29 de mar de 2018

The Six-Petalled Rose - The Primitive Themes of The Artistic Soul (for the international conference: Tattoo Iconologies. Scriptures of the Body and Identity Oscillations - paper published in Nuovi Quaderni del Circolo Semiologico Siciliano - Università degli Studi di Palermo)

“Therefrom the function of an open art as an epistemological metaphor: in a world in which the discontinuity of phenomena has put in crisis the possibility of a unitary and definitive image, this suggests a way of seeing what is lived, and seeing it, accepting it, integrate it into our sensibility. An open work fully faces the task of offering an image of discontinuity: it does not describe it, it is discontinuity itself. It stands as a mediator between the abstract category of scientific methodology and the living matter of our sensibility; almost as a kind of transcendental scheme that allows us to understand new aspects of the world.” Umberto Eco[1]

The Six-Petalled Rose - The Primitive Themes of The Artistic Soul
Fernando Henrique Catani


I drew up, in a master´s degree thesis on education, based on didactic explanations on the periods of the History of the Art at a training course for teachers, an imagistic scenario comprising some sort of poetic/aesthetic alignments inherent to the artistic images. They were appellations, well-established notions that could be related to most identified works during the periods of the history of the art in its most trivial apprehension (Primitive art, Ancient art, Medieval art, Renaissance art, Modern art and Contemporary art). I borrowed this description so that most participants could achieve this knowledge, which would allow them to identify instantly the meaning, for it being common sense, and later continue with a more thorough approach.
Based on this, I developed a way to approach this artwork, as well as its creation process, focusing on the ability to elaborate the education activities, which hints at perceiving both the internal and external quality that every image retains, in addition to the processes involved in the creation that I named poetic/aesthetic dispositions[2]. Influenced initially by James Hillman assertiveness: “the spirit is on the peaks and the soul is in the valleys¨[3], I noticed that by observing the artworks and even the deconstruction of its process of artistic creation, elements of an inner aspect arise that would reveal an underlying poetic impulse, which I deemed connected to the soul, as well as an outer aspect that is an aesthetic manifestation I understand is linked to the spirit. Both phenomena, jointly, can expose the psychological aspect involved in the art-making process and, as a result, the artwork itself. This relevant aspect would be set between those boundaries since the patina of a materialized aesthetic surface up to the surge of a poetic intensity. From the spirit of the world, conspicuous, fearless and illuminated until the rustic, dense, protected and obscure soul.
Due to this initial context, it was possible to establish the archetype concepts presented in this work, allied to my intuition on my understanding of the primitive aspects of the artistic soul, aroused by reading Gaston Bachelard[4], where the imaginator[5] character must find oneself while moving around one´s imagination with an atavistic desire, and undeniably ideal pattern, by its growth and spiritual development. Based on the profound provocation comprised in the suggestions of this rustic, primitive, absurdly simple[6], nonetheless, apparently impenetrable, to the invocation for an uncertain spirituality, anonymous, so ancient that one would be unable to establish a specific date, I started to visit the inner part of my imagination. There, I could find, in synchronicity, just as Carl Jung warned, which strikingly, in truth, the own living human imagination, the memory of a world with no divisions, everyone and everything was within.
Renamed, rectifying their values, I described the capacity of every element I came across, so that I could recreate the world within the same ritual from countless centuries of this mythological human experience. At this exceptional moment, which would no longer wade after the fatidic decision to submerge into the unknown, I encountered my own hidden stone and I was able to catch a glimpse of its mythological aspect. Because every element in there is always eternal, beyond what is known, I rewrote its name in order to share with others what I am, the others and the world. I present my view of what I appreciate as an archetype that can be considered as very significant and important for any work dedicated to the psychological and sociological richness of the contemporary imagining character: The Six-Petalled Rose.
This context reveals, after all, the six primitive aspects that circle around this artistic soul, born and triggered from each poetic/aesthetic dispositions pair, and therefore, demonstrated as: rhythm and ritual generate the Time primitive aspect, reflection and mythology the Divine aspect, devotion and religion stand for the Sacrifice, identity and humanity would be the Truth; dynamic and society are the primitive aspect of the Being; equanimity and panculturality view generate the Union aspect. I understand that constitutive archetype, which I call A Vision of the Artistic Soul, can support and broaden my own studies, research and actions within the aesthetic education area and the psychological, social and cultural re-education, as well as produce and provide knowledge to researchers and professionals involved in these subject and work areas.
With the aim of moving towards, it is to organize a thorough study on this intuition, this insight. The main objective of its intention could be to develop and to demonstrate the veracity, the fundamental need and the application of these six primitive aspects, as a vital archetype, as an unprecedented and accessible view of the artistic soul during every creation process and, as well, the essential importance of these primitive themes when artworks approaching and observing occurs.

