Danielle Boutet :
Spiritual Forms : Notes For Thinking About Art and Spirituality

Beyond contributing beautiful—or meaningful—objects to the public, art practice is a way for me to experience and think about the world, a way to understand the world and, through it, to understand something about humanity. This has always been the purpose of art-making for me: to experience in that way, to be conscious in that way, to be in that way. Striving for expressive perfection, for an always greater mastery of art-making and theoretical studies, for beauty and eloquence; venturing into aesthetically hazardous or philosophically contested terrain; and taking liberties with rules and definitions has served the essential purpose of developing more expansive knowledge and more intense experience.

The framework for understanding art as a way of knowing and being in the world is not the same as a scientific framework. For this reason, it is hard to demonstrate this idea in a way that is comparable to how one would demonstrate a philosophical or scientific claim. Through sharing my personal and impressionistic thoughts, I hope to open conceptual ground for reflection on an artistic practice that is not striving to create so called “sacred art,” but is a way of enhancing a form of consciousness related to (or evoking) spirituality. Like Mircea Eliade (1959), I see spirituality as an inherent dimension of consciousness—and, essentially, as an experience of being.

I present a framework where art—as a practice involving space, time and matter, as well as a practice related to consciousness and presence—shares some key features with certain spiritual practices. I do my best to define these very terms—consciousness, sacred, spiritual, meaning, matter, reality, and knowledge—as they appear in my work. I do not understand the notion of art in a romantic, idealized way. Rather, I see it as a practice entirely contingent upon context, materials and media, though not defined by them. In my view, art is a non-disciplinary practice of shaping time, space and materials (which could include intangible objects such as concepts and images, sounds, symbols, etc.) to create meaningful forms, objects and situations.

Through art making, I experience an intensification of my consciousness and of the feeling that the world is meaningful. This way of being in the world and perceiving its underlying coherence—a coherence of which we are an integral component—brings about a sense of our presence and matter‟s presence. We perceive matter as living and vibrating, as no longer inert. We experience matter as presence, anchored in significance. This is an ontological perspective for which there can be no proof; no argument or discourse can make someone else feel it too. It comes from experience, the encounter with embodied and materialized work. It arises from contemplation rather than from observation and measurement.

This form of knowledge is different from scientific knowledge or information. I see it as a form of gnosis, which in the Greek language refers to knowledge derived from intuition and recognition, as opposed to epistamai, which is a Greek word meaning knowledge derived from study and external sources of information (Bailly 1901, 173, 345). Similar descriptions of knowledge (as gnosis) are often seen in descriptions of how meditation elicits a feeling of unity and wholeness, of the integration of spirit and body.

Living with the feeling that I am interrelated and integral to everything else is vital to me. It probably is vital to all of us, as the contemporary movement toward “reenchantment” would suggest.1

There is a sense, indeed, that the lack of connection with the world and the loss of the sense of its underlying unity is the source of ecological disaster. I look for and cultivate practices that have the potential to enhance that sense of presence, meaningfulness and significance. Among such practices, art is the most effective for me: the process of shaping materials and sounds so that they become “art work” is my way of participating in the revelation of the world‟s coherence. Seeing or sensing an underlying coherence intensifies my intuition of the sacred, as well as my impression that my presence is ontologically founded.

The sense of an “irreducible real” is how physicist Basarab Nicolescu defines the Sacred (1996, 183), while Mircea Eliade defined the Sacred as “the experience of a reality and the source of our awareness that we exist in the world” (2006). Enhancing my experience and awareness that I exist in a meaningful world is the primary reason that I make art. Abstract expressionist painter Barnett Newman argued that we should make work so that “if you stand in front of it, you know that you‟re there” (289). Art creates a sense of meaningful presence and connection.

The relationship between artistic and spiritual modes of practice and consciousness is primarily apparent when we view it through an interdisciplinary art framework and a transreligious spirituality: the emergence of a concept of art beyond the specificities of the discrete disciplines and media, and a concept of spiritual experience beyond specific religious traditions, rites or practices.

