Monday, 27 April 2015

Gnostic Puppets


There is a growing awareness of the limits of our gnostic culture. This is a confusing turn of phrase because I always thought that gnosticism was a mystic take on Christianity but in this case it refers to the faith (with its origins in the Enlightenment) we have in ever expanding knowledge to cure all ills.

      The Flammarion wood-carving illustrates either the scientific or mystical quest for knowledge


 Today that icon of gnosticism, Stephen Hawking reassured fans of One Direction with the insight that science will soon prove that there is a parallel universe where Zayn Malik is still a member of One Direction. "Is there only one One Direction?" so to speak. These parallel universes may also prove handy as places to store the ever expanding knowledge. This reminds me of Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward declaring that the gallery's History is Now exhibition is like “... jumping into a three-dimensional encyclopedia,” That he stated this with enthusiasm and not distaste underscores our cultural faith in the accrual of rational data. Lewes Carroll delighted us by highlighting the hubris of human rationality but somehow we have popped him back on the shelf of quaint whimsy. John Gray's latest book The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Enquiry into Human Freedom looks like a good place to explore our civilised dervish in pursuit of explaining the soul shaped hole in the west. This wave of awareness of the limits of the enlightenment is going to grow but until writers let themselves off the hook they remain trapped within the very limits they are describing. This is why Derrida ties us in knots. More importantly it's also why Eliot wrote poetry and Hegel found poetry to have been "the most universal and cosmopolitan instructor of the human race".

Iain McGilchrist, of course, manages to expertly bring together the structure of rational thought with the compassion and insight offered by metaphor in The Master and His Emissary. On a sychronistic note last night I was enthralled by Neil Innes at the Jazz Cafe, particularly as he had a neo-liberal crowd of Guardian readers (there to see Tim Dowling's band Police Dog Hogan) singing along to "We are slaves to freedom".
and breath...
In light of recent explorations of limits I thought I would begin a systematic programme of drawing attention to acts of creativity that fill the void and! reach the plurality through singularity. Emma Carlow's colouring poster is an example of how something simple can have a rich and complex origin which is all there within the work itself. The colourer is drawn into the synaptic filigree in a revery of pleasure. No mean feat.


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