The Annunciation as foreshadow of the crucifixion in a young woman’s vigilogogic dream event in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Ecce Ancilla Domini.

Note: this note made in commemoration of March 25, 2016, when the Feast of the Annunciation and Good Friday happened on the same day, creating a particular associative complex of foreshadowing; this note also, as part 2 to preceding note on Blake and Dreams, is dedicated to the memory of Michael Sieh, who died on Holy Thursday, 1976.

In a previous note on William Blake’s dream visions, I conjectured that it was possible to make use of a five-stage model of hypnagogy, to place exactly where, and exactly why Blake’s art exists, and is so true to its state of mind. Following from that, the work Ecce Ancilla Domini (1850) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, painted some 50 years later, also lends itself to a deep dream theory analysis, to counter the silly and superficial 2-D formalist approaches that one too often sees in books (i.e. its perspective is bad, etc. etc., who…….cares?). The first thing that lends itself to a dream interpretation of this image is that Mary is an adolescent girl in her bed

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It appears to be morning, as it is light out, and the light seems to be rising, a fact emphasized by the dove, and so we might take this as a moment of waking up in the morning. But it is not quite a full waking up, is it? My guess is that she was woken up by some discomfort in her sleeping body (the lattice theory of dream posits that the imagery of dream is a mere reflection of bodypart discomfort) and that is suggested by Rossetti’s purposely clumsy rendering of her exposed arm.

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It is as if the arm shimmers with shaking off, with numbness, maybe she slept on it, it began to “fall asleep,” that is, tingle, and finally it was that tingle that woke her up. Such a tingle is felt imagistically in the dreaming body as an intenser type of static, and so it might have been figured out by the embroidery below her feet in the picture (the red chasuble to her right). That appears to be an upside down long stemmed lily with all the thorns still attached and flaring, that is, a symbol of her bodily discomfort in her arm. But how might a reminder of her discomfort had made its way out into the space of her room. Again, in lattice theory all the static and symbolism of the static and glass onion stage drops down to a lower level, where it pools, as it were, on one image. If that imaging is directed inward from something going on in her body, it might have visualized in her dream, as that embroidery she worked on as a child. It is depicted in DGR’s other painting of the virgin, the virgin as a child.

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That strange painting is, in fact, the dream she is dreaming, before the annunciation moment happens. Her arm is tingling, maybe a cold breeze is blowing against it, because the window is open, and that discomfort is portrayed by working on this embroidery. And, then, too, she is modelling the embroidery from life, and that would be the lily plant held out in front of her. But, then, the really creepy thing, as we drop down now on that image, into the whoosh of deep dream, and into an adjunct annex space horizontal to it, is that that lily is being held by a visionary being, something she sees, or remembers having seen, once, as a child, an actual angel

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there is also the ailbi rhyme of the seraphim’s red wings so that if she described the dream to someone they could say she was only figuring out the red embroidery she was working on, and misread it as wings. But then, the odd thing is, the lily seems to be the prototype reality and it is related to another sprig of lily or palm on the floor, wrapped by a bandello, which may or may not say Ecce Ancilla Domini

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The point is not if it actually says that, but that DGR worked it out that we go from her mind, into a dream, into a vision in a dream, then into out and through that into a prototypical divine space, in which communication is made by magic means. The Ecce Ancilla Domini written device in these paintings, as scholarship has shown, derives from Van Eyck’s adaptation of the acheiropoetoi element of miracle images of the Annunciation in late medieval icons in Florence. Van Eyck’s Ghent Altarpiece Madonna, and the upside down backwards ancilla statement, is the entry point to this true magic tradition

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This from the article which documents that supernatural acheiropoetoi aspects of the model madonnas that Van Eyck was trying to emulate, to restore to art the agency of intercession to the divine (all with magical backwards writing)

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In those paintings, which were believed to be divinely made, the relic part, the part that held the divine energy, the indexical spot of true contact with the divine, which the rest of the art merely framed as a reliquary, more or less illustrating the space around the relic patch in the middle, was that upside down written Ecce Ancilla and it was written upside down to indicate that it was a spiritual, inside-the-mind communication by a divine being into Mary’s head, and only Mary’s head. Thus, divine revelation by way of visions is internalized as a simply externally interpreted version of dream vision, and the hypnagogic or vigilogogic states or events that one experiences falling asleep or waking up. I am therefore making the claim that in this version of Ecce Ancilla Domini, DGR was also attempting to revive for art a true retrogressive agency by linking a modern psychological image to a tradition of ancient acheiropoetoi images, and make the divine intercessionary power of the event alive again.

