Hereby a philosophical discussion. It has some connection to Actionism.
Actionism is of course a bare-bones, practical philosophy of life. Memento Mori, willpower and Action as Being tells in no uncertain terms about shaping up and becoming a real individual. However, in all this the style of Actionism must not be ignored. Actionism has a healthy relationship to art and stylishness, to zest and vigor, to “revolt into style”. In this post I will try to conceptualize the artistic element being an integral part of the Actionist experience. The name for this “spiritual aestheticism,” this “mythopoetic approach to life,” will be Golden Yoga.
A. Setting the Scene
Let us start with a quote. It is from Richard Wagner, one of the greatest composers ever. I wrote a bio about him in 2015. To be sure, the following saying by him wasn’t included there. However, it is a fine summation of art-as-religion:
I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven, and likewise their disciples and apostles; – I believe in the Holy Spirit and the truth of the one, indivisible Art; – I believe that this Art proceeds from God, and lives within the hearts of all illumined men; – I believe that he who once has bathed in the sublime delights of this high Art, is consecrate to Her forever, and never can deny Her; – I believe that through Art all men are saved.Art is essential to man’s existence. Art is imbued in the creation. Plotinus (q.v. Borderline) meant that creation itself is a beautiful artwork and that artists approach that essential beauty when they create.
This attitude to art, that of the artist as an entranced revealer of metaphysical truth, has lived on in the Western world ever since Plotinus. Q.v. for example the thought of Goethe and Schelling. The latter spoke of “aesthetic intuition” and this is something an Actionist must have. He must not ignore the power of intuition anywhere, including the realm of art.
Art and Actionism, Golden Yoga: what it is about is having the Dreamer’s Description of the world. Apply this and everything becomes free and fluid. “Dream-dream-dream, and the colors will come naturally...”
To create art, apart from some basic talent you must have this: aesthetic intuition, being able to daydream systematically (as Baudelaire said), and just letting it flow. Be open. “When I’m closed I am Brion Gysin; when I am open I am the artist” as the author Brion Gysin said.
Mishima had an idea of “turning your life into a line of poetry”. He said: “Perfect purity is possible if you turn your life into a line of poetry written with a splash of blood.”
I'd say, this stage is reached by the artist if he has been in the game long enough. Then it comes naturally. Having spent a life stylizing his art, this soon leads to a stylization of himself.
A great self-stylizer in this vein was Nietzsche. Write to live, live to write. The two are inseparable. The same may be seen in the life and work of Ernst Jünger. More of him in my 2014 bio; more of Nietzsche in Borderline.
I am talking about the Dreamer’s Description of the world. Of the esoteric worldview, the astral worldview, with an artistic tinge.
Astral worldview... this is what Serrano discussed in the Golden Cord, that man must consciously make contact with the astral world. The world of dreams and legends, stories and fairy tales. If you spontaneously can relate to this then you are on the way to artistic lifemanship.
God created the world with willpower and vision. And the artist creates his work with willpower and vision. And the Actionist creates his life with willpower and vision.
Willpower is the leading, active element. Vision is the passive element. As such, vision is akin to thought. And, Will and Thought are the basics of Actionist metaphysics, as shown in the 2017 book. There is no conflict between will and reason in the Actionist system. In fact, they make a great couple, the strongest force in the universe when merged in Actionist fashion.
Will and thought, will and vision. You have to merge will with this passive-yet-essential side of things. Do it, and become invincible.
Will and vision, a clarification... Like: I see before me a bright future; now I want it to become reality.
That is the gist of “willpower and vision”. In artistic terms: I see before me this artwork (novel, picture, even “my life lived as an artwork”). And, with my will, I realize it. I make it real, I implement it into tangible reality. All it takes is constant meditation on the mantra, “willpower and vision”.
B. The 2017 Document
Actionism – How to Become a Responsible Man is the basic document of Actionism; I refer to it as “the 2017 book” etc. And even in that book I spoke about art, as in “living your life like a work of art”. As in Chapter 3, speaking of making “acting into an art,” acting like an artist in trance: “Anchored in being, the Actionist performs actions. As an artist he operates as if in a trance, seeking rest in action and peace in performing.” [Svensson 2017 p. 32]
In the same chapter I spoke of ennobling “every act, turning away from its immediately material purpose and making action into a l’art-pour-l’art.” [ibid p. 34] “The Actionist makes action into an art, a way of life.” [p. 37]
This makes you think of “the way is the goal, the action is its own reward”. And having an artistic attitude to everything helps achieving this mode of life.
Next in the 2017 book we have Chapter 8, labeled “Actionist Art”. It spoke of three aspects clarifying what Actionist Art is. And those three aspects were vision, musicality and symbol. – Of vision was said that this is what an artist has:
He sees something with his inner eye, then he realizes the vision to the public. Ideally, an artist is a pathfinder for man, a guide into future vistas. This is conceptualized as “artistic vision is the avantgarde of man” = art must go before everyday reality, as a glorified scouting patrol = art can envision things that ”are not real” but in time may become real.Next, of music was said things like, “Without music, life would be a mistake” (Nietzsche) and the need of mixing a little musicality into one’s stringency. And in this vein I come to think of the following: in the old Russian Empire the ability to play a musical instrument was considered beneficial to a governmental official’s general competence.
