A Symbolic Image of the Cosmos

Generally, when we speak of art today, we are vaguely referring to the history of the same, or else, imprecisely, to a cultural phenomenon of a certain intellectual and socioeconomic "status" exemplified by painting (the most unjustly fortunate of the crafts). We are also accustomed to refer to it as to a museological inventory of works finished and dated as of such and such a time and localized in this or that place. From the viewpoint that we adopt, we are not so much interested in these perspectives, whose validity we surely do not deny, but we prefer to see art as a specifically human attitude, not located in any classificatory or historical-geographical time, but perfectly alive, actualized by the human being of all times and reflected in his and her cultural and sacred symbols, which, although they acknowledge a preexistent origin, are the matter out of which the cyclical regeneration of civilizations is produced, in the same manner that, in the firmament, solar activity perpetually re-creates the various conditions or life forms of its system. In this sense, we have always been interested in art as a form of cognition, or better, in the attitude of the artist as a way of penetrating determinate dimensions of the lineal world around him-although he be scarcely conscious of it-by way of a concentration of its possibilities, whether through an ordered, patient labor, or through a totalizing, cathartic synthesis. Or both, inasmuch as neither, surely, has anything to gain from excluding the other: rather it finds its complement where the discovery or contemplation of beauty produces a species of emotion related to a sense of fullness, absence, or void-where all beings and things are only themselves, in their pure, despoiled reality, which is tantamount to experiencing the archetypal idea of harmony, even in dissonance, and of equilibrium and justice, even in those concepts that dialectically oppose them. 

This intellective emotion is a manner of cognizing, of knowing: an imprecise, nonlogical attitude, surely, of the approach to the object of cognition by the cognizing subject, and a manner which, arriving at its climax, fuses the knowing subject with the object known, producing cognition, which now ceases to be successive, or even spatial, but comes to be something different, in producing for itself a transformation-of whatever kind it be-a transition always apprehended through direct experience, even though the symbolic buttress used be some manifest thing or being. Visible here is a close connection with love, inasmuch as both emotive possibilities unite or bind, or act as prolongations of the identity of oneself in all things. We are further interested in redeeming an element of incertitude, or adventure, inherent in the risks of art and of love, two manners of facing the process of cognition at its highest point, a process found at the origin and in the identity of the being itself. And that risk, that passion, that fire, is always present, in everything involving the quest for and realization of beauty and wisdom-that is, oneness in love, which constitutes art in life. 

Thus, we refer to art as a "poetics," committed to the cognizing of man, whom we consider an indispensable part of this everlasting process of interrelation and expression, where the universal intelligence that he expresses, manifesting itself as an art of limitlessly numerous possibilities, offers him the option of being all that he knows. This "poetics" includes all arts:1 architecture and construction, crafts, technologies and sciences, occupations (ceramics, glasswork, landscaping and gardening, ironwork, clothing and shoemaking, jewelry, carpentry, and so on), the so-called martial arts and dance, sculpture, music, theater and poetry, geometry, grammar, alchemy, and so forth-this "poetics" includes the liberal arts and the integral human being. 

And as nothing in the microcosmic order is without its symbolism, this "poetics," in its reference to the human being and his creative activity, can be transposed to the macrocosmic order, where nature, life, and the universe are but an analogous conjunct of beings and functions, joined in love. And then the earth and the human being can be considered as works or art, or objects of design, fruits of a general poetics having its origin in a sound called verbum or logos, which is nothing but the manifestation sprouted from the greatest possible degree of concentration.2

It is obvious that without the human being there is no art, although it will not be superfluous to be specific about this in a society that, on the basis of a kind of empirical mania, separates things from their context, and bestows on them a different category, as if they had life or reality of themselves. We classify these things in the corresponding imaginary file catalogue, in this case under "art," endowing them with a series of perfectly arbitrary or illusory characteristics that tend to make us believe-almost like advertising-that that is an objective truth, to cap it all scientific, always something concrete, tangible, open to analysis and cataloguing. Man is the subject/object of true art, and through him the possibility of the creative word materializes, that reflection of a vaster work in which he is included. The magician-who extracts things from formless substance, and in rendering them real actualizes the possibilities that this substance contains, just as he himself contains them-interiorly-located in the center of his ritual circle, is the creator of the space in which all possibilities are at hand, including those of his work. This is his cosmos, symbolized by the circle, which performs limiting functions, as well, and not only protective. And its vertical image, located spatially in the center or axis of the figure, is the mediation between heaven and earth: that is, the mediation of a vehicle between the invisible world of ideas and the horizontal, material manifestation of the same, by way of a gestation or incarnation of the potentials of being that must be reflected in the creative act. 

