Towards The Past and Future Gouache on paper 21 x 29.7 cm 2013
I am re-reading a wonderful book I bought and read in the early 1990s. It is Joseph Campbell: The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers. The book is a transcription of a series of conversations which took place between the two men in the years leading to Joseph Campbell's death in 1987. Joseph Campbell 'was the world's foremost authority on mythology', a scholar with deep insights into the interconnnections between mythologies and how they might 'speak' to contemporary society. For more information, please visit the Joseph Campbell Foundation website HERE
Regular readers will know of my long and deep interest in perspective and the potential to develop skills in seeing multiple perspectives [even simultaneously]. Coupled with this is a keen interest in cosmology and the new insights, and perspectives, humanity gains from the unveiling of distances that seem to be getting both smaller and larger. By taking ourselves away from, and outside, Earth- bound perspectives we have an opportunity to 'see' ourselves and humanity in new ways. As I have written before, for me, the most significant realisation is that we all share the one home...planet Earth. In fact, for the time being, and probably into the unforeseeable future, Earth is our only home. There is nowhere else to go! For humanity to survive, and for Earth to provide a continuing and sustainable home, we all need to work to-gether. My recent short story Stirring The Star Dust is an allegorical story about this very issue.
So, back to Joseph Campbell. Apart from many many profound observations and insights, I was struck by an answer Campbell gave to a question asked by Moyers.
MOYERS: What kind of new myth do we need?
CAMPBELL: We need myths that will identify the individual not with his local group but with the planet.
Remember, this conversation ocurred in the mid to late 1980s. We now have people like Prof Joel Primack and his wife Nancy Ellen Abrams calling for the same thing, but from a perspective that is steeped in contemporary cosmological research, as well as an understanding of story, myth and the arts. I have previously referred to their recent book, which I have read, keep beside my bed and highly recommend, The New Universe and The Human Future: How a shared cosmology could transform the world. Currently environmental issues, already apparent in the 80s, are now manifesting in noticeable outcomes that threaten food production, climate, water quality and quantity and more. It seems to me that Campbell's call for myths that vision us as dwellers of Earth, and not just by nation, region, religion or race, is vital.
Seeking The Past and Future Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2013
The basic premises, or resonnances, of age-old symbols can be visually re-articulated to 'speak' to us today. As regular readers know, this is what I search to do in my paintings, particularly with my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life. More recently I have been stirred to paint the ouroboros, the age-old symbol of a snake eating its own tail. This symbol was used by the ancients to visually describe the Universe, as they understood and observed it. Today, modern cosmologists also use it to visually describe the Universe and the relationship between the quantum and cosmic worlds ie: as we understand and observe. For more on this aspect of the ourboros please check out my previous posts COSMIC ADDRESS and SNAKES EATING THEIR OWN TAILS
Symbols can speak across time, history and space. It is up to us to listen, ask, seek and explore. Imagination is a key! Why? Because, imagination draws upon human race memory and sensation, not just individual impulses. Imagination can stir the past, present and future. It agitates and stimulates. It is a gift to humanity...a gift of the stars maybe? If you believe we are all, like everything else in the Universe, are made of star dust...remnants of the Big Bang...then imagination is definitely a key!
You might be interested in a 2009 post I wrote called FAITH IN IMAGINATION
All Of Us Gouache on paper 15 x 21 cm 2013
All of Us inspired me to paint Eternity's Breath
I've just reworked my COSMOLOGY GALLERY on my website. Please click HERE to see it.