Aesthetic Meaningfulness and Spiritual Experience

Many contemporary artists state that art‟s function is to create meaning. I once wrote: “The work of the artist, her « oeuvre » is beyond the object, in spite of the object‟s spectacular materiality. The object of art is an object of meaning” (Boutet 2002). Contemporary artists often call themselves “meaning-makers,” creators of “significant form” (Langer 1953). This is not meaning of the linguistic kind, but aesthetic meaning—aesthetic as defined by Merleau-Ponty, for example, in the sense of significant structures, of “contingent arrangement by which materials begin, before us, to have meaning” (Merleau-Ponty, in Kunzmann 1999, 197).2 An artwork does not transmit meaning in the same way that a word or a sentence does: it is not a codified signifier, an arbitrarily assigned symbol for something else, like a regular word. One can find coded signs or linguistic meaning in an artwork when the artist uses writing and/or cultural icons, but those signs alone do not comprise the artwork because its significance cannot be reduced to a reading of those signs.

In the artwork, all layers of formal organization and all symbolic or material elements weave together to form a meaningful whole. It is an irreducible whole like a gestalt, which cannot be taken apart, said differently, or translated into another language or medium. The artwork is “meaningful” in that it generates a “field of significance,” somewhat like a quantum field, made of probabilities of meaning in which discrete signifiés coalesce and disappear: we know it is meaningful, but the interpretation of its meaning varies from one person to another and even from one viewing, or listening session, to another.

What gives a work its artistic quality and strength is not its obvious subject or message, but rather its power to induce an experience of meaningfulness—its power to make us think and feel. When someone calls this experience “reading the artwork,” it is “reading” in terms of hermeneutics rather than semiotics: as an interpretation—a mental creation—rather than an actual decoding of the work‟s significance.

Art is an example of how something can become meaningful, not by referring to ideas already formed or learned, but through the temporal and spatial arrangement of its elements. A film means in the same way as a thing means: not by speaking to a separate understanding but rather by addressing our power to silently decode people and the world and to coexist with them. (Merleau-Ponty 1964, 103)3

As symbol of an inner experience, the artwork is a mediator between us and the world, an “intercessor”4 establishing a powerful transaction between the artist, (a part of) the world, and the participants. It weaves a field of significance around us, a field that is generated and sustained by its vibration. This field of significance emerges from the combination of the artist‟s intention and invocation, and the materials and organizing principles operating in the work; but the actual meaning that the spectator “reads” into the work is really his or her own intrapsychic cognitive content set in motion by the work, a harmonic resonance. That is to say, it is influenced by his or her experiential, emotional and/or intellectual history. The content of the artwork is potential: the aesthetic work will activate the inner world of the spectator/listener/participant: his or her own affects, connotations and cognitive horizon. In that sense, it is not accurate to say that art creates meaning: rather, it creates the conditions for meaning; it enables meaning.

Fortuitous natural designs (vegetal patterns, ocean rhythms, animal sounds, rock or cloud formations, etc.) also induce an aesthetic experience. This experience is essentially ecstatic: it is felt, apprehended through the participation of our full being, rather than read or understood rationally. It is experienced primarily as the result of being and contemplation—only then may it lead, or not, to analysis and reflection. This sense of being in a meaningful world, this sense of connection, is the condition for meaning.

When making art, I look for arrangements and patterns that will produce this effect of meaningfulness and reality. According to Eliade, the sacred is “the source of our awareness that we exist in the world” (2006). Working with this notion of the sacred, I understand my process of creating aesthetic work as a spiritual experience. Because I set the parameters of my work to serve as parameters of a spiritual experience, and I am seeking to create a field of significance that has the potential to heighten consciousness and evoke sacredness, I am, in a sense, trying to engineer that effect in my psyche.

