A Little Revulsion to Be Free

 

1930 - from the top left: Paul Eluard, Jean Arp, Yves Tanguy, Rene ClevelBottom Left: Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Man Ray

Funny how history has thrown up so many variations of looking at the world. Human kind has never had a shortage of what to think or make of the world.  The Surrealists of the early 20th century are a case in mind.

Surrealism was a movement born out of the remains of madness and terror. After the Great War, the writings of an obscure psychologist in Vienna, Sigmund Freud suddenly seemed relevant. Soldiers had experienced what was called “shell shock” in the early twentieth century to a degree never experienced in the warfare of previous generations. The Great War produced such numbers of afflicted soldiers that no excuses of cowardice or treason, no amount of executions could make vanish the effects of war on the mind. The madness of war lingered and altered the rules of public engagement for so many individuals. It also set the tone for a movement that rejected outright the institutions of a society that allowed so many to die horrible deaths and with apparently little to show for but piles of dead bodies, rubble and wounded spirits.  As a wartime nurse, André Breton had observed the power of the wounded mind over the helpless body and in 1921, he visited Freud to learn more of what the doctor called the “unconscious mind.”

For Freud, dreams were “the royal road to the unconscious,” meaning the mind was capable of communicating at various levels, and perhaps the least of which was the conscious level. The deeper buried layer of the mind “spoke” in codes, whether linguistic or visual, and these clues had to be decoded by the psychologist who could translate the obscured messages. What he learned from Freud gestated in the mind of Breton and so began a movement of artists from every discipline to shake the shackles off a hypocritical, uncaring and morally bankrupt society whose rigid conventions of social behaviours carved the road to so many senseless deaths. Contemporary society holds on to a delusion that this war and others that follow evoke noble and commendable acts of self -sacrifice which are still commemorated as some kind of testament to the courageous spirit of our species, but the Surrealists cut through this social facade and dismantled the propaganda  of the Great Hoax  and saw the power games of the rich which lured so many unsuspecting young men into illusory notions of King and Country  to kill their fellow comrades across the vast trenches of Europe. The Surrealists rejected everything that society and civilisation deemed to be normal and scoffed at the hypocrisies of institutionalised society by looking into their subconscious and releasing a primordial instinct based on emotional relevance.

Salvadore Dali was one among many artists, including writers, sculptors, playwrights, poets who absorbed this new freedom to explore, express and to test the limits of the human imagination in direct defiance of social codes of conduct and attitudes and created some of the most wonderful Surrealist Paintings of this era. The Surrealist works of art remind us that the unconscious imagination is another window to another reality.

The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí

The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí

Dalí described his meticulously rendered works as “hand-painted dream photographs,” and certainly, the melted watches that make their appearance in this Surrealist masterpiece have become familiar symbols of that moment when reverie seems to uncannily invade the everyday. The coast of the artist’s native Catalonia serves as the backdrop for this landscape of time, in which infinity and decay are held in equipoise. As for the odd, rubbery creature in the center of the composition, it’s the artist himself, or rather his profile, stretched and flattened like Silly Putty

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Through the Eyes of young Salvador Dali

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GIRL AT A WINDOW, 1925

There’s a wonderful moment of casual idleness and nonchalant focus in the setting of this painting. The frame is a timeless celebration of youthful nostalgia. If such an emotion that goes by the name of existential immersion  can exist in the perception of an audience whilst contemplating the memory of a painting then this painting by the young Salvador Dali has captured it well…………

This work belongs to Dalí’s years of formation and style definition. We can see a young girl’s back in front of an open window, while admiring the sea of Cadaqués. Throughout his life, Salvador Dalí found a source of inspiration in the summers spent in this village, and the protagonist of the painting may be his sister Ana María, his model until 1929 when he meets Gala. It is very likely that, at the moment of creation, Dalí was enjoying a summer vacation with his family in Cadaqués. The frame depicted here, can be seen from one of the windows of the house that the family had on the Es Llaner beach. Houses are reflected in the glass of the window; some can still be identified today as part of Cadaqués landscape.

Expanding thoughts for an expanding universe…..

I am a thinker.

I can’t help it but most of my life has been consumed in thinking about this or that. I love squeezing the paste out of reality and seeing what I can make of it. Over the years my thoughts have criss-crossed the landscapes of philosophies, religions, fiction, historical ideologies, scientific discoveries, mathematics, fashions, fads, theater, occult, art, music, contemporary news – you name it – I have probably dabbled in it in some small yet personally satisfying way. I have never been an expert but tasted of various disciplines until my interests were either distracted into some other area of indulgence or I became satiated enough to leave and divert my attention towards something else. But in all of these emotional and mental meanderings my undivided focus is completely and utterly absorbed by the fascination of the ultimate purpose of this thing we call life;this space we occupy and the stuff of the universe. I have come up with a theory, a theory that is still not fully formed but an idea that helps me construct some kind of personable rationale……..here goes…….indulge with me for a few minutes…

We eat to survive.


Food replenishes our bodily mechanism.


In fact all living things consume other living things to renew .