So, back in the DGR, maybe Mary was sleeping, and dreaming of the embroidery she did as a little girl, and its embroidery of thorns, and red, and its shape, etc., all figured out in an image her arm telling her body that it was tingling and falling asleep, which would, when the discomfort became enough, start her awake. Now, it is important that Mary in this context be startled to waking, she does not know where she is, what is going on, what is happening, she is stunned and in shock, really, still all but asleep, this is apparent in DGR’s rendering of gaze, blank

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The possibility that all that she saw in the dream was a figure of hearing something outside her head, while she was asleep is alibi’d by the presence of the dove, maybe she just heard a bird sing, that woke her up, but, in her startled-awake vigilogogic state, it reads now as a dove. But the important thing is is that she has startled awake, it was not a gradual waking, proceeding up from stage to stage through the model, it was a wrenching from deep dream state, to waking state. If it was a more or less gradual waking, and the mind moved expeditiously from dream to waking, leaving all behind, then the break between dreaming and waking, while momentarily disorienting, would only bifurcate either side of the waking, as if in a mirror each other. That is, as the dreamer wakes up, he might realize that what he was dreaming was an internalization of a sense of his body of something going on in the room around him, figured out. This, in fact, is precisely what happens in a 60s giallo movie A Quiet Day in the Country (1968), when Franco Neri is having nightmares, and then wakes up. His nightmare consists of him being tied to a chair in an apartment where the furniture partakes of the porcelain and stainless steel of bathrooms

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and in which he imagines Vanessa Redgrave strip

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And then she is in the bathroom with him, he in the bath, and she is stabbing him to death in the bath.

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And then he wakes up. And when he does he finds that Vanessa Redgrave has been moving around the room, she has been in the shower, she is now walking around in a blue towel, and comes now to flop down on him with a hello, how are you. What this means is that a good part of his dream was simply his dormant senses processing the smells, moisture and presence of her in and around the room, as he slept

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And then to communicate that he is still groggy, and not quite sure what is happening is real, when she walks away, it is somewhat abstract and effaced

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And then there is a back shot, which usually means, in modern movies, she is hiding something, or there is something about her that he does not understand

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But then of course the joke in the movie is that if we thought all of the dream was in fact in terms of a décor simply a processed bathroomizing of the décor of the main room, that chrome chair monstrosity in fact is real, in their place, and it has a gun out front too, so we are in the swinging 60s!

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So, getting back to Rossetti, it could have been that Mary had been dreaming of her embroidery when a child, and then she woke to see some embroidering going on in the room. That is, people were moving around in the room around her, and she was sensing it, but as asleep. This, however, is not the vigilogogic state depicted by DGR. But, instead, it is clear that the thing that caught her, nightmarishly, deep in the dream, was her memory of the vision of the angel when she was embroidering, and then when woken up she wrenched all that up in full into the room to as it were project it or vomit it out for real into the room in a sleep paralysis episode aka a vision. This I think is conveyed by the low placement of her hairline on her head, the furrow in the hairline, and her heavy eyeliner, all indicating the line or arch of the wrenching of dream up from deep dream state to waking state

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when a dream is woken up from like this, it is often experienced as sleep paralysis. That is, you are still, technically, asleep, but some sort of parasomniac event is occurring, you think you are awake. Sleep paralysis as a model has now been made use of to explain a number of hauntings in recent film lore, including the Amityville Horror haunting. What happens in the case of sleep paralysis, is that in addition to simply experiencing the dream as a waking event, the trajectory of its wrenching can, as the Freddy Kruger movies indicate, if you grab hold of an image, or fixate on it, pull that image up out of your head and place it in the apparently awake vigilogogic state round about you. So, since Mary was dreaming of her embroidering when she was a girl, and the creepy time she saw the angel, the remembers the feet

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And looks down and sees now, in her waking state, next to her bed, burning feet, that is, the dream image manifesting as real, but transformed by light, there, beside her bed

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And then thinking of the lily or the reed on the floor, the prototype grounding of the divinity of the vision, a lily before her eye transfers from her tingling arm to it, to figure out that