A draft of The Poetic/Aesthetic Dispositions and The Primitive Themes

Kayapó-Xikrin People (Graphics for body paintings)

Rhythm and Ritual (Primitive) – The Time. Body Painting and the Apology of Time - The Ritual is a literalized metaphor of Rhythm consciousness. The aesthetically created Ritual is always anchored in a need for a Rhythm and in it vibrates a very specific power, the theme of Time. Time can appear in both horizontal and vertical expression. Its horizontality, however, is an illusory element that can only be proved by the maintenance of some materiality. Though, durability always reveals a melancholy, because it is possible to restore materiality, but only when acting vertically through the reorganization of its load, its possible weight. His maintenance project is one that sustains the burden of Time on materiality and constantly reorganizes its stability. The poem is vertical. Time does not pass, it is carried. Time is a verticality that scares, like a hurricane. That is why its unfolding has a notion of destructive power, of madness, destiny and fatality.

Exekias (Greek plate representing Dionysus - 530ac)

Reflection and Mythology (Ancient) - The Divine. The Boat of the Divine and the Tree Mast - A deep sense of Reflection on the world and an intense will to explain how it is organized. It is not a rational reflection, but a poetic reflection. There is an inner impulse, an inner replication, to understand the world and to relate to it through a creation of figures and metaphorical contexts that explain this world in a specific way: Mythology. A deeply reflective poetic impulse that creates mythological aesthetic explanations about the world that are like metalinguistic unfoldings of the own psychological interiority. Through the reflexive impulses that force mythological aesthetic creation is the power of the theme of the Divine. This is the theme of heights, lack of air, vertigo, smallness, silence, abandonment, a very special kind of death and, above all, the fall, potential sinking. This theme then points to eternity, but here the eternal is not what lives forever, but what, in its mystical fall, is incomprehensibly out of the sphere of living and dying.

"Martyrdom of St. Vincent" (unknown author in the basilica of San Vicenzo in Galliano - 1007 AD)

Devotion and Religiosity (Medieval) - The Sacrifice. Martyrdom is the Conscious Surrender to Sacrifice - Devotion is fundamental to the aesthetic creation because it guarantees the depth of the expression of Religiosity. The aesthetic work is essentially spiritual and this is nourished by the relation Devotion and Religiosity. The imaginator is a devotee and with this creates expressions of Religiosity to maintain the voluntary work of his spiritualization, in an explicit Sacrifice, at all costs. Here nothing can be condemned, for everything can be overcome. That is, the imaginator does not give up on his project, but finds ways to overcome any need to continue to glorify it. Sacrifice occurs through the movement of this disposition because it surrenders and surpasses itself and, fundamentally, because it does not believe in its condemnation. The closeness between a certain madness and precipitousness to the Sacrifice is driven by an inner conviction, a devotion that hopes to prove its faith by the unleashing of its act of Sacrifice to the world. Sacrifice always aims to affect and transform the other by imposing a situation and a religious path to oneself. By transmuting himself into Sacrifice it would be possible to transmute the whole world.

