MANIFESTO OF VISIONARY ART

is the lament: "If only the great myths of antiquity were continually translated, not by historians, but by eternal poets. We must escape that puerile chronology which forces artists to translate their own times, in all its finitude, rather than the eternal... To give to myths their full intensity, we mustn't lock them away in their own epoch - in the molds and styles of their times..."(44) Instead, a work of art had to "mirror the great impulses of the soul - responding to the divine needs of humanity from all times."(45) And so, this self-proclaimed 'assembleur de rêves' said of painting and its mythic imagery, "C'est le language de Dieu." - that it is 'the language of God.'(46)
      In the process of beholding the Sacred as a timeless and eternal Unity, the visionary artist frees himself momentarily from his inherited spiritual tradition, its particular symbols and style of expression. During that momentary epiphany, his vision partakes of the universal, sans cultural perspective: it acquires a stilled, more timeless, even eternal way of seeing. Think of the strange stare manifest in sculpted visages of Babylonian or Greek gods: their elongated eyes, opened wide, absorbing a vision without horizon. They are beholding the eternal.
      But, the moment the artist attempts to render this expanded vision, he is caught once more in the currents of his own time, its style of rendering bound by perspective and finite perception. The resulting image betrays his age's fashion, its preference for a certain line, form, and proportion, while still revealing - above and beyond it - the timeless shape, the divine symmetry, briefly glimpsed, from the higher world.
      The Book of Revelation tells us that we shall see the world transformed at the end of time - see it with our own eyes, but in a more permanent state of vision. This world 'made anew' is compared to a



 
 
 


L. CARUANA

heavenly city, the New Jerusalem: "Its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jaspar clear as crystal."(Rev 20:11) Its twelve gates are of sapphire, agate, emerald, onyx, topaz, and amethyst. They shine with the radiance of pearls, pure gold, and are "transparent as glass."(Rev 21:21) A river "bright as crystal" (Rev 22:1) flows through it, and at its centre stands the tree of life, its twelve fruits, each ripening a different month, offering a balm and a healing.(47)
      This is the higher world - visible to all of us once (before the creation), and to be witnessed again (after the apocalypse) - a paradise presently hidden, a world which visionary artists have sought and seen - if only in stolen glances. Describing his mescalin visions, Huxley relates that "Everything... is brilliantly illuminated and seems to shine from within."(48) As a rapid flow of eidetic imagery passed before him, Huxley reported "vast and complicated buildings in the midsts of landscapes which change continuously, passing from richness to more intensely coloured richness, from grandeur to deepening grandeur. Heroic figures... fabulous animals..."(49) The author also mentions heavenly architecture composed of precious stones, gem-like pigments, glowing gold, swirling marble and remarks upon "the beauty of curved reflections, of softly lustrous glazes, of sleek and smooth surfaces." (50)
      In another passage from Heaven and Hell (now with greater emphasis on 'Heaven') Huxley cites a published account of a peyote vision: "Buildings now made their appearance, then landscapes. There was a Gothic tower of elaborate design with worn statues in the doorways or on stone brackets. 'As I gazed, every projecting angle, cornice, and even the faces of the stones at their joinings were by degrees covered or hung with clusters of what seemed to be huge precious stones, but uncut



 
 
 


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