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and then since she was woken by tingling or a chill on her arm, it is fitting that the angel first appears to her, or, rather, more correctly she gains a sense, in the manner of a glass onion phase hag attack, that there is someone standing next to her bed, by a side of body, and the naked side of a body, like the cold side of her body, projected in space (since I am a cover kicker, this happens a lot to me)

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and then the whole angel fills out as there, a classic end or side of bed hag attack (that said, movies will work with the I-dare-not-look comprehension of there is someone standing next to my bed by way of visualizing their body only partially. But perhaps this was thought too haunting. But it is of interest that when Henry Osawa Tanner addressed the same topic, he went over to the merely burning state, an abstraction, almost a genuine haunting (the figure also in bed, painted at roughly the same time) )

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But in DGR this means that the quick upward startled awake dynamic of the dream event in fact pulls up the angel she saw in her dream, which might have been an angel she saw in her youth, meaning that this is the second time she has been visited by the angel, and the angel Gabriel is that previous angel, pulled up out of sleep, to exist, for a moment, in her room with her.

Since there were plenty of words imprinting themselves on the dream turned vision it is likely, and the dove again accentuates this, that the whole communication occurs as a bell or voice inside her head, silently, so she is just listening to herself, as if with her ear to a seashell, but it is the seashell of her own inner ear

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But now there is also the underlying menace or nightmare aspects of the dream vision, and this would be that while she is being told, almost unbelievably, that she is having a baby, and she does not know how she got pregnant (or rather other versions also see this annunciation itself as the act of divine rape by means of the voice and light of god, by means of the upside down words of the angel), the twists of the lily held out to her, and fixated on do suggest legs twisted around a cross during crucifixion, and in general the lily would seem to forshadow the crucifixion and resurrection together

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and then while she would have remembered, to superimpose it over the scene, her embroidering an image of a lily, on the red cloth, the redness of the cloth, and the fact that the lily is shown as thorned, with crosses at each niche, and upside down, also foreshadows in the telling the second bit of bad news, oh, yeah, and in addition to giving birth to a mystery child, he will die a horrible death in 33 years, so enjoy being a mother (from this many other motifs, including the notion that she is divine because she was asked to sacrifice her heart). And, indeed, while during the communication of the dream event, the angelic light tells her the good part, as she snaps out of it and uncurls from her fearful corner, to realize it was a waking up vision, she fixes on the embroidery, for real, the anchor of the real in her room, and it emphasizes only the thorns and its blood redness

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and the upside down three stem lily, which could also alibi for the bird falling out of dream and disappearing, and for that, she is left only with a what just happened here, but, whatever it was, I feel elated, but also incredibly sad, and now, as I wake up, mostly sad

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This also means that DGR knew of the high and low, the sudden seeing something, having a eureka, but then its crashes and vanishes, as you forget, coming up in a Eurydicelike vigilogogic event, and made use of his keen psychological insight into waking up from certain dreams to be one of the very rare Annunciations that address the fact that while she was being told good news, it was also very bad news (this overlap allowing for some weird associative play in the imaginations of others, but all prompted by, this year, 2016, March 25 being both the Annunciation and Good Friday).

Thus for me the meaning of this painting has nothing to do with its style, its model, its space, its perspective, its coloring, though that all counts in, it is rather interesting for how that all comes together, and is brought together, by a knowledge of life, because it represents a very convincing naturalization in a common vigilogogic waking-up state, of a particular force, likely pulling up images from a deep dream based on a previous painting that DGR did as as it were the prelude to set up this waking, and for that its harmonies, and subtleties, capture a moment of where am I? sleep paralysis when, just for a moment, one feels that there is someone standing by my bed, and didn’t he just say something to me, and I cannot believe what he said, its freaking me out, but, calm down, and, in calming down, the waking mind rests on the only anchor that connects dream and life, the embroidery that she really did in her youth, and which only now, in this moment, at the end of this visionary moment, reveals its true meaning: you are with child, but it will be a life red, with thorns, and lilies turned upside down, a life of pain, as your miracle child will die a horrible death by the worst possible form of Roman torture when he is only 33 years old. She might then have, at that thought, having first cowered from the momentary appearance of an angel, figuring out her own discomfort in her waking body, cowered a second time from the newly revealed mindful fullness of the embroidery she did as a child, and kept, but never, until just this minute, knew why. One may conjecture that at least DGR’s Virgin kept that scarf for the rest of her life, and even wore it at the crucifixion, to seal the deal, and be done with it.