El Greco - "Sacra Famiglia" (1580)

Identity and Humanity (Renaissance) - The Truth. The Incarnation of Truth in a Man - The Challenges of Humanity require a poetic impulse that internally elaborates an Identity cell. An individuality that in its movement is capable of being unprecedented has the power to consolidate, with each creation, the first moments of a conception of the existence of this Humanity. Here, everything that concerns to the human being and its possibilities is important. I am not important because it is linked to one or another tradition, but because it carries the power of a complete and irreplaceable innovation in itself. This is the movement of the imagination that seeks to colonize what is still mysterious. That movement that intends to aesthetize the borders of the world. Truth is not knowing what is or what is not, but the approximation to the unjustifiable drama of the implacability of life. The past, the future, and all things are at the same spot, at the same instant. Truth reveals and raves before the unbearable and unjust totality of existence, in the astonishment over this implacability. The Truth is impartial and crazy. A tragedy that does not try to seem acceptable. From this fatal encounter, from this unjust material cycle, no one can escape.

Alfredo Volpi (late 50's)

Dynamization and Society (Modern) - The Being. A Being and the Internalization of the World - In the notion of a dynamization of the elements of poetry and artistic aesthetics for the entire environment of the Society is the need to break the forms of arrest, of an artistic expression in only certain privileged locations. Dynamic poetics yearn for community. And, in this sense, it longs for humility. The desire of the imaginator now is to expose to everyone the ideas that he believes may affect the world, mainly because he really came to live for it, and that this world belongs to everyone. Being here is not recognizing oneself, but just the opposite, finding the immense and incorruptible moment of not recognizing, but participating. To be is to be in the unbearable and unjustifiable fragility of life without any guarantee of continuity. It is plunging not into its own history, but into the saga of consciousness. To be is to jump, to naively jump into the dark. The theme of Being is the theme that can rescue irrationality as a fundamental poetic quality, previously pursued by the pretension of reason. This anticipation is important because reason will never be a primitive theme, precisely because it denies the ineffable soul/spirit state.

Wim Delvoye - “Art Farm” (2003/2010)

Equanimity and Panculturality (Contemporary) - The Union. The Tattoo on the Pig: the mystical union between the sacred and the hated - Panculturality is not defined by the agglomeration of countless cultures side by side like a kaleidoscope, but, on the contrary, by a dilution of cultures in a single aesthetic situation. The poetic impulse of Equanimity is well defined in contemporary pancultural aesthetics. One can no longer believe that differences and diversities only have to live in tolerance, but that, much deeper than that, point to a single human experience. The recognition that there are no differences because they are no longer seen, because the essence of the existence of the other in the same, and of the same in the other, has already been found. A shallow idea would say that the Union is moral perfection, that perfection is distant and that is why Equanimity is important to find out it. Perfection is certainly an element of the Union, but it is in the movement of the present, in the denial of any model, that any possibility of seeing imperfections is broken. It is precisely the poetic power that alerts us to the realization that there is nothing that I can trust on to decide what is perfect. So that question now becomes useless. The theme of the Union here is one that shows a denial before an affirmation. To unite is to abandon any moralistic model of transformation in the future to live an active transformation in the present.

A possible iconology to reveal these Primitive Themes in a tattooing worldwide movement.

Robert Ryan (finished tattoo work – 2018)

