I'd like to state at the outset it has been my firmly-held opinion that one thing art and magic share in common is that the only effect of either is
to cause a change in the psychological state of the viewer. A recent event has led me to reevaluate that opinion.
Here's what the delightful Grant Morrisson has to say on the connection between art and magic:
To kick off a discusion on this topic, I'd like to relate an incident which occurred appx. two weeks ago. I'm a visual artist, and most of my works
consist of photorealistic treatments of absurdist subjects. However, I was recently commissioned to paint the Dark Tower from the eponymous series by
Stephen King. I am not a fan of King's stuff and have very minimal prior exposure to it, but I read his description of the tower and set to work.
While I generally only utilize source material from photographs I have personally taken, in this case I made a sort of photoshop sketch by creating a
composite structure incorporating elements of real-life buildings found under the google image search term "dark tower".
I employed an inversion of the golden ratio when plotting the spacial relations in the composition, hoping that the visual impact would be one of
indeterminate "wrongness" in the proportions (and, indeed, this was the result).
I would go into further detail in my description, but I hesitate to recreate the work even in text for reasons which will become clear in the
I work on several projects simultaneously, and the e-sketch took two days to complete. During that two day period my cat would frequently exhibit
wall-eye, and while a Marty Feldman cat is in theory hilarious, I found the effect disconerting. Coinciding with her wall eyed apprearance was a
annoying propensity to growl up at the ceiling in a corner of my studio space for extended lengths of time. But cats are notoriously weird, and I
didn't really give it all that much thought.
The morning after I finished the collage was sunny and gorgeous, I was waiting at a bus shelter munching a bagel. The wind picked up, and In a matter
of minutes, the sky had gone from being dotted with white fleecy cumulous clouds to overcast and gray. While this occurred, a song by Glider began
to play. I had recently downloaded the album, and had yet to listen to it.
The lyrics later stuck me as eerily significant:
"Wherever I am, I'm in darkness
I can't feel the sunlight,
I can't see the sun.
I sleep in the arms of the grey king and queen"
While the song played, and as the weather changed, a bus pulled up across the street and a man disembarked. He was gangly, wore a trench coat and used
a large carved walking stick for support, walking with a pronounced limp. In addtion to patches referring to military service on his lapels, he was
covered in jangling charms of every sort; to the extent that when he crossed the street I was able to clearly hear through my earbuds the racket
caused by all of the trinkets hanging from his neck, attached to his clothing, and dangling from his wrists.
He was talking continously to himself, and sat on a bench adjacent to the shelter I shared with a young woman. She, for her part, darted anxious
glances at the man; who I was studiously avoiding looking at. After a minute or so, she left the shelter, power-walking away, though presumably she
had also been waiting for the bus.
At his point, the man limped into the shelter, and I promptly left it to stand at a distance by the bus stop. I tried to avoid looking at the man, but
was aware that he had stopped talking to himself and had fixed me with a flat, expressionless stare. During the five minute wait, he did not cease
staring at me. All the while I felt a sense of mounting dread. Being a seasoned user of my city's excellent public transportation, I am accustomed to
people smelling funky and talking to themselves on the bus. I also believe that those suffering from mental illness deserve our compassion and
respect. Still, my mouth went dry, and I had to choke down the last few bites of bagel.
We boarded the bus, which runs through a college campus before turning onto a highway for a few miles. Throughout the ride I noted that my fellow
passengers seemed uncomfortable and were looking nervously at this man throughout the ride. I got off on the last stop before the highway, and felt
giddy with relief when the man remained on the bus. There is a shortcut from the stop to the main road, and upon climbing the embankment, I heard that
jingling racket. There he was, only a few feet behind me on the sidewalk.
He must have asked the bus driver to make an unscheduled stop in the last two blocks before the highway, and had I not taken the shortcut, he would
have been ahead of me. I took out my earbuds, and began to walk as quickly as I could, short of running. I was in the grip of a fear my intellect
could not account for; heart-pounding, extremities tingling, queasy bowels, the whole 9 yards. I had only experienced fear of this magnitude on two
other occasions: in a vehicular collision, and during a physical altercation with a mugger to whom I had refused to hand over my belongings.
I quickly outstripped the man, and after a quarter mile, looked behind me to see his small figure in the distance. And yet, I did not slow down. Now
this is where things get weird: at two points during my walk to my destination, I heard with distinctness and clarity, the the shuffling steps, the
jangling, and the tapping of the stick directly behind me. The sounds were sudden, and of a couple seconds duration, but caused me to jump with fright
on both occasions. I can only think that a. I was subject to an auditory hallucination (which has never occurred to me before or since), or b. I
I made an intuitive connection between the Dark Tower collage and this event, and intuitive connections are not my strong point. When I arrived home I
deleted any trace of the collage and its source material from my hard drive. Although I could have put the money from the commission to good use, I
turned it down without hesitation. All of these actions are highly uncharacteristic of me, and I am perplexed.
Still, I'm pleased to report that since my symbolic destruction of the tower, my cat has reverted back to her old style of behaving badly, and has
shown no recurrence of her strange ocular malady.
So, I present the question to the reader: did I inadvertently perform some sort of magical working? Have any other ATS'ers explored the connection
between art and magic?
edit on 13-4-2011 by mistermonculous because: an errant "with".