The human being is the artist,3 an individual of craft and cognition, who re-creates the world through his and her redemptive activity, in quickening the potentialities that every human being bears within, in latent form, and every substance in immanent fashion. This produces a connection with the rhythm of all things, the universal rhythm,4 and the deed of the human being constitutes the passage between the uncreated and the created, as a synthesis manifesting unity, thereupon immediately to shape this unity in the multiplicity of forms. This is tantamount to assimilating these forms, analogously, to a double movement of concentration/expansion, centripetal/centrifugal energy, yin-yang, solve-coagula, always present in all things and causing the artist to resound, in harmonious diapason, in his and her vertical connection, which must necessarily radiate in the horizontal plane. 

And this conversion of static energy into dynamic, as it moves from the one to the multiple, has its instantaneous correspondent in the opposite action, that of the reverse cycle from the multiple to the one, inasmuch as the work of art conceived and executed is transformed in its turn into a static object, and is contemplated by another human being, who, on its basis, as a created thing, returns to the creative act and the revelation of the inspiring idea-or archetype-that gave rise to the entire process. In this toil of transmission-in which the human being, as dynamic subject (in this case, the artist) receives, emits, and occasions the revelatory object or symbol, which in its own turn re-transmits the original energy, thus becoming a support, a vehicle suitable for understanding-resides the mystery of art: in sum, the mystery of the human being, or of all creation-inasmuch as this process is valid for any manifestation-which always expresses itself in rotational or cyclical form. 

We should like to recall here the idea of fertilization by the word, and the idea already mentioned of the verbum or logos as origin of manifestation. We should like to mention as well the idea of Purusha as active principle and Prakriti as passive or substantial principle of universal creation. The artist, magician, shaman, or demiurge, is also the king or emperor of a space in which he is the axis or center.5 And everything being concatenated into universal life, always with some preexisting element, and analogously with something that must be preexistent for others-who will open their eyes after ours-each gesture or posture will move a limitless number of energies, some of them visible or of an evident historicity, but most of them being invisible, indeed unknown by the very persons who participate in them. 

The law of correspondence acts always. It cannot help itself, seeing that we are dealing with a universal law. And the will to be creates a new space, in which the creative work, or the reign, flourish, since, where there was only the amorphous, or a void, a virgin universal substance to be fertilized by positive energy now has engendered itself a world, which had already been contained in that substance in a passive mode. And what has been passive will now be active; and active energy, which has functioned as a detonator, will convert into a symbol, or created static object, which will bear implicitly within itself the original active energy, synthesized in passive or potential form, disposed to be quickened, in order thus to acquire a new spatio-temporal configuration, between the bipolarity of the axis of a sphere, or the original point and circumference of a circle, or the center and mobile periphery of a wheel. The human being would then be a mediator, an intermediary, the creator of a plane of expansion between the archetypal idea and its ultimate crystallization in the world, between the primordial, original unity and the individuality of the work created in the diversity of a genus or kind, inasmuch as any point of the circumference is a reflection-and, as such, reversed-of the original point, and bears within itself, like the point, the potentiality of begetting a field, or cosmos: that is, a work, or creation. This is the raison d'être of art, and of course, of magic, as well as of symbol and rite. 

In this fashion, in identifying themselves by art with the virtual point, or synthetic unity, human beings escape the spatio-temporal relation, since the immovable, absolute, or infinite, has no ends or boundaries. And thus it is that they extract, from the archetypal idea, the creative manifestation, which has always been born and always is born. This is due to the fact that unity, unfolding into the rhythm of duality, through the mediation of its emanations or "intermediations," generates the multiplicity of beings-or states of universal being-or created things, individual points on the spatio-temporal circumference, germs that, carrying within themselves the possibility of creating, or of imitating,6 archetypal unity, bring it about that this archetypal unity see a ceaseless reflux, with the movement of a wheel, image and model of the cosmos. Thus, artistic inspiration, its expression, and the return to the original idea through the synthesis that has made possible the concretion of the work or artistic object, is what constitutes a symbolical schema always present in any manifestation.

At this stage of our discourse, it appears evident that what today passes as art, what is understood as such, has little or nothing to do with the conceptions previously expressed. We shall not be concerned here to undertake an exhaustive critique of current aesthetical hypotheses or controversies-nor of the market and profession of the artist-nor of the cyclic historical, social, cultural, and economic circumstances that have begotten these tremendous errors and reductions. We do, however, wish to pinpoint certain details, or exemplary mistakes. 

