Everything that has a beginning has an end

Posts tagged “alchemy

The Layers of Dead

(Anselm Kiefer)

Charlotte Du Cann, writing for The Dark Mountain blog, attempts to put the recent events of 2016 into a wider and deeper perspective. Here is a short excerpt. The entire post can be found here.


“In 2016 a lot of those ’90s words like transformation and chaos became a way to look at the string of political events that had crashed the world views of the privileged. The shadow had reeled into the open. Nigredo is the first stage of alchemy, bringing to light the dark materia that needs to be transformed. The nigredo is a scary moment. You have to know how to negotiate it. When the hidden rage of millions is unleashed – generations of people humiliated, derided, told they are worthless and have no future – you have to hold fast to your humanity. Here be dragons. You can’t be righteous and float above this scary territory, because that fury is in you and me. No-one in the system escapes its hostility. You can refuse to carry the shadow of your culture, only if you have dealt with it yourself, only if you are not still blaming mummy and daddy and your first boyfriend and that prick in HR who doesn’t recognise your true value. Only the system wins in the system.

Nigredo is all about the reveal. When the US election result is announced it feels less scary than 2008 when everyone was whooping with joy and hope about the future. Trump entered stage right, the pantomime villain, the bad cop, to loud hisses from the gallery, but the exiting good cop with his suave saviour style had been less easy to discern. However, as the Glasshouse reminds us, all cops are cops when it comes to ‘full spectrum dominance’. The Empire is the Empire whatever country you now live in. We are all Romans and all slaves.

This alchemical moment has nothing to do with social justice, or environmentalism or any of the grassrootsy stuff I have found myself advocating during last decade. There are initiatives and networks around the world focusing on these worthy things, but none of this transforms anything if we are the same people inside, if we haven’t dealt with our stuff – as we used to say in the ’90s –  if we haven’t uncivilised ourselves, made contact with the layers of dead under our feet, in the sky, in the rivers. If we haven’t stood with the Lakota, or with the yew trees, with the rainbow serpent, with the glacier, with the tawny owl. If we haven’t found a way to dismantle the belief systems that keep us trapped in the cycles of history, if we haven’t dealt with our insatiable desire for power and attention and found ways to live more lightly on the planet, we are not going to make it through this stage.”


“All that’s left is the love of the work”

“I am an artist, you understand? For me, a picture is like poetry. When you make art, this is not coming from an intellectual place. It’s coming from the deep side of your unconscious, your soul.”


“The unconscious is not something rational, it is surrealistic. It doesn’t obey the laws of daily life. Everyday life is surrealistic. I just read in the paper that a twin riding a bicycle was crushed by a truck two days ago. And two hours later in the same place his brother was crushed by another truck. It is absolutely surrealistic. Every day life is made of miracles, weird and inexplicable events. There is no borderline between reality and magic.”  (*)


“I am not a normal filmmaker. What I am doing is making my masterwork, which is my soul. To make a picture, for me is to make my self. When I say my self, I mean the big self. What I am seeking is to make the experience and then to turn it into a picture.” (*)



“I realize it’s not that I didn’t want to make any more pictures, it’s that I wanted to make a picture only if I was free to do whatever I wanted. Because pictures are a business, and the most important part of the business is the producer, then the stars, and then distribution. Lastly comes the creator, the director; the poet who made the picture. In the industry, the director is only a component; they obey orders. You go to the movies, two hours of fun, and then you go out. [The director] is just a contractor. Nothing changes in you. I want to do something that opens the mind and gives a new vision of reality, to give something to you. A new way to see life.” (*)


“Today I turned 85. And what can I say? Looking back, I was known. I know a lot of people love what I do. Women? I can only have one. I can’t have more, even if I wanted. Can I eat more? No. My stomach is too big now. And I can’t drink. So what do I want? To have a lot of money? I have enough. So all that’s left is the love of the work. I love to make pictures. It’s an enormous experience to make everything work, it’s the love of the work, you love what you do; movies are the most complete art.” (*)