Monday, January 22, 2007

Surfer who has already become a cathedral himself

From Kroker's C Theory page The Ultimate Cathedral Mordechai Omer and Avi Rosen Translated from Hebrew by Sonia Dantziger
Since James Joyce vision of the cathedral seems to be the first envisaging of what we now know as cyberspace I found this article very interesting in its cross epochal hermeneutic application of cyberculture theory. - by Rich on Sun 21 Jan 2007 10:34 PM PST Permanent Link
In conclusion, throughout human history, man has tried to understand his relationship to the powers at work in the Universe, and to unite with them. The structures in their respective generations, from pre-history to the Pyramids, the temples and the cathedrals, were instruments to unify man with his God, according to man's technical ability. Man's hope was that unification would grant him eternal life. The digital media epoch turned cathedrals from physical structures to structures of digital information, so man too was privileged to transform his physical body to higher dimensions. This revolution led to a change in the way man is described graphically in the Universe.
Cyberspace has enlarged the range of human body and consciousness to the final boundaries of the speed of light, by means of electronic components (silicon), which connect man to the Universe. One can see in this description an expression of quantum mechanics in which particles are in a state of super-position, that is to say, at the same time in every location in space (net), until the act of differentiation is carried out, (action on net data), leading to the collapse of the super-position wave function to a discrete state absorbed by the surfer's consciousness. The surfer too is in a state of super-position and is part of the Universe wave function that comprises everything. Man's consciousness indeed influences the reality in his vicinity via cyberspace. Reality has again become, as in the distant past, a mixture of the products of soul, dream, trance, and myth, together with the material tangibility of daily existence. The cyclical concept of time and space, that dominated pre-historic culture, and was replaced by logical, linear, western concepts, has returned to its starting point, by way of the cyberspace closed loop of time and space.
The Super-cathedral containing the self reflection in cyberspace. Avi Rosen, 2006. [36] The Universe familiar to us becomes a link to every surfer who has already become a cathedral himself. Cyberspace electronically compresses the events in the Universe into the singularity of the electronic cathedral. Man is situated in this singularity, while a finger of his hand extends to almost touch the finger of God opposite him. He discovers that he is enclosed inside a spherical structure lined with membrane mirrors reflecting the images of everything around him. It resembles a scene from the movie "Matrix 3", in which the hero "Neo" confronts the creator of the matrix (the image of an aging man resembling God as pictured by Michelangelo) in a spherical cathedral covered with flat video screens displaying the image of Neo throughout his entire life.
For a minute, it seems to him that he has returned to Pythagoras' world, where man is the center of a flat-Universe, with planets and spheres circling him, and the whole enveloped in God's embrace, as in the medieval illustration described previously. The surfer's finger is trying to reach God's finger. To his amazement he discovers that the Heavenly embrace and the finger of God that he is trying to reach, and almost touches, is not God's finger, but his own. Life is carried in an electronic Panopticon, in which the subject looking out from the center sees around him a flat world circumscribed by his own body extensions. In cyber art the human image appears on silicon, implanted under the subjects' skin, which enables the global membrane extension of his body and consciousness. Existence in this ultimate cathedral is the continuous artistic act of a self-reflective hyper-subject.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The highest vocation is self-knowledge; Art went as far as it can in this direction

