Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Beyond Good and Evil

We all have our personal mythologies, our ways of connecting to themes and stories larger than ourselves - so that we might draw strength from them and understand our place in the maelstrom of human existence and experience.  My own personal mythology is that of the conduit and crossroads.  I see myself as the janitor of the place where all paths converge, but moreover I perceive myself as a conduit transmuting dark energies into light energies...using a dark or Gothic artistic aesthetic to shine an empowered light on the mysterious places within ourselves and our perceptions.  I see this function as essentially Gnostic; embracing the shadow-aspect of this existence in order to learn and evolve from what it teaches me.

Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected. 

       - Carl Jung: Psychology and Religion


Embodying the shadow does not mean acting on our darker, repressed impulses.  It means finding an artistic and intellectual space where the shadow can be honored, negotiated and engaged with creatively.  The subconscious darkness within us usually has important things to share with our conscious minds, usually relating to feelings of victim-hood and powerlessness.  The fury of the Shadow is often a cry for help, or a call to creative arms.  In Gnosticism, the idea that reality is in some way a prison from which we must escape...or at the very least transmute from within, is a very potent concept to certain aspects of the human psyche.  In that sense, I try to use themes of liberation from slavery as a primal touchstone in my art - imagining myself as an Ex-Convict declaring war on the Archonic forces that continually attempt to enslave and control us.




However, such a declaration can amount to empty posturing and heroic affectation if the necessary intellect, imagination, subtlety and appreciation of nuance is not included within this remit.  Staring our demons in the eye is a frightening and sometimes dangerous thing...especially if we are foolhardy, undisciplined and unwilling to put in the hard work of understanding the nature of such things as deeply and comprehensively as possible.  This quote reminds us of the innate danger inherent in battling things we are not savvy enough to truly comprehend:

He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. 


   - Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil


Armed with these concepts as protection however, as our canary in the coalmine, I do believe that by facing the internal and external darkness with a measure of intellect, creativity and fearlessness - we can then begin to appreciate the true magnificence of the human soul and spirit.  Gnosticism teaches us that we are dynamic and eternal spirits trapped somehow within the realms of illusion by entities called Archons who feed on us and use us for various sinister purposes.  We don't need to take such an idea entirely literally to see the profound psychological and social truths it is attempting to transmit to us.  Even as a mythical fiction, the idea contains great power.  However, in my experience fictions are often more 'real' than we can usually comprehend.  It is patently obvious to anyone with an open, discerning mind that we are living in a realm in which numerous debilitating controls are placed upon us to serve the desires of a handful of elites.  In this sense, we the human race are the Incumbent Ones: it is put upon us to speak for those weaker and more powerless than ourselves.  It is our political, social and spiritual duty to ensure that freedom, compassion, acuity and community do not become mere urban legends in the maelstrom of political and corporate depravity.



At the end of the day it is simply a choice.  Are we going to ignore the fight for freedom, knowing full well that there are sharks and monsters and demons out there who would rather we remain ignorant and docile...and would destroy us at the first opportunity...or are we going to arm ourselves as best we can with self-knowledge, intelligence, subtlety and a spirit of adventure - and take our place in the Good Fight?  The battlefield is the Imagination.  And a dynamic, re-empowered humanity is what we stand to gain as the spoils of this Only True War. 

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