All in all, then, while I do not at present know just the right word for the opposite of a haunting, it is clear to me that the primary pull, the alive agency of this painting, as a record of a moment of cult vision, or intercession from god to man, is framed by a very good grasp of the nature of sleep, dreams, waking up from sleep, and the things that can go wrong in the process, including sleep paralysis, and then the feeling of the world being empty, or figures standing over the bed, all devices which have been extensively explored in horror movies, but, much less so, in visual art. But, this is a successful and powerful work of art because in its psychological, vigilogogic truth, it brings to life the terror and disorientation of a moment that changed the life of a simple adolescent girl forever. It demonstrates that while preraphaelitism is usually interpreted as some sort of devout regression to an antique style of painting it rather sought to restore a divine-psychological agency to painting by delving into dream states clearly rendered, to represent the religious experience, and did so in a way that in fact looked forward to the language, much more fully developed, of the modern movie.

P. S. This overall graph works out, roughly, the general dynamics as interpreted here. In the five stages of dream she is having a deep dream, redreaming her making an embroidery as a child, with her mother, as in DGRs previous painting, but as outside influence of cold or breeze and then too pressure of her body in the lattice stage impresses itself on the dream, it brings up its lattice elements, the lilies and the embroidery itself, these are then pulled up.

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Since she outside influence startled her awake, that fixates on the deep dream, and the whole thing is pulled up (like in a Freddy movie) into waking state v/Sp sleep paralysis, and for a moment of sheer terror-wonder she sees the lily, and the figuring outs in vision form of her body, sees the angel, the sunlight, him burning, the message is communicated silently as a bell in the brain by the bird, and then as she wakes up the vision fade, and she is left to come down into a state of being stunned (what I call coma days), in which she at last rests her eyes on the embroidery and sees that there was a connection, but if so that it is a melancholy one, that the dream news given her has a very bloody and unhappy element.

RIP MS.

Blake and the particular psychology of his visual depiction of souls as they relate to dreams (with mention of the movie, The Robe (1953)).

Rev. January 7, 2016.; Robe note added March 23, 2016. This note dedicated to Michael Sieh, died Holy Thursday, 1976.

In seeking an example of how an artist translated sleep states into their vigilogogic (waking state) counterparts, a lot of the work of William Blake comes to mind. In matters of the question of where in the universe does all of Blake’s mythology happen, it is not quite accurate to say it happens in a mindspace inherited from religious visions in Baroque or Renaissance art (except as those visions too are derived from dream theory, see Damitsch), though there is some link. But the amazing thing about a lot of Blake’s work is that it is about dreaming. This then raises the possibility that his faith was entirely hypnagogic, that is, he accessed the supernatural through dreams. In that sense, then, it does not divert from eighteenth century thought, as a retro effect of megafigural fantasy, but is linked directly to it, and to the burgeoning Romantic and Gothic interest in dreams (as that then persisted in symbolist and surreal art, but also horror movies). But, then, the question is, where in the hypnagogic universe are Blake’s dreams located? Consider this one, Soul Hovering

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In this one, we see a body reclining in bed. He is dead, and all laid out on his back, all flat, but his eyes appear open. Moreover, the light outside the window suggests that it is dawn, that is, that this is a waking up presence. This is a very specific place of hypnagogy. But, where is it? Again, here are the five stages

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Then, activated with agency, there is a going down in, or the psychopompic, leading into dream and spirit, and the psychogogic, or the leading out. An example of the psychopompic, in spiritual verse, would, of course, be, Beatrice to Dante (and Dore’s treatment of her is certainly dreamlike

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While an example of the hypnagogic would be Orpheus and Eurydice, here by Corot

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Of course, the point of the Eurydice story, is that, if as you rise up from sleep in the morning, you jerk awake too quickly, or do not make a point of remembering the dream, poof, you will forget it, and it will stay in the dream state. So, when Orpheus looked back, Eurydice faded back away. Same thing with Lot’s wife, same dynamic

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So, there is going down in, and coming up out of

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But, then, it is also true that in addition to being the five layers, and the two dynamics, the flows of the two dynamics are interrupted, caught up, captured, taken in, rotated, played with, segwayed and detoured, complicated, etc., with the five layers, and the actual truth of it is that there being five layers, each layer relates to the others, and each of the others to the others, so there are many different ways in which dreams can “dive in” in a particular pattern, and then come up in a certain particular form, best represented by a figure. For example, the one type of morning dream that I have cultivated in particular is the fantasmata, as worked out by medieval dreamcatchers. This is literally a dream in the case where you go to bed unresolved in a problem to, as people say, “sleep on it,” and then you wake up suddenly in the morning, in the first few instances of waking up, and eureka, you have the solution. That is a fantasmata.

