postcolonial critique bears witness to those countries and communities - in the North and South, urban and rural constituted, if I may coin a phrase - otherwise than modernity.” The arts of other cultures is known to western minds through Art history as a European discipline and thereby in terms of the philosophical foundations of Cartesianism - In the words of Sarat Maharaj, a major post colonial theorist ‘since each language seems to have its own system and manner of meaning, the construction of meaning in one does not square with that of another’85 . Therefore the artistic produce of many non-European cultures may have produced art that may have been more shamanic, or more embodied, or more emotional, has been understood in a reductive form within the Cartesian ‘bipartite’ view of man. Homi K. Bahba has suggested that the post-modern condition partly consists in a ‘fragmentation of the ‘grand narratives’ [sic] of postenlightenment rationalism’ - which would also imply aspects of its art-historical tradition. This can be seen to open up possibilities for inclusion of enchanted cultural philosophies and artifacts. Bhaba explains that “The wider significance of the post modern condition lies in the awareness that the epistemological ‘limits’ of those ethnocentric ideas are also the enunciative boundaries of a range of other dissonant, even dissident, histories and voices women, the colonised, minority groups, and bearers of policed sexualities. For the demography of the new internationalism is the history of postcolonial migration, the narratives of cultural and political diaspora, the major social displacements of peasants and aboriginal communities, the poetics of exile, the grim prose of political and economic refugees. It is in this sense that the boundary becomes the place from which something begins its presencing in a movement not dissimilar to the ambulant, ambivalent articulation of the beyond that I have drawn out”86. Another seminal theorist Michel Foucalt (1926-84) formulated a theory of an “insurrection of subjugated knowledges.”, and ‘genealogies’ Foucalt in a 1976 lecture in Paris, said: “...I would say, then, that what has emerged in the course of the last ten or fifteen years is a sense of the increasing vulnerability to criticism of things, institutions, practices, discourses. A certain fragility has been discovered in the very bedrock of existence - even, and perhaps above all, in those aspects of it that are most familiar, most solid and most intimately related to our bodies and to our everyday behaviour... So, the main point to be gleaned from these events of the last fifteen years, their predominant feature, is the local character of criticism ... I believe that what this essentially local character of criticism indicates in reality is an autonomous, non-centralised kind of theoretical production, one that is to say whose validity is not dependent on the approval of the established regimes of thought...” For Foucalt, one set of these ‘subjugated knowledges’ is “a whole set of knowledges that have been disqualified as inadequate to their task or insufficiently elaborated: naive knowledges, located low down on the hierarchy, beneath the required level of cognition or scientificity. I also believe it is through the reemergence of these low-ranking knowledges, these unqualified, even directly disqualified knowledges (such as that of the psychiatric patient, of the ill person, of the nurse, of the doctor - parallel and marginal as they are to the knowledge of medicine - that of the delinquent, etc.), and which involve what I would call a popular knowledge (le savoir des gens) though it is far from being a general common sense knowledge incapable of unanimity and which owes its force only to
Sarat Mahraj, Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, p. 1
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 the harshness with which it is opposed by everything surrounding it - that it is through the reappearance of this knowledge ... that criticism performs its work. ‘...well, it seems to me that our critical discourses of the last fifteen years have in effect discovered their essential force in this association between the buried knowledges of erudition and those disqualified from the hierarchy of knowledges and sciences... they [buried knowledges of erudition] are concerned with a historical knowledge of struggles. In the specialised areas of erudition as in the disqualified, popular knowledge of [...] lay the memory of hostile encounters which even up to this day have been confined to the margins of knowledge. ... let us give the term genealogy to the union of erudite knowledge and local memories which allows us to establish a historical knowledge of struggles and to make use of this knowledge tactically today. This will then be a provisional definition of the genealogies which I have attempted to compile with you over the last few years.”87 Foucalt’s Genealogies and Bhaba’s description of “the articulation of the beyond” are extremely similar accounts of the same cultural process. These are but two among many writers who criticise Enlightenment philosophy in recent years. Within the art-world a gathering momentum can be traced pertaining to these ideas. While Picasso, Braque and Gauguin were well known to incorporate ‘primitivism’ into their paintings, a more literary and widespread critique of this type issued from the Surrealists later. These can be viewed as successive bursts of reechantment, with the subsequent ‘postcolonial critique’ and ‘genealogies’ a seemingly autonomous ferment. An example of contemporary artist working in this territory is Chris Offili, who made consciously ironic paintings, that highlighted the stereotyping of African people in western civilisation. His acts can be seen as part of the critique of imperialist art history. What he can be seen to have done, however, is to create a space in western art for a strongly African art which might, if not for his spectacular ironies and controversial images, have been subject to the ‘cultural cringe’- an expression used to describe the attitude of the western art world to the art of other cultures - and only featured in ethnic or down market galleries.
