the moment of her death overlaid. His aim in all his sorcery was to reunite his spirit and hers, captured within the dimensions of his art-works so that through this process they could both quite literally, live forever—an interesting twist on the idea of great art making the artist immortal! In this case I mean immortal quite literally. They do still live. Just as our concepts and assumptions about reality, and varieties of perception have been forever revised by the advent of virtual reality and quantum psychology, so our concepts of linear existence are confounded by the manifestation held in stasis in these virtual mirrors.
Spare drawing from Thee Starlit Mire, Temple Press, 1989
Keep in mind Cocteau’s “mirrors” passing through to the “other side” where
different rules of physics and continuity apply. We are finally accepting that everything is truly in constant flux, that the malleability of all matter and all constructs is not just theoretical, that time is equally an energy and matter as flesh, and that projected images and virtual worlds are as valid and vibrant as the basic inherited consensus possibility that we tend to arrive trapped, in squealing and pissing from our mother’s vaginas. We are witnessing the realization that everything everyone says is true. That everything believed is real. That bodies are mere vehicles for transporting our brain and that mortality is primarily a philosophical control process. Why, my children, even that dear old anarchist construct “The Bible” was assigned the alchemical message more significant than Pat Robertson might choose to consider.
“Have I not said that faith can move mountains?”
-Some old prophet or another
“The marvelous is not rare, incredulity is stronger than miracles”
Apart from the more dramatic animations already mentioned, many unprompted witnesses have been shocked to see Mrs. Paterson’s eyes close, open, cry or her whole head turn. Quite literally a living portrait. Magick makes “dreams” real, makes the impossible possible, focuses the Will to… Throughout occult circles in all ages crystal, water, polished metal, mirrors of all types have been used for oracular purposes. Spare’s massive achievement is that he recognized the potential of art, of image, to be the most powerful magical mirror of all. A window in time. An interface with death. An interdimensional modem. In his art he captures not just an image but a life force. What seems to happen is that the individual’s consciousness contained within the art remains dormant in this reality until they come into contact with the minds of certain others, or as an intersection with linear TIME sets in motion a preprogrammed “software” sequence of interactions. Primal, atavistic “aboriginal” peoples knew this. Sometimes facilitated with botanical catalysts they would invest immense and potentially limitless powers in specific totem images and glyphs or sigils. This use of the image as scrying mirror and as neurological nuclear energy is very different as a function of “art” to the post-patronage, postcraftsperson 21st century norm of Art, with
that horribly big “A.” In contemporary elitist art you actually don’t get anything much back except aesthetics. You certainly don’t get mummification and time travel! But we must never forget that all art grew from sorcery and from the concealment of Gnostic, and alchemical procedures from those who would be “King.” Art was once synonymous with, and a direct aspect of, Magick. It was functional, and it was dedicated to the processing of immortality, and the opening and preservation of portals. (By the way, I would argue that “cyberspace” (or the Psychosphere as I would prefer it was called), is an extension of this perception and function in just the same way and we are just glimpsing the beginnings of the somewhat cack-handed access we’ve so far realized.)
All mythological ideas, Jung suggests, are essentially real and far older than any philosophy.
Anyway … Spare achieved the forgotten, that which vested interests in all status quos considered impossible, even blasphemous; a two-way communication where HIS image reacts to and with the viewer. It has a life of its own. The nearest parallel, a virtual mirror in which you can see another world, one that we cannot touch, the glass remaining solid and frustrating us. What this energy held within his images is doing is transcending the barriers of observed time so that what we are seeing is a five-dimensional object or image. This form of energy wills to have existed at all times, and wills to exist at all times.