How might this particular form of wakening dream state be envisioned? I have argued that the glass onion in its purest form is all sigils flashing this and that, but that in its lower areas, as it pools, as it were, toward the lattice, but not in the lattice, it can consist of a dream state whereby one does something that appears to be rational, like pushing around couches, in order to “solve the problem of the universe,” but is nonsensical, and all the while one is doing it, one believes that what one is doing is incredibly important, and solving everything, and then you wake up. Johnson has argued that drug altered states include what is called Presque vu, the notion during experience that what one is experiencing is incredibly important, and all but prophetic. Then too, Native Americans, and other peoples, thought that any dream, a deep dream, where you come upon an ancestor, and he or she says something, that is a prophecy dream. As I work it out then, the fantasmata pops out of hypnagogy into consciousness in a particular “body” (figuring out a flowchart) formed by: 1) the issue having pooled in the lower part of the glass onion, that is, being imbued with Presque vu; 2) one of those poolings dropping down to the REM state, and, finding, deep in it, in some secret chamber, an ancestor or person of importance saying something that, when it zooms back, resting in Presque vu, seems prophetic, and then this packaged body of dream movements surfaces as a figural presence, a fantasmaton

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But, now, there is a complication that makes it figural. All these states exist inside a head, on top of a body sleeping. Here is the model

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According to this model, all dream states exist vis a vis, in a fraction relation, with the sleeping body. That is, they are seen as dream renditions of the functioning of the body as it sleeps. This was Victorian dream theory, and it persists in horror movies. If the body is the heavy thing weighing down and closing in on dream in this notion, then the phase of hypnagogy that comes into play here is the lattice. But it is the lattice exerted from without, fixated upon by the body. That is, the thing weighing down the lattice is the body of the sleeper. This then creates a mirror relationship between the body of the sleeper and the content of the dream. That means that the content of the dream becomes a reflection of the body, and that the lattice then becomes a mirrored figural presence, hovering over the body.

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It is hardly surprising that I am interested in this rendition of dream theory, as one of the very first ideas of dreaming shown me in the movies was Richard Burton’s nightmare in The Robe (1953), which I may or may not have seen in the theater. In that one, which almost plays now like a horror movie, so deeply imbued is it with curses and witchcraft, Gallio on the ship home has nightmares, and sleeps uneasily (my images here enhanced in their weirdness by being lifted from a Coptic Egyptian videotaping of a TV showing of the movie in Arabic in Egypt, seen on Youtube).

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Then, as the dream gets more and more nightmarish, a certain glowing miasm forms over his sleeping body, in a thrillingly strange effect

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that then, even more remarkably, then spreads over his body, like an externalized “falling asleep” tingling of the body, but then superimposed on his body, through head to toe reversed, is the image of the body of Christ being nailed to the cross, on the ground of Golgotha, right on top of his body

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and then since it is assumed that he drove the nails in, it focuses in on the nails, again, very eerie and strange (with incredible music, and a striking of nails sound effect, echoed by oar drumming out on the ship above)

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that then as a hand coming in at him, closer to him, from the body above him, to all but touch him

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And that then, that close touch, wakes him up, mad, from his nightmare

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And then by magic theory the cursed dream was conveyed to him by the drop of blood getting on his hands, at the foot of the cross

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And then the robe itself, which is declared to be his “first battle trophy,” which is right, that is exactly what it is, cursing him, as he puts it on his body, with, of course, Victor Mature as Demetrius, voicing the curse