Asked why I had my tattoos, I invented an answer: The tattoo is prior to reason, so, there will be no reasonable explanation about that. In fact, I know that the tattoo itself contains the answer, but it would be too much for a superficially positive mind. From this simple and implacable fact, I dedicate myself to its iconology for its deeper symbolic contents, using the instruments I developed in my Master thesis: A Vision of the Artistic Soul, in an archeology of poetic memory, between borders that go from the patina of an aesthetic surface materialized until the pulsation of a poetic depth; from the foundations of the rustic soul, dense, protected and obscure, to the crystallizations of the spirit of the world, manifest, fearless and enlightened.
It would be little to observe this phenomenon, the tattooing, only in the singularity of its socio-cultural environment or even for its unusual paraphernalia; I try, then, to describe this archetypal scenario, in an ethereal palimpsest of poetic/aesthetic alignments. What, then, would lay some of the possible Primitive Themes in this context?
Thus, the purpose of this communication is to show an iconology that demonstrates the potentiality of traditional tattooing in incorporating and revealing these six primitive themes as an artistic movement, a very important artistic movement of our days. Its psychosociological meaning is important because of the metaphor towards the work in search of knowledge, simultaneously superior and deep of oneself, inherent to its spiritual freedom process. In the same way, its semiotic meaning becomes important here because this archetype is an epistemological and metaphorical reference to the work process of soul-spiritual liberation[7], long before the socio-cultural issues that it adds, that I believe that through the poetic/aesthetic experience of the psycho-sociological creative process of the imagination, from an intuitive resistance to surrendering to the labyrinths of the personality committed by subjective suffering, or even physical pain, to the highest escalation of yearning for an experience of philosophical excellence, in the pure objective convergence of the incarnation of the conflicts of an ultimate heroism.
The great proposal, then, is to suggest that the tattooing today reincarnates the great question of a living artistic movement, not of the Art, which has become an embalmed entity in the mortuary museums, but one of those movements that support the great creative power of the artist in daily life that, if it is not the largest, is one of the greatest artistic movements of these days. We cannot say which work or which artist is the most important, whatsoever, but there is a great proposal circulating worldwide between the conventions, in the trips of artists between studios all over the world and on the social medias. And, at that moment, the tattoo reactivates what this Art entity, this giant ball of egoism and pride, no longer finds. The tattooing attitude reinserts the direct power of the artist, in fact, was one of the elements that kept him alive for all these years. In this way, with a watchful eye to this undeniable entropy[8], we will be reframing this movement, but with unpublished signifiers, and that is the most important signification that I wish to point.
I just want to start this reflection: The tattooing world is a living expression when it resumes the rhythms and rituals that sacralize the daily life in the verticality of our TIME; It adds all the synonyms of the DIVINE to reflect on our context and reinvent the mythology of our moment; It is a devout resistance in abandoning the domination of moralistic condemnation in the metalinguistic SACRIFICE of its religious revolution, victorious in the present; It is honest in its TRUTH when it is relentless in exposing the themes of identities, reassessing and reaffirming a new and urgent sense of humanity; It is public, plebeian, and anarchic when it dynamizes the values ​​of another community that recreates attitudes and traditions of society denying the trivialization of the BEING and the quotidian of everyday life; And it is transgressive when it feeds this powerful equanimity in the world, circulating without frontiers, in its panculturality, always handmade, always in a direct exchange of experiences of real life, of our sensibility, extreme physical proximity between artist, collector and observer, in a UNION of meanings totally unprecedented in the artistic movements.
In that way, the poetic/aesthetic phenomenon of tattooing is, then, this movement which also constantly takes up the meanings of those Primitive Themes in a spectacular way and even more: it exposes them and places them as a new meaning, bringing them together and regrouping them into an alternative organization of living. And, from the center of the Rose of Six Petals, emanates them, this rustic soul, that spirit of the world that never will leaves us. Let’s see!

