Over the years of independent philosophical study I am mostly indebted to Rudolf Steiner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Carl Jung, C. S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield for helping me pursue and grasp indispensable truths. As an artist, I have always found inspiration and answers between the book covers, now edge worn, of these thought providers, these elites.
A work of art is an idea transfixed, a form of stopgap. It is the evocative and architectural structuring of whimsy, of imagination, of one question answered; it’s tangible evidence of the objectification of an act of thought; it is an attestation as to the grasped truth of a moment in mind, a truth obligatorily reduced to symbology, to archetypes. Rhythms of ideas are synthesized then made manifest by means of corporeal platforms; ideological energies are postured symbolically and contextually, in order to transfigure these pulses of mind, these personal epiphanies (once the significant is distinguished over the trivial), for the (deemed worthy) sharing of imageries, the sharing of a myth; eternizing this communicative urge, a universally shared compulsion, to speculate human worth. Succinctly, an art piece is like the crust of a scab, the coagulation of ideas into a body medium that seals the weep of Imagination; its corporeal nature urging us voyeurs to scratch and pick at its intrigue (our understanding limited to our own under nail capacity), fingertips usually brought up curiously close for study and smell to guess how deep the artist’s wound.
Within the human agency, there exists the eternal propensity to imagine and channel. If not for this compulsion, the ‘arts’ would not exist throughout all ages. Shakespeare utilized universal archetypes for delivering a dramatic message; Carl Jung established five main archetypes as prototypes for the emotions and ideas that seem changeless over centuries; a chess game is played with six distinct pieces used conscientiously as metaphors to hone foresight, circumspection, and caution; alphabets of world languages utilize distinct symbols conjunctively to convey meaning; distinctive prayer beads are exalted and fingered for purposeful and thematic repetition, devotion and meditation.
Upon examination, young children’s art, being identical around the world, bears witness that an archetypical approach to self expression is universal: all young children draw the same things in the same way at the same age. This symbolic art comes from the same innate beginnings and incorporates the same shapes and designs that are found in primitive art. A child’s prescient understanding of simple geometric elements to convey archetypical meaning fuels the humanly inborn artistic impulse and stokes the compulsive creative thrust in order to transfigure ‘being’ into ‘proof of being’, exalting then solidifying ideas in order to allege some sense of personal value. As to symbology, witness within young minds’ artwork the universal elements organized to forward the human story. There is an ancestral collective of symbols intrinsic to each child born, dormant forms of an imagistic language, at the ready. On paper, we see the inward spokes of a circular mandala, borne of a scribble, evolving into glorified rays of a sun; these rays transmogrify into substantive arms and legs that radiate directionally out of a mandala-head; at the ends of these axes, smaller planets appear with smaller marks posturing emblematic fingers. A circle for a head, a line for a body, a scribble for a tree, a line differentiates sky and earth, a pentagon is a house, parabolas characterize aspects of importance within a tableau, all these elements, emblematic in nature, are being used to capture the immediacy of a moment’s thought in picture language, the creative compulsion is outed, to channel a primal vision in what I’ll call quicktime.
Until around the age of seven this inherent elemental language remains accessible as the universal pictorial system for discovering the mechanics of human ‘being’. As an adult, after decades of cultural conditioning, these archetypes become cloaked with judgments and assumptions, becoming more parochial and less elemental, thus less effective, and sadly, less essentially accessible. Visionary thought becomes cataracted with bias. The divine becomes less divine, less recognizable, and less usable to suit divine purpose.
To rediscover these fundamental symbols and create telling platforms for them, I experiment with a self-disciplined, childlike, scribbling using a conscientious unconsciousness to express core urgings of mind. Loosening my thinking, giving it free rein, I allow my pencil to draw, in quicktime, the immediate symbols that appear in mind. With a hard discipline to stay undisciplined, to recapture antecedent imagery, I let my mind teach me its language again; I stockpile and organize these primal images to strictly structure them into a glyphic language for use in expressing the complex concerns pertaining to my own wonderings of existence, my own yearning for self-explanation, and to expedite the process for the requisite, very human, evolution and validation of thought. To allow abstraction to have its full power for conveying conceptual meaning, there need be the continual fight against the tyranny of the eye, resisting the ennui resulting from mere passive perceptions of nature, as opposed to welcoming the spiritually arousing energy of active and awakened thinking, subsequent to acknowledging the existence of supernatural grace or fore-knowledge, and to be philosophically advantaged by a heightened sensibility to nuance, to better interpret phenomena and relevance.
Creating visual interpretations of philosophical thought is not an easy task. Symbols are requisite. Daydreaming is helpful. Observation and study are essential. Symbols are expedient means to an end. Once their values are substantiated, they can be used in such a way as to tease new interpretations of already formed ideas, assisting the evolution of thought, the evolution of consciousness. The unique power of a symbol and how it’s expressed can facilitate the extrapolation and narration of personal myths, since myths tend to grow exponentially by nature.
The natural world is brimming with metaphors to bring a greater consciousness to attend to spiritual tasks, if careful attention is paid. The world is a church of inspiration. Enlisting Imagination as co-creator and interpreter, as a tool for burnishing thought, I take artful advantage of metaphors construed from the conjunctive use of symbols and nature, manipulating the natural impulse to seeing and understanding natural objects as they merely appear (the tyranny of the eye), emancipating the mind from the senses through syncopated constructs. I recruit Imagination as my dutiful accomplice to use worldly tangibles as ready mannequins to address my still humble understanding of fundamental truths.
