ART IN THE 21st CENTURY
Consciousness in Time and Space
Lisa Paul Streitfeld
In the dream I drew an oscillation process beneath the window – actually two oscillations, one beneath the other. By turning to the right from the curves, I try to see the time on the clock. But the clock is too high, so that doesn’t work. Then the dream continues. The ‘dark unknown woman’ appears. She is crying because she wants to write a book but cannot find a publisher for it. In this book there is apparently a great deal of material on time symbolism – e.g., how a period of time is constituted when certain symbols appear in it. And at the end of one page of the book, there are the following words, read aloud by the ‘voice’: ‘The definite hours have to be paid for with the definite life, the indefinite hours have to be paid for with the indefinite life.’”
On January 23, 1938 Wolfgang Pauli had the above dream. I located it in the appendix of a book, Atom and Archetype: The Pauli-Jung Letters 1932-1958, as I was preparing an art exhibition entitled Icons of the 21st Century.
The dream describes where we stand today as we enter the chaos preceding the resurrection of the psyche signified by the December 21, 2012 Winter Solstice alignment of the sun on the Galactic Center. The double oscillation is the symbol for Aquarius; and the unseen clock represents the unknown timing of the symbol’s emergence in the collective view (the window).
Like Pauli in the dream, we can no longer see time because time is no longer moving in a linear fashion. The voice is alluding to human destiny as the middle kingdom between heaven/earth as well as dream time/ mechanical time.
Like the woman in Pauli’s dream, I have been struggling to determine a “period of time from symbols” in 20 years of compulsive writing from the collective unconscious. The tumultuous journey began with a spontaneous eruption of kundalini that took place at my father’s funeral in 1983, and ended with a career as an art critic. In investigating new forms for the 21st century, I was intent on finding symbols in art which had erupted as visions in my creative writing. This personal quest had a universal aim: to determine what was this collective myth I was destined to live by the circumstances of my birth.
My father, clinical psychologist in the wave of Neo-Reichians, was at the forefront of the Human Potential Movement in the 1960’s. After a decade of experimentation, he exhausted the western approaches to consciousness-raising and gave up his worldly possessions to become a disciple of Swami Muktananda. By the end of the 1970s, he left the Oakland ashram to share his pioneering research into the kundalini. In co-founding the San Francisco Kundalini Clinic, he healed individuals whose psyches were torn asunder by eruptions of this energy, known in Hindu religion as the serpent power. At the time of his death he was involved in Raja yoga, the highest form of this discipline which attempts to bring the body and psyche into spiritual union.
My father was initiating me into the occult when he abruptly died of a heart attack. In comforting me at his funeral, one of his spiritual sisters — so elevated that she seemed to walk on air –opened up my crown chakra. My life was hell for the following seven years as I bounced between the opposites of love and hate, an imbalance arising from the paradox that the only person who could have helped my condition was dead.
The only constant in my life was instability. As a journalist, I bounced between various cities and the fourth dimension with frequent out of body visions. I appealed to astrologers and psychics only to be told: “You are living out a collective myth.” None of them could tell me what it was. There didn’t seem to be any precedent for a father whose earthly departure ignited his daughter’s occult powers.
Yet, two decades later, this is the myth played out on the cover of tabloids by the “dark unknown woman” in Pauli’s dream. Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton thumbing their noses at the corporate controlled media that alternately demeans and dictates to the female spirit. These “wild women” letting loose their kundalini energy in public personified the cultural breakdown.
The genie is out of the bottle and we need the wisdom of how to get it back in.
The kundalini power is key to the mystery surrounding 2012. We need only look at a star map to see the 13th constellation straddling the Galactic Center; personified in myth as a human figure riding a serpent. Linked to Quetzalcoatl, this figure reflects the human mastery of the serpent power that has been repressed by western religion for several millennia, and only accessed by masters in the east. Surrendering to this power is key to resurrecting the anima mundi that Pauli expected to uncover beneath the collapsing quantum wave.
