I have started a painting – it features a byzantine Christ transfigured on a Moon landscape. I’m thinking of calling it “Rare Creatures”. It is in all respects a ‘Cosmic Christ’ I suppose, although that intention was never explicit in my thinking through the design. That, in one of those lovely ‘oh yeah’ moments, comes later…. The Cosmic Christ is a mystical archetype most succinctly expressed by one of my favourite theologians, Fr. Matthew Fox, who also reiterates one of my favourite female artists – Hildegarde of Bingen:
… the “Cosmic Christ Archetype” is a universal way of seeing the world. The Cosmic Christ Archetype is a way of seeing the splendour and divine grace in all things. Hildegard of Bingen, the twelfth century Christian mystic, said, “Every creature is a glittering mirror of divinity.” In terms of John’s gospel, this is the light of Christ in every creature.
If I try to relate in terms of today’s sciences, I think of photons (a tiny indivisible quantity of electromagnetic energy). We know that there are photons in every atom, in every being. Therefore, the Cosmic Christ is the divine radiance that’s present in every galaxy, in every star, every porpoise, every blade of grass, and every human. (see http://www.christpathseminar.org/who-is-the-cosmic-christ/)
Universal archetypes are under threat today. Religious fundamentalism exploits them for its own dubious reasons, modern science continues to expand, evolve and fragment – forgetting the intitial unifying impulse, and even capitalism has nearly totally divorced itself from it’s ‘real’ foundation (gold). We live in slippery times, in a post-nihilist modernity that ‘unabashedly rejects discourses motivated by sentimental allusions to universals’ (Archive Fire; Nihilism)
The advent of hypermediation via communication and digital technologies has combined with what Ray Brassier has called “the negative consummation of the enlightenment”, as well as the ever-expanding assaults on the living flesh and ecological stability of humans everywhere to create a crisis of legitimacy for every existing linguistic and normative institution on the planet. We do not inhabit a modern or even ‘postmodern’ world, we subsist in an advanced industrial calamity. (see http://www.archivefire.net/search/label/nihilism)
While I think the sentence ‘we subsist in an advanced industrial calamity’ is a beautifully framed phrase that nicely sums up our current state of being, here in 2013, and approaching the brink of several ecological collapses – I personally reject the entire nihilist framework.
We, as artists, have I believe heightened sensitive instincts – and these should be trusted. So when I read this above, and then the following below – I look to what lightens my soul. Matthew Fox goes on to say how the Cosmic Christ archetype can be employed to help ‘save the environment:’
…it is not about duty; it’s about pleasure and delight. That the earth is a garden, radiating with a divine presence. When it is in danger, it is like the crucified Christ; the compelling urgency here is born out of the experience of beauty and grace, not out of duty. Beauty and grace inspire us to let go of our lifestyles that are hostile to the health of the environment, and to recreate our lives in terms of politics, economics, education, worship, all of it. So that’s one of the practical implications—in terms of the ecological crisis, it gets us moving and awake. (Fox; Cosmic Christ)
Moving, and awake. Compared with the ‘post-nihilist’ environmental strategy:
The future of our species will depend entirely upon the willingness of people to abandon our previous and varied delusions for intensely reflective strategies of praxis and collective habitation. We have to design new delusions for vastly more pragmatic ecologies.
‘Beauty and grace’ or ‘new delusions’? I’m a simple soul, I listen to what is ‘enlivening’. When I begin to read some writers of this ‘nihilistic epoch’ – the post-modern and post-structuralist writers who have rejected theism – I find that a small greyness descends.
I avoid the grey; in search of colour – verdaccio and subtle glazes of blue and green.
4 thoughts on “Rare Creatures”
Universal Archetypes is an interesting concept. Is it possible “in a post-nihilist modernity that ’unabashedly rejects discourses motivated by sentimental allusions to universals’” – can the Utopian fantasy be revived? I look forward to reading more of your research on these questions.
Thought about that. Perhaps the only post nihiist/existentialist/reductionism subversion is a compete reversal into holism? ie the Original utopia – Garden of Eden? Scientist Nicholas A. Christakis notes that “for the last few centuries, the Cartesian project in science has been attempting to break matter down into ever smaller bits, in the pursuit of understanding…. but putting things back together in order to understand them is harder, and typically comes later in the development of a scientist or in the development of science interconnectedness.” Now is the time to put it back together. To do this we promote the pre-Cartesian ‘medieval’ mindset in conjunction with our modern knowledge. And then we must leap off the matrix grid we humans have built which floats ever higher and higher above the earth eco-system. Doesn’t it make you just want to take up barefoot running (with a spear?) !
A couple of years ago we had a guest lecturer for Cultural Studies named Bruce Lipton – I know that you may have heard of him, but thought I would add some information for you to Google. While his message appears to be esoteric, he has an incredible scientific background that makes his arguments for interconnectedness quite appealing. I like the idea of barefoot running (without the spear).
Bruce Harold Lipton is an American developmental biologist, who is best known for promoting the idea that genes and DNA can be manipulated by a person’s beliefs. He teaches at the New Zealand College of Chiropractic
Interesting Will look up!