A Personal Story: Mysterious Languages

A recurrent theme haunted the poetry of my early years: that of voices speaking in the background of my consciousness, whispering most of the time but crying sometimes, in languages unfamiliar to me. This eventually led to my fascination with all languages and writing systems, all types of marks and symbols—charts, maps, mathematic symbols—from which meaning could be intuited.

But in a peculiar way, I have been more interested in the state of fascination itself than in uncovering possibly hidden information. I have not tried to “read” these symbols, to decipher the symbols themselves. I have been more interested in listening to the impressions that the voices‟ whispering or chanting evoked in me and in being destabilized by the impossible reading of cryptic signs, in experimenting with a state of consciousness. To me, the “message” is related to the most important knowledge of all, knowledge that messages are hidden from us, that there is knowledge that will remain forever out of our reach, and that there is a world of mystery behind our familiar world. A great deal of my artwork has since been designed to contemplate that, to listen to the voices or witness their continuing presence. Listening is all that is needed because the essential part of the experience is to know, again and again, that there is mystery.

So to remain connected to that contemplative and spiritual experience, I would trace signs and marks. I would transcribe those signs on paper or other media, investigate graphically their aesthetic qualities, and make images of them to acknowledge their existence. I have never tried to translate the messages because I have always been too aware that any interpretation of them would only be my own projection of rationality onto a mystery. Yet the fact that we cannot put such an intuition of mystery into words does not mean that such mystery is empty or that it is something in which we cannot participate.

These unknown voices whispering in mysterious languages, which inspired my early poetry, came to represent, for me, artistic experience itself. All works, even figurative or narrative works, have an incomprehensible, abstract aspect behind their obvious meaning and subject matter: a pure design of relations, what Canadian artist Emily Carr calls a “portrayal of relationships” (1966, 54). If one decides to paint a scene or a vision instead of describing it, it is because a linguistic description would not convey this abstract dimension. If I compose music, it is because language cannot open the expanses of meaning that music opens inside us. If I make an artwork about a subject instead of writing a philosophical essay, it is because something about that theme eludes my analytical and discursive skills.

Mind in Matter

As matter intentionally shaped by a conscious mind, the artwork integrates the realms of matter and spirit and serves as symbol of, and witness to, the co-presence of that conscious mind and of that matter—and beyond them, of mind and matter, mind-in-matter and matter-in-mind. Beyond the singular object, it is the entire Mundus that is experienced as mind-in-matter. As Cézanne observes, “The landscape thinks itself in me and I am its consciousness” (quoted in Merleau-Ponty 1964, 17). This experience of our co-presence and of our being, through the work, the mind of matter is to me a mystical experience. It is a cosmological vision that is reminiscent of the Hermetic cosmology, which is based on the correspondence of the Universe (expansive and extensive) and the psyche (intimate and intensive). Through my composing, my obsessive processes, and all of my bricolage, my consciousness seeks to recognize something that would speak of/to its very presence, of/to the presence of matter, and of/to the presence of a unifying web of meaning. Matter is no longer solely material. Matter, sound, and space are steeped in meaningfulness, or significance, like an electromagnetic field. We weave such an encompassing field of significance through embodied and material practices like art-making, as well as through spiritual, magical, shamanistic, or alchemical practices. Renaissance alchemists looked at it as the “Unus Mundus” (Cazenave 1996); Jung discussed it as a “collective unconscious” (1968, 42-53); and Mircea Eliade viewed it as “the Sacred” (1959).

Hence my work is about designing the parameters of a spiritual experiment through aesthetic experience. It seeks to weave a small area of the cosmic web within which spirit and matter are singularly related. It seeks revelation—revelation of what Paul Klee calls a “secret vision.” According to Klee, “not only do [realities of art], to some extent, add more spirit to the seen, but they also make secret visions visible” (1966, 51).

