Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pandeism and the Arts

Artistic expression most certainly seems to be essential to the human condition -- be it in images, objects, sounds or words, every culture of capital-'M'-Man celebrates some enterprise wherein creation is engaged in for the sake of the creative act itself. And it is natural that a major focus of artistic expression involves veneration of religious beliefs, with the earliest known cave paintingsexpressing the essentially religious sympathetic magic inherent in the idea that the drawing of the target of the hunt would empower the hunter to capture it. Much of more recent artwork reflects more recent religions, for men are usually conditioned from their earliest ages to feel impassioned and unquestioning devotion to the religion of their parents, or at least for any religion into which they convert. This, despite the fact that past theocrats less approving of creativity may have ensconced into the doctrines of a given religion limitations or prohibitions on the permissible breadth of articles creativity -- a phenomenon not uncommon amongst theistic faiths which might claim scriptural language banning certain sorts of depictions or descriptions of things.

There is a good reason for the occasional theocratic condemnation of the free mind of the artist. Given enough time artistic expression inevitably tends towards liberating minds, moving that away from the oppression of 'organized' religious belief, for it allows us to envision things both as they are claimed (though not seen) to be, and as they have never been claimed to be-- not even in theological circles. So it ought not be any wonder that even in societies where pandeistic thought has never been imagined, Pandeism (despite its seeming relegation to the ethereal realm of philosophical discourse) has influenced a number of artists in their expression. And indeed, this is appropriate, for a simple painting or poem can unleash the floodgates of the imagination into an entirely new world-- not simply for the author of that artwork, but for all who see it and are inspired by it. And if, as Pandeism proposes, our world exists to provide experiences to a Creator which has become it, then it follows that these 'other worlds' created through art are of equally expansive value to our Creator. And so it ought to be unsurprising that some creative minds -- painters, poets, sculptors, music makers -- have returned the favor, indeed taking their inspiration from Pandeism.

Among the poets, probably the most famous to have a determinedly pandeistic bent was Alfred Tennyson, who explicitly expressed this view in his final days. But it was William Wordsworth who wrote in his Intimations of Immortality:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
A century later, Jack Kerouac would write in his novel, Desolation Angels
And you have been forever,
and will be forever,
and all the worrisome smashings of your foot
on innocent cupboard doors
it was only the Void
pretending to be a man
pretending not to know the Void.
Another self-described Pandeist was Brazilian poet Carlos Nejar, whose beliefs informed and inspired his poetical works. Nejar was undoubtedly influenced by Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa, who wrote under the pen-name Alberto Caeiros, and of whom it was written:
Caeiro unterläuft die Unterscheidung zwischen dem Schein und dem, was etwa "Denkerge-danken" hinter ihm ausmachen wollen. Die Dinge, wie er sie sieht, sind als was sie scheinen. Sein Pan-Deismus basiert auf einer Ding-Metaphysik, die in der modernen Dichtung des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts noch Schule machen sollte.
(Caeiros interposes the distinction between the light and what "philosopher thoughts" want to constitute behind him. The things, as he sees them, are as they seem. His Pandeism is based on a metaphysical thing, which should still become a school of thought under the modern seal of the twentieth century.)

-- Von Martin Lüdke, "Ein moderner Hüter der Dinge; Die Entdeckung des großen Portugiesen geht weiter: Fernando Pessoa hat in der Poesie Alberto Caeiros seinen Meister gesehen", ("A modern guardian of things; The discovery of the great Portuguese continues: Fernando Pessoa saw its master in the poetry of Alberto Caeiros"), Frankfurter Rundschau, August 18 2004.
The playwright José Antonio Rial had an exchange in Bolívar; Arcadio, wherein he wrote:
:WAGNER (irónico): Pandeísmo. En total, Dios.
:FAUSTO (suspicaz): Llámale Dios.
:WAGNER: Se ha llamado Dios a muchas cosas distintas.
:FAUSTO (señalándolo, como haciéndole ver que tiene razón): Se ha llamado Dios al rayo oa un cocodrilo.

:WAGNER (ironically): Pandeism. In all, God.
:FAUSTO (suspicious): Call it God.
:WAGNER: God has been called many different things.
:FAUSTO (pointing, making him see that he is right) It has been called God, the lightning or a crocodile.
And insofar as musicians can truly be called melodic poets, no less of a luminary than John Lennon declared:
"I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong."

and additionally,

"We're all God. I'm not a god or the God, but we're all God and we're all potentially divine - and potentially evil We all have everything within us and the Kingdom of Heaven is nigh and within us, and if you look hard enough you'll see it."
An excerpt from a discussion of a painting by Spanish artist Orlando Cordero offers a conceptual distinction between Pantheism and Pandeism ("pandeísta" and "pandeísmo" in the Spanish version, were translated by the same author into "pandeist" and "pandeism", respectively). The comparison suggests that pandeism is a system with a cold, impersonal God, while pantheism presents a warm and experiential God:
His vision is pandeist, and it had to be pantheist. In order to get a pantheist painting, it is necessary to have Christ as pennant, footpath, and lighthouse. Pandeism is impersonal like in the present canvas, in which man, nature and word integrate themselves; whereas pantheism is a personal Christ-like experience of every day. Here there is signal-like materiality for the making of other paintings.
Camille Delarosa’s 19th Solo Exhibit at The Big Room of Art Informal Gallery, a show titled "Dominion," explores Biblical themes, and notes of one piece that "The polarity between theism and atheism is clarified and resolved in "Pandeism." (Though, I confess, the painting titled "Pandeism" is not what would've come to my mind.) Naetheless, it is gratifying to observe the extent to which, in a world where theistic notions have for so long so stronghandedly governing what might be called 'religious' art, Pandeism has been and is is being expressed artistically, as is appropriate. TVTropes has a somewhat broader listing of works of film and literature to which some inspiration of Pandeism is accredited. And lastly, I confess that I have sought, however meanly, to contribute to this, my Pandeism-inspired artwork being viewable at  DeviantArt, myPandeism-inspired musical efforts likewise being hearable at SoundCloud (a great resource to pick up all sorts of freely distributed beat-experiments as well).

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