SEEING THRU ART
THE ARTIST AS AN INSTRUMENT
the unconscious psychic life of mankind
SERVING THE ANCESTRAL DEAD
Red Book Art
An art-based renaissance or rebirth ;
This is a form of re-search in which we return to the past to remember (re assemble) and recognize (re think), revision (re imagine) and revolt (“roll back”).
There is an archetypal sense and sensibility to both the content and the composition of these images whose conceptual arrangement is based on innate sense of seeing and visual literacy that has developed through the ages.
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
~ HENRY DAVID THOREAU
THE RED BOOK — The "SCHOOL" of his SOUL
The dead were important to The Red Book because these were the ancestors that haunted Jung and that he served. Their ancestry was in his DNA and in his archetypal equivalent, and the dead were who Jung “taught” in Seven Sermons to the Dead (1916). Jung (1961) wrote at the beginning of his RB experience. “The dead came from Jerusalem,” assuming the voice of the gnostic Basilides in Alexandria from where “East toucheth the West” and, “where they found not what they sought” (p. 378). The dead “prayed” that he “let them in and besought” Jung’s (Basilides’) word, and thus he “began” his “teaching” (p. 378). This can be seen as the beginning of TRB and its inspiration.
In this art-based process we are learning to see in the dark of night and the dark of the depths of the unconscious—to see what has been hidden or repressed. In seeing we bring the unconscious to light through a process of illumination (as in an illuminated manuscript). This process can be seen in the mythic return to the garden of Eden of The Red Book and the names of Lilith and Eve (meaning “of the night” or night monster and evening or “life breath” like the anima or soul respectively). In learning to navigate the dark night of the soul, we learn to see in the inner darkness through visions which Jung said were more important than dreams because they brought the unconscious and conscious together—illuminating the darkness.
“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens."
Morgan — Rushing forth of all that has been unconscious
Morgan has been covered at times throughout the website, yet she deserves a more thorough introduction. A writer, artist, and psychologist, Morgan was featured in Jung’s Visions seminar, and co-created the TAT or thematic apperception test with her lover, psychologist and Jung’s analysand Henry Murray. In order to give Morgan her due, I am attaching a number of links that give more thorough coverage of her imagery which Jung (1997) described as “material for the next two or three hundred years,” describing it as “a great document humaine” and a “rushing forth of all that has hitherto been unconscious” (as cited by Douglas, pp. 210-211).
Taught by Jung, “Morgan’s active imaginations grew to be a series of over one hundred fantasies that led her through a personal but also archetypal feminine rite of initiation” (Douglas, 1997, p. xiii), and Jung said that she exhibited the only other perfect pitch regarding visioning other than himself. Morgan not only testified to an “upsurge of the feminine” but also to Jung’s gender bias in treating her, “As an alien, more primitive, other in the same unconsciously patronizing way that male explorers of Jung’ era tended to Ätreat any gender, race, religions, or culture different from their own” (p. xxvi), in the words of psychologist Claire Douglas who edited the Visions seminar and wrote Morgan’s biography, Translate the Darkness (1997).
To Introduce Morgan’s Images I use Jung’s concept of BETRACHTEN. Jung (1997) The English verb, to look at, does not convey this meaning, but the German betrachten, which is an equivalent, means also to make pregnant. TrÄchting means to carry, to be big with young, pregnant, but it is used only for animals, not for human beings; a pregnant cow is a TrÄchtinge Kuh. So to look at or concentrate upon a thing, betrachten, gives the quality of being pregnant to the object. And if it is pregnant to the object. And if it is pregnant, then something is due to come out of it; it is alive, it prouces, it multiplies.
That is the case with any fantasy image; one concentrates upon it, and then finds that one has great difficulty in keeping the thing quiet. It gets, restless, it shifts, something is added, or it multiplies itself; one fills it with living power, and it becomes pregnant (p. 661).
Hindsight — Participation Mystique, looking backward
The left or lunar eye looks backward into prehistory according to Jacob Boehme, while the solar (and mystical) right eye looks forward to eternity (who Jung called a visionary genius). Jung’s art-based process works with the soul in the “primitive sense” as he referred to her, a soul that is “prehistoric” and “archaic,” representing all that is alive from the past in us today. This is a collective soul that contains the living dead of prehistory in art and artists.
“We must grant that the artist does not function in an official capacity—the very opposite is nearer the truth. He nevertheless resembles the types I have named in one respect, for the specifically artistic disposition involves an overweight of collective psychic life as against the personal. Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purposes through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense—he is “collective man”—one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind. “ (Jung, 1933, p. 169).
Your Way — Gnostic Revelations
In The Red Book Jung (2009) said, “Woe betide those who live by way of example,” adding that “There is only one way and that is your way,” (p. 125). A direct or gnostic revelation is required in this art-based process, because “If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves” (p. 125).
This is a fundamental key and truth of this art-based approach: each person should create and view in their own way as they are called by their soul and the soul. For this is not Jung’s methodology so much as it is that of the soul—his soul, your soul, and the soul that transcends and contains these distinctions. This section helps with information to understand Jung’s example and also find your own way.
“Certainly a painting can be reductionistically described by its physical properties only: its shape, the paint, t he design, and so forth. But every artwork that exists is both an individual thing, a whole unto itself, and simultaneously a part of the matrix of forces that brought it into being.” Alex Grey
"It is not to be thought; it is to be viewed. It is a painting." Jung of his soul