Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Palaeolithic artist: part 17

The Brothel of Avignon (Le Bordel d’Avignon)
Retitled, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (Las chicas de Avignon)
Apart from Joseph Campbell, all of my early mentors of depth psychology and mythology were dead at the time.

In my personal mythology, this was why I had such a pressing need to be taught to read at the age of three. To this day, I can still remember watching my father apparently making sense of those "squiggles" on the pages of his morning newspaper as we sat at the breakfast table: it would take until I was in my mid twenties before I was ready to make real sense of the subject. Perhaps this is why the Jung Institut will admit no student until the age of twenty five, and even then, only if they already had  a degree in the sciences. When, Bill, my first living mentor arrived, he brought some dead friends with him: Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung and Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton KCMG FRGS.
The late Dr. William G. Blackburn (Yale)
Scholar of 16th century magic and alchemy,
swordsman (épée), one time bodyguard to the
children of a Maharajah, he had modelled his
life on Burton's as, obviously, if you read the
linked article on Burton, so have I. He died
(under mysterious circumstances) in
Thailand about fifteen years ago. Another
of his friends, Tashi Phuntsok, whose last
boss had been His Holiness, the 14th Dalai
Lama, compassionately helped us all to
understand what was happening with Bill
not long before his death. Bill never really
belonged in this century. Bill's major
contribution to scholarship was his theory
that Kenneth Grahame's chapter "The Piper
at the Gates of Dawn" in The Wind in the
The Wind in the Willows was a "stand alone"
work before he included it. I'm sure you can
figure out why. I will always miss Bill, I owe
him so much. I gave Tashi's own story to
a stunned audience at the European
Archaeologist's meeting in Bournemouth
in 1999. Tashi is the bravest man I have ever
known.                                          (fair use)
Friday's post had started with a quote from Jung from his paper on Picasso which ended:

"In Picasso’s latest paintings, the motif of the union of opposites is seen very clearly in their direct juxtaposition. One painting (although traversed by numerous lines of fracture) even contains the conjunction of the light and dark anima. The strident, uncompromising, even brutal colours of the latest period reflect the tendency of the unconscious to master the conflict by violence (colour = feeling)."
Jung did not understand, but that is because he was not really an artist, and he was also of his own time.

Bill also brought a living exemplar with him, too: the outsider, Colin Wilson, But I had discovered Picasso much earlier. I have only recently really understood Picasso, but something had stuck with me from the mid seventies: Someone had said that he had encountered Salvador Dali painting a church wall in Spain. Dali was muttering something repeatedly, like a mantra. AS the man got closer to
him, he heard what Dali was saying. It was "I wish I was Picasso".  The cave appears in Le Bordel d’Avignon, and it is the Altamira cave. Picasso was there. How else could he have said "After Altamira, all is decadence"

If you read, very carefully, the Wikipedia article on Picasso. you might just see, that when everyone has held a glass to that painting, The glass turned out to be only a mirror reflecting the minds of the observers, and the "jagged shards" are those of limestone, not of Iberian sculpture and African Masks. I will explain all of this tomorrow, when we also have to deal with the deaths of Nietzsche, Vincent Van Gogh, and of course, of Picasso himself. 

syphilis will be a very important element in that discussion, but you will never guess why.

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