One of these consists in taking for art a series of more or less arbitrarily selected works, conditioned by temporal circumstances, and channeled by way of style, usages, and customs, and attributing to them an "artistic" category. Another is that of bestowing an objective nature on art, as if it were a tangible reality that could be transposed to this or that artifact. "Works are not art, they are made with art," says A. K. Coomaraswamy, with lucidity. It might be objected that all things are art, provided that there always be seen in them an express symbol of idea, that is, a possibility of incarnating the idea. But if this were taken literally, symbol would once more be understood not as mediator, but in the manner of an object, separated from its context, converted into an idolatrous deity, a fetish or taboo. Another mistake would be to take art as something more or less nontranscendent, or pleasant, but almost necessary-something that "spiritualizes" the general ambience or makes it more agreeable. We mean a playing experience, an intelligent technique-almost exquisite-of escape, bestowing a high dosage of comfort and status. Or contrariwise, we may be dramatizing creative circumstances, ascribing to them an absolute importance, seeking to render transcendent our psychophysical experiences, or the matter with which we work, which by definition are not transcendent. And another mistake: the division between what is beautiful and symbolic and what is useful, in ignorance of the fact that what is beautiful or symbolic thereby necessarily holds the maximum of utility. Just so, the reduction of art to taste, which, like the ego, is constantly becoming, and today is one thing and tomorrow another. Likewise, the attitude of those who seek to utilize art as a means of ideological propagation or psychic influence, whatever it be, as we have noted above. 

Art taken as an expression of personality is a fallacy, since that personality, such as it is visualized today, is nonexistent. It has been extracted from the milieu that has conditioned it. And it is nothing but the reproduction, or mere imitation, of gestures, if not the decided copy of styles, attitudes, modes, manners, "ideas": in sum, a series of "historieties" as false as our own. After all, the models that we copy, consciously or not, have been seen to be confluent with situations analogous to those that have befallen ourselves, and have proceded in like manner, disguised in the best possible way, in the dance of progressivist fantasy in which we are caught up. And thus, the masks change throughout time, with one constant: in each case we believe that same mask to be "ourselves." That is, identification with the each successive mean trick,7 with which we are emotionally bound, most often by a fortuitous event, a casual fact of some meaning or other, before which we react in this or that manner. Situations that we extract from the ambience and that can be imprinted upon our psyche as something of our own, personal, and most important, when in reality they are entirely invented by the illusion of others who share our ignorance. 

We must notice that we are completely programmed, and that for which we are prepared to die, that is, our personal identity, is only something imposed by contingent (socioeconomic, historicogeographic, and family) circumstances that we have happened to experience. What human being, being universal, could really identify with the number on his or her identity card, or fingerprints, or obsessions, phobias, and manias? 

It has been said that life is a dream, and also that modern society, which emphatically asserts its indisputable propositions, and which molds us "positively" and "materially" in them, is a farce. At all events, it is obvious that, internally, we are not that illusion, that shared falsification that we have seen change before our eyes in obvious manner, in its political, historical, social, and scientific forms, as we assert with the same certitude, solidity, and flippancy, the day before yesterday one thing, yesterday another, and today something different-completely opposite and contradictory-an attitude we will continue maintaining to the end, as we are doing, always with justifications. And what is more paradoxical, taking this state of total confusion and recurrence of philosophical errors and deviations scored from antiquity onward, for progress and evolution. If we deny that we are this social product, then we must ask: What are we? And find a way out. Which would be the same as recognizing our proper identity, being, the true "I." We are in the middle of a wheel, and cannot flee. Caught as we are, everything is repeated, time and again, and we do not succeed in escaping our patterns, which recycle themselves in a perpetual return, as we lie locked in the prison of beginning and end, of the duality of cause and effect, which obliges our psyche to repeat its behaviors limitlessly in perfect accord with time, which repeats itself in such a way that every day that passes is an approach of the time of old age, illness, and death. 

The persons of this century, it happens, fail to recall that the human being learns everything. We are taught to eat, to walk, to speak, and so on, the whole series of lessons to learn. The human being would be nothing of what he and she claim to be had they not learned it. We are what we know, and this is always taught us. And surprisingly, we believe and take as natural-as consubstantial with the human being-an infused knowledge common to a privileged species, owner and governor of the earth, when surely we only imitate imitations that mold us. This is valid not only for rational or conscious cognitions, but also for "feeling," and even for "instinct"-both learned-which in the present era are the greatest guarantee of certitude. 

Accordingly, it would behoove us to abandon the confusion of the idea of time, such as it is offered to us today, and know and live the atemporal, know and live eternal beauty, through the support of the creative work, and attain to the state in which causality does not exist. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, art is a contemplative activity, since it promotes knowledge through the identification of subject and object, by the mediation of beauty. But the "esthete," the official personage who deals with these subjects, does not know this, enamored as he or she is of the mere surface of things.8 Art is the evocation of the archetypal idea invoked in the rite of creation. It is the irruption of the invisible and inaudible, which, by way of form and thought, will express itself to itself, recognizing itself in the deed and the word that configure any manifestation-even cosmic-which is equivalent to the coining of a language or code that goes from the universal to the particular, and returns from this latter to the universal, by the attraction of the element of perfection of the work-which must neither be added to nor subtracted from-that symbolizes the perfection of its creator by the correspondences established between them. 