An objective (Hah!) and critical survey of the available data would establish that perceptions occur as if in part there were no space, in part no time. Space and time are not only the most immediate “certainties” for us, they are the most misleading, doomed to be discredited as separate and abstracted states imminently. They are also usually considered empirical certainties too since everything observable is said to happen as though it occurred in space and time. In the face of this overwhelming “certainty” it is understandable that “reason” should have the greatest difficulty in granting validity to the peculiar nature of “delirious” phenomena, or paranormal events. But anyone who does some amount of justice to the facts cannot but admit that their apparent space-timelessness is their most essential quality. The fact that we are totally unable to imagine a form of existence without space or time by no means proves that such an existence is in itself impossible, and, therefore, just as we cannot draw from an appearance of space-timelessness, any
absolute conclusion about a possible space-timeless form of existence, so we are not entitled to conclude from the apparent space-time quality of our perception that there is no form of existence without space and time. I would imagine though that any of you fortunate enough to have had a particularly enervating moment of psychedelic experience will be more empathetic to the speculative space-timeless state!
Spare drawing from Thee Starlit Mire, Temple Press, 1989
In contemporary elitist art you actually don’t get anything much back except aesthetics. You certainly don’t get mummification and time travel!
Just as “physics” now tends to allow for “limitedness of space,” a relativization, it is beginning with Catastrophe Theory/Fuzzy Geometry/Chaos Mathematics and other quantum disciplines to posit a “limitedness” of both TIME and causality. In short, nothing is fixed, “It’s official!”—the possibilities alone are endless.
“Conscious looking is a search for verification of the notions that impel the search, and all ways has a circular mirroring element within it.”
In Spare’s most critical images, it seems a medium has been synthesized whereby the essence that survives death but is usually beyond our communication has been transmitted into an object that we are familiar with,
i.e. a painting or drawing, and we are therefore familiar with trying to interpret or receive information from. Because of the familiarity of the medium of painting, we don’t put up paranormal, skeptical, or too many emotional barriers. We expect to try and see what the artist wanted to present, wanted to communicate (though personally I see little of that in contemporary “deceptual art” as Brion Gysin used to say) If Spare said he was going to capture himself within the frame and canvas and facilitate immortality—or at least, a very different medium of mortality, demonstrating “life” after apparent death—most observers would switch off, or scream ridicule tinged with an innate fear of the unknown-able. There would be an interference with the transmission, because Spare seduces us by allowing us to dupe ourselves into assuming what we view is an artwork, a picture, when in fact it is a “photograph” of a mirror of an actual, or virtual reality, a mortality software if you will to, because of the self-deception we remain open-minded. This open-mindedness is essential to the functioning of the sorcery at the critical time intersections that animate it (New Year’s Eve for example) and increases the chances that the phenomenon of actual physical changes.
The observer, if fortunate enough, wills to see that which many of us in this
rightly post-existentialist age choose not to believe in or to be heartily skeptical of, namely living, moving, changing images of a post-death entity or brain-essence. This is all as acutely programmed as any software, except— Allah be praised—it’s not binary, nor an either/or program, which probably explains Spare’s success, as surprise surprise we do not and never did, live in an either/or universe and all binary systems are fallacious, serving only to block the righteous evolution and maximizing of the potential of our species, a species programmed in its DNA for only one ultimate function, to transcend all need for a physical body, fixed in linear time and space. You will see this entity reacting to you; it receives and transmits direct into your conscious five senses. It must also be transmitting directly into your other levels of consciousness too, and your other hyper-real senses. Presumably we transmit back to what is there, so what is there wills to change by absorption over the years as it reacts to, and is triggered by, all the various observers. All these factors mingle and mix, and mutate. Mutation, after all being the sincerest form of flattery.
In short, nothing is fixed, “It’s official!”—the possibilities alone are endless.
Spare drawing from Thee Starlit Mire, Temple Press, 1989
The “soul” (advert for the brain as Dr. Timothy Leary once suggested to me) is generally said to be visible through the eyes, the mirror of the soul. The eyes, jewels of the actual brain exposed directly to the outside, the neuro- visual screen of the brain. In this key Spare’s work centered on Mrs. Paterson
and executed in 1928, her eyes are neither open, nor shut, and this is true in many of Spare’s virtual mirror works. They are neither rejecting the possibility of seeing a captured “soul,” nor openly inviting it. This half-open, half-shut limbo suggests responsibility lies with the viewer to choose whether or not to commune with any frisky entities that manifest. In fact, on many occasions an interesting further mutation frequently occurs. The eyes become alien, not dissimilar from the Schwa portrayal, as if coated with an almost reptilian film of non-human skin. This alien quality seems to be amplified by Spare’s technique of painting himself old when he was in fact young, and of course later, painting himself young when he was by then old. Forming an infinite envelope of time, in effect, Spare moves back and forth through time as he succeeds in presenting us, via the image with the apparently impossible, or miraculous—immortality. Sorcery has all ways made effective and functional use of the process of reversal to confound expectation even at the root of the most sacred and central scientific assumptions.