Constructing the terms: threads through human history

As an artist, I am drawn to ancient history and prehistory: images of some primordial humanity. Humanity as we think it might have been originally, whether based on scientific evidence or imagined or fantasized, evokes a poetic response in me. I enjoy looking at the unmistakable association, throughout recorded history and archaeological reports, between what I would call aesthetic practices (of which Western art is but one example) and spiritual practices. As a general category, aesthetic practices would include poetry; adornment; representation (of scenes, myths, heroes, etc.); storytelling and other narrative practices; costumes and masks; chants and music; dance; and theatre. It would be difficult to draw a definite line between what qualifies as an aesthetic practice and what does not, but I think I could reasonably define an aesthetic practice as a primarily non-linguistic practice aiming—through the handling, shaping, transforming and organizing of matter, living bodies, space, and time—at evoking impressions of meaning and feelings of understanding, and/or inducing sensuous experience. By spiritual practices, then, I am referring to practices related to consecration, sacralization, invocation and celebration: creating myths, performing rituals, praying, contemplating, entering a heightened state of consciousness, etc. Such spiritual activities involve many aesthetic practices; however, the two categories do not necessarily, or entirely, overlap.

Interestingly, Western art is at once a paradigm and an exception among aesthetic practices. It is a paradigm because it is the product of generations of artists since the Renaissance who have focused on and experimented with the techniques and formal possibilities of a few specific media or Arts (those seven or eight that were to become the primary disciplines in Western art) and have brought these media‟s aesthetic potential to previously unthinkable extremes. And yet it is an exception insofar as such focus on the refinement of the medium itself, for its own sake, is relatively unusual among other cultures‟ arts, which have more typically developed in sync with the demands of the higher goals or the personages they were serving. In that sense, it would be ill-advised to generalize and apply what we know/think of Western art to other cultures‟ aesthetic practices. However, it is possible and necessary to acknowledge that, even though all cultures didn‟t have a concept for “art,” all cultures developed sophisticated artistic practices; had artefacts that could be qualified as artistic; and behaved in ways that remind Western people of their artistic attitudes: the most beautiful flint blades made by Cro-Magnon and Solutreans were not used but rather seem to have been kept aside and admired (Eccles 1989, 133), a behaviour that Western people could definitely consider artistic, or at least proto-artistic, since this precedes the origin of the concept of art.

In the same way that Western thinkers should be wary of projecting their current concept of art onto aesthetic practices of the distant past, we should not impose a concept of “the sacred” that is just as culturally and historically determined. Eliade (1959) and Bateson (2005) both define the sacred as the integrative web of cosmic meaning within which a group or society lives its life and performs its functions. In certain archaic, preliterate cultures, where nothing was seen as separate from the sacred, there would be no point to constructing it as a specific dimension. As well, “sacred” cannot be a quality distinct from “profane” if nothing profane exists in a given culture. It seems to me that one needs to first recognize the co-existence and equal relevance of pluralistic religiosity and diverse religions before one can identify a dimension such as a transreligious sacred. There also needs to be a new secular dimension, emerging along with the socio-political and scientific spheres, for the sacred to become identifiable and to distinguish between sacred and profane sectors of society.

Hence, the notion that in the past art and the sacred were not separate is at once true and false. A phrase such as “art and the sacred” is imaginable only when the two are established in opposition to a profane or secular sphere that is identified as non-sacred, and activities that are perceived as “not art.” Spirituality, on the other hand, is a more recent notion, having emerged in its current form only through a modern individual‟s ethos (Taylor 1992) and to a transreligious awareness, which takes place as people become aware of the diversity of religions and creeds. While we can use the term spirituality in many different ways relating to different eras and traditions, for contemporary seekers I would offer that spirituality could be defined as the quest for higher (possibly sacred) meaning of an individual soul, within or outside a religion, or through an individualized syncretism of many religious or philosophical traditions.

It is only recently in the history of religions that spirituality and sacredness have become realities distinct from specific religious traditions and from problems of God and faith (Lenoir 2003). This has profound repercussions on everything that in contemporary culture relates to religion and ethics, which includes allowing us to see the potential of art—with its existential and experiential kind of religiosity—to become a spiritual practice in itself. Here, I am no longer referring to ancient notions of art of the sacred, but to contemporary art as it emerged from its modern and post-modern lineages (which includes its inter- and non-disciplinarity), and spirituality as defined through transreligious and non-religious contexts. I am speaking of how today aesthetic and spiritual practice may most convincingly converge in a new, or renewed, way.