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All of this, and the part that dream plays in it, is EXACTLY the formation of dream that Blake subscribed to in his art. Even though Blake has externalized this model, to consider the soul as it lingers over the body of the dead, not wanting to leave the body, this is the same formulation, only applied to a different referent. The hovering of the mirror reflection in the lattice dream state of the body of the dreamer is the primary means by which Blake represents the activities of the soul relative to the body. It could be said that he inhabited this particular state, lattice state descent from the glass onion with REM declining prophetic fantasmata wakeup dream state to create his universe. This is why everything in his art is symbolic but with sigil precision (glass onion), and it all lends itself to poetry as illustration thereof (still the glass onion), and then it has a swooping and soaring dynamic (dive to REM from the glass onion), but then takes on figural form (lattice) reflecting the body of the dreamer, and thus comes packaged, as it wakes up upon you with a sense of morning freshness and prophetic importance, but then almost a Eurydicean sense of almost having been lost and recovered, and thus it comes off as entirely worked out and fulfilling within a distinctly agentic complex of emotion. Thus, in this short note, I make a claim: Blake inhabited and populated a specific state of dream dynamic (glass onion-REM prophecy captured-lattice form fantasmata) in order to generate a spiritual art with profound psychological dream-theory and also emotional truth.

The endless search for the prototype in Brutal Colors (2015): retrograde backstorying of the cult.

rev., February 25, 2016.

Sometimes bad movies are as instructive of the uses of agency, for their failure to achieve what they seek, as good movies, which would be the case for the very bad movie, Brutal Colors (2015). In this one, a mad artist is presented, painting away at a plush summer retreat where she has been let live by her patron. The movie is a maddening mess because it seeks to find a way to horror through modern painting. It does this by tossing out several explanations for the creative process, and positing several prototypical sources as the origins of her creativity. So, in the beginning, it seems that she is painting, and doing ok, but not great. It is just artist and painting.

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according to this model, the modernist model, art comes from the artist, the creativity of the artist’s mind, generated by the culture of the artist in her mind, and the artist is the cult figure, the origin of all the ideas and creativity in the art, thus the cult of the modernist artist

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But, if you put an artist into a horror movie, right away, this model is at odds with a counter model, that is a staple of the horror genre, which is the mad or psycho artist model. What happened was that as in the course of modern art both abstraction and expressionism varied considerably from the norms of representational painting, the type of painting that non-experts and “regular people” like, the two primary modes of modernism began to be looked at by the general public as symptoms of some sort of mental illness. As a result, while some audience appreciated modern art, half of the V turned away from modern art and in the crawlspace of a contrary culture of modern art devised the notion that, in fact, such painting was indeed the product of imbalanced and troubled minds. This idea then was fed through the reality of the cult of the artist as it was framed in the modern period to precipitate out as the trope of the crazy artist. Horror then came in and served the trope, creating the trope of the psycho artist, the artist who is another kind of psycho.

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What this does for an artist in a horror movie is displace the prototype source of their creativity from creativity and culture per se, to mental illness and madness, and thus the mad artist is only an artist in order to express their madness. Thus, in a horror movie, all of the artist’s creative life is blocked out and repressed, and replaced by a cult fixation on their mental illness, on their artistry being an expression of their madness.

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so the movie first plays with the idea by looking into the possibility that her paintings are nothing more than, dotted line equaling depletion, right pointing A equals countered from art, expressions of things she’s seen. In this little envelope, as it were, of the complications of the movie, her paintings are seen to be the expression of the fact that she is off her meds, and thus seeing things again. The fun part is that this involves a shower in the sequencing. The shower as a trope is designed to show her vulnerability. But in this case, the bath is used as a seer glass to allow her see things,

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this is a very common trope, and, of course, through the blurry abstractness of the water since lines are looped and space is uncertain, like a painting

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You can see figures, physiogonomies

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a complicating negative side effect of her seeing things again, where her art is not art but just a transcript of her trauma, is that she is refusing to have enough sex with her boyfriend. Interestingly enough, when she finally does submit, it is only in the context of a shower soaping, him painting on her back, as it were

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And here, again, sexual pleasure from his touch, wherever below, is interrupted by her errant eyes

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as she apparently sees the critic whom she has hallucinated she killed in a studio visit earlier in the afternoon

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I guess we can say that the reddish number sat on the couch, after an all nighter cranking out the art, is the transcript of that trauma. This is no longer art, but artism-transcribing-psychological-problem hallucinations. So, that is the first prototype, her mental illness.

