I’ve been engaged in a kind of artistic experiment, as the prior two blog posts testify too. For three months beginning in March until the end of June, I practiced automatic writing daily. I would go to sleep early around 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 am. It was probably the most restful period of my adult life. Those three months helped me in various ways. One of them being that it provided a better context for my personal alchemy or art practice and the ideas I’m exploring therein.
“There is nothing new under the sun” is a common refrain I’ve heard throughout my life. That quote comes from the bible, specifically from Ecclesiastes commonly attributed to King Solomon, the son of David (There are a lot of other equally or more interesting books attributed to King Solomon, The Key of Solomon is one example). I don’t plan to start preaching here but I’m using this common refrain and acknowledging its source to introduce a spiritual dimension to what I’ve experienced because of my automatic writing experiment. Carl Jung would be another good source for this perspective.
That being that our ideas, the ideas we as artist hold onto so close are not our own. My personal alchemy or art practice and everything that goes into that is not original or unique. What I perceive to be my ideas are not my own but instead come from outside of me. They do not originate in my mind as materialist would have you believe. Now more than ever I am convinced that these ideas originate in the Spirit World, a world just as real as our world, maybe even more real.
For example, at various times in my life, I’ve felt a need to practice automatic writing. I did not know about the practice of automatic writing until late last year. It wasn’t until this year, because of listening to the Rune Soup podcast conducted by Gordon White when he interviewed author Michael Sandler, that I framed it as automatic writing.
But like most things I do, I usually act first and the theory or context follows, sometimes years down the line. It’s never theory first or an artist art practice that guides my decisions. For me its more about listening to myself or better put listening to the spirit world and then acting. I didn’t always frame it this way but now everything is imbued with this spiritual context (animism). And it’s worked out well for me so far. I’m straying farther and farther away from a traditional art practice but also, it’s nothing new but its fresh to me.
Case in point, come to find out the Surrealists like Andre Breton practiced Automatic Writing as part of their art practice in the early 20th century. Surrealism would go onto influence another art form, Abstract Expressionism a couple of decades later. According to Tate’s website,
“Many surrealist artists have used automatic drawing or writing to unlock ideas and images from their unconscious minds. Others have wanted to depict dream worlds or hidden psychological tensions. Surrealist artists have also drawn inspiration from mysticism, ancient cultures and Indigenous art and knowledges as a way of imagining alternative realities.”
Of course, in theme with this post, Automatic Writing was not invented by the surrealist. It’s a practice that goes back in human history for centuries. While I haven’t explicitly used Automatic Writing to make artwork, it has been part of my personal alchemy ecosystem for a while now without me being conscious of it.
My use of Automatic Writing comes from thinking myself into a couple of curious perspectives on consciousness and reality. I’m consciously moving away from a materialist explanation and interpretation for our reality and consciousness towards an animistic and pre-colonial perspective. Heavily favoring Carl Jung’s perspective on human consciousness and psychology over Freud’s and by extension Lacan.
In conclusion, my personal alchemy has been headed in this direction for years now. While I haven’t always had the terms down to label what I’ve been doing. The intuitive approach I’ve relied on has led me to many fruitful connections. Moving in this spiritual and animistic direction has proved to be the best approach moving forward. Part of the reason I started this blog was to trace the development of these ideas and building upon the connections I’ve been making. In upcoming posts I’ll follow-up with the similarities I’ve seen with Surrealists and how artists in Latin America used this art movement to address their personal experiences with Colonialism through art making.