Homology between religious and hermetic knowledge and art

Religious terminology has been used by artists in a more or less metaphorical sense since the Romantics, but this is not what I intend to discuss here. My interest in an “artistic sacred” began when, to my own surprise, the concepts of the sacred appeared to more accurately describe what seemed to be happening in my process, in the work itself, and in the many layers of transaction and mediation between the mind and the materials, the materials and the form, the work and the public, creation and reception, and so forth. Eliade‟s descriptions of sacred space and sacred time, in The Sacred and the Profane, appear to me to be the most accurate descriptions of what actually makes a musical moment different from an ordinary moment, a painted space different from ordinary space —and how to qualify that difference. What happens to time when the music begins, and for the few minutes that the piece lasts? This sense of being in a time outside of ordinary time, a qualified, multi-dimensionally structured and meaningful time within which a unique type of significance manifests itself, resembles greatly the sacred time that Eliade describes. The same applies to time in other arts such as theatre, film, performance, etc., as well as to space, a space outside of ordinary space, informed, dimensioned, etc. Eliade describes the structural patterns common to all religions beyond their specifics, and in doing so, he (apparently incidentally) happens to describe the spatiotemporality of art as well. Moreover, what emerges from my transversal reading of Eliade‟s work is the clear sense that Homo Aestheticus has the same type of consciousness as Homo Religiosus.

Another homology can be drawn between the structure of art and alchemy—suggesting that alchemy, too, could provide illuminating concepts we could use to think about art. In reference to medieval cathedrals, Fulcanelli uses the phrase “dwellings of the philosophers,” that is, places and spaces where hermetic, esoteric, or alchemical knowledge dwells and can be found. The cathedrals are such dwellings, but actually they could be any small or large work, architectural monument, castle, church image, icon, object, piece of paper, remnant, detail, if knowledge is inscribed upon, or woven into, its very structure or form (1979, 45). Indeed, hermetic knowledge is most often expressed in aesthetic (graphic or symbolic) terms—like the Tarot for example, or other divination systems—rather than in discursive, explicit forms.

It occurred to me that I could apply this concept to the artwork and see it, similarly, as a “dwelling”: i.e., a space, time, or site where knowledge or meaning “dwells.” This alchemical conceptualization of the artwork allows for a description of how invisible meaning, which cannot be articulated in discourse and is polysemic and open, may actually be actualized and materialized in matter and space-time. The artwork is not about “hermetic knowledge” per se, but it may be construed as containing knowledge in the same way as a hermetic text. Beyond their specifics, hermeticism, religion and art appear to share important structural features, among which is—most importantly, perhaps—the way they use space-time and materials to actualize a kind of meaning (or meaningfulness) that is open to interpretation and approached through hermeneutics and experience. Indeed, the containment and diffusion of meaning in an artistic artefact—or “dwelling”—points to a logical environment different from the rules of rhetoric governing the creation and transmission of scientific or discursive knowledge. This suggests not only a different kind of argumentative mechanics, but also a different kind of meaning altogether. Because artistic meaning is more a field of meaning than discrete entities of denotations codified in signifiers, I refer to artistic meaning as significance—or, as I have been saying, “meaningfulness.”

Consciousness

I see a vital relationship between this significance (emerging from art and aesthetic practice) and consciousness. There is an interesting circularity: consciousness can only exist in a field of significance and/or meaning, yet that field is generated by consciousness itself (Csikszentmihalyi 1990, 34; Low 2000). In systems theory, consciousness and meaning would be understood to be in a relation of mutual causality, or what Buddhists would call “dependent co-arising” (Macy 1991). This co-arising is actually a major spiritual event, nothing less than the continuing creation of the world. The interaction of meaning and consciousness and their mutual augmentation literally illuminates and enchants the world, which then starts shimmering with presence. Then things and beings start appearing as interrelated in all kinds of visible and invisible ways. This is how the impression arises of a world behind the world, or a depth dimension unifying the otherwise flat image of an inert, machine-like world.

