In ancient times the human ideal was animated by Divinity whose breaths fanned the creative fire and kept its flames alive, dancing. That ideal, through the collective confluence of psychic energy which in its surfeit grew splendid, rose like a radiant sun at the dawn of civilization, emanating a light both natural and spectral through the clouds and smoke which highlighted any number of clear, noble forms. A goddess would appear tossing handfuls of seed over her shoulder onto fertile soil and soon a virgin forest sprang up. But those times of living myth have vanished. The uplifting power and grace is gone.
The human ideal, old and wrinkled, is now stretched out on a gurney and hooked up to machines. Its identity has been stolen. Against its will its image, emptied of content and falsified, is transmitted to screens worldwide, and kept “updated” or forever young as a nostalgia-filled simulation animated by a trick of manipulated perception projected into a collectively shared virtual space. As the human ideal withers behind a curtain, its life draining away, signs and symptoms of its deterioration spread and manifest.
The central figure in this image is buried just below to where the ribcage would be, protruding from the ground like a ruin or a remnant of the past. What spirit if any has taken over and now inhabits and rules this assemblage of both organic and inorganic parts, all stitched and tied together like a puppet, seems to mock us from beyond the grave.
It’s difficult to tell if this figure is alive or really human. The eyes appear glazed over but still to see. The upper lip is worn away. Blood and bodily fluids mingle behind the skin of the face, seep down over the gums and flow between the teeth, in a mouth which seems to smile, but it’s difficult to tell if the facial expression is fixed that way only because rigor mortis has set in. From one nostril a string of mucous flows, and from the other nostril another follows; while out of the top of the head, skin worn through and peeling away, an alien begins to emerge, an otherworldly parasite which has always lurked in the dark cosmic spaces of the human imagination.
At one time this alien may have been only mite-sized; but from its dwindling fear of being annihilated by the rays of the human ideal, it has taken hold in the cold and moist darkness, eating its way through the heart and up into the brain, engorging itself, and has grown large through the process of bodily inhabitation.
The alien however hesitates to push and squirm out of the top of the head when it espies a flying pest, a miniature dragon-queen, with a fluttering veil approaching like a toreador, giddy because high on the stench of rot and decomposition and playful because she may recognize her old friend.
A couple of loosely rolled up herald’s scrolls frame the central figure’s head and neck like some fancy dress shirt collar. Directly below, out of this grotesque figure’s chest by its own glove – a glove either empty and moved as a lever or perhaps animated by who knows what smaller creatures writhing and wiggling inside – a drawer is pulled open, and out flies winged letters, several swirling up toward the flying dragon-queen’s fluttering veil. They follow her around as if she wants them to spell out something, while the rest stay behind, densely packed into the drawer’s cavity and jostling for position with each nonetheless making a sound particular to its shape. Only by chance might some of these winged letters take off and land side by side away from the morass, spelling out a word. Far less often might a bunch of them be so positioned that they seem to spell out a phrase or a sentence, before the next moment one of them, then a few, followed by the rest are swept back up into the pandemonium.
. . . . . . .
After I completed this image, having had time to reflect on where it might have come from, though summoned and developed subconsciously, I can’t help but to think of Percy Shelley’s short poem Ozymandias, Matthias Grunewald’s black chalk drawing entitled “Head of a shouting man”, Frankenstein the monster, and Alfred Kubin’s ink drawing “The Good Lord”.