Michel Foucault, Power/knowledge, pp. 78-89
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Chris Offili, The Adoration of Captain Shit and the Legend of The Black Stars, (2nd Version), 200 x 270 cm, multi-media on canvas, 1998 Jimmie Durham is another artist who worked in this vein. He also made ironic images that embodied the incongruities of American living values with those of Native American Indians.
Jimmie Durham, A Dead Deer, 1986 There is, however, no statement of made intent made by Chris Offili, or Jimmie Durham two most central figures in line with the ideas of Cartesian Critique Colonialist critique is a major part of contemporary artistic theory. It could be seen that this, in itself, may correlate with what Suzi Gablik describes as the reenchanting strand of post-modernism. However, this is not stated in her book. If this critique were to serve to reorientate the art world around shamanism, this would constitute a factor in the reenchantment of art. As it stands, the art page 38 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 work that can be seen as advocated by criticism of colonialism does not appear to occupy a central position within the art market. Since both Chris Offili and Jimmie Durham represent cultures which may still not be dead to their relatively recent shamanistic heritage, they can be argued, through the relative centralism of their works within contemporary art history, to be thereby bringing to that centre the shamanism to which they refer, and thereby manifesting something further of a reenchantment of art. The ‘insurrection of disqualified knowledges’ can also be seen as a reference to changes in the understandings of mental abnormality and animism - some cases of which may be shamanistic manifestations - which could also serve towards shamanism becoming the centre of the art world. 6. An assessment of the existence of enchantment in painting’s present scene In looking at the art world, the presence of magical painters or those with magical subject matter are few. Conceptual is still prevalent. At the recent Frieze Art Fair, it might be fair to admit about 40% of painters appeared to involve some magical referent, whether in the use of archaic iconology, or by appearing as ‘outsider’ with the sense of a personal a-historical narrative or scene. Luc Tuyman’s may be regarded as an artist who represents disembodied-ness in his figurative paintings. In an interview with Juan Vicente Aliaga , Tuymans said, “I don’t want to paint portraits on a psychological level. I take all the ideas out of individuality and just leave the shell, the body [footnote]. To make a portrait of somebody on a psychological level, for me, is an impossibility. I am much more interested in the idea of masks [...]. 88
Luc Tuymans, The Diagnostical Gaze IV, 57 x 38 cm, oil on canvas, 1992 Aliaga also observes of figures in Tuyman’s paintings: “They don’t look real; they look like dolls, or dead bodies.”89 One painting by Luc Tuymans is silence, it shows a single disembodied head, in conversation with Aliaga, Tuymans said in reference to this painting: “...its a sick child, but the body
Juan Vicente Aliaga, Interview with Juan Vicente Aliaga, p. 15 Ibid, p. 15
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 has faded away - only the head is left.” This may be seen as an illustration of the kind of ‘sickness’ identified by R. D. Laing as common to post-Enlightenment civilisation.