Then the odd thing is, for some reason, likely because the figurative art prompted them to figure it all out more, the movie does not leave it there, but seeks out a second, redundant, deeper prototype, to explain her mental illness. And apparently it is triggered by the boyfriend getting resentful about sex, as here it would seem that her sudden shift to blue faces is somehow linked to his being in front of the laptop screen all the time, and blue

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This then too would seem to be expressed by reflecting back on her, as blue women show up too, in the art, a self portrait of does he love me anymore, I am unworthy to be loved, its happening again, I’m being rejected

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and much of this back and forth is carried out between her and her own reflection in the mirror

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And between her and her shrink, on the phone or in person, all of these outings entirely unsatisfactory as psychology, almost to the point of, and with the point of, undermining the psychological explanation as the bottom of it all (another blue picture to the left in this one )

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And so the movie reagentifies down to a deeper level of cult source, her own lack of confidence, her own demons

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I suppose the movie might have been able to stop there, but they were making a horror movie and not a drama, so they kept seeking out ever deeper, and ever more ridiculous prototype bases for the meaning of her artistry. The next step then is that she had a father, who was also an artist, and abusive, and his abuse and his artistry came to a head in his last years when he went crazy and put his eyes out, because he was working on some very dark things. As the shrink rather clunkily puts it, ’ he cut out his own eyes because that work pushed him so deep into the shadows that he went over the edge. The father is rather ridiculously shown as a kind of Hermann Nitsch maniac slaving away in some subterranean art hell on a furiously mad art that was driving him mad, also, to be noted, dressed in blue, with a preference for blue faces

bru 17

so the movie sinks down to the fourth level of fixation on the mad artist, and it rather comic-bookly turns out that she is mad because she is nothing more than an avatar of her father, he was an artist, she is an artist, he went mad making art, she should go mad making art. In this, the movie also traffics in one of the most evergreen of horror themes as a rationale for a haunting, the like equals like logic of father and daughter, and inherited madness, but then doubled up by the lore of the lookalike avatar, carrying on in reincarnation the curse or sins of the father, as a transparent vessel of his dead evil (I omit relating this formulation to the conventional tropes of horror at this time)

bru 18

But then, not even that is enough, the movie still does not apparently feel confident enough in itself to leave it at that, and work it out at that level, it has to dig still further, and the further in this case would be that not only was the father a mad artist, but he was driven to madness, and did a mad thing in his death, by a special project given him by a secret patron, at the end of his career, and this was to make a portrait of the serial killers of the USA. Apparently delving into all that darkness, with all those clippings, and terrible stories, drove him mad, as explained above. The truly weird thing about this is that the movie chooses to fixate on that as well, as a source of painting as madness, but it momentarily exploits the lore that serial killer John Wayne Gacey of Chicago was a painter of clowns, a fact deep in the lore of horror and psycho art, because in that case, he really was a psycho, who made art, so, why not.

bru 19

So, yet another preexistent prototype ultimate source of the evil in her, JWG

bru 20

But then the movie springs the trap, as it were, by revealing that in fact all of her madness was itself, in all its forms, a mere trait she had to be exploited by a still deeper prototype, and that is her patron, and her patron as represented by the housekeeper, who is ridiculously bad. Their usurpation, as it were, of the psychological-serial killer prototype explanation, by a supernatural explanation, firmly wrenches the proceedings from the murder mystery into the horror realm, but it does so ridiculously. Then, too, the deep prototype patron is for a time only dealt with by proxy of the housekeeper. They shoulda known day one that she was not to be trusted because not only did she introduce herself by walking in on them while they were having sex, thus declaring her to be the very personficiation of the succubus effort to cock block the man by driving her girl mad, but she is framed by a sideways floral picture, as in two previous movies viewed, a specific symbolon saying that this woman here is untrustworthy, and nothing that comes out of her mouth should be believed.

