I have been dipping into Wassily Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Über das Geistige in der Kunst). It is a small volume, but I have been reading it in downright tiny portions. It is hardly complex or densely packed, but it is one of those books where the simplicity and directness of the presentation permits the material’s potency, it’s weightiness, to manifest all the more.
I don’t read as much as I used to, but over this holiday season I have been taking pleasure in the translation of Walter Benjamin’s work on Baudelaire, The Writer of Modern Life, and acquainting myself with Les Fleurs du Mal (I know, embarrassing that I haven’t done so before this, right?). I’m glad to have a bilingual edition of the latter–while Robert Howard’s English translation is poetically appealing, it elides Baudelaire’s singular and discomfiting French.
I haven’t done a link roundup post in a bit and I have stumbled across a few somewhat disparate tidbits that are worth mentioning, even if I don’t have a precise way to talk about them yet. There is something here about the interconnection of the poetic and the spiritual, the fictional and the spiritual, with inspiration defining their joint.
These links can all be grouped by their common focus on an aesthetic sensibility and its relationship to Modernism and spiritual experience. I have beat this drum before, but there is so much to appreciate about the spiritual contributions of the 20th century.
First up, I came across a paper (“Chthonic Powers” by Charles Elliott) while considering a post on precisely the subject matter it details: the common aesthetic framework from which both T. S. Eliot and H. P. Lovecraft operated. I have only skimmed it, but I like what I see, especially how he notes the importance of the cosmic backdrop for both writers. The fear and dread of both men, their more or less conservative tendencies…something to be looked into.
There is this steampunk Lovecraft-Eliot mashup called Fallen London. It is an online game and while I find grinding of any sort tiresome, there are some genuinely beautiful vistas described therein. It feels like it occasionally taps a spiritual…something…in the Eliot-Lovecraft-Modernist region.
I find myself thinking about Jack Kirby’s aesthetic and discovered these two articles over at the Secret Sun: Kirby as gnostic and Kirby’s art compared to visionary art. That last bit comparing the vivid colors and densely packed frames of Kirby’s panels…
There is a discussion going (here and here) about consumerism and spirituality. Consumerism cuts a sharp and zagging line straight through Modernism. Consider how important it has been to the dispersion of both Lovecraft and Kirby.