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Res Obscura: Why Are There So Many 17th Century Paintings of Monkeys Getting Drunk?
"The concept of addiction had not yet taken on anything like its modern form in this period. The word existed, but it simply meant an inclination or tendency: one could be "addicted to horses" or "addicted to song," etc. But the 17th century was a world in which distilled alcoholic spirits were still a relatively new invention, and one in which such addictive substances as tobacco, coffee and opium had become available to most global consumers within living memory of the people creating and buying these paintings.

In other words, these paintings are working through the idea that newly-available psychoactive substances -- and, perhaps, material objects as well -- could dehumanize those who consumed them, reducing them to an animalistic level. Such consumers, it is implied, had moved down a step on the chain of being, having lost their powers of reason and been reduced to creatures that were "sentient" in the original sense of the word: unable to think, and content simply to feel. They had moved from the human realm to that of the "brute beasts" in the schema for hierarchically ordering nature that medieval and early modern thinkers had inherited from Aristotle."
monkeys  history  multispecies  art  drugs  alcohol  addiction  benjaminbreen 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia | The Public Domain Review
"Grounded in the theory that ideas, emotions, and even events, can manifest as visible auras, Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater’s Thought-Forms (1901) is an odd and intriguing work. Benjamin Breen explores these “synesthetic” abstractions and asks to what extent they, and the Victorian mysticism of which they were born, influenced the Modernist movement that flourished in the following decades."



"These sorts of underlying associations between words, colors and sounds were precisely what motivated Thought-Forms. In other words, the book was about synesthesia. The illustration of the music of Mendelssohn reproduced above, for instance, depicts yellow, red, blue and green lines rising out of a church. This, Leadbeater and Besant explain, “signifies the movement of one of the parts of the melody, the four moving approximately together denoting the treble, alto, tenor and bass respectively.” Moreover, “the scalloped edging surrounding the whole is the result of various flourishes and arpeggios, and the floating crescents in the centre represent isolated or staccato chords.” Color and sound had become commingled.

Yet Leadbeater and Besant intended not only to visualize sound, but to demonstrate their distinctive psychic gifts: the ability to detect spiritual “vibrations” of ideas, emotions and sounds as visual forms. This, in other words, was a sort of spiritual synesthesia, as much a religious act as a neurological one."
synesthesia  art  history  occult  religion  anniebesant  charlesleadbeater  benjaminbreen  mysticism  modernism  belief  color  sound  perception  via:alexismadrigal 
march 2014 by robertogreco

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