It’s hard to say why we are struck by certain images.
20 years ago I did a painting inspired by a dream of a bullfight. Bullfight ticket sellers ask their customers: “el sol o la sombra? Meaning: “do you want seats in the sun or the shade?”. As the sun passed, the shaded seats commanded a higher price. This fluid standard seemed a true valuation system because of it’s cosmic scope. It might be called the Sun standard.
Gold and Sun are symbols that announce a new age ruled by the truest of values-that which emerge from the human heart.
In this Spanish interrogative I hear echoed the ancient Mithraic conflict between the Light of Glory and Ahrimanic Darkness. This is a drama which transcends religious history, learned judgments about dualism, and my own, personal revulsion at an act of cruelty.
The arena is a mandala-a microcosm. The ritual killing it sanctifies has echoes throughout the cycles of history as an archetype-one that charges a brutal spectator sport with religious energy. it is the reenactment of the primordial victory that ensures the perpetuation of the world.
In his book, Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, Henry Corbin uses the striking image of the progersso harmonium to describe the relationship between Shi’ite Islam and the earlier Mazdianism religion. The relation is not the linear view of religious history by which fundamentalists of all faiths are bound, but the fundamental tone, the timeless Truth to which all religions are ultimately traced. It is ever present, running throughout time like a basso profundo under the higher registers of the octave.
To pass from one octave to another is not the same as to pass from one date in time to another, but is a progression to a height or pitch that is qualitatively different. All the elements are changed, yet the form of the melody is the same. Something in the nature of harmonic perception is needed to perceive a world of many dimensions.
So midway between the darkness of uncertainty and the light of inspiration, I revisit a related image, the altar. I set the stage with a yellow/orange ground. I want to hone my harmonic perception that I may realize my theme in a higher register, one that captures it’s elusive quality.
It now becomes an altar for the Day of the Dead. On it I place my mother’s ashes, the tattered image of dad, and all loved ones who’ve left the arena of life. Here is the true value-the measure of all that is Golden.