[1] (Eco 1968, p.158)
[2] From this tension emanates the preparation, the approach I understand as the maximum icons, that is, the interface where all archetypes could be recognized once. Back to the first philosophers’ arche up to the daydream for the absolute principle. “Thus, I managed to connect the `ritual´ aesthetic with the `rhythm´ poetic impulse mainly on the images and context assigned to the period known as Primitive art. The `mythological´ aesthetic with the poetic `reflection´ impulse that were more apparent on the images and context of Ancient art. The `religion´ aesthetic with its constant poetic exercise of `devotion´ occurred in a more evident way during the period known as Medieval art. An intense aesthetic experience of `humanity´ that suggests a poetic `identity´ consciousness has always been clearly evident in the achievements broadly disseminated during the period of Renaissance art. The aesthetic focused on building the `society´ striving for the `dynamization´ of poetic meanings appeared with greater strength in the modern art creations. And, finally, the `pancultural´ aesthetic supported by the poetic `equanimity´ determination was more powerful during artistic situations widely known as the Contemporary art.” (Catani, F. H. 2011, p.28).
[3] (Hillman, J. 1983, p.15).
[4] “Indeed, the ancient conditions of daydreaming are not eliminated by the contemporary scientific know-how. The scientist himself, when leaving his workplace, returns to primitive valorizations. It would be useless, however, to describe, in the history´s timeline, a thought that never ceases to contradict the scientific history teachings.To the contrary, we will dedicate part of our efforts to show that daydreaming does neither cease in recovering the primitive aspects, nor stop operating as a primitive soul, despite the elaborate thinking, something against the instructions established by scientific experiments.” (Bachelard, G. 1999, p5).
[5] The name I gave to the fundamental character of the contemporary, current human being in (Catani 2011). This perspective establishes a human quality that is crucial for this work, which is that this human being is today, above all else, an imagining character. Here too the path to comprehend this specific quality starts from the reflections from James Hillman: “The growth of the soul is also described as imagining, that is, to observe and hear using the imagination that sees its image through an event. To imagine means to liberate all events from their literal comprehension toward a mythical appreciation. Growth of the soul, in this sense, is equivalent to deliteralization; the psychological attitude that is distrustful of the given level and ingenious regarding events and refuses it in order to explore the metaphoric and dark meanings of the soul.” (Hillman, J. 1983, p.55). 
[6] This reference to Alchemy appear during my first initiative of reflection on the subject of the Soul, inspired on a very special imagistic work: the Mutus Liber, The Silent Book of Alchemy (Carvalho 1995), and mainly in its peculiar quality to indicate the psychological aspects of the human poetic imagination, which displays an exceptional artistic beauty, materialized on metal engravings that describe the symbols and procedures of the basic initiation of the philosophical alchemical work. These illustrations and the essay included with the edition list the most important terms, the archetypical and metaphoric propositions of alchemy, which is the cornerstone for the elaboration of my work based on psychological alchemy concept. This subject is of great interest to me mainly due to its unusual singularity aspect, simplicity and psychological primitiveness that suggests the spiritual development is possible to all human beings independent from, for instance, as implied in V.I.T.R.I.O.L. “Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem”. Explore the inner side of Earth. By rectifying, you will discover the hidden stone. This is the anonymous and famous formula amongst the alchemists and it is the indication of the first step, a founding order of Alchemy´s unreachable history. However, I approach the philosophical, poetic and metaphoric aspect of suggestion and reaching a liberation experience, of that I believe to be and defined as the main human psychological problem: the relationship between fear and illusion (Catani 2011, p.15), as well as the development work and the personal growth. The alchemical achievement I admit offers one more spiritual achievement, the intuitive and spontaneous meeting the soul´s rusticity, rather than a complex laboratory techniques system historically associated with exact science. The response from Alchemy that is of interest to us here is, thus, only the exact instant when “In the dark night the young man dreams and searches. He is awakened by the angels in order to start the Great Work” (Carvalho 1995, p.38). I propose this to be the greatest human psychological moment, the rest comes later.
[7] The development of a definition for the process of spiritual liberation, which also represents the basic introduction to the constitutive methodology of the propositions on my theory/practice work of education, was coined and subsidized by descriptions assigned to Plato, in his work Teeteto (Plato 2010), regarding the Maieutics Socratic method: the work to bring the human soul to light.
[8] “We are therefore examining the possibility of transmitting information that is not an usual meaning through the use of conventional language structures that oppose the laws of probability that regulate it internally. Consequently, in such a case, information would be attached not to order but to disorder, at least to a certain kind of habitual-and-predictable-non-order. We have already said that the positive measure of such information (as distinct from meaning) is entropy. But entropy is disorder in its highest degree and - in its respect - the coexistence of all probabilities and none, then the information given by an intentionally organized message (poetic or common message) will be perceived only as a form very particular disorder: a disorder that looks like disorder as part of a pre-existing order.” (Eco, U. 1968, p.109)


Bachelard, G., 1999. Psychoanalysis of Fire. São Paulo: Martins Fontes
Carvalho, J. J., 1995. Mutus Liber, The Silent Book of Alchemy. São Paulo: Attar
Catani, F. H., 2011. A Vision of the Artistic Soul. M.Ed.Campinas: Unicamp
Eco, U., 1968. Obra Aberta (The Open Work). São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva
Hillman, J.,1 983. Archetipal Psychology. São Paulo: Cultrix
Jung, C. G., 2002. Sychronicity. Petrópolis: Vozes
Platão, 2010. Teeteto. Porto: FCG