It seems to be the governing law of life.


Without eating we perish sooner than expected


And yet once we reach our life span we die anyway.


And so it goes, we perish and the cycle continues with the next generation of 
living organisms.


But this food consumption that replenishes our bodies also requires the oxygen that we breathe,


Without the interchange of gasses there is no life.


This process combines to create other substances 


So breathing and eating and the exchange of gasses can be an apt definition of life.

  
It seems Nature is in the game of creating living things as food for other living things as an all-embracing concept this helps define the mechanism governing life.


We eat and breathe to perpetuate the renewal of life. This interactive process of renewal is a universal phenomenon permeating the fabric of substance in every sphere.


This law of nature is not guided by morality but a simple structure of renewal. 


Renewal guides and defines the sequence of time.


The basic structure and renewal of life measures up to the renewal and structure of the expanding universe. Growth and expansion are synonymous in the same way as expansion and contraction are limitless. There is a two-way process going on. Size is a relative concept in much the same way as time is a relative concept. 


As a participant in this renewal process, by the miracle of my existence, I also have a role to play in the all embracing governing mechanism of the renewal processes governing life.


Life is not confined to this earthly ecosystem. Life as we know it is not confined to the physics and biology of our planet but is a part of the great scheme of the universal mechanism that constantly renews and creates the act of self perpetuation.


Einstein once suggested that the Universe does not play dice. 


And I agree that the idea of chance or accidental 
design cannot satiate the deeply human need nor logic for an answer to the patterns that propose a purpose in life through renewal.

To seek an answer to the ultimate question I am drawn into the world of quantum physics.


Quantum physics is an area of science that operates in the 
realm of probability


 A basic understanding is that it is an area of science that 
does not fully comprehend how the fabric of the physical 
universe meshes together but still manages to harness a 
theory of probability enabling it to manipulate areas that 
help create the marvels of modern technology.


It is only with the power of imagination that scientists have 
been able to appreciate the flaws in our perceptions of 
reality and have opened up a new world of possibilities in 
defining the fabric of matter.





My life, tiny and infinitesimal as it is against the backdrop of the ever expanding universe is a  breathing, regenerative life that partakes of the process that 
is connected in the renewal of the regeneration of the expanding universe.


My individuality is transformed and metamorphoses into another individual reality made up of a different set of physical realities after I transit through the processes of death and renewal.


This transient process undergoes transformation as part of a life play that participates in the renewal of the transformative reality of the universe.


The substances I generate through my breathing and daily renewal  assist in the all governing principle of Nature’s renewal  into another sequence of reality.


My  role and my place in the expanding universe is a minor yet significantly precious  player in the ever expanding renewal of the universe.

What is the outcome of all of this reflection ?


 To intellectualise and systematically 
rationalise  my obvious, momentary and transient 
existence ……………and to satisfy a need for logical problem solving.

To end with two more of Einstein’s quotes
  • The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
  • We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Food for thought?

The Religion We Call War !

Syria and the Civil War

Al Jazeera has posted a history of the Syrian War on its web page.

Syria’s civil war explained from the beginning

Looking at this documentary makes your blood boil with anger , looking at it makes you resent the rotten core of humanity and what we are capable of doing to each other in the name of some specious cause. In any conflict the equation is simple – you hurt me and I’ll hurt you back and so the cycle spins out of control and we sink into the dark abyss of barbaric behaviourism.

The disbelief I have in the notion that people are still clinging to some religious authority to justify or codify these events beggars belief.  Sitting back in the safety of armchair politics and surveying these cruelties I can only imagine at the desperation and lingering threats that have become daily rituals for people living in war zones. I know that the will to survival is a strong potion; however, the phenomenon of martyrdom and a secure place in an imagined afterworld is also a frightening prospect the modern world is having to contend with.

Why is it that war has been and remains such a glorified subject in our history?  in our lives? in the institutionalised pages of our collective memory? The likes of Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Genghis Khan, Napolean Bonaparte are indelibly imprinted in our shared narrative yet has anyone really questioned the logic of this adulation? Has anyone stopped to think of the senseless slaughter, the whimsical insanity that these power mongers have perpetrated on their fellow species?  Have we seriously considered the vanity and the lunacy of these individuals? in their quest for power through the killing and the maiming of their fellow comrades in life?

Why is it we devote so much social paraphernalia to the institutions of war? We have Academies and Museums devoted to war, we honor the heroes and the dead of war and we commemorate the sacrifices that war has come to symbolise in the social traditions of sovereign states. We are obsessed with war. War is the illusion of greatness in a species destined to destroy not only itself but everything and anything that stands in its way. And yet when the conflict settles and the dead are buried and gone, we rinse and repeat our worship at the gates of wars’ institutions.

War is the religion that feeds our insatiable desires to outdo one another and if we resist then, the old adage” Might is Right” creeps back and shuts down the political will to oppose.

Carl Sagan sums it up in his eloquent speech reflecting from a vantage point in space looking back at the Pale Blue Dot we call Earth when he reminds us :

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.

The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

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