Achieving extreme lucidity, the secret of art

Painting Workshops France
Cecily Brown, 2000, oil on linen, 229 x 190.5cm

Although still poorly defined, hypnosis is today a banal phenomenon, admitted by unbelievers and recognized by medicine. It stops smoking, increases libido, and even anesthetizes. As reported by Prof. Brian Josephson (above, 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics), the hypnotic trance would be the normal state of the functioning of our brain once cleared of the unconscious filter, inhibitions, doubt, hence extreme lucidity. Indeed, the electroencephalograms obtained following the modified states of consciousness (dream, orgasm, meditation, ecstasy, etc.), are very similar to ones obtained under hypnosis. According to author Michael Talbot, who comments on Josephson’s work, “Physiologically speaking, the mental state with which hypnosis offers the greatest resemblance is the awareness of an enlightened person. Does this mean that this “awakened consciousness” is nothing more than a form of hypnosis, and that we never stop drawing on fields of reality! ? (Talbot, The universe is a hologram.)

That being said, a “field of reality” would be a set of virtual information that exists only subjectively. We choose to attribute a meaning to the components of that set. When free in interpreting the cosmos or the Universe, without being under the control of hypnosis, our vision of the world is thus akin to self-hypnosis. According to Josephson, there is, on the one hand, the so-called “objective” reality which draws its source from the memory of humanity (history, religion, science, etc.), in short, the simple reality of our everyday life. On the other hand, there are what he calls “anomalies”, such as Jung’s synchronicity, the concretization of “potential realities” (Castaneda), visualization, or hypnotic transmissions which are “mere manifestations of the individual will”.

Preamble finished! My observation is the following.

I have seen thousands of paintings in my life and in the world. For 35 years, I have taught hundreds and hundreds of students from five continents. Oh, I’ve seen thousands of paintings with “objective” realities firmly anchored in the ordinary. Scarce and uncommon are canvases from modified states of consciousness and, rarely, I saw them.

To approach the artistic creation, to give life to something new, this new thing that makes us unique, does it not leave the realm of “objective reality” to fit or to insert into the invisible world of “anomalies” under the state of self-hypnosis? To make a genuine painting, the true one, is it not the manifestation of the “will” to accept the “normal” functioning of our brain by circumnavigating with courage the shallows of the unconscious, the reefs of the inhibition while ignoring doubt (the hypnotic trance)? Should not one be in a state of extreme lucidity to arrive to genuine creation? Reproducing blindly and simply things, is it art?—colors and shapes are also “things”.

It is only recently that I realize that it is this questioning that I have always passionately pushed into my art classes, my painting workshops. In short, painting is not so difficult to practise (you can find millions of techniques on Google), but to achieve extreme clarity, that is something else!

Above > Professor Brian Josephson, director of the Mind-Matter Unification Project of the Theory of Condensed Matter Group at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge.

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