Luc Tuymans, Silence, 86 x 78.5 cm, oil on canvas, 1991 Ken Kiff (1935-2001), may be seen to include phantasmagorical and fantastic imagery in his paintings, and has been compared to a Symbolist. In speaking of his use of symbolism, Kiff speaks of the ‘radiance of the symbol’, and also adds that he would like his paintings to ‘radiate’. What he means by ‘the radiance of the symbol’ he describes by asserting that the symbols in his paintings are to “be apprehended as an opening up of meaning of endless possibilities and combinations” in contrast to 19th century Symbolism’s single, limited [meaning]” 90
Ken Kiff, Pink Sky and a Hand from the Earth, 84 x 68.6 cm, acrylic on board, 1982-3 It may be understood from Kiff's ideas that he regards the symbol as having a function connected with memory and enculturation rather than the collective unconscious, or with immanent force or energy of some sort. Ken Kiff did not wish to be regarded as Jungian, or mystical, or religious. This would indicate that although he uses subject matter relevant to reenchantment, his purpose is still isolated from the fundamental forces of reenchantment. Paula Rego, in her Jane Aire Collection has included fairy tale content, and a fantastical ambience. This occurs, it would seem, in a child’s eye view domestic setting. It can also be seen as a woman’s point of view on culture: i.e. Charllotte Bronte and Paula Rego rolled into one. This expansion of consciousness to include deeper understandings of women’s experience, may also be viewed as part
Andrew Lamberth, Ken Kiff, p.
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Ed Mirza of the changes which will make way for the Reenchantment of art.
Paula Rego, Girl with Little Man and Dog, 43 x 37.8cm, etching, 1987 The Centre of the Art World is still populated by installation, assemblage and photography. Painting at this level is manifested in Julien Opie, or Gary Hume, these paintings have in common a hard edged and glossy surface, which deny evidence of artistic handling. The images make no attempt to evoke either an impression of three dimensionality, or of ‘embodiment’, or of psychological depth; surface and line appear non figurative and mechanical. These indeed seem to imply a play on the absurd banality of these images, it may be an ironic statement about loss, that would be the loss of humanity. There may be others like this.
Julian Opie, Graham Coxon, 86.8 x 75.8 cm, C-type colour print on paper laid on panel, 2000
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Gary Hume, Messiah, 208.5 x 116.8 cm, glass paint on aluminium panel, 1998 The paintings of Jenny Saville appear to go somewhere in the direction of Lucien Freud’s painting, but the sense of drama of the sitting and the relation with the sitter so close to what may be seen as ‘original participation’, is sacrificed in favour of looming monumental design effects, and bizarre images of very fat women, which may be seen to contrast with common standards of female beauty and which may and to their capacity to attract attention.
Jenny Saville, Propped,
, oil on canvas, 1992
Within the centre of the art world, reenchantment is sparse. The closest, or at least the most human painters, can be seen as Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon. In Lucien Freud there is a very strong impression of a psychological portrayal of no t only the face of the sitter but also of the body. This is also the case in Francis Bacon, who takes on the description of real and imagined bodies to include page 42 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 distortion, mutilation, and metamorphosis speak of a dark perspicacity in to the nature of human existence. Bacon dissociates himself from the surrealists, but speaks of accidents through which he paints what he would like to see. Francis Bacon It has been related that the majority of visionary art remains peripheral to the elite art market. And it has already been observed also, however, that within figurative painting, there may be seen as contained ‘the path of empathy’ which has been seen as a more enchanted gesture in the direction of a more animistic consciousness. It has been seen that those painters who are able to identify with their sitters enough to portray a certain psychological depth are those on this path of empathy. The elite painting market is not necessarily centred on such an approach to painting. But one of the two most outstanding painters who may be seen to work in this way, who is also at the top of the elite art market tree is Francis Bacon.
Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures on Beds,
, oil on canvas, 1972
Francis Bacon never openly admits to any conscious identification with the animistic world view. But his paintings may be seen as extremely interesting in terms of art’s move towards reenchantment as set out above in this paper. One of the most interesting dimensions to his practise is his approach to the human body. Then there is his portrayal of animal forms and his expression of animalistic energies. He also tends to paint quite extreme human emotions, usually of some form of suffering. However, it may be seen also form the attitudes of the figures, that there is an overriding sympathy for those figures, which gives the work a powerful beauty. It may be seen he is concerned with immediacy, with a physical and emotional impact rather than a primarily intellectual one. This may be seen from his opposition to what he regards as illustration. “I want very, very much to do the thing that Valery said - to give the sensation without the boredom of its conveyance. And the moment the story enters, the boredom is upon you” 8 Bacon Thames and Hudson Aides ad Forge. Narrative painting may be seen as often strongly illustrative, but Bacon appears to be able to strike a balance between representation an expression, which gives the painting an immediate impact as a unity, which does not provoke thought but rather an assessment of page 43 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 emotional and physical reactions experienced. He has famously said: “I’m just trying to make images as accurately off my nervous system as I can” 91 He also may be seen as one who considers that existence happens between people, in the shifting of the light and in shifting impressions. He is not interested in a still objective depiction but in the movement between people and within people. This may find some expression in his blurring technique so often applied in his portrayals of people.
Francis Bacon, Portrait of Michael Leiris, 48 x 36 cm, lithograph, 1976 Much also may be gathered about his interest in the psychological depth of people from the following statement form Francis Bacon: “When I look at you across the table, I don’t only see you but I also see a whole emanation which has to do with personality and everything else, And to put that over in a painting , as I would like to be able to do in a portrait, means that it would appear violent in paint. We nearly always live through screens - a screened existence. And I sometimes think, when people say my work looks violent, that I have from time to time been able to clear away one or two of the veils or screens... ”92
Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Crucifixion (central panel), 198.1 x 144.8 cm, oil on canvas, 1962 Bacon also said he wanted to “make the animal thing come through in the human.”93 This has a strong resonance with shamanism which observes the animal presence of humans and the human expressions which may be regarded as animalistic. Shamanism also observes traditions of ‘shape shifting’ in which figures are believed to transform into animal forms. Bacon manages to intimate
Aides and Forge, Francis Bacon, p. 10 Ibid, p. 10 93 David Sylvester, Looking Back at Francis Bacon, p, 49
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 something of the animal by his depiction of animals often surrounded by a preternatural light. He will also paint people in very strenuous physical contortions: as forge writes: “Two figures may be so closely locked in a physical embrace that their flesh is melded and distorted, and their struggle becomes a single sensation.”94 Bacon has also produced important paintings depicting bullfighting.
Francis bacon, Man With Dog, 152.1 x 116.8 cm, oil on canvas, 1953
Francis Bacon, Two Figures, 152.5 x 116.5 cm, oil on canvas, 1963
Aides and Forge (op. cit.,) p. 9
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Francis Bacon, Study for a Bullfight no. 1, 48 x 36 cm, lithograph, 1990 One particular way in which Bacon intimates the animal expression of humans is where he has used an image of a screaming human mouth. This is an obvious reference to the primal expression of baby humans. Bacon is thought to have been strongly influenced by an influential image of a woman screaming in a Russian propaganda film named Battleship Potemkin, and by another screaming image originated by Poussin (1594-1665). Some may observe that such a raw expression relates to the natural uncultured state of humans, which may be seen as animalistic; but also to the breath which is powered by muscles which extend all the way to the lowest parts of the torso. In one image a screaming possibly primate mouth is situated at the base of a spine set within a human context - a crucifixion. In other paintings primal mouths appear again within a human context. The lower part of the torso is often associated with animal drives such as physicality and sex drive.
The well known scream from Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 Bacon firmly resists a psychological jargon for his approach to painting, but the following may be seen to have resonance with the surrealist approach of stream of consciousness. “I think that, when images drop in... the images themselves are suggestive of the way I can hope that chance and accident will work for me. I always think of myself as not so much a painter, but as a medium for accident and chance.”95 It may be seen that such an approach links Bacon to the discourse surrounding Genius. It would also imply some sort of dialogue with unconscious material, which is obviously a dimension of magic. Bacon also includes phantasmagoric and fantastical imagery within his paintings, and although, again,
Lawrence Gowing, Francis Bacon, p. 25
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 no records have come to light of Bacon mentioning a conscious concern with magic; such images nevertheless place him a step further within the territory of enchantment in painting. Bacon had a concern with poetry and Greek Drama and is known to have been fond of Aeschyles, whose Oresteia features the Furies. On the subject of a tryptich depicting the death of Bacon’s friend George Dyer, David Sylvester writes: “The centre panel shows a profile of Dyer in the shadow of death, trapped between the shadow of the background and a great biomorphic - abstract silhouette, like the cast shadow of a large bird of prey or hat - surely an image of a fury”96 Other chimerical beings exist with Bacon’s Ouevre such as in Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion.