The raising of the kundalini was key to the mystery traditions that held the divine feminine in high esteem as Sophia, goddess of wisdom. The feminine power is unseen but can be made conscious through behavior. The world became conscious this past summer as the antics of the tabloid queens in our celebrity obsessed culture seemed to compete for attention. The spiritual feminine arose in her dark guise so we acknowledge the potential of this energy pulsating through the body to wake us up and make us whole.
What does that wholeness look like?
In a 30-year correspondence with Carl Jung, Pauli expressed his belief that the hexagram is the form for the icon of the 21st century.
At 12:30 PM on January 23, 1997 a hexagram appeared in the heavens under a spectacular Jupiter/Uranus/Neptune alignment in Aquarius. Astrologers and metaphysicians declared this configuration as the gateway to the Age of Aquarius (gaiamind.com). Predating the Jewish religion, the hexagram, known as the Seal of Solomon, symbolizes the unity of masculine and feminine into the sacred marriage of opposites.
I was alerted to this configuration because it took place during my solar return. Three weeks later, I attended a historic San Francisco conference that brought astrologers and scientists together for the first time. The event was planned for the Jupiter/Uranus conjunction by the organizer, Richard Tarnas (Passion of the Western Mind; Cosmos & Psyche), who declared the Hieros Gamos as the icon of the 21st century.
With the ambition of constellating the archetype in the timing of astrology and the “sacred space” of the art gallery, I launched a series of actions on January 23 in the Lab Gallery of the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Avenue in midtown Manhattan to access the power of the emerging archetype in various artistic disciplines. The premiere year, 2005, was a dinner/spoken word performance with the legendary avant-garde critic/artist Richard Kostelanetz as guest of honor. Through spontaneous performance, three outstanding New York poets — Valery Oisteanu, Max Blagg and Edwin Torres — narrated the trajectory of 20th century Spoken Word to create a new language for the Hieros Gamos reflecting the integration of right/left brain.
The following year, I launched an exhibition investigating the iconography of the Hieros Gamos in contemporary art. Icons of the 21st Century consisted of 23 artists works and Laurel Jay Carpenter’s spectacular Red Woman, consisting of the artist in a stunning red velvet gown with a train formed by a 100 red dresses snaking into a spiral inside the gallery.
As postulated by Pauli, the window performance demonstrated the resurrection of Eros as fundamental to the emerging archetype. On January 23, I hosted a dinner with the gallery director Matt Semler in which I drew the clock and oscillation symbols from Pauli’s dream in the window and read the text. The rectangle symbol in the dream was manifested as the dinner table, representing the passage of the dream into the collective consciousness through the geometry of space. The unseen clock was marked in astrological time.
I identified with the “dark unseen woman” in Pauli’s dream who cried because she couldn’t get published. As the next January 23 project, I decided to launch a vehicle for immediate global publication. I invented a new form, the blogel (blog novel) that would enable me to publish as I write. This goal was to be achieved by the public transformation of the kundalini in the body evidenced by an integrated style of writing. The intent was to create a visual language reflecting the passage of the serpent through the chakras that approximated the seven stages of alchemy. For practical purposes, I reduced the stages to the four elements. The performance in the window was to be a public manifestation of Pauli’s dream in which he “drew a double oscillation beneath a window”. The double wave of the Aquarian symbol is reflected in the integration of conscious/unconscious in a holistic style of writing utilizing both sides of the brain.
The alchemical experiment was initiated with a ritual ceremony in the gallery. Under the Moon/Venus conjunction in Aquarius at 12:18 PM, January 20, a priestess established a sacred space to birth the Aquarian Age icon.
The second day of the writing performance was January 23. The entry FLAME: PAGE SIX presented the emerging icon of the Hieros Gamos in the context of the celebrity obsessed media dominated culture as the starting point for the alchemical journey. I spent the night on the bed in the gallery and published the entry at the moment of my solar return shortly after dawn on January 24 when there was a line-up of Aquarian planets (Sun, Mercury, Venus and Neptune) on the horizon. My astrological imprint for the year required delivering the face of the feminine to the collective consciousness.