Next, Chapter 8 of the 2017 book spoke of symbols. The artist is a visionary because of his ability to see the true nature of things, their eidoi, thus having “an advantage over the common man who only sees the ephemeral and the subjective.” [p 62-63] Goethe, for his part, meant that he could see the eidos directly. Goethe was portrayed in Borderline and his esoteric ability, in science and art, remains an inspiring gestalt of Actionism.
C. Art as a Way of Wisdom
You say: avoid excess, remain sane...!
I say: anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Atasthalía...!
I say: as an artist you’re basically fighting elemental forces, fighting chaos, and then you have to mobilize all the powers you’ve got. You struggle to give shape to the chaos of images besetting you.
Remain sane... OK, true, willpower must be in charge, excess should be avoided in your everyday, human practice – but otherwise it’s all about burning magnesium, fire and movement, hubris and megalomania, fanaticism and hysteria...!
Don’t lecture me about what works and what doesn’t. I tread a fine line between the ridiculous and the sublime and I know it. The only thing carrying me through is wanting to be carried through – wanting to succeed – wanting to complete the task at hand. I do, I overdo; then some sane deliberation will have to sort it out. But only when the work is done. To deliberate too much before the event leads nowhere.
You can’t plan a perfect artwork in every detail. After the initial framework is sketched out you have to get going and shape the whole thing.
You say: write about fine, edifying stuff. Don’t worship war and death; worship life...!
To this I say: ideals you must have, true. I am one of the few mindful authors out there today, mindful with an artistic tinge. And that artistic tinge, artistic attitude mustn’t be quelled by overriding commands of the “write edifying stuff, educate the reader, enlighten the world”-kind...
I will rather burn down the world than write a text that is sane and perfect from some brainy, rational point of view.
The aestheticism of the late 19th century had its value: the rebellion of the soul against the spirit; be a sleepwalker led by Providence; the inner voice and inner lantern must lead the way. Remain sane but otherwise, let yourself be led on by invisible forces, then you’ll succeed.
This is the artist’s commandment, now and forever.
And this strain was seen in writers like Wilde, George, Nietzsche.
“Art unites and science disconnects. Art gives form to things, science dissects.” – H. S. Chamberlain, Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, Vol. I, Introduction, p. lx
This whole artistic lifestyle, this artistic philosophy of life, this “art as a way of wisdom,” this creative attitude, guided by inner light and intuition – it can, as I said, be called, Golden Yoga.
Golden Yoga implies an artistic approach to life and everything. It is the Actionist yoga, the Actionist way. It is a spiritual alchemy mixing fire and movement, will and thought.
Golden Yoga is about art as life and life as art. About expressing thought in symbolic form. About philosophy having to have an enduring, alluring, artistic form.
In the spirit of Alice Bailey Golden Yoga is about reaching “harmony through conflict”... That is, the artwork is a paragon of harmony – but – in order to reach it you have to stage a conflict. – This, then, is the alchemy of Golden Yoga, this is how to make spiritual gold...!
D. Some Words on Nietzsche
In this post Nietzsche has been mentioned several times. He was a philosopher who understood one aspect of Golden Yoga, the need for style, the strain of life as art and art as life, the need for Selbst-stilisierung (self-stylization).
This touches on Nietzsche’s existential approach: letting your life be an embodiment of what you advocate, letting your being reflect your thought; being and thought is the same in his opus. To this, at most seen only in glimpses in other existential thinkers (Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Weil, Sartre), we have the stylistic will, the “will to style” (Ger. Stilwille). Like the true artist is his artwork the true philosopher is his opus. He must express himself in a style reflecting his unique being. He must have a will to express himself; he can’t write for the academy, in ordered periods and passages; he must use any mode of expression to utter his own conceptual-cum-existential vision. This will lead him into art – and out of the academy.
Case in point: in Nietzsche’s first work, Geburt der Tragödie, he construed a maybe fanciful but workable juxtaposition of Apollonian and Dionysian attitudes, said to have existed in antiquity; however, Nietzsche doesn’t support his thesis with ordinary research, he supports it with style.
L’homme et la style, c’est la même... le philosophe et la style, c’est la même.
Golden Yoga is “art as a creed”. And for creating art you need symbols. Hereby a deliberation on symbols and symbolism.
In Thoth’s Emerald Tablets, XIV, we read this on symbols: “Hidden in darkness, veiled in symbols, // always the way to the portal will be found.”
Symbolism, expressed in nuce: the thing becomes a symbol when being shines through.