Francis Bacon, Tryptich,
Left: Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Crucifixion (panel three), 1962-63 Right: Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion (panel two), 1944 There is obviously no doctrinal concern with the various spiritual properties of the human body within Bacon’s work, but there is a dreamlike quality to the world Bacon represents, wherewith people shift and unfold. It may also be seen he depicts a personally unsatisfactory cardboard cutout
Sylvester, (op. cit.,) p. 144
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 world, that does not seem cut out to deal with the kinds of suffering and dynamic experiences he describes, but rather is in a painful and often heartrending conflict with them. This may be understood perhaps as an expression of the world view humans in the west are typically provided with by parenting and education. Perhaps Bacon depicts its flimsiness the way in which it can be upset, distorted, and ruptured by upsurgings from the unconscious, violence and sex for which it has no preparation. This would seem to have some resonance with the kind of unfolding from the unconscious implied by arguments in favour of Reenchantment. Perhaps Bacon depicts the struggle between the ego, the soul, the underworld, and the middleworld. Bacon’s reccurrent theme of psychological breakdown, and physical dismemberment also recall dialogues of shamanism. All in all there is a strongly psychological feel about Bacon’s work. Lucien Freud This painter may be seen as along side Bacon as the other most prominent presence within figurative painting. Again, as luck would have it, his painting may also be seen as a very solid move in the direction of reenchantment, but this time simply in the painter’s relationship to the human body, and the way in which he appears to be alive to many of its energies. His portraiture is not limited to the head but extends to every part of the body, in a way quite unique for its concentration, quantity and consistency within the elite painting market. He has made this approach his central concern. Freud’s paintings demonstrate amply the empathic link that is the theme observed here as a the enchanted strand of painting that approaches the animistic. This may evidenced by observing some quotations: “In The Refugees the dentist’s sunken and sloping cheeks are creased with melancholy, as if washed and channelled by the flows of sympathetic insight”97 ,“... it is seen that beauty... consists in being bare of defences. Love is the condition of being at another’s mercy. the girl’s capacity for suffering must serve for both; we guess this couple works it overtime. the remorseless sharpness of the focus on her eyes reveals them, each time in a new dimension, minutely displaced. they are perpetually watchful for an emergency that is inevitable. The hunger and pain in them are always mixed with apprehension, which is worse. No one could miss it, yet noone else could wholly understand.”98 Freud seems to be marked by an intimacy which argues that empathy is an important part of his approach. “The fact that Freud has never been unconcerned with any of the people he paints is enough to make him, believe it or not, almost unique amongst painters [...] The sitters may own one another’s portraits; they sometimes seem like a club, or a union for mutual knowledge, on behalf of painting that is inseparably from lives and relationships.”99 Freud shows a return to embodiedness. This has resonance with the aforementioned post colonial critique, where it is argued that it is largely non-European groups who are more in touch with their bodies. Freud may be seen as in line with this as a strand of reenchantment. Freud manages to depict the physical drawing power of bodies that would not conform with many mainstream ideals of beauty. This would seem to be because he is able to sense their energies. It is this mixture between honesty, and beauty which gives Freud a similarity to Bacon. This may add to the sense
Lawrence Gowing, Lucien Freud, p. 17 Ibid, pp. 81-84 99 Ibid, p. 56
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 that exists that they are like a duo in the art world, in a similar manner to Matisse and Picasso. Another of Gowing’s observations places Freud in line with Bacon: “It was done through a quite physical apprehension of the bodily proximity of the sitter, a lunging, imaginative probing that located the whereabouts of strangeness, and by a sense that is no one else’s accessed a displacement of air and light other than its own.”100
Lucien Freud, Naked Portrait with Reflection,
, Oil on Canvas, 1980
There is nothing within Freud's oeuvre which may be read as fantastical subject matter, although he does employ sort of “hallucinatory realism”, sometimes used in Magic realism, and which can be seen to have a resonance with the alchemical merging of matter (hermeticism) with spirit through focusing attention. Again Freud pledges no allegiance to any form of occult or religious practise in his approach to painting. It may be seen however he may be after the same “accuracy off his nervous system” as Bacon, when Freud said: “I want paint to work as flesh”101 Freud also used blurring and distortion technique which argue the same conflict between everyday perception and the language of unconscious events.
