All art is a poetic embellishment of a life experienced either through the rigors of physical events or by way of a fantasy. In order to understand the poetic embellishments that give rise to great art it is important to understand the impacts of a general disenchantment on the human psyche. Evolution puts [dis]comfort into the realms of an altered consciousness, one that displaces reason for the primal instincts. This can best be explained in the development of a Buddhist philosophy whereby all humans are said to be born into a world of pain and struggle that must be overcome if harmony and peace of mind are to be found. Buddhism does this by cutting across the pain and pleasure principles with a detachment. A recurrent theme is the reification of concepts, and the subsequent return to the Buddhist middle path [i] otherwise a position of transcendence.
Early Buddhism was based on empirical evidence gained by the human senses. This changed over time and Buddhism added more speculative thoughts, such as metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics and epistemology and it acquired a more ontological positioning. This appealed to a number of eastern groups because it avoided the supernatural beings of the pagan religions and provided categories that were more distinct and relative to everyday living and its hardships.
Buddhism holds a strong appeal for the Outsider artist who experiences the middle path transcendence in the processes of creating. A similar process can be found in the legends of Wolfram von Eschenbach and in particular his captivating tale of Parzival, a young boy whose epic journey and initiation into adulthood resulted in his encounter with the mysterious and pain ridden Fisher King who must find a cure in the Holy Grail, otherwise reproduction. The tale is heavily influenced by the Greek tragedy Oedipus [Oidípous meaning ‘swollen foot’] was written by Sophocles in the 5th Century BC. Oedipus was the mythical Greek king of Thebes who was said to have fulfilled a prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother, thereby bringing disaster upon the kingdom. Oedipus was one of three plays that revealed the flawed nature of humanity and an individual’s role in the course of his or her destiny.
Oedipus has played a central role in classical and modern art and literature especially in Shakespeare’s who also played to the Royal Courts and Oedipus is crucial to the conceptualization of Freudian Psychoanalysis and other forms of developmental psychology. The history and logic of psychoanalytic praxis can be mapped in the sexual drives that sit between the life and death theories. They describe the primal instincts experienced by all of us, but which are heightened in people with dissociative conditions and the ‘the shifting conceptualization of the object’ and/or the ‘object of desire, the object in desire’ and ‘the object as cause of desire’[ii]
[Illustration by Junitta Vallak: Angels].