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

(Slideshow is of 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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Santa Caterina IV: Tango to a Parallel Universe

Santa Caterina at the Crossing
Acrylic on Panel, 18 x 24, by Zoe Blue

“A 24-year-old woman was first seen in 1950, because of seizures. From early childhood she had been unusually fond of music and had always felt a strong desire to express her emotions in dancing. At the age of 16 she was a tall, gaunt girl who felt both inferior and aloof. At this time she would often dance in the living room and her father would tease her about her ‘jitterbug antics.’ Offended, she would withdraw to her room and in solitude play records by the hour. She felt transported by loud ‘swing’ music and discovered that by concentrating intensely she could ‘see visions.’ These usually were of a blond woman and a dark man. They were dressed in various fashions but usually wore evening clothes, as if they were about to attend a formal dance. The couple seemed to be dancing together. The patient mentioned this phenomenon casually to her parents and friends, none of whom believed her. She rather enjoyed the vision and the accompanying trancelike state which she entered after prolonged listening. She continued to induce these episodes for the next 2 years.
In 1945, the patient struck her head in an automobile accident; however, there was no alteration of consciousness or signs of external injury. She was in bed for the next 5 days because of ‘shock.’ Six months later she had a nocturnal generalized convulsion. Shortly thereafter the visual hallucinations began to appear whenever she heard certain music, even though she had not consciously willed them. This inexorable recurrence reduced her to panic at the sound of jazz music...” {Source: Musicogenic Epilepsy: Report of 3 Cases; David D. Daly, MD and Maurice J Barry, Jr., MD; Psychosomatic Medicine, September 1957, 19: 399-408}.

Did her desire, her focus, her need--and the music--bring her in contact with some other reality, in which a woman danced with a partner, instead of alone and subject to ridicule? It is important to notice the difference between a fantasy or daydream and a hallucination, the latter affecting all the senses and being something that our entire being sinks into. 

And what happened after the accident? All of a sudden the existence of that other pair no longer depended upon her if they really did exist on their own...

If there really are unlimited streams of reality, where could they all be hiding, other than inside the mind? As we trace the electricity of our brains and bodies and the music of that electricity, can we discover wormholes to other universes, other iterations of our selves?

One Tango dancer grasps the bow and the other the viola, all four characters involved in the same rhythmic event though from different planes of reality; out of darkness, out of light, the electricity brings them together and to life. Who is calling whom? Who is real and who is not? 


  1. Wonderful! What a crazy, electric scene you've painted here. The reduced palette with the cool red smoldering against the blues makes everything seem vivid and explosive. And I love the idea of these different realities joined by/entered through music.

    A little while ago I was reading Frida Khalo's diary and she described a scene from her childhood, which she called 'The Origin of the Two Fridas', and which reminded me of the passage you quoted above. When she was a child she used to breathe on her windowpane and draw a door in the steam, which brought her to another reality where she would meet with a woman who danced and listened to her problems, and gave her an immense feeling of happiness, apparently. She said that even as an adult thinking of that made it vivid and real again and brought her great strength and peace.

    I don't know if that helps answer any of the questions you posed, but it seemed to me to have a relation of a sort.

    1. WOW, that's a fantastic story, and one i'd never heard about. what a find! so that's two people who managed it, free-will-style...i guess it's a bit like the eidetic imagery tesla talked about, right? still no talent here, but re-invigorated in my intent...

  2. Maybe the woman happened to discover a methodical use of spontaneous synaesthesia? If so, when she repeatedly willed the pair to appear a neural pathway was created that later, after the accident, triggered independently of her will. This would be akin to how Magicians work with visualizations and sensual ritual elements (the more senses involved, the easier we sink into the imaginal). In the works of renaissance philosopher and magician Ficino, who used music as an ingredient in his magical-theurgical rituals to create meddling spirits, the synaesthetical dimension of music is acknowledged:

    "Now the very matter of song, indeed, is altogether purer and more similar to the heavens than is the matter of medicine. For this too is air, hot or warm, still breathing and somehow living; like an animal it is composed of certain parts and limbs of its own and not only possesses motion and displays passion but even carries meaning like a mind, so that it can be said to be a kind of airy and rational animal." Marsilio Ficino: De Vita Coelitus Comparanda (VCC 21, 81-85)

    Wonderful image -- and keep asking the hard questions! : )

    1. what an amazing thought--to *create* a synaesthetic effect....i have been reading that there's the possibility we all experience the world synaesthetically as infants, so it's something we are taught to suppress; if i we focus hard enough, then, we could, like tesla, or like frida, or like this 'case study,' find a connection that spoke to us and dig into it, changing the neural pathways of the brain. hopefully the brain doesn't then look for a way to rationalize that strengthening pathway by introducing a head trauma!
      it's worth the risk, though, yes?
      now, this idea of music as an animal, that's another thing to explore; what if that is where the idea of being "ridden" by a spirit in voodoo comes from? if during the drumming you are overtaken in a way that is best expressed as a higher animal riding you--as we would consider ourselves, riding a horse? what if it's no (anthropomorphized) god or goddess, but rather the music itself taking a form we recognize as more similar to our own?

  3. Ridden, yes, I can totally believe that in several myths horses should be read as expressions of the deactivated sleeping body, experienced for example in sleep paralysis, which is mounted by a rider signifying a change of mental state. For ex in a myth of Odin/Hermodr he enters a hollow tree to sleep and it changes to a steed who carries him to the otherworlds. The higher animal then is his higher i e more flexible oneiric self. If this myth was prototypical for shamanistic practices, at one point the drumming must have sounded like thundering hooves! And have you seen the painting "Nightmare" by Fuseli? Same elements there; horse, rider and still body, albeit in a more traumatic situation. Makes me think that maybe being able to perfectly handle nightmares is the first step towards a Tesla-level consistency of focus? Music as harmony or being one with the horse rather than having a (night)mare?


    1. yes, i think exactly that: the ability to lucidly dream would be the first step--it seems to me, then you stretch that lucidity into waking, to a much more vivid interaction with your environment.
      the drumming as the thundering of hooves is genius!!