|Lover at the Edge, oil paint & mixed media on canvas Majio|
In July and August the Painting Circles have been investigating the archetype of place through painting. It has been an interesting endeavor to view our everyday surroundings in an archetypal context. We have experienced how physical place overlaps with emotional, historical and mythological place, similar to nighttime dreams when a character is father, boyfriend and serial killer, all at the same time.
In the realm of the psyche, unconscious archetypal aspects of place merge to shape the container
of the rich and complex world we create in our lives. In the Painting Circles we use process painting to make conscious dominant archetypal pattern in our personal mythology. All of the arts, however, lead us into a deeper experience of our interior world. This stretching of our personal connection to archetype as soul tending, has called to our attention the works of Thomas Moore.
Thomas Moore in The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, talks about how care of the soul requires education in the archetypal realms. He says that we learn from art what earth-centered cultures have traditional acquired through “ritual, story, sacrament, sacrifice, icon, temple, sculpture, and
dance.” Probably, like you, I have had to invent ritual with sacrifice in the desire for sacraments, not available in my community. The arts nurture, guide, support and inform us of the mysteries of life, allowing us to enlarge our immediate cultural context; revealing to us our soul life.
Moore compares psychology to allopathic medicines, which numb our pain instead of intensifying the exploration of mythic process. The arts provide a viewpoint fundamentally different from the one that shapes most modern psychology; as through the artistic imagination we are liberated more by entering into our experiences than by being led out of them. It can be deeply moving or sometimes profoundly disturbing. Unlike modern allopathic therapies, which tend to numb us to the pain of our predicaments, the arts sharpen the emotions and intensify the crisis of meaning; for me the arts have always been an engagement of the psyche, it was new to think of them as an education.
I feel that recently I have witnessed an inordinate amount of calamity in my P: a close friend is recovering from emergency cancer surgery, another’s kitchen floor has been torn up because of structural water damage, a painter was notified that the inheritance she planned for retirement does not exist and my mother in her mid-eighties fell and broke her hip.
|UCSC Organic Farm|
An example did come to me and through a poem that I had read many times before. But this time I heard it in a new way. In Billy Collins’ poem, Splitting Wood, in the last few stanzas he uses the metaphor of the two halves of a split log wobbling in place like two naked lovers exposed to the light. I had that experience recently also; the shock of being pulled from deep intimacy into separation. What also comes to mind is my daughter’s birth, both were a severance, but they sponsored something grander, just as splitting of the wood to fire the kiln transforms the fragile clay into durable ceramics. It was an experience that went directly to my psyche. It did not go through my brain until later when I looked at the current tragedies and could see them as part of a greater cycle of life.
It was graphic how art, in this case poetry, takes the understanding of the mysteries of life through the archetypal realm of the psyche inviting a deeper grasp of birth in death. Through exposure to the archetypes that shape our lives and seize our emotions, the arts contribute powerfully to the enchantment of everyday life. We live in a culture dominated by logical and quantitative analysis, one that has forgotten the many alternative means of dealing with experience---ritual, storytelling, community participation in grieving and celebrating artistry in everyday tasks, and personal poetry of life. The arts speak to our instinctual imagination, in a sense to our primitive natures, and so attend the archetypal dimension of our thoughts and emotions. Majio
Last stanzas of Billy Collin’s Poem,
I want to say there is nothing
like the sudden opening of wood,
but it is like so many other things—
the stroke of the ax like lightning,
the bisection so perfect
the halves fall away from each other
as in a mirror
and hit the soft ground
like twins shot through the heart.
And rarely, if the wood
accepts the blade without conditions,
the two pieces keep their balance
in spite of the blow,
remain stunned on the block
as if they cannot believe their division,
their sudden separateness.
Still upright, still together,
they wobble slightly as two lovers, once
as two lovers, once secretly bound,
might stand revealed,
more naked than ever,
the darkness inside the tree they shared
now instantly exposed to the blunt
light of this clear November day,
all the inner twisting of the grain
that held them blindly
in their augmentation and contortion
now rushed into this brightness
as if by a shutter
that, once opened, can never be closed.