“My souls are like birds
And the wings and bodies are dreams.
With these I am now ready.”
- Jivaro chant from the Amazon Basin.
Forgetting and decay have associations with one another. Information languishes in storage if it is imprisoned and not released. This is referred to as the theory of disuse, purporting that facts must be retrieved from time to time or they become restless and escape. Disuse theory cannot account for chains of associations that bubble to the surface as we respond to emotional triggers. These aural, visual, tactile, and taste sensations release a flood of memories that retain their freshness and vigor over time and accumulated impressions. Processes of retrieval and atrophy are complex and intertwined with recognition. This occurs in two phases, our acknowledgment and evaluation of form, and its match against a review of what is remembered.
Revitalization, rejuvenation and awakening have tantalizing implications when forgetfulness and its consequences are examined. Visions and dreams originating with prophets and clairvoyants constitute information given by the spirit. Primitive societies and sophisticated industrial cultures alike place much importance on messages from sages, ancestors and deities. Visions of a new world order in particular continue to crop up and have economic repercussions if apocalyptic in nature. Misconceptions about racial superiority, blame or responsibility for manipulation of wealth have resulted in expulsion of the innocent as well as the overthrow of dictatorships. Leaders who use prophesy as a means of securing elite status invariably justify their superiority by giving traditional myth a new and self serving twist.
Memory and forgetfulness have potent implications when interpreted as the basis for great art. In his cubist portrait of Marie Thérèse Walter, Girl Before a Mirror, Picasso’s corn goddess dreamily expresses an underlying eroticism.. In other paintings of the 1930s his mistress frequently appears sleeping, head pillowed melting into the crook of one arm, adrift in fields of reverie, hair cascading in spirals of Mediterranean light. Rationalism had surrendered to inspiration and inherent spirituality of curvilinear lines. The repose of innocence was also an embodiment of forgetfulness in the midst of the impending violence in Spain and birth pangs of its Republic. Explorations of beauty transcended simple solutions, taking on the characteristics of astral projections into a vast unknown. Numberless impulses among luminaries of the New Space exploded like supernovae. Twentieth-century art, like science would become multifaceted, a hall of mirrors, illusion and implications. Results foreshadowed the honeycomb imagery of today’s cyberscapes.
The poet Guillaume Appollinaire’s plea to open up the classics to modernity called for a fundamental infiltration and disorganization of society. Along with this celebration of chaos came a genuine plea for understanding and peace contained within his eloquent statement of intent. The language is peppered with references to voluntary suspension of judgement, belief and constraints of remembering. Here is a translation.
Be indulgent when you compare us
To those who were ordered perfection
We who seek adventure in all places
We are not your enemies
We wish to give you vast and strange domains
Where the mystery of flowers offers itself to all those who wish to pluck it
In those places are new fires, in colors not yet seen
Flames and colors we must make real
Holding an experience in memory allows it to gestate and along with its companions forgetting and remembering produce elements of aesthetics and personality. The process of musing in an attempt to decipher that which is hidden, and state of disorientation that occurs as we shape experience into meaningfulness allows ideas to reveal their potential. Fantasies can add richness and texture to all kinds of daily work. Everyone has the ability to follow the elusive trail of clues left by ideas. In the pursuit of dreams we encounter sunlight and shadow, emptiness as they evaporate and inspiration as the game is renewed. The block that comes from navigating a dark patch that obscures the elusive chimeras we chase is a part of the creative process. Mistakes and failures are indispensable to a quality of being in the world. Forgetfulness can represent being sensitized to other possibilities for evaluating form, almost understanding, before there are words to render them familiar. In the process of forgetting and remembering things unseen Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) was free to listen to voices from another world. “Adam Cast Forth” reveals the Garden of the Tree shimmering like the illusion of an oasis retreating before a traveler on the red desert’s rim.
Adam Cast Forth
Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?
Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,
Almost for consolation, if the bygone period
Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme,
Might not have been just a magical illusion
Of that God I dreamed. Already it’s imprecise
In my memory, the clear Paradise,
But I know it exists, in flower and profusion..
The supporting document, "Imagination in the Plastic Arts," is also available as a separate downloadable product at :