Lucian Freud, Reflection (self portrait), 56.2 x 51.2 cm, oil on canvas 1985
Ibid, p. 118 Quoted on page 190 - Gowing (op, cit.,)
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Ed Mirza R.11-04 It has been observed that Symbolism, Surrealism and Art Brut represent steps towards a more comprehensive Reenchantment. Yet while Surrealism and Picasso have begun to appear twee and whimsical, Art Brut appears to remain a simple curiosity containing only indications towards Reenchantment. This paper shall conclude by suggesting a possible way in which the indications that do exist within the elite art market towards Reenchantment may be extended. Conclusion It is obvious that painting is a visual tradition. The magical journey is also a visionary experience. It is also seen that this visual journey pertains to a journey of consciousness through the human body and that this links with not only visual experiences of the upper world and the under world. It has been observed earlier that figurative painting is more conducive to Reenchantment; that a dehumanised or disembodied art is not conducive, since a Reenchantment of art must seek to educate the body since it is by this means alone that the soul is developed. Therefore it is clear that a Reenchantment of painting must involve some reference not only to the embodied experience, and to the fully human experience, but also to their magical side. Any image of a visionary experience would count; for example the metamorphosis into an animal familiar, or the meeting of a ‘goddess’ type figure linked with the hara chakra, or an image of somebody’s aura of energy fields. Such paintings exist very plentifully but they are absent from the elite art market. This is because no discourse exists for them in art history. It has been seen that Suzi Gablik imagines a very egalitarian form of art which dismisses the notion of even a form of meritocracy in the art world, let alone genius, or shamanism in its more authentic, less egalitarian form. It can be seen that Gablik’s recipe for the disenchantment of art would not key in with art history and therefore could not be realised into artworks generated in the context of the elite art market. Gablik has argued that the strand of the elite art market to which she objects may need to be aborted. Since the discourse of the masterpiece, and the genius remain essential to it, such a sudden break would be unrealistic. This paper observes that a more effective approach would be to build on the tendencies toward Reenchantment that already exist within the art world. It has been seen that Pablo Picasso, Lucien Freud, or Francis Bacon exhibit some form of empathic link which has been seen to be a step in the direction of hermetic consciousness. It has been seen that Symbolism, Surrealism, and Art Brut have been movements in the direction of dialectic reason and psychic and occult exploration. It may seem obvious that a step further toward Reenchantment would be not only to create a discourse for the production of art work but to take art history as it stands in the suggested direction of Reenchantment and to take any suggestion that exists within painting of the elite art market towards Reenchantment. This would be the method of remaining within artistic discourse rather than on the peripheries, as has been the fate of the majority of visionary art. An example of such an elite art market progression may be to extend the distortion and metamorphosis of Francis Bacon and extend them into the territory of advanced magic. Another form of reenchanted art would obviously be some form of magical charm composed to have an effect within the elite art market. Meditation aids, healing scrolls are two forms of enchanted painting in which the effect is not artistic in the sense presently maintained by the elite art market and art history, but rather magically functional. Where the two are fused, magic, or religion, and art page 50 of 53
Ed Mirza R.11-04 the realm of the icon, of the image of the deity, of the mandala, images with immanent force is accessed. Such an actualisation, complete with accurate theoretical accounts within the elite art market would indicate a profound change in civilisation for which there has been observed no feasibility for the following few decades.
