Monday, July 7, 2014

Preoccupation with Ghosts: A Re-post with Additions
Ghost sketches.
More ghost sketches.

While I don't consider myself a deep thinker, I read a lot. In my way, I think hard about what I've read. It helps, before I go into the studio, to consciously mull over my latest preoccupations which are reflected in what I choose to read. Right now I'm reading ghost stories.

...and a few more on shop notes.

Ghosts and the metaphysical have always fascinated me--even my unconscious sketching during meetings brings forth spirits. And the parallels of our age to that of the Victorian era continue to shape my thoughts and artwork. We live in an age of anxiety, brought forth by the technological revolution. I can guess that the people of the latter part of the 19th century felt similar anxieties.  

Michael Cox, in his introduction to Victorian Ghost Stories, wrote this about the Victorian age: "It was an age shaped, perhaps more than any other previous period, by the forces of transition. The agrarian past had disintegrated under industrialization, and yet the final consequences of these truly revolutionary processes remained unclear. All that people knew was that a gulf was opening up with the past."

And that's how I feel about our time. Replace "agrarian past" with "analog past", and "industrialization" with "computerization" and that gulf between the past becomes a yawning gorge.

 Marley's Ghost (detail). Pen and ink, private collection.

Like the people of the Victorian age, many in our time have embraced the metaphysical. We've also embraced the Victorians. The surge in popularity of television ghost hunters (wince), steampunk fashion, and a fascination with supernatural and natural wunderkammers points to the kindred spirits of our respective ages.

 A Victorian Ghost Story (detail). Acrylic on canvas, 12" x 30".

I think that reaching to the metaphysical is a reaching back to the unchanging. Ghosts are frozen in their time--immune to change. They are full of warnings about our behaviors, yet like Marley's Ghost, they offer redemption. That comforts me in this time of dramatic disintegration. Is it the same for others?

Whatever, it's healthier than the modern fear-addiction of watching the "news" twenty four-seven, and wallowing in pessimism. I'll take my preoccupation with spirits over that any day.

Thanks for checking in!


  1. Son muy tiernos, tus fantasmitas...
    Las historias de la época victoriana o los fantasmas de historias japonesas, siempre me han fascinado! Es muy muy profundo todo lo que puede salir de nuestro subonsciente...
    Tienes un mundo muy interesante.

    1. No he leído alguna historia de fantasmas japoneses - Tengo que encontrarlos!
      No sé si el mundo en que vivo es interesante para los demás, pero yo no me aburro nunca :)
      Mis mejores deseos para usted, Karumina!

    2. A mi me pasa algo parecido, Tom.
      Siempre estoy en mi mundo, personajes que creo y tienen personalidad propia.
      Pienso que solo quien los crea, es verdaderamente quien más los siente y vive, aunque haya gente que comparta su fascinación.


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