That we, human beings, might be weaving the world‟s primordial Chaos into a meaningful Cosmos (Eliade 1959) is reminiscent also of the Australian aborigines‟ “dream time,” their (continuing) creation myth according to which the world—originally dreamt by the Spirit—is maintained by the continued dreaming of all creatures (Wolf 1994, 140). What is created, in the dreamtime myth as in art practice, is not the material world itself, but our consciousness of it, through which the world appears whole. For Bateson and Bateson, what makes the world appear whole, that which they call “the pattern that connects,” is “the sacred” (2005, 8). Eliade considered the Sacred as an inherent structure in consciousness, even equating the experience of the sacred with consciousness itself5—for there cannot be consciousness without a sense of connectedness. Hence, practices that increase this sense of a unifying connectedness also increase consciousness.

Art and spirituality in our contemporary era

In ancient time, human life is lived under the watch of the gods; everything the archaic mind perceives, feels, does, thinks and knows is unified within a great mythological narrative that accounts for everything under the sun and qualifies all things, beings and events (Eliade 1959). Ancient arts resemble our modern artistic disciplines in terms of the instruments, techniques, media and the specific spatiotemporal dimensions in which the aesthetic meaning is cast. Like today, sound, gesture, image, story, materials and costumes are employed to convey meaning—more often communal and cultural, however, than individual meaning. Yet in archaic societies, the arts, like science, religion, civil life and the socio-political sphere do not exist separately: the shamans and priests, the artisans, the architects, and the storytellers collectively weave the spiritual/cosmic fabric through word, magic, and aesthetic expression. All the crafts have spiritual/symbolic import at the same time as they are useful technologies (Eliade 1977). The resulting meta-narrative is the archaic sacred (Eliade 1959). This serves the essential function of integrating the world in the mind, of making it whole (Bateson and Bateson 2005). Art is made, but not for art‟s sake; for art doesn‟t exist as a discrete category of activity. Objects are made and activities are performed for the sake of that higher social/spiritual purpose (Bateson 2000, 128-152).

In more complex societies based on literacy, the spheres are distinguished and progressively separated. The divine-based power of the clergy is separated from the secular power of the kings. At the same time, science, philosophy, technology and the arts become autonomous endeavours, and a disciplinary division of knowledge and practices occurs. When this is achieved—nowhere as completely as in industrialized societies—religion is a distinct sphere, fiercely separated from science and state affairs; philosophy is seen as distinct from theology; and the arts are autonomous and defined from within. But the reality of the world and of the human persons is not neatly divided into spheres. There is a higher unity beyond spheres of knowledge and social organization. To access it, dialogues are taking place: interdisciplinary research between social and natural sciences; interfaith meetings; scientific and religious dialogue; transdisciplinary conferences, etc. There are numerous attempts to reconstruct common ground and to potentially access the unifying level, to weave a synthesis.

There is also a movement of synthesis within the spheres themselves. From the plurality of religions and the shards of religious traditions, a meta-dimension of “spirituality” emerges. Things, symbols, and ideas that before seemed unrelated or specific to a given culture or religious tradition are now understood as belonging to a common category of spirituality and spiritual experience. Our notion of the sacred and of spirituality is reconstructed, in a way, from elements of the religious traditions and philosophies; and the same is true of art: during the modern period, the concept of “art,” singular, was in fact, like spirituality, an abstraction. Instead of “art,” the Western model posited “The Arts,” discrete disciplines in which artists specialized, with little crossing or overlap: each of these arts was practiced, but no one was practicing “art” in general.

