Art Answering Art
Urrealism can be thought of as a Surrealism version 2.0. Its roots are to be found in Andre Breton’s accounts of the shared creativity of the early days of the movement in his Radio France interviews. They are also found in the book, Signe Ascendant, originally published by Editions Gallimard in 1949.
In that book, there is a series of 22 lithographs entitled, Constellations, by Joan Miro. Each lithograph appears on the left-hand page and faces an Andre Breton poem on the right-hand page. Breton’s poems are all inspired answers to Miro’s images, written spontaneously in the Surrealist’s favored automatique style.
LE PASSAGE DE L’OISEAU DIVIN
Le monde se distend comme la pelure en impeccable helice d’un citron vert. En scintille la boucle de celIe qui supplia : « Encore une minute, monsieur Ie bourreau! » Et la bouleversante cornemuse, concue en des temps toujours reculables pour epouser lea mouvements du coeur auquel elle s’applique etroitement quoi qu’il arrive, donne de taus ses bourdons A l’etoile du berger. Ou se delace – d’un flot de rubans de Riemann ~ la beaute, qui l’apprehende a deja le pied sur la pedale : « La partie materielle de la plante est tout a fait consentante a etre mangee. » C’est tres volontiers que la chenille qui la devore, se fit-elle arrogante com me celle de la dicranure vinule, s’expose, dans le subtil du devenir, a etre la proie de l’oiseau. Plus rien n’en transparait dans l’aromal : « Un oiseau, un papillon ne sont jamais tristes. Les papillons sont tres eleves en esprit; ils jouent avec les enfants; le papillon le sait et s’en amuse : il s’echappe toujours, meme quand on l’attrape et qu’on le tue. »
Paris, octobre-decembre 1949.
Breton often worked in tandem. Whereas the Surrealists acted out, in Urrealism, you act in. What this means is that where 2 or more are gathered in the Spirit of Creation shared, a space is created into which others can be invited. You enter together into Creation Shared.
To create this Space, known in Urrealism as, Urreality, you engage the Urrealist Four with an open heart and with lovingkindness. The goal is to nourish originality wherever you meet it – in other words, to “wage creativity.”
The fruit of waging creativity is the experience of seeing through, which James Hillman called, psychologizing in archetypal psychology. He stressed that seeing through is the primal activity of soul. In Urrealism, this is called, awakening together in the dream. When this occurs, your own original growing edge finds reflection and inspiration by the growing edge in the other. In Urrealism, seeing through is called, awakening together within the dream. It is described with a parable:
Urrealist Parable of the 2 Sleepers (2001)
Once upon a time, two friends lay down and went to sleep.
They slept the whole night through, but in the morning were
awakened by a conversation that was going on. As each awakened
more, s/he realized that the voices were their own. In fact, they were
waking up in a conversation that began in their sleep. As each
sleep-talker awoke, together they joyfully continued the conversation,
wide awake in the dream.
When 2 persons awaken together to the inspired, dreaming edge of their creative lives (see through), that relationship, in Urrealism, co-creates Urreality. (psychologizing) After years of experience and studying the historical record, the most productive way to respond when presented with the original creation of another is with our own creativity.
There is a famous example of seeing through as awakening within the dream when Kandinsky heard some of Schoenberg’s music in 1911. The painter realized that the musician was saying in music what he was striving to express in painting. Kandinsky saw through his own art into a shared, yet hidden inspiration After the concert, Kandinsky painted a response, called, Impression III (Concert):
In the letter that accompanied that painting, he wrote to Schoenberg that:
…what we are striving for and our whole manner of thought and feeling
have so much in common that I feel completely justified in
expressing my empathy. (p. 25)
Schoenberg replied to Kandinsky:
I am sure that our work has much in common — and indeed in the most
important respects: in what you call the “unlogical” and I call
the “elimination of the conscious will in art.” I also agree with
what you write about the constructive element…I think we would have
a lot to say to each other. (p. 25)
It is useful to remember that the Creative has a partner, the Receptive. These are the images of the Creative and the Receptive found in the I-Ching: The Book of Changes.
Our own originality includes both partners. Yes, there is a one-of-a-kind uniqueness to what we create and do – our poesis. Also, there is a one-of-a-kind uniqueness to what we experience as beautiful, truthful and moving. We are unique in how we receive.
In the I-Ching, the receptive capacity is called, Earth. Wilhelm wrote:
the dark, yielding, receptive is the primal power of yin. The main attribute is devotion; its image is the earth. It is the perfect complement of The Creative the complement, not the opposite, for the Receptive does not combat the Creative but completes it . It represents nature in contrast to spirit, earth in contrast to heaven, space as against time, the female-maternal as against the male-paternal…Indeed, even in the individual this duality appears in the coexistence of the spiritual world and the world of the senses. But strictly speaking there is no real dualism here, because there is a clearly defined hierarchic relationship between the two principles. In itself of course the Receptive is just as important as the Creative, but the attribute of devotion defines the place occupied by this primal power in relation to the Creative. For the Receptive must be activated and led by the Creative; then it is productive of good.