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Ed Mirza Bibliography Aides and Forge, Francis Bacon, (Thames and Hudson, London [ ]) Aliaga, Juan, Luc Tuymans, (Phaidon, New York, 1996)
Audi, Robert (gen. ed.,) The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Cambridge University Press 1995) Bettleheim, Bruno, The Uses of Enchantment, Bhabha, Homi K., The Location of Culture, (Routledge, London and New York, 1994) Berman, Morris, The Reenchantment of the World, (Cornell University Press, U.S.A, 1981) Breton, Andre, Manifesto du Surrealism - Poisson soluble, Paris, 1924, new edn, Paris, 1929, pp. 45-46, trans. in David Gascoyne, A Short Survey of Surrealism, London, 1935. Briganti, Giulliano, Fantastic and Visionary Painting (Bloomsbury Books, London, 1970) De Gasset, Ortega, The Dehumanisation of Art Drury, Nevill, The Shaman and the Magician - Journeys Between the Worlds, (Routledge and Kegan Paul, Oxford, 1982) Drury, Nevill, Echoes From The Void - Writings on Magic, Visionary Art and the New Consciousness, (Prism, Dorset, 1994) Eliade, Mircea, Shamanism - Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, (trans.) Wilard R. Trask (Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 1972) Foucault, Michel, Power/knowledge, (London, 1980) Frazer, Sir James George, F.R.S., F.B.A, The Golden Bough, (Macmillan and co., London, 1922) Freud, Sigmund, Totem and Taboo, (Routledge and Kegan Paul, U.K.,1950) Gablik, Suzi, The Reenchantment of Art (Thames and Hudson, London, 1991) Gowing, Lawrence, Francis Bacon, (Thames and Hudson, [ ]) Gowing, Lawrence, Lucian Freud, (Thames and Hudson, 1982) The Greater Oxford English Dictionary Halifax, Joan, Shaman - The Wounded Healer (Thames and Hudson, London, 1982) Harrison, Charles, and Wood, Paul, Art in Theory 1900-2000, (Blackwell, USA., 2003) page 52 of 53
Ed Mirza Honour, Hugh, Romanticism, (Pelican, London, 1981)
Jamison, Kay Redfield, Touched With Fire - Manic depressive illness and the artistic temperament, (Free Press, New York, 1993) Jung, Carl Gustav, (ed.,) Man and His Symbols, (Aldus Books, London, 1964) Jung, Carl Gustav, Psychology and the Occult - Psychology and Pathology of So Called Occult Phenomena (1902), (Princeton University Press, London 1977) [Koplow?], Janet, Remedius Varo, (Cross Rivers/Virago Press, London, 1988) Krichbaum, Jorg, and Zundergold, Rein A., Dictionary of Fantastic Art, trans. Donna Redini Simpson, (Durmont books, West Germany, 1977) Kuspit, Schnabel, (Waddington Gallerie, London, 1985) Laing, R.D., The Politics of Experience and the Bird of Paradise, (Penguin, 1967) Lamberth, Andrew, Ken Kiff, (Thames and Hudson, London, 2001) Lyotard, Jean-Francois, The Inhuman, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby, (Blackwell, Oxford, 1991) Lyotard, Jean Francois, The Postmodern Condition, (Minneapolis and Manchester, 1984) Matthews, Walter, Robert, The Gospel and the Modern Mind, (Macmillan and co., London, 1925) Moszynska, Anna, Abstract Art (Thames and Hudson, London, 1990) The Oxford Dictionary of Art, 1999 Panofsky, Erwin, Meaning in the Visual Arts, (Penguin Books, London, 1955) Rhodes, Colin, Outsider Art - Spontaneous Alternatives, (Thames and Hudson, London, 2000) Read, Herbert, A Concise History of Modern Painting, (Thames and Hudson, London, 1974) Russel, John, Francis Bacon (Thames and Hudson, London 1998) Sylvester, David, Looking Back at Francis Bacon, (Thames and Hudson, London, 1988) Taylor, Rogan P., The Death and Resurrection Show, London (Anthony Blond, London, 1985)
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