bru 21

oddly, or badly enough, the truth of who she is is also revealed to Brie when Brie is in her naked bathroom turban parade time, looking into her mirror, and discovering the truth in a anotype type of painting as mad scrawl or cry for help, her lipstick on the mirror

bru 22

I suppose to imply that all along in the blue paintings that increasingly came out of her in her mad sprees of artmaking she was not only thinking of her father, but having premonitions that the housekeeper was devilish, the housekeeper actually has to show up on sacrifice night in an entirely ridiculous blue get up, always the tell tale sign of student film arty unintegrated satanic presence

bru 23

so we expand back to the sixth level of prototyping into some deep source, the devilish housekeeper

bru 24

But, then, the ultimate prototype turns out to be the apparently harmless, entirely upper class, somewhat Andy Warhol-Tom Wolfelike socialite patron, who spells it all out for her. He is satan, he has recruited her because he saw through her art, and saw that it could serve as a vehicle by which he could collect souls, and that under his influence, in that house, in his realm, she was painting but was really calling down souls, into his dominion, to fill hell with them. So, he is the ultimate prototype, satan, it is all being done for satan, she is possessed by his power, to meet his demands, and do his work. In this, she calls her an oracle, one with inner vision, who can see into the souls of man, and to demonstrate the transformation of her art from art derived from inside the mind of a modern subjective self according to the model of the cult of the artist, as here

bru 25

on the night that she is initiated, revealed by him to be his minion, and under his power, not so much sacrificed but lead through an initiation, all the pictures are magically rehung along the balcony of the house, wood nests always dangerous to sanity in horror movies, in which context they become art that is derived from outside the mind of a premodern externally possessed self according to the ancient model of the cult of the god, which art merely serves.

bru 26

But, it would seem that the writers still felt that his art theory required a little prototyping, and so, all but gratituously, and in a way in which bad writers often wiggle some extraneous material into a theory, to repair it to its complexity, he explains that his prototype model for art is the art devised by the Nazis at the concentration camps, where tattoos that they admired were ungrafted from bodies to make lampshades out of human skin, all of which has been revealed to be, in the documentary, The Lamp, very likely a concentration camp urban legend. But this is just, as it were, scuffed backwards, like a bull scuffing up the ground behind him to get bearing for launching a run, it is a reactionary, momentary prototype dissemblance by which the prototype tries to explain his prototypes, we are now seven layers deep in explaining where all this art comes from

bru 27

at last the movie breaks from the art shit, into the pure space of satanic ritualism, all of which is very badly imagined and done, all of the language spoken over whatever they seem to be doing to her, the boyfriend likely recruited to, what, rape her, it is not clear, where the finale is played out. But it would seem that just as the prototype patron, Satan, had to explain himself, in the context of this movie, which made use of mad art as the trope to get from normal back to deeply horrific in life, by tossing out a prototype art theory of the type of oracular soul-stealing art he wanted, referring to Auschwitz, so the director thought that in the ceremony bonfire the proceedings had to refer back to art too, and to painting. And, so, there is a referring back to painting, in the playing out of the cult ceremony

bru 28

This takes place through the agency of the housekeeper, who, quite not in the spirit, does not strip, but gives us of her body only her armpits and her long chicken-sacrifice arms

bru 29

But there is a color quality in her dress, and in her sinuosity, and this is then played on by reaching back in the cult, no longer in the reagentic cascade backstorying from the original prototype, to the moon, as by the power of her spell, and satan’s presence, and maybe her red dress, the moon turns into a blood moon, and, then, cleverly, because it is not a full moon, but only a three quarter moon, it has shadows that allow the reddening of it to read a letter S

bru 30

That letter S then materializes in space as a zappably contained light emission or whatever, and it descends to earth

bru 31

To take up position next to the demon in the red dress as the red S manifestation, the painterly manifestation of the archetypal ultimate prototype power of the satan of the blood moon power over artists, and this is a very good special effect

bru 32

and then we discover that the cult is actually a calling down of the moon, but in this case the lore apparently argues that the souls in purgatory are held in limbo up in the moon, and by this ceremony, and the power of the oracle to identify them, and by her consummation, the souls can coagulate into a red S form, and be pulled back down to earth, and consumed, and taken by Satan, into this fire, it’s not at all a bad idea

bru 33

Its just a nicely worked out ritual, abbreviated in right corner.

bru 34

And it is my guess that the moon, the redness, the calling down of the moon, the fire, and the demoness, all are figuring outs, in the ultimate cult prototype space of the movie, that refer back to the process of painting pictures, seen at the beginning of the picture, which is pretty clever. But, while it all ends well, that does not mean, in this outing, all is well, because the repeated, and fixating, retrograde motion of the cult search for the prototype has a lot of stops and starts, and a lot of things tossed in and not well worked out, and there it is, a confused script, a confused cult structure, and a movie that doesn’t quite know how to get out of it all.