Discover more from Emotional Outbursts
On 'Emotional Outbursts', 'The Art Spirit' and Druidism
Oh, dearest reader, my love, my life, where have you been?
I write to you from purgatory, as always, hands cold and clammy. Slowly drifting through the fog. My mouth is dry. I’d actually burned my lips against a scolding hot tea not too long ago. This I hope, my meek greeting to you, will be the first of many sporadic diary entries throughout the foreseeable future. From my description, I hope for Emotional Outbursts to be, in essence, ‘a tawdry collection of writing, artwork-in-progress and contextual research for your viewing pleasure.’ How am I doing so far, badly?
Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976) dir. Brian De Palma.
This has not been easy - it has been eleven weeks and four days since my Dad died. I think of him constantly, intrusively, and this dawning realisation of Nothingness has permeated its sharp, bloody claws right through the beating heart of my work. I’m struggling, a little.
One thing I’d like to tell you, is that I’ve been reading feverishly. I’m beginning my second read of Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit (1923), which I cannot recommend enough. For those who feel that they may be losing their grip, focus, determination… this book is meant for you. Drink up the words and run your fingertips across its pages. The text is neatly comprised of many essays written throughout the life of the American artist, and is densely compacted with painting theory and analysis.
I’m drawn, currently, to the more existential matters at hand.
Henri speaks of the Art Spirit as a twin flame, a calling - an infuriating, niggling little itch that you cannot shake. With the Spirit, you will spend eternity wandering Earth and seeking out those with this shared compulsion. Magnetised, you are pulled into one another’s orbit. In sickness and in health, the Spirit stays with you.
Wandering Earth, bare feet trudging through muddy bogs, open palms brushing against bark, I’ve begun my research into the Druids. I know, I know… you lose a life and suddenly you’re hurriedly searching for meaning in some tenuous ancestral line. The information, sparse though it may be, is quite fascinating. Stepping out of the chapel on a blustering Thursday afternoon, a family member upon our first meeting approached me outside. The sun, bathing us in gold, was setting distantly as the following funeral procession waded in. “We come from a line of Druids…” he informs me. “We’re direct descendants of Richard the Third!” Shock, horror, this sends me spiralling.
Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948) dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.
I think of Laurence Olivier in his true Thespian way. Glistening complexion, head cocked perfectly… eyes gazing beyond his grief-stricken audience. “Be with me always - take any form - drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!”
The second recommended text pertains to this very strange sect of Celtic Paganism. Druids: A Very Short Introduction (2010) by Barry Cunliffe, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, provides a succinctly detailed and accurate assessment of the Druids’ murky life and death. Various skulls and skeletons are strewn across its pages, but the book provides an insight which is not at all fanciful in its nature, unlike many other texts I’ve researched.
The term ‘Druid’, in one way or another, translates to ‘oak-knower’ or ‘oak-seer’. Adorned in fine robes, clutching gold as protection, prior to their death the Druids were recognised as mystics, intellectuals and religious officials throughout ancient England. They were highly regarded scholars up until the Roman invasion (forgive my butchering of history, I studied Fine Art). One particularly astounding image I cannot seem to erase from my mind, is the supposed final battle documented by Caesar that illustrated their ultimate downfall.
Picture an expansive battlefield. Encroaching woodland, grey skies overhead and the stench of sweat and mud churning in the air. The Romans prepare to charge on horseback, weapons in hand - ready to bludgeon. What are the Druids doing? They are weaponless. Barefoot, flailing their arms in the air furiously with hands shaking at the sky. Cursing! Remember Robert De Niro speaking in tongues in those final scenes of Cape Fear? Horrific.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) dir. David Lynch.
You may be absolutely delighted to know, dear reader, or simply not give a shit, that I’m working on a book. Evidently, as my mind whirrs away with thoughts of Didion and Plath, my practice is slowly becoming absorbed by writing (hence: Emotional Outbursts). The lovely little pocket book, to be washed in ruby red and gold - or even baby pink - will act as an anthology of all writing I’ve published to date. Grief (In Few Forms) will be for you, and for me, to heal.
I’m painting too, slowly - or at the very least preparing to paint. Mapping out useless soliloquies. Mostly text, a few self-portraits adorned in costume. Photographs shall be printed onto satin, or something similar, and subsequently painted directly on top of. Oil, as always - what else? I need everything sodden and spoiled. I’d oblige and pick apart these paintings in more detail, but I find it’s more appropriate to show rather than to tell.
A more recent work, which I’m thinking of titling Final Girl, shall read: Cold hand in mine, I’m Carrie up in flames! I’m Laura Palmer wading through the woodland screaming.
I’ll leave you alone, now - I’ve already said too much. We’ll speak again soon.