Mankind expresses itself symbolically. Energy patterns in its mind are projected into architecture, art, religion, politics, everything. The mind of man is symbolically projected into tangibly visible creations. Robert Graves on symbolism:
Symbolism or allegory is ‘truer’ than realism in that the former allows more possibilities or interpretations. And more possibilities—implying greater freedom and less context dependence—translate to a greater truth. Accordingly, it has been said, ‘The more numerous the poetic meanings that could be concentrated in a sacred name; the greater was its power.’”More about symbolism we find in Rudolf Steiner, Atlantis and Lemuria, 1904, about the Atlanteans not thinking in ideas and abstract concepts but in tangible images and visions:
[quoted after the foreword of translator Christopher Jones in Otto Rahn, Crusade Against the Grail. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions 2006 -- Jones adds after quote: “In this way, the Grāl is perhaps the most powerful symbol of all for a simple reason: nobody has ever seen it.]”
The man of the present day has the advantage over the Atlantean of possessing a logical understanding and an aptitude for combination; but on the other hand his memory power has waned. We now think in ideas, the Atlantean thought in pictures; and when a picture rose in his mind he remembered many other similar pictures which he had formerly seen, and then formed his judgment accordingly. Consequently all education then was quite different from that of later times. It was not intended to provide the child with rules or to sharpen his wits. Rather was life presented to him in comprehensive pictures, so that subsequently he could call to remembrance as much as possible, when dealing with this or that circumstance.It's like hieroglyphic writing. Ideograms. Communicating not with abstractions but with relatable symbols. Like Jünger and myself.
The gist of symbolism, captured by Andrei Tarkovsky: “A poet is someone who uses a single image to express a universal message.”
It’s about the adamitic view of language: unity between the thing and the thought. Thus it was in the time of Adam. It’s like William Carlos Williams: “no thought except in things; say it!”
F. Actionism Always
Myth, math, and metaphor... symbol... creativity as a way of life, as a way of transcendence... that is, Golden Yoga, the theme for this paper... and on the subject of Golden Yoga I have more, a lot more.
Golden Yoga is the esoteric worldview, the astral worldview, with an artistic tinge.
Golden Yoga is an artistic approach to life and everything. It is the Actionist yoga, the Actionist way. A spiritual alchemy mixing fire and movement, will and thought.
Actionism, actionism always...!
That’s my motto. A motto for the strong life, the responsible life.
This is my creed, my philosophy. It’s about Actionism. It’s about energy, action, toughness, rigor = rigorism.
It’s about elitism, supermanism, superomismo... to raise yourself and become something more than you are... “be all that you can be,” as the US Army slogan said.
So I’m heroic and godly and whatnot... I live the authentic life, the real life, the responsible life – the shiny, radiant, creative, Faustian-heroic life...
I’m a virtual man-god giving everything I see and touch its meaning. Everything I say is revelation, everything I do is revelation; everything I see is the eidos, the idea, the essence.
Man-god: I’m a man, a physical body needing fuel and sleep... but in that body a soul is also dwelling, a refined soul having a divine spark in it. That’s what makes me divine.
You could say that I’m a god, lower case g, acknowledging the top God.
I face up to everything I can, I even master it: life and death, fear and superstition... I control every thought, every emotion, every muscle, every nerve...
I’m a self-ordained god-man, realizing I have God within.
Heart of gold, golden yoga...
“The only rule governing creativity is the act of creation itself” (Frank Herbert, Children of Dune, p. 354, NEL 1984)... the only purpose of an artwork is proving that it could be done.
Golden yoga is a spiritual aestheticism.
I’m an example of the aesthetic-heroic man, untouched by the critical reason.
God bless piety and esotericism – but – a wholly pious man can’t create art. An artist has to be ruthless, he must be true to his vision. In the same way as an all too prudent and perfect woman isn’t sexy. She needs to be a little dirty, if only marginally, in order to have some sexual allure. – I’d say, 100% piety is the death of art.
H. Nordic Midsummer Night
Andrei Tarkovsky was referred to above. And hereby another of his wisdoms. About the artist himself turning into a work of art. And this will be the pay-off to this chapter entitled, “Turning Your Life Into Art”; it will be the conclusion of this chapter about Golden Yoga, about a phenomenon at the intersection between life, ethics, ontology, and art.
The quote we now will examine concerns Tarkovsky’s 1985 film The Sacrifice.
The scene is the villa, the country house. In the never-ending Nordic midsummer night the medical doctor, Victor, and some friends are sitting by a table out in the open. And at 1.32-1.33 he says the following:
As I understood Alexander’s words, he meant that it is peculiar for a man, to change, of his own free will, into a work of art. Generally, the result of all poetic striving lies so far from its author that one can hardly believe that it is a man-made creation. In the case of the actor, though, the reverse is true. The actor is, himself, his own creation, his own work of art.My comment on this: an actor (or an artist conscious of his worth), unifies immanence with transcendence. The artwork, almost a supernatural occurrence, something transcendent, is revealed in himself, in his earthly, bodily gestalt – in something immanent.
He is a living wonder, a one-man university, a wonder revealed... everything he does becomes myth, legend, Holy Writ. Everything he touches becomes gold.
And the pay-off to all this, would be: I am -- I am art -- I am god.