I’ve developed what I call a higher form of finger painting. Over time, I’ve created a multiplet of morphemes, hieroglyphs of fractionated and figurative marks that I set in tableau with other imagistic elements. Each morpheme, or hand jive, signifies poetic aspects of verbs in my own developing visual language; each an attitude caught motionless in pose, and at times juxtaposed in conjunction with other glyphs, to imply meaning to a condition, a circumstance. These figurative elements compound their authorities, within fragments of inquiry, to persuade a fanciful grasp of the impulses and infatuations the mind uses in its quest for understanding basic aspects of presence, of time, of worth. I make Imagination co-interpreter of the metaphysical nature of all personal subject matter and abstract style that’s evolved from the conceptual thinking wrung from philosophical studies, and make it co-creator in my producing interpretative works of these undecidable conjectures. I use the power of abstraction to consolidate the workings of my own mind, physically grounding mythology within organic mediums, attending to the list of questions I ask myself, and the subsequent, yet incomplete, answers I offer myself.
I incorporate a multiplet of jives, elemental knots in a rope of an evolving iconographic language, to not only lasso quicker classifications of meanings, both literal and esoteric, for my own devise, but to offer others a visually thoughtful way to cross unfamiliar boundaries, to share a spark, an understanding, when alchemically melding, through Imagination, the natural world with a supranatural one. I share interpreted and illustrated metaphysical theories availing the use of imagination, form and symbol. I illustrate philosophical assertions with a methodical usage of symbology. As with an abstract geometric equation, by factoring in imagination, inspiration (fore-knowledge) and intuition, I seek the corresponding and separate values of the two worlds of fact and fancy, of nature and mind, of outsight and insight. I take the substance of anthroposophical study and add a language of morphemes, archetypical symbols intellectually devised and expressly linked, their meanings exponentially exaggerated when positioned conjunctively; and then I multiply these components by cumulative years of art experimentation with different modes of expression, noting here that the continuous development of an imagistic symbolic language seeks always an evolution of thought and device, to reach a sublime understanding and expression of purpose, to answer the metaphysical question “why?” succinctly. I delight in the continual metamorphic evolution taking place from art piece to art piece, there’s an unraveling of mysteries taking place; the symbols themselves cross-being; it’s an experience not unlike reading chapters in an allegorical book of individualized philosophical thought and myth making. It’s a personal quest to conquer spiritual apathy, to bring an increased dissolution to self-centered delusions, to reconnoiter beyond the area occupied by my self.
To get at the essence of a journey through time, publishing an allegorical novel specific to it seems a sound answer. This is a novel of a journey, the slow, methodical unfolding of a story, a mythos, offering the gradual accretion of thoughtful evidence addressing queries of, and responses to, the mind-body problem. It includes a retrospective gallery of an artist’s ruminations over time, a novel of ideological novelties that spurns the superficial. Its content differentiates the expendable from the essential. It intellectualizes face value. Consider: as one shell houses two aspects of an egg’s act of life, the white and the yolk, the clear glaire serves as a protective and nourishing sustenance for the yolk, be it fertilized or unfertilized; a viscous halo, commanding over 2/3 of an egg’s weight, its sacred symbiotic purpose easily a forgotten esotericism when whole truth gets fractionalized by the more substantive, and distractive, yolk and its own, more embodied, more sensational, implication. The mind-body problem is addressed when considering the degrees of reverence to be offered to each aspect, the white and the yolk, of Being. Respecting the egg’s 2/3 ratio, and for my intent and purpose for this metaphor, assume it may hold for transformative substance as well, the white holds a distinctly high degree of importance for the yoke to be made manifest. This white substance, seeming angelic in nature, has within it two spiral bands, two chalazae, easily imagined as two sublime wings, that suspend the yolk, keeping it safely in place, appropriating it within the shell. As well, man is enwrapped, beheld, by an indistinct, hence egregiously irreverenced, angelic substance, he is glazed with grace, so to speak; and by loosening Imagination to help unyoke us from the sensational and distractive organics of our bodies, enough to get outside the developing yolk of ourselves, we can be held aloft, in a spiritually definitive way, raised and beholden to high Reason, by being receptively more attuned to nuance, more conscious of the sublime symbiosis occurring between the aspects of ourselves, imaginatively more aware of the gracious life hammock created by the two fancied, thus venerably understood, chalazal wings that suspend us, sustain us, inspirit us, in the journey for exponential knowledge, our collectively human, and divine, function. We are predestined placeholders, serial prayer beads, each of us a homogenous syllable purposed within a divine language that speaks a message still too sacred for man to comprehend without his continuous evolution of thought, his continued evolution of consciousness, his finding the bridge (the yoke, a tie) between the temporal and the eternal. Essentially, we are a metastatic vocabulary of elements imbued with our own grandiosely imagined encyclopedic meanings, within a weighty codex, paradoxically titled “Word”; we are the ancient and perpetual connective syllables for use in a sacred language for the creation of consecrated context; we are one criterion used to realize Idea.
To access the ‘white’ of us, is the purpose of art, its Work, its Why. The actual ‘work of art’ is felt, not seen, is intuited, not touched. It is the rubbing of imaginations for sparks; it’s the yoking together of two or more thinking minds, a yoke able to bridge both space and time, like a tie joining syncopated notes of a symphony. Paradigms shift, inspiring tectonic knowledge. An artist thrusts the sword into the stone. Pulling the sword out of the stone is the task of experiencing art. We work to imagine what’s beneath the surface of an art piece’s mere organic expression; work to wonder how deep the wound, to imagine the cause, to see beneath, to sense and affirm the rhythm of myth, the pulse of thought; braving art, we hesitate to hear one hush to our universal cry. Our minds furiously claw for meaning, scratching the underbelly of reality raw, then we bring fingernails close and sniff the sacred.
Copyright © 2012 Beth Skillicorn