My Significant Other is the Kosmos

Monday, February 27, 2012

For some artists, engaging in the practice of art making leads them to an exploration of subconscious and unconscious territories of the psyche. When this happens one finds that the unconscious - that which, by definition, was unavailable to conscious attention - is far richer and deeper and wider than was anticipated. This is certainly true of the personal unconscious, that region mapped and explored by modern psychology in the last 150 years or so and creatively utilized most notably in the first half of the 20th century by the Surrealists. Even today many, if not most, artists working intentionally with the unconscious park their wagons here, unearthing the depths of their personal experience to uncover deeper truths about life and culture, truths rarely visible on the noisy, flatland surface of day to day reality.

But there is another realm of the psyche that can become available to creative exploration - the illusive, sometimes mysterious, sometimes scary, always surprising transpersonal unconscious. It's here, outside of the personal both above and below, that creativity starts tapping into energies never imagined and rarely understood. From far below the region of the personal unconscious, the deep unconscious reveals species instincts and urges that are so raw and formless they can barely be contained in cultural symbols, yet manage to find creative form in myth and ritual that is often shimmering in numinosity. This is the descending path - to use Jung's terminology, artists working here are mining the collective unconscious, Anselm Kiefer is a contemporary artist who is a master in this region of creative expression.

And then, from far above the personal, some artists find themselves drawn to the heavens, embraced unexpectedly by grace or agape, hearing and seeing messages and visions emanating from mystical regions, the far regions of the infinite above and beyond anything not only of the personal but of the Earth itself. This is the ascending path, the transpersonal unconscious territory of the creative mystics - William Blake and J.S Bach; Rumi; the late Beethoven. This is the ineffable brought to manifestation, or more correctly a glimmer of the ineffable brought to Earth not by the effort of the artist but through a kind of invisible guidance reaching down to communicate unlimited possibility.

There are other regions of the transpersonal unconscious; in fact, it's infinite, unlimited, endless, awe inspiring. This is where the artist in his/her creative practice finally stops seeking and begins to be guided. This is where the artist steps through doors never before recognized into territories never before intuited. This is where the artist steps back from the work, looks at it and wonders, who the hell did that? This is where I am. And how I got here is mostly a mystery to me, though in looking back I see a long and battered journey that was somehow fueled and inspired by a crazy intuition, a pull from far off, dimly perceived but undeniable.

There were many turning points, many forks in the road, many dead end paths, none of which are important to anyone but me. But there was a moment that was especially crucial, a coming together of many unrelated elements that led to an emergance that changed everything. And that moment came on a beautiful Spring Sunday morning in May....

To be continued...