This manner of call and response seems embedded into the universe at large and it was announced in 2016 that a first
chiral molecule was discovered in interstellar space – opening the way that the building blocks of life are indigenous to the cosmos.
With this in mind, that an individual capacity for originality is both enacted as the creative and the receptive, the Urrealist Four offer the invitation for persons to play both roles. To any original work, there are 4 possible responses:
1. Reminds me of….
2. _____ occurs to me.
3. Art answers art
When someone offers us their original work, there is a profound desire to be seen and heard. There is little or no desire to be judged. As we receive another’s creativity, the first level of engagement is to remember, to search your life experience and knowledge to offer a response.
Your work reminds me of________.
This opens the world more fully to the creator, making way for creativity to form a path in life.
The second level is to pay attention to your body, your imaginal eye.
_______occurs to me.
You offer back something like, “I felt the warm chills over my face when you shared this”, or “an image came into my mind as you shared, or, “the word,______, occurred to me as you shared.
The 3rd level is to
respond to art with art
Answer like Breton to Miro, like Kandinsky to Schoenberg, like the 2 who were talking in their sleep, but didnt know it until they woke each other up.To your friend’s poetry, write the music, to your friend’s music, create the dance, to your friend’s idea, create the website, etc. Allow what is most original in your life to be called forth and offered back.
The fourth level is to
On one hand, the profoundest experience of Beauty is to be arrested, to be stilled and silent in awe before the Beauty. It is a tremendous compliment to be speechless. Also, if there truly is nothing positive to offer, silence allows you to do no harm. Offer silence and encourage your friend to keep creating. to be honest, I have never met up with a creative work that did not move me in some way.
The atmosphere co-created by authentically, generously, and lovingly entering into Creation shared is life-changing. In Urrealism, it is called, Urreality. This same atmosphere was called the ‘mental contagion’ by Max Ernst as he participated in the Surrealist games early on. His mental contagion now has the theoretical support it lacked nearly a century ago.
In Bache’s 2012 Living Classroom, he described the space as the minefield:
It’s as if the floor suddenly falls away. The atmosphere in the room becomes supercharged, and everyone seems to congeal into a unified state. My mind becomes unusually spacious and clear, and my students’ eyes tell me that they have moved into a particularly receptive state. Our hearts seem to merge, and from that open field of compassion comes a slow stream of thoughts that I, as spokesperson for the group, unfold and work with. In these transient moments of heightened awareness, I sometimes have the acute sensation that there is only one mind present in the room. (p.46)
There is also the feeling of being wide awake and fully embodied in Jorge N. Ferrer’s 2006 Revisioning Transpersonal Knowing. He wrote:
Human participation in transpersonal and spiritual phenomenon is a creative, multidimensional event that can involve every aspect of human nature, from somatic transfiguration to the awakening of the heart, from erotic communion to visionary co-creation and from contemplative knowing to moral insight. (p.12)
In Charles Taylors 1989 book, Sources of the Self, he affirmed the importance of creativity being done in community for the sake of community. He wrote:
A human being can always be original, can step beyond the limits of thought and vision of contemporaries, can even be quite misunderstood by them. But the drive to original vision will be hampered, will ultimately be lost in inner confusion, unless it can be placed in some way within the language and vision of others.
In Jerzy J. and Kathleen L. Maciuszko’s powerful book, Poles Apart: The Tragic Fate of Poles During World War II, Dr. Maciuszko shared this same kind of experience that lifted up the men when they were prisoners of war. He was in an orchestra with his fellow prisoners. They played instruments that were donated to them by the International YMCA. He wrote:
One day, however, something uncanny occurred. During the rehearsal of the second symphony, the whole orchestra, including the conductor, went into a kind of trance. We played and the conductor went on conducting without stopping. We were out of tune and we went on. Somebody’s string broke. He put his instrument on his knees and we went on. We played the whole symphony uninterrupted until the very end. When the finale finally came, we all felt that we had gone through some kind of transcendental experience. The first few days after it happened, no one talked about it. Gradually, we felt we could speak on the event as we wondered what actually took place. Perhaps, for an instant, we had forgotten where we were. We had forgotten about everything and were transported somewhere else. (p.63)
Bache, in The Living Classroom, noted that …human beings interpenetrate in a living fabric of consciousness that responds in subtle ways to our choices and intentions to form fields of consciousness within our classrooms.
I know from experience that this same living fabric of consciousness is natural to Earth and Sky when we include in our awareness the season in the cycle of the year and the 13,820,000,000 years wide ever-expanding cosmos.
Roweled by the falling sun it smoulders westward awhile
But it closes impenetrable curtains; night is fleshed.
No shore, save for the long jut of staggered rock
Shelving a black sharp stair to the burdened, hidden sea.
his he paints in his old age, recording his utter love.
For him there is one canvas, thick with seventy years
Picture over picture buried, each worked from the last.
-Winfield Townley Scott
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood Its
human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or
fast walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately
For the miraculous birth, there must always be
Children who did not specially want it to happen,
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the
cratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Havwe heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the su
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the
green water; and the expensive delicate ship that
must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.-W.H. Auden