What Is Progressive Art? Reginald Shepherd
The concepts of aesthetically progressive or reactionary art, of avant-garde or rearguard art, depend upon a teleological idea of history that derives from Hegel and has been mostly fully developed in relation to the arts by the art critic Clement Greenberg and by the philosopher and art critic Arthur C. Danto, who writes, in very Hegelian terms, that “it is possible to read twentieth-century art as the collective quest for the essence and nature of art” (“Approaching the End of Art”). I would like to offer a brief sketch of the history of this teleological notion of the history of art, in order to better illuminate what such terms as “progressive” or “avant-garde” art might mean for us today. This is in no way intended as a comprehensive survey, nor do I necessarily endorse the positions laid out here. I present them for consideration, as an historical perspective is often missing in discussions of the avant-garde.1
In Hegel’s theory of history, outlined in his Introduction to the Theory of History, published in 1832, the course of history is the progress of Spirit (Geist) coming to consciousness of itself as Spirit, of consciousness coming to awareness of itself as consciousness. History is the self-realization of Spirit. Freedom is Spirit’s essence, and its goal is the complete realization of freedom, which Hegel defines as full self-consciousness: Spirit’s unique capacity both to know and to be what it knows, to be simultaneously the object and the subject of knowledge. Every civilization represents Spirit’s partial self-knowledge, and each civilization is superseded as Spirit moves on to a fuller self-realization. Though I will be using the term Spirit throughout this piece, in keeping with the standard translations, Geist can also be rendered as Mind, or even as Consciousness.
In his Philosophy of Fine Art (published posthumously from lecture notes in 1835), Hegel works out this historical theory in terms of the arts. The history of art is the history of Spirit’s search for material embodiment, seeking out forms that can physically manifest its inner tensions and resolutions. As Danto writes, “The story of art is the story of art’s role in the grand history of the spirit.”...
For Clement Greenberg, the modern history of visual art is constituted by each medium’s search for what is intrinsic and essential to it and each medium’s discarding of all that is extrinsic and inessential, in particular whatever is shared by other media. “It seems to be a law of modernism—thus one that applies to almost all art that remains truly alive in our time—that the conventions not essential to the viability of a medium be discarded as soon as they are recognized…. And it is understood, I hope, that conventions are overhauled, not for revolutionary effect, but in order to maintain the irreplaceability and renew the vitality of art in the face of a society bent in principle on rationalizing everything. It is understood, too, that the devolution of tradition cannot take place except in the presence of tradition” (“‘American-Type’ Painting”). Interestingly, Greenberg sees the history of literature, in this sense, as having ended before that of painting: “This process of self-purification appears to have come to a halt in literature simply because the latter has fewer conventions to eliminate before arriving at those essential to it (“‘American-Type’ Painting”)...
The philosopher and art critic Arthur C. Danto has further developed this Hegelian model. Whereas for Greenberg the history of modern art is the story of each medium discovering and reducing itself to its essence, for Danto that history is the story of the pursuit of the smallest distinction between art and life, the zero degree of difference. For Danto, this zero degree was reached with Andy Warhol’s Brillo box, which posed the question of why one object is art when objects identical to it are not...
In Danto’s summation,“this means returning art to the serving of largely human [and/or individual] ends…. It is no mean thing for art that it should now be an enhancement of human life. And it was in its capacity as such an enhancement that Hegel supposed that art would go on even after it had come to an end. It is only that he did not suppose happiness to be the highest vocation to which a spiritual existence is summoned. For him, the highest vocation is self-knowledge, and this he felt was to be achieved by philosophy. Art went as far as it can in this direction, toward philosophy, in the present century. This is what he would have meant by saying [that] art reaches its end. The comparison with philosophy is not intended as invidious. Philosophy too comes to an end, but unlike art it really must stop when it reaches its end, for there is nothing for it to do when it has fulfilled its task” (“Approaching the End of Art”)....Posted by Reginald Shepherd at 4:21 PM Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Integral Art goes right back to Sri Aurobindo himself

