Thursday, June 12, 2008
MAY 28 PROGRAM NOTES
John Knowles projection of "Solutio" onto James Knowles "Urban Crystals"
THE ALCHEMY OF LOVE:
In Five Elements
Lisa Paul Streitfeld
Thank you all for coming. This evening here in the Penthouse is a celebration for me and those of you who have participated in this multimedia experiment over the past 18 months that took place in the storefront Lab gallery below us. I want to thank my partners in this enterprise: first of all, the hotel owners James and Sue2 Knowles for hosting the event and providing much needed support and guidance for this vision. Matthew Semler, the director of the Lab Gallery, was a creative collaborator who always overcame challenges with me and setting up limitations when I needed them, even when I subsequently ignored them (like no nudity!). And most of all, I want to thank John Knowles, who has traveled with me on this transformational journey every step, the results showing in the videos he made that will be screened in sequence tonight.
I am grateful to the friends who contributed to the exhibitions with their art: Holly Crawford’s paintings and Yuliya Lanina’s three dimensional characters in FIRE; Daniel Rothbart with his vessels and striker in AIR; and Tatyana Stepanova and Michael Manning, whose paintings contributed to the HIEROS GAMOS while the musician Lutz Rath collaborated with the live performance. Gae Savannah and Richard Humann entered the space to exchange fruitful dialogue. I am particularly grateful to Selma Karaca for her kundalini couture which gave me the structure to undergo repeated transformations and James Knowles who’s Urban Crystals are bringing a new medium, sculpture, into this multimedia presentation tonight.
I welcome all of you who are new participants and hope that you will be engaged enough to ask questions during the course of the evening. This journey originates in my personal discovery of alchemy and a two decade development of incorporating this ancient art into my experimental autobiographical fiction. Yet, like all alchemical works, it is open to new interpretations while continually undergoing a process of greater refinement. So I welcome all your feedback. Let’s make this a truly interactive experience!
Tonight brings me to a crucial convergence point. The mythical narrative has been brought to a conclusion posted earlier in May, followed by an Appendix revealing the scientific hypothesis guiding the year long experiment. Yet, what remains is delivering this new form of storytelling to the public. As a critic, I have been searching for new art forms to embrace an emerging 21st century icon, the Hieros Gamos. After putting together works of fine art for ICONS OF THE 21st CENTURY in January 2006 at the Lab, I embarked on a long cherished dream – to do a gallery performance/installation devoted to my unique form of literature originating in the mind of Pierre Teilhard Chardin: "For the observers of the Future, the greatest event will be the sudden appearance of a collective humane conscience and a human work to make."
In both form and substance, THE ALCHEMY OF LOVE, manifests the icon to which it is devoted - the Hieros Gamos - by making a personal journey on earth, the art gallery, universal through the Internet. With this unity, the blogel (a term coined by literary critic Jeffrey Wright) was born.
NOTES ON ALCHEMY
The ancient art of alchemy was the practice of transmuting lead into gold, the metal of royalty. When Carl Jung examined the alchemical texts in the 20th century he discovered the alchemists were performing these rites as a cover for personal transformation through the four elements – FIRE, WATER, EARTH and AIR in order to reach the exalted state symbolized as the marriage of Sol and Luna during an eclipse.
This process of injecting spirit into matter was to be achieved in the goal of creating the Philosopher’s Stone which emanated the quintessential element known as the Hieros Gamos or sacred marriage of the opposites. This cosmic consciousness can be achieved through the path of the serpent power through the body.
The serpent power is known in yoga as the kundalini, which means coiled. This energy rests as the base of the spine. When it is awakened, it is transformed through the seven chakras to the top of the head where the sacred marriage between god and goddess takes place. Formal systems of alchemy have seven levels – one for each chakra.
All the occult systems were devoted to the rebirth of this energy, which was the feminine face of the divine repressed by western religions. How many of you have read the Da Vinci Code? Well, the secret society to which Sophie’s grandfather belonged was devoted to the honoring of this female power and worshiping the icon of the Hieros Gamos through sacred rituals.
Now this occult journey was always shrouded in mystery. This was so not only because it was considered a path of magic and therefore condemned as heresy by the Church. It was also because the initiate who attempted to raise this energy through the spinal column was tempting madness when this energy burned out of control. Today there is less danger of this because of all the products and procedures devoted to purification and containment of this energy.
The simplified system that I am presenting tonight was developed over a period of years while I was living in East Hollywood, supporting myself as a script analyst and devoting myself to metaphysical study. My father, a devotee of Muktanada, was a pioneer in Kundalini research. I experienced a kundalini opening at his funeral in 1983. This made my life unstable over the following decade but I managed to stay sane through three practices: healing, alchemy and writing. I went to a healer who balanced my chakras and literally channeled energy into my feet so I would stay grounded. I subsequently met an alchemist who gave me a medallion of alchemical mercury that focused my energy on my chakra of choice. And finally, I began feverishly writing as an outlet for all the cosmic energy streaming through my body. Because I always wrote about my personal journey, the alchemical path of transformation established the natural structure for my story telling.
The structure I created simplifies the alchemical transformation to the five elements in the following order: FIRE, WATER, EARTH, AIR & HIEROS GAMOS. Because this energy of my awakening manifested as erotic attraction while living below the Hollywood sign, I was always attracting characters right out of Central Casting that seemed to view an interaction with my pursuit of the Hieros Gamos as an audition for New Age comical love dramas. So, my alchemical structure quickly began to reflect in my literature the stages of falling in love combined with an intense inquiry into whether a love predicated on a 21st century icon, the Hieros Gamos, could be Real. I developed THE ALCHMEY OF LOVE as a PowerPoint presentation in 2006 as a talk on Single’s Night at Caramoor. This led to my proposing the multimedia exhibition to Matt Semler at the Lab Gallery. The result was truly a revelation: a new form of reality writing instantaneously disseminated globally causing the magical effects of my subliminal form of literature to manifest nearly simultaneously, and oftentimes beforehand.
This is what I want to share with you tonight. How diving deeply into the personal results in the universal. Magic happens as thought precedes form. Self-publishing through the Internet is the quickest and cheapest path to self-determination that exists. The commitment of owning a thought and injecting it into Cyberspace makes it instantaneously Real with practice. The hard part of this practice, of course, is ownership. Thoughts need to be attached to a firm identity for Self-Realization to occur.
Tonight, I will be reading the prologue to each Element which set the stage for the exhibition interpreted through video. Afterwards I will relate the outcome of the experiment which recorded in the blogel.
What I hope to convey is the magic that happens to an individual embarks on the path of self-determined individuation which reverberates in the immediate environment. The alchemists were forever repeating experiments as a path to perfection. The fire might be too hot, the chemical composition off, the planets might not be in the right alignment. So many things could go wrong, but they sacrificed everything to keep trying again and again to achieve the perfection of their art.
In developing my unique form of alchemical literature, I was held underground for two decades, without any offers of publication or requests for reading, so I might have the refinement emanated through this experiment. Ignited by an erotic attraction which deposited me directly into FIRE, the passage through each element initially took years, then months. But after 20 years of conscious practice in alchemy, I got it down to the five day exhibition. Even then, I needed to fully process events daily in order to keep devoted to my rules of posting every night. One breakthrough resulted in an insight that led to another until they piled up in the text as a multidimensional language interlocking images with words through symbols charged with erotic power.
So, please join me as I attempt to re-create this experience of falling in love – with a new form of literature worthy of the 21st century!