We are constantly giving meaning to a torrent of impressions that we meet through our senses and from within us. We give form to raw experience. We scan our enormous experience of words, phrases, context, to arrive at an understanding of what is communicated verbally or in writing. If we could watch this process taking place, we would observe a constant searching and rejection of nonhits, a lining up of possibilities, and a bringing to the forefront of what we sense are highest probabilities. Our mind/brain is a flashing loom of connections, a constantly moving wonderful network of links between billions of cells. This flashing creative network that constitutes the miraculous background to our responses, our feelings, our thoughts and spontaneous fantasies and dreams, is constantly forming patterns from the multitude of experiences we have. It constantly tries to match these patterns against what is already known or learnt. It draws out from the chaos of memory and incoming experience whatever it can liken to what was met in the past. What it can~t match it tries to put into some sort of order or to give a form to. And within all this constant activity the search for personal meaning goes on - Who or what am I? How can I survive? Is there a way....?
Out of such a profoundly integral search for meaning, as artist, writer, musician, we may project the subtle forms of our inner meanings into the art form we use. We may create shapes, places, people, and feelings. Out of the flashing web of our own sentience we create life - our life - with its own conceptions of what it is to exist, what it is to love or hate, to strive or fail.
Even the most modern of dream theories agree that it is out of the fathomless depths of our drive to give meaning to impressions, that we create dreams. It is out of the barely formed impressions and understanding of the dreaming impulse that we create and live. In fact many artists of every discipline - and I now use the word to include musicians, painters, writers and architects - have directly drawn from their dream life.
What we cannot quite grasp - what is too vast and many sided for us to hold entirely in our thoughts, we give form to in paintings, in carvings, in sound, in piling rocks one upon another to form a monument. We may then venerate or hold as of immense value such art forms. They hold in them for us the vast dimension of the ungraspable, of the infinity of our own within. They stand before us as representatives of the alien in our midst, in ourselves. They remind us of what we are not masters of, and what may take hold of our life.
In past times tribal
people stood in awe of their own existence. They recognised,
even if it were unconsciously, the incredible journey they had
made from being an unconscious animal, to the attainment of personal
awareness and human society. They represented this awe-full experience
in rituals, and symbolic paintings and sculptures such as the
totem. They also recognised in their
How do we deal with the
powers that overwhelm us and drag us into mass murder in war
and social upheaval? How do we create a personal and social world
that we can be proud of?
The great artists of
any culture give to us what we may have failed to see ourselves.
They portray to us the spirit of our times, and our predicament,
and perhaps even a passage through the dilemmas we face. Sometimes
they manage to break through the cultural plethora and froth
When an artist manages to meet and give birth to one of the spirits of our age, whether it is a terrible demon of our times, or a healing angel, it speaks to us beyond our reasoning. It draws crowds, it holds attention. In the early part of this century the artist Kandinsky wrote that ~The art of today embodies the spiritual matured to the point of revelation.
Something that we must
recognise as an enormous shift in human awareness that has taken
place in our own times, and which must influence art from here
forwards, is the attainment of self-awareness we have been helped
toward by the findings of modern psychotherapeutic schools.
De Quincey's deep seated anxiety and melancholy, in our present times, would be signs of an underlying neurosis which could have been dealt with by exploring his fantasies to their roots in his personal history - already being touched on spontaneously by him. Whether we take the example of De Quincey~s opium aided fantasies, or the visions of Christian mystics such as the temptations of St. Antony, art and religion has at least a facet of being a symbolic way of meeting a neurosis. It is only when we reach through the symbol into what it depicts about us personally, that we move from this historical symbolic form of healing and representation.
One cannot of course
limit the definition of art and dreams to that of dealing with
hidden neurosis, or even of the move toward wholeness. Therefore
it is interesting to remember some of the artists who directly
used dreams as part of their work. William Blake for instance
In the 1950~s the painter Jasper Johns was working as a window dresser in New York. In a dream he saw himself painting an American flag. In waking he painted the flag from his vision of it in the dream. The painting became a powerful force in an American revolution in art. Salvador Dali consistently used dreams as a basis for his paintings. He tried to preserve his dream imagery in his art, and particularly to portray the subtleties of time and space. He referred to his paintings as ~hand painted dream photographs.~
A number of film directors
also used their dreams in the art. Ingmar Bergman tried to portray
episodes from his dreams as accurately as possible. He felt that
dreams have the ability to help people find points of connection,
to link people. Carlos Saura used fragments from his dreams to
For each of us, our dreams are our own studio in which we nightly create beyond our waking talent to produce the new, the novel, the unexpected and the deeply true. We are each visionaries of the night.
This article courtesy of http://www.artbystar.com.
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