DARK WATER AND ARTHUR RIMBAUD (blog and poem)

I have been writing some poems recently which loosely make reference to the movie Dark Water.

I wanted to take this term and broaden its definition a bit to allow for some poetic license. The American version was adapted from the original Japanese,

which was itself loosely based on an actual spooky real life story.

The writers of the American version have taken some artistic license themselves, and I can’t help but see the whole movie as a metaphor for the kind of psychological healing journey that people recovering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, undertake. I can also see in it a kind of spiritual alchemy in which dark water is a code name for some kind of mercurial catalyst. In the movie, it is a kind of medium through which a dead child makes its presence known, and seems to bring about hallucinations both aural and visual.

The psychiatrist Charles Whitfield promotes the theory that PTSD is the cause of most disease, and that finding the true self is the key to healing, and when asked what the true self is, he states that it’s the inner-child, which has been lost, or you might say “drowned” by some kind of physical/emotional trauma.

The initial part of the artistic/creative process often invokes the carefree playful spirit which can just go at it without judging. The judge enters the process later on.
As we know, many an artist has relied on one expedient or more to help them see things differently, and kick-start this process.

Dark Water could be the artistic medium: the ink, or paint, the printed word, or music score.
It could be the intoxicant/expedient/catalyst: tea, coffee, liquor, or opiate.
It could be the Jungian shadow, the Freudian sub-conscious, or the Yin to the Yang.
It could be that beautiful reflection that Narcissus drowned in.

It could be that medium through which the deadened soul can speak.

The following poem is meant as a tribute to the French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud.
I read an article recently about the photos he took of himself while in Africa, which he apparently developed in “filthy water,” the evidence of which is in the little specks you can see on the prints.
The fact that they were developed this way means that they will inevitably fade completely.
At this point I would like to call attention to his Lettre du Voyant, in which he outlines his poetic manifesto and makes mention of “the Comprachicos” which is a term Victor Hugo used to reference various groups in folklore who would intentionally restrain and muzzle growing children in order to make them look freakish so that they could then be sold to lords and ladies to used as court fools. Rimbaud states that the Voyant, or seer, must make the soul (inner-child) monstrous (a kind of intentional trauma,) which is the common trait of the Enfant Terrible, or Rebel. His idea of a “reasoned deranging of the senses” to attain the unknown, along with his alchemy of the word, help to broaden the concept of Dark Water a little further.

The process is really just a different take on the myth of Prometheus (or Frankenstein,) and there is definitely that sense of the creator as a criminal/rascal/trickster who steals the fire/light. We could also think of the Dark Water as the substance which, at the same time, fuels and controls the fire.
In the movie there’s also an interesting paradox of the below being up above.

DESCENT (A TRIBUTE TO ARTHUR RIMBAUD)

Dark Water
in which
to develop
the vision

Dark Water
with which
to become as
another

Dark Water
with which
to derange all
the senses

Dark Water
with which
to detail
the descent

Dark Water
through which
the drowned soul
re-emerges

Dark Water
with which
to conduct
lifted light

Then delib’rately fade

fade

out

of

sight

 

~

06

Symbolic Abstracts Exploring the Circle

For the series of abstracts I am currently working on, I have chosen one symbol: the circle. Why the circle? Well, there is no particular preference for any geometric shape, it’s just that I had to chose one, and then allow the series of works to evolve around the use of this shape.

It is a very inclusive symbol, and seems appropriate for bringing together my technical and stylistic approaches to reference philosophical and psychological themes.

I am a big fan of Joseph Campbell’s writings where he cites the circle as being the best symbol to describe the hero’s journey, which I like to think of as a healing journey.

Here’s a little dialogue he had with Bill Moyers in regards to the circle.

The hands-on mixing of colours, building up of textures, and making intuitive decisions is what I think of as the existential aspect of my artistic practice, whereas, the introduction of measurement and proportion incorporates the metaphysical and rational Platonic aspect. I want the works to be expressive, as well as decorative, chaotic, yet ordered, small in size, while expansive in their effect.

A4 size circle with green for web

A4 size circle with green close for web

After painting the shape of the circle, I then cut a circle out of pieces of paper which had first been coated with a base colour mixed with sand texture gel, and had had some acrylic pouring and blotching done to them.
I then sliced out a section from this textured circle to reveal the colour underneath add further interest.

These sections could be thought of as phases in the mythic journey, or just as phases in time. The thing I don’t like about analogue clocks and watches is that they can trick us into thinking that we just repeat the same cycle over and over, like clockwork, but don’t account for the unique weather, mood, or challenges of any particular cycle, or phase within that cycle.

Circle on blue with black and black frame for web

Crircle on blue with brown and square frame for web