The Treachery of Truth: Nietzsche on ‘The Beyond in Art’

The Beyond in art. – It is not without profound sorrow that one admits to oneself that in their highest flights the artists of all ages have raised to heavenly transfiguration precisely those conceptions which we now recognise as false: they are the glorifiers of the religious and philosophical errors of mankind, and they could not have been so without believing in the absolute truth of these errors. If belief in such truth declines in general… that species of art can never flourish again which, like the Divina Commedia, the pictures of Raphael, the frescoes of Michelangelo, the gothic cathedrals, presupposes not only a cosmic but also a metaphysical significance in the objects of art. A moving tale will one day be told how there once existed such an art, such an artist’s faith.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

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A chilling and poetic passage from/through H. P. Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness…

“Our sensations of tense expectancy as we prepared to round the crest and peer out over an untrodden world can hardly be described on paper; even though we had no cause to think the regions beyond the range essentially different from those already seen and traversed. The touch of evil mystery in these barrier mountains, and in the beckoning sea of opalescent sky glimpsed betwixt their summits, was a highly subtle and attenuated matter not to be explained in literal words. Rather was it an affair of vague psychological symbolism and aesthetic association – a thing mixed up with exotic poetry and paintings, and with archaic myths lurking in shunned and forbidden volumes. Even the wind’s burden held a peculiar strain of conscious malignity; and for a second it seemed that the composite sound included a bizarre musical whistling or piping over a wide range as the blast swept in and out of the omnipresent and resonant cave-mouths. There was a cloudy note of reminiscent repulsion in this sound, as complex and unplaceable as any of the other dark impressions…”

Nicholas Roerich’s ‘Pink Mountains’ (1933)

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J. G. Ballard – Surrealism – 1966

The images of surrealism are the iconography of inner space. Popularly regarded as a lurid manifestation of fantastic art concerned with states of dream and hallucination, surrealism is in fact the first movement, in the words of Odilon Redon, to place “the logic of the visible at ‘the service of the invisible.” This calculated submission of the impulses and fantasies of our inner lives to the rigours of time and space, to the formal inquisition of the sciences, psychoanalysis pre-eminent among them, produces a heightened or alternate reality beyond and above those familiar to either our sight or our senses. What uniquely characterises this fusion of the outer world of reality and the inner world of the psyche (which I have termed “inner space”) is its redemptive and therapeutic power. To move through these landscapes is a journey of return to one’s innermost being.

– J. G. Ballard, ‘The Coming of the Unconscious’, 1966 for New Worlds

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Quote from Sartre’s Nausea – Lost in the Eyes of the Other

“I no longer noticed that I existed, I no longer existed in myself, but in him; it was for him that I ate, for him that I breathed, each of my movements had its significance outside, there, just in front of me, in him; I no longer saw my hand writing letters on the paper, nor even the sentence I had written – but, behind, beyond the paper, I saw the Marquis, who had called for that gesture, and whose existence was prolonged and consolidated by that gesture.  I was only a means of making him live, he was my raison d’etre, he had freed me from myself. What am I going to do now?”

Jean Paul-Sartre, Nausea

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R.D. Laing on God

‘There is no doubt, it seems to me, that there have been profound changes in the experience of man in the last thousand years… There is everything to suggest that man experienced God. Faith was never a matter of believing he existed, but of trusting in the Presence that was experienced and known to exist as a self-validating datum. It seems likely that far more people of our time neither experience the Presence of God, nor the Presence of his absence, but the absence of his Presence’ – R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

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Couplandia (a pop art cento)

 

"Acceleration is accelerating,
We've never been smarter: we've never felt stupider,
And REAL TIME often feels like neither.
But where does personality end and brain damage begin?"
Empire State and LEGO houses
Descend into a world of bricks and pixels,
Rancors robbed of colour: colours rob with rancour,
This is probably not a Pipe.
Rope cannot split exhibit from real,
Shadows tell the true story.
"Objects become your proxy - they become you".
Group of seven vistas; broken shards of hue
Come alive through furrowed brow and skewed view
Northern lights or stalagmites?
Have I gone too far?
"Scorned as timber, beloved of the sky"
Candied towers, piercing popsicles,
Gen X egos made from LEGO,
Can colour identify an age?

***

NB – cover art is by Douglas Coupland and the parts in speech marks and underlined are direct quotes from Coupland’s artwork in his 2014 exhibition, ‘Everywhere is Anywhere is Anything is Everything’.