The performance was to demonstrate how synchronicities regulates consciousness into time and space. I embarked on the first stage of the performance with a narrative arising from Pluto’s recent demotion from planet to asteroid. The intent was to remake the myth of Persephone’s “disappearance” as empowerment rather than victim. This reflected my disappearance into the collective unconscious resulting from my kundalini outbreak triggered at my father’s funeral.
During the year of performances, I plunged into the life/death cycle required by the successive stages of alchemy. While launched into AIR on September 24 I had forgotten all about Persephone when a gentleman from Liberia appeared at the window declaring I had created an African shrine with my 19 unpublished manuscripts arranged in the form of a pentacle. “I see us dancing together,” he said. He wanted to take me to Liberia as his wife. Persephone, whom I personally neglected, had imposed herself into the experiment through the arrival of a suitor from Africa. Liber is the stem of Libra, the planet ruling the opposites that Persephone was forced to live as wife of Pluto and daughter of Ceres.
This synchronicity infused me with the consciousness of my identity that subsequently released me from the control of the Persephone myth and freed me to experience the Aquarian icon of equal partnership. As I write this essay, the myth is entering the collective conscious under a Pluto/Jupiter line up on the Galactic Center (Dec 11, 2007) prior to the birth of the Sun at the Winter Solstice.
The final segment of the experiment was to take place on January 23, 2008. The centerpiece of the exhibition was an astrological mandola integrating the planetary line-up on January 23, 1997 and January 23, 2008 as the conception and birth of the Hieros Gamos. Day three, January 23, was commemorated with the final stage of birth through a collaborative performance in which the Full Moon in Leo makes a direct opposition to the Neptune/Mercury conjunction in Aquarius.
Tatyana Stepanova and Michael Manning, opposite sexes from opposite ends of the world, had the personal/mystical narratives of their painting alternatively projected on the wall while I spontaneously wrote in collaboration with the music of Lutz Rath. Meanwhile, Stepanova painted the eclipse of the Sun and Moon, while I engaged a visual/textual language for the Hieros Gamos. My body movements were intended to integrate mechanical and organic (definite/indefinite, as in Pauli’s dream) time as a response to the visual and sound impressions in their bodies. In other words, I took my automatic writing from the context of both journal and blogel, directly into the art gallery in rhythm to the music.
Pauli’s January 23, 1938 dream took place five days after the opening of the International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris. Saturn, the timer, was at Zero degrees Aries, the exact degree of my rising sign. Seventy years after this message from the collective unconscious regarding the timing of the Age of Aquarius, the symbols are manifested in the window of a midtown Manhattan art gallery. The clock, the Aquarian glyph and the publication of time symbolism in writing instantaneously over the Internet represent the dawn of a new era in which mythical content of the collective unconscious is instantaneously made conscious through the World Wide Web.
This inquiry into consciousness in time and space moved me from the role of critic to performer. A dream of a departure from a science museum indicated the end of the experiment.
With that “window” of initiation, I was launched on a path of writing about artists who incorporate consciousness in time and space into their aesthetic. Ned Kahn is a MacArthur Fellow mapping energy patterns with interactive sculptures in public spaces. Choreographer Alan Good uses repetition and time symbolism to infuse the consciousness of memory into the body.
This bold new direction that art takes in the 21st century returns us to our ancient roots in shamanism. The creative act in time is an interpretation between worlds. My real time creative manifestation of Pauli’s dream established a middle path between definite and indefinite time as the sacred marriage between heaven and earth. By forging the third way between the opposites, the artist once again guides the culture as was done in ancient times when the priests determined the timing of sacred ceremonies by their knowledge of the stars. This was true too in the Italian Renaissance when Marselio Ficino inspired artists with his hermetic infusion of astrology into everyday life.
To bring the knowledge of 2012 into the body through everyday rituals establishes a process of an evolutionary consciousness in our lives. Daily acts of consciousness in time and space is how we can embrace the icon of the Hieros Gamos in our psyches. And here we have a tradeoff for our lives of consumption – to fill ourselves with the spirit of holism. It may seem like a minor accomplishment in the face of such grave challenges, yet multiply one raised consciousness by the potential millions hooked into the Internet and you have a collective leap into a New Paradigm of an interconnected universe.