January 8, 2015

If the plastic arts were put under psychoanalysis, the practice of embalming the dead might turn out to be a fundamental factor in their creation.  The process might reveal that at the origin of painting and sculpture there lies a mummy complex. The religion of ancient Egypt, aimed against death, saw survival as depending on the continued existence of the corporeal body.  Thus, by providing a defense against the passage of time it satisfied a basic psychological need in man, for death is but the victory of time.  To preserve, artificially, his bodily appearance is to snatch it from the flow of time, to stow it away neatly, so to speak, in the hold of life.  It was natural therefore, to keep up appearances in the face of the reality of death by preserving flesh and bone.  The first Egyptian statue, them, was a mummy, tanned and petrified in sodium.  But pyramids and labyrinthine corridors offered no certain guarantee against ultimate pillage.

— from What is Cinema (1958) by André Bazin

The female Congo Peacock is distinguished by its metallic green back and short chestnut brown hair; the french aesthetician is distinguished by a willful ignorance of concrete history.  This is compensated for by Wit and penetrating insight. Bazin’s photography, like psychoanalysis’ unconscious, demonstrates that there is no opposition between technoscientific realism and the mysterious.  Both the photograph and the unconscious indicate an opacity in the plenitude of conscious, intentional existence: both indicate an automatism that forms the world without conscious intervention.  A new experience of nature as that which is not subject to conscious control and intervention — whether in the chemical process of photography or the unconscious tropisms of archaic mind –is prepared by photography and psychoanalysis. “For the first time an image of the world is formed automatically, without the creative intervention of man. Only photography derives an advantage from his absence.  Photography affects us like a phenomenon in nature, like a flower or a snowflake whose vegetable or earthly origins are an inseparable part of their beauty.” What results from a combination of the two perspectives is powerful.

Extracted from file: “Death” Cross reference: “chemical reactions”; “mourning”; “psychology and aesthetics”; “The Dream of Extinction.”

— From the Desk of the Unconscious

Aesthetics Chemical Reactions Death Mourning Ontology