member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Consensual "Reality"

Charles Tart, a professor of psychology at the Davis campus of the university of California "found two graduate students, Anne and Bill, who could go into deep trance and were also skilled hypnotists in their own right. He had Anne hypnotize Bill and after he was hypnotized, he had Bill hypnotize her in return. Tart's reasoning was that the already powerful rapport that exists between hypnotist and subject would be strengthened by using this unusual procedure.

He was right. When they opened their eyes in this mutually hypnotized state everything looked gray. However, the grayness quickly gave way to vivid colors and glowing lights, and in a few moments they found themselves on a beach of unearthly beauty. The sand sparkles like diamonds, the sea was filled with enormous frothing bubbles and glistened like champagne, and the shoreline was dotted with translucent crystalline rocks pulsing with internal light. Although Tart could not see what Anne and Bill were seeing, from the way they were talking, he quickly realized they were experiencing the same hallucinated reality.

Of course, this was immediately obvious to Anne and Bill and they set about to explore their newfound world, swimming in the ocean and studying the glowing crystalline rocks. Unfortunately for Tart they also stopped talking, or at least they stopped talking from Tart's perspective. When he questioned them about their silence they told him that in their shared dreamworld they were talking, a phenomenon Tart feels involved some kind of paranormal communication between the two.

In session after session Anne and Bill continued to construct various realities, and all were as real, available to the five senses, and dimensionally realized, as anything they experienced in their normal waking state. In fact, Tart resolved that the worlds Anne and Bill visited were actually more real than the pale, lunar version of reality with which most of us must be content. As he states, after 'they had been talking about their experiences to each other for some time, and found they had been discussing details of the experiences they had shared for which there were no verbal stimuli on the tapes, they felt they must have actually been in the nonworldly locales they had experienced.

Anne and Bill's ocean world is the perfect example of a holographic reality-- a three-dimensional construct created out of interconnectedness, sustained by the flow of consciousness, and ultimately as plastic as the thought processes that engendered it. "

--pp 143-44 The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot

A visual aid:
Embroidering the Earth's Mantle, Remedios Varo

A view of the convent student's life (as she was, in fact, a convent student)...

Embroidering the Earth's Mantel

--and rebellion...
My apologies for this photo, taken from the computer's "eye," but here is a close-up of the shadow just visible underneath the left-hand slit, through which the world's mantel, which the girls embroider but cannot take part in, falls:


Here, Varo and her lover abscond: Varo has "used this most genteel of domestic handicrafts to create her own hoped-for escape. Unlike Rapunzel and the Lady of Shalott, Varo's young heroine imprisoned in the tower is not merely a metaphor for confinement, but also an agent of her own liberation." --p21, Janet Kaplan, Unexpected Journeys

So, she has taken the reality accepted by others, the reality she was born into, and created something else of it-- using the tools that "reality" gave her, she escaped into a dream, which now (in the painting) exists. There is physical evidence. Soon, as the couple descends, all will see them, and they will become part of the accepted reality.

She spent much of her life in escape attempts, and that fact is shown in her paintings time after time. Her first escape:

was with Gerardo Lizarraga, whom she married briefly, thus escaping the socially confining role of "daughter" and freeing herself to live away from home, where she could act more freely. Her family supported her artistic endeavors, allowing her to go to art school, and in fact she had learned to draw by endlessly copying her father's engineering drafts as a child, but still she felt the weight of disapproval from society as a whole and especially from her older brother. She was escaping academic art to join political artists and to move on to the bohemian artist's life; she was escaping the confining and disapproving gaze to which she was wholly subject as a "minor" (unmarried):


(entitled: Rupture-- she breaks with her old life and begins anew.)
Though the marriage didn't last long, she and Lizarraga remained friends to the end of her life, and were always near each other. This painting, "Huyendo," shows not only the idea of escape but also a visual theme that would be repeated often throughout her works, that of self-propelled beings, whose capes act as sails, umbrellas as ships; often their coats will open slightly to reveal that their feet are wheels, or their mustaches will serve as handlebars, steering the curve of their beards. Varo also was forced in her life to flee Franco's Spain, and then the Nazis in France, and she settled, finally, in Mexico, where her particular style became fully developed.
Another major theme was the magical nature of connection and creation. Varo was extremely interested in the occult, alchemy, and mysticism, and it showed in the magic potions, test tubes, and beakers scattered throughout her paintings. Her characters often had the ability to pull music from the air or the light, or by careful placement of important objects (flowers, leaves, mathematical formulas, rocks) :

(again, I apologize, another "computer eye" photo)
Remedios Varo

as well as to create life (here, "a scientist-artist in the persona of Wisdom-- the owl--sits at a desk drawing a bird. Using primary colors distilled from the atmosphere, she draws with a pen that is connected through a violin to her heart. Moonlight--the domain of both owl and woman--, captured and magnified through a triangular lens, illuminates the drawing, stimulating the drawn birds to come to life and take flight out a window" 181 Janet Kaplan):

because (and this brings us back to the quoted hypnosis) all things and all beings were mysteriously interconnected.
The artist's task was to find and emphasize those connections, to bring them to their highest point of power, thus escaping the seeming rigidity of forms by discovering their true potential for metamorphosis, for transcendence. Magic.

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