But this finally came along, where interdisciplinary practice—and its consequent deconstruction of artistic disciplines—rests on the notion of “art” as a unified field of practice. From that unified place, it is easier to see the connections between art and other spheres: science, religion, or socio-political, economic affairs, etc. Currently, we see increasing collaboration between artists and activists; artists and scientists; artists and engineers; and artists and social agents. Artists who enter such collaborations tend to do so as “artists” in general rather than, more specifically, as painters or theatre artists for example. It is easier to collaborate outside of the field of art when you have a sense of what art is as a unified field, distinct from other spheres of knowledge and society.

My own work is based on the intersection of art and spirituality, on the slice of common ground that they still share, after centuries of having been separated one from the other, and each within themselves: art separated into media-based disciplines, and the spiritual being entirely appropriated by religions and separated into faith-based traditions. But as Joseph Beuys (1988), Allan Kaprow (1993), and others have been saying, art is everywhere, not just in the institutionalized sphere of the Fine Arts. Likewise, Eliade, Huxley (1990), Bateson and so many others have pointed out that the sacred and the spiritual are not the exclusive dominion of established religions. I work within a context of art as a general and integrated category of practice and experience—i.e., ways of knowing, doing, being—beyond the rules of the disciplinary art world, and with spirituality as a sphere of practice and experience—beyond religions. Ultimately, this is how and why they are related in my work.

I see myself as part of a long lineage, which, in my view, has its roots in prehistoric times. It is interesting to me that this lineage can only be inferred from my very contemporary perspective of artistic interdisciplinarity and transreligious spirituality. The possibility of even imagining a relationship between art and spirituality is entirely specific to contemporary Western culture. My words are contemporary, and so is the art that I make, as well as the way in which it is entirely devoted to the refinement of a spiritual revelation. Spiritual and artistic practices are old realities but relatively new concepts. That the sacred can be defined as a cosmic web of integrated meaning is also a new idea, although the reality to which it points is transhistorical. It is somewhat of a simplification to draw the conclusion that spiritual practice heightens the consciousness that creates meaning, and aesthetic practice creates the meaning that heightens consciousness; however this captures the essential link between art and the sacred with which I work in my studio.


First published in: D. Cecchetto, N. Cuthbert, J. Lassonde and D. Robinson (ed.). 2008.
Collision: Interarts Practice and Research. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


Works Cited

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  • Bateson, Gregory and Mary Catherine Bateson. 2005. Angels Fear: Towards an Epistemology of the Sacred. New Jersey: Hampton Press.
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  • Eliade, Mircea. 1959. The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion. Harcourt.
  • ——. 1977. Forgerons et alchimistes. Paris: Champs / Flammarion Éditeur.
  • ——. 2006. L’épreuve du labyrinthe. Monaco: Éditions du Rocher.
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  1. See, for example, Suzi Gablik, The Reenchantment of Art. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991, and Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World. New York: Cornell University Press, 1981.
  2. [L’] arrangement contingent par lequel des matériaux se mettent devant nous à avoir un sens (Merleau-Ponty, in Kunzmann 1999, 197).
  3. C’est le bonheur de l’art de montrer comment quelque chose se met à signifier, non par allusion à des idées déjà formées et acquises, mais par l’arrangement temporel ou spatial des éléments. Un film signifie comme nous avons vu plus haut qu’une chose signifie : l’un et l’autre ne parlent pas à un entendement séparé, mais s’adressent à notre pouvoir de déchiffrer tacitement le monde ou les hommes et de coexister avec eux (Merleau-Ponty 1964, 103. My translation).
  4. I use this word in the same way as Picasso is reported to have used it in the Trocadero, to express how African masks acted as mediators between this world and another, supernatural, dimension.
  5. “What is this consciousness that makes us human? It is the result of that experience of the sacred, of that partition which occurs between the real and the unreal” (Qu’est-ce que cette conscience qui nous fait homme? C’est le résultat de cette expérience du sacré, de ce partage qui s’opère entre le réel et l’irréel (2006, 176).

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