Integral Practice, Integral Esotericism - Part Six Alan Kazlev
6-xii. Integral Art
Art and imagination represents a holistic, spatial, intuitive or "right brain" (in the pop new age jargon) perspective that balances the rational-linear, "left brain" thinking of the scientific-empirical mind. This is a polarity that has already been referred to in table 2. Although it should not be limited in this way, because art can be holistic and encompass the entire being as well.
With the Wilberian and post-Wilberian emphasis on theory, we tend to forget that Integral Art has often played a very central role in the Integral Movement. And although Wilber and his followers may have been the first to popularise the term "Integral Art", in keeping with their tendency to prefix any trendy noun with the word "integral"[29], Integral Art goes right back to Sri Aurobindo himself.
Although usually thought of as a philosopher and a yogi, Sri Aurobindo considered himself to be primarily a poet by vocation, and encouraged his disciples to take up poetry as well. His greatest written work was not his any of his philosophical or other writings, but his epic poem Savitri, a work in excess of 23,000 lines, which he wrote and re-wrote over many years. At the surface based on a tale from Hindu mythology, Savitri tells of the eponymous heroine's descent into the realm of the Lord of Death in order to free her husband Satyavan and return with him to the world of the living. This theme of descent into the underworld to free a loved one is also a common one in Mesopotamian and Greek mythology, where however some misfortune or hubris inevitably befalls the hero, preventing the success of the mission. In Sri Aurobindo's version, the poem is actually a metaphoric account of his entire teaching and prophetic vision, with the capacity of transforming the reader's inner consciousness. Symbolically, it represents the conquest of ignornace and the attainment of Supramentalisation.
And whilst Sri Aurobindo was a poet, his co-worker The Mother was an artist and musician, who when young was married Henri Morisset, a student of Gustave Moreau. During this time Mirra became a part of the Paris artistic circles, befriending Rodin, Monet, and others. Just as Sri Aurobindo advised his disciples to take up poetry, so did The Mother encourage art and painting in those who came to her; among them Champaklal, Janina Stroka, and Sanjiban Biswa. Another disciple, Sunil Bhattacharya, was asked by The Mother if he could put Savitri to music; this became a life work that he dedicated over thirty years to[30].
Another devotee of The Mother was Michel Montecrossa, a musician, film director, cyberartist, and futurist, who with her help founder of Mirapuri (a New Age community in Northern Italy) has created a dvd movie based on Savitri[31].
Integral Art (music) was also developed by the German composer Johannes Wallmann, who began developing the holistic artistic concept of Integral Art in 1982[32] His works specialise in three-dimensional sound and landscape sound.
William Irwin Thompson is another integral artist, both in the sense of being a poet, his various interests and description of writing and speaking style as "mind-jazz on ancient texts" (ref needed). He also coined a German neologism Wissenskunst (literally, "knowledge-art") to describe his own work, as "the play of knowledge in a world of serious data-processors", in contrast to Wissenschaft, the German word for science.
Larry and Andy Wachowski's Matrix trilogy portrays important spiritual and philosophical insights, drawing from cyberpunk, transhumanism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Buddhism, and philosophical conceptions of the nature of reality. They incorporated a number of Wilberian themes and are fans of Wilber's work[33].
Within the Wilberian movement, the most important artist is Alex Grey (a member of the Integral Institute), whose work includes performance art, installation art, sculpture, and painting, the latter often depicting aspects of the supernatural world superimposed with aspects of the natural world. , he is also on the board of advisors for the Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics. His illustration of Wilber as the bodhisattva Manjushri seems to have been instrumental in Wilber's apotheosis (see TLDI 2-x).
Matthew Dallman[34] has developed his own approach to Integral Art. As he relates in a blog post (later an essay), in 2003 he was asked by Wilber to be the original director of Wilber's Integral University's "art domain", a position he was at the time honoured to accept, in view of Wilber's reputation and status (this was before a lot of the cultic unpleasantness became more widely known; Wilber was still highly respected in the alternative scene). But instead of a project of higher learning and revival of the Humanities, Dallman found the Integral University, and its parent body the Integral Institute, to be a marketing and PR organisation to publicise Wilber's own products[35]. After 16 months of involvement, he broke with Wilber and the Integral Institute, and after fending off Wilber's clumsy attempt to gain legal control and co-ownership of his works, Dallman set up his own music distribution company.
The essays published on his website constitute a number of manifestos and descriptions of Integral Art and Artistry[36], some dating to his Wilberian and pre-Wilberian days, and inspired by Camille Paglia, Marshall Mcluhan, John Dewey, Norman O. Brown, and W. A. Mathieu. Although his on-line essays show some Wilberian (AQAL) influence, Wilber was never a major influence. Like Bauwens, Dallman shows that Wilber's greatest role in the Integral movement has been much less his own ideas or theoretical vision (which are probably comparable to the insights of other, less well known, integral/integrative theorists like Edward Haskell and Stan Gooch), as being a catalyst to bring together a number of highly talented people, many of which then go their own way following their disillusionment with Wilber's narcissistic personality and quasi-cultic organisation. Several of Dallman's insights have been incorporated in this section; no doubt more could be added as well.
Some themes for an Integral Art might include:
  • the holistic aspect - involves both a hermeneutic and a practice that includes heart as well as head, art and poetry as well as science/philosophy/psychology/etc (Vivekananda, Steiner, Aurobindo, Gebser)
  • the Integrative aspect - incorporates multiple meanings
  • the integral transformative aspect - A practice of personal and cosmic renewal.
  • Art as sadhana...
Integral Art is thus transformative, both at the individual and collective level. As Matthew Dallman explains: "At every moment of artistic development, as objects are created by the artists, consciousness can be evoked, illumined, and preserved, for the purposes of cultural and personal renewal."[40] But even more than that, Art can also serve as evolutionary sadhana. In other words, in addition to or as an alternative to cosmic renewal, there is cosmic ascent, the use of the artistic form to help establish a new level of spiritual evolution.
This was very much the case with Sri Aurobindo's epic poem Savitri referred to above. In his own words "I used Savitri as a means of ascension. I began with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a higher level I rewrote from that level.."[41]

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Getting in touch with the collective unconscious and one’s own psyche

Interview with Karena Karras
Carl Jung's writing began to have an impact on my work from the time that I first read “Symbols of Transformation”. It is hard for me to say exactly how Jung's writing informed my work and influenced my perceptions, since there are so many different ideologies that Jung wrote about that have been influential not only in my work but also in my daily life. In reading Jung I began to pay more attention to my dreams and at times parts of these dreams would work their way into a painting. Jung knew that dreams had a definite purpose that helped to reveal to the conscious mind ideologies or concepts that would otherwise have remained hidden deep within our psyche.
So, I began to analyze my dreams and kept a dream journal. Leonora Carrington and I would go to meetings together where we would practice a technique called “focusing”. The technique was developed by Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D., and is a form of self therapy that helps to guide you and awaken you to what lies deep within your subconscious, bringing feelings to the surface where they can be analyzed and resolved. We would sit and tell each other our dreams. One person would talk while another would just listen and then repeat what the dreamer was saying until a point was reached at which the dreamer felt an actual physical release through the telling of this dream. This seemed to me to be a very Jungian approach to getting in touch with the collective unconscious and one’s own psyche.
Before I had encountered Jung’s writings I was reading books by Sri Aurobindo, Wilhelm Reich, Annie Besant, Krishnamurti, to name a few and also books on Alchemy and the occult. Anything dealing with the occult, in the classical Greek meaning of the word as “hidden” knowledge always fascinated me, and so I read whatever I could get my hands on. All of these teachings and relative experiences I had in meditation eventually worked their way into my paintings in one form or another. I feel that everything that we encounter in life that we accept as a part of our conditioned state of existence is in some way informs our work whether we are an artist or not. About January 06, 2007 in Interview