The psyche, in its deepest reaches, seems well able to participate in an existence beyond the web of space and time This dimension is often dubbed “eternity” or “infinity” yet it actually seems to behave—if we for the moment take Spare’s art as representative and more vitally, functional and in no way symbolic—as either a one way or two way mirror dependent for its operation upon a translation of the unconscious into a communicable image that bonds the actual atomic structures of the graphic image with its driving forces unlocked from the unconscious into a fixed or mobile source of power dependent upon previous viewers, and with more critically, our own individual abilities to interface directly with it.
All these factors mingle and mix, and mutate. Mutation, after all being the sincerest form of flattery.
“Accept nothing, assume nothing, always look further, be open- eyed as well as open-minded and don’t kid yourself”
Keeping the speculation simple for now, if in theory, as all matter is actually vibrating tiny particles with lots of groovy names; it’s just possible that we could walk through walls. Then it is also theoretically possible to lock clusters of the same particles and energy into the fabric of an image giving it the ability to move, change, alter and animate its content. The only gap of
credibility being first hand experience. We don’t usually believe anything until it happens to us. We only really know what we have experienced; belief is rooted in recognition. Every now and then as I type, you’ll not be surprised to know, I wonder if this is going to sound too “out there” or “crazed” as you the observer read it. I already know it gets a little opaque—for which my less than humble apologies—and of course it assumes you know what the fuck I am referring to vis a vis the paintings themselves. Oh well, tough. This subject leads us to a bigger “picture” a discussion of the parallels between virtual space and the creation of deities, immortality and the psychosphere from a Processean perspective that will to arrive on another occasion. But I digress… Imagination opens to synthesis larger than the sum total of reason. New images reflect more than logical synthesis can produce. There is a radical discontinuity in every truly creative idea or discovery.
Science cannot tell us why Spare’s images can alter, why his faces change, eyes open and close, colors vary.
“It’s all a matter of TIME…”
Projection direct from image to viewer involves more than the logical mode of thinking. An idea cannot exist separate from an image. For example, the Virgin Mary image embodies the idea of “compassion” perhaps. A Goddess or God is a figurative image of an idea. Images are the root language of social freedom and self-expansion as much as words and alphabets are the roots of social control and self-limitation. Science attempts to explain the omniverse objectively (yes, even now most of them) therefore it cannot explain “art” or more particularly the unique effects or phenomena Spare generates within “art.” This is not a possible function of Science, although to be fair Science is, now, thankfully, beginning to include the point of viewing in its theories to great effect. Science cannot tell us why Spare’s images can alter, why his faces change, eyes open and close, colors vary. Photographs are said to steal “souls” and they certainly capture a moment in time and freeze it. So do the images and oracles of “art,” for art was originally revelatory, prophetic, functional, shamanic. Fully integrated into every detail and aspect of life.
“He who transcends Time escapes necessity”
-Austin Osman Spare
Spare’s images capture the process of creation, the thoughts of the creator, and the memories of the viewer. (“Change the way to perceive and change all memory”—G.P-O) These memories of the viewer recall past events and feelings that are more compact, briefer than when they took place originally. They are compressed. Memories are past time, accessed into recent time. Time is not however linear, all time exists simultaneously and points in every direction simultaneously. It is quaquaversal, omnipresent, in fact, all the usual definitions of “GOD” in the Catholic Church. There is really no reason why Spare’s paintings and images should not capture time, thought and experience, then recreate and expand it in the viewer’s mind.