The chess games of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century exhibit styles as different among themselves as do the visual arts, literature, music, and any fashion or activity in intimate relation with the philosophical ideas, the sciences, and the mentalities of those periods. Taste changes. It is relative and perishable, like "aesthetic" appreciation. But if the works have been executed as is befitting, that is, in accord with art, and as an expression of universal nature, of life, of knowledge, of a knowledge of the guidelines of the cosmic model, or in concordance with the science of rhythms-which is tantamount to saying, if the works are perfect in their kind-they must necessarily reflect the complete beauty of that which has inspired them. 

But in our day, meaning is replaced by anecdote, as persons forget that it is the content of the mental images of the one realizing the work that effectuates the rite of creation. Persons forget that without them and their sense all would be a mere reproduction or parody (very skillful, spectacular, or routine), without any object or signification save that of quantitative multiplication, the momentary gratification of vanity, the taste of a little power, or the complying with one's moral (or immoral) "conscience," satisfying it with mere action, to which are thus attributed magical-sacred-religious characteristics, within a material and profane social context. From these standpoints, artistic activity is a business like any other-perhaps a specialized profession, or a labor that someone wishes to perform. In conformity with the prevailing social pattern, it is the merchant who profits the most lucratively, since merchants create and manage the market in function of their particular tastes, ideologies, and interests, in company with or against other, analogous personages, with whom they share the power of cultural "booty" and its monetary translation. Art is not something light, something neatly snobbish and classist, related to triumph in life and success-an activity for the "alert," who, in view of certain abilities that they possess overvalue themselves, failing to recall that, on the other hand, everyone has these natural dispositions in one area or another, not all of them being considered as "artistic" today.9 

Finally, lest we continue to heap up details and criticisms perfectly well known to those interested in these subjects, and returning to our specific themes: Unless it were to be superfluous, we should say that symbol by definition is indefinable, since it is something signifying, distinct from itself, by reason of which it is such and so. We must not, however, confuse its "significate" with its signifying or significative function. Indeed, the significate or meaning of signa (miracles) is that of the revelation of the supernatural. Never the effect that those signa produced in the corresponding medium.10 This definition fits artistic creation-the symbol par excellence-as well as the human being, who is the loftiest symbol of the work of creation. If we consider the model of the wheel, and transpose it to the being of this creature, we shall say that the central point corresponds to his "I," his interiority, his identity, his spirit, and the periphery to his personal egos, his exteriority, his circumstances and his body. Logically, if the central point represents the spirit and the circumference the body, it is readily to be inferred that what extends from the virtual point to the limit of the plane, the intermediate zone, which is almost the entire surface of the figure of the circle-that is, the limitless number of radii that communicate the most internal, profound, and mysterious with the most external, superficial and manifest -will correspond to the function of the soul, anima, or psyche, the true vehicle of art. 

We take due account of the fact that this mediation has a loftier part, that closest to the spirit (where the radiations converge at the central point and are closest to it), and another, lower part, the one closer to body, (where the radii have separated, taking their distance from the center). This is the ancient distinction between Venus Urania and Venus Pandemos, between Diana and Hecate, and also between true art in its relationship with cognition and beauty, and the art of gratification, or festive art, bound up with taste and superficiality. Actually these extremes are not mutually exclusive, save in the mentality of those who have championed the one, rejecting and disdaining the other-having opted, of course, for the lower-and have taught us how unique and good this choice is, as they seek to involve us in their maneuvers. 

There is nothing for it, then, but to negate the negation and thus affirm the principles or beginnings-the immovable and eternal (the sacred)-in order to be in a position to complement them with their perduring opposite, that which is moved and which changes (the profane), and thus understand time and its symbolical meaning, along with the meaning of manifestation, knowing that in the primordial "immanifestation," in immutability, they must find their complement and their origin. After all, the sensible is the reflection of the intelligible, or as it is written: ". . . Invisible [things] . . . have been seen and understood through the things he has made" (Romans 1:20). 

Let us be careful of certain persons,11 who have made of their conformism or rebellion a credo, who, by a logical and historical imperative of their inner structure, cannot rise above the periphery, the illusion, literalism, psychological and ideological consumption, congenital bad faith, and most of all, ignorance, which for some centuries has been the highest fashion.

It is all but unnecessary to indicate that, behind every manifestation, there is something previous that has shaped it, and that this energy yields its raison d'être, whether this manifestation be taken as a phenomenon, or an expression of any type. The most beautiful examples of this fact are spontaneity, the pure gesture, true intellectual intuition, and the gratuitous act. Life, nature, and the cosmos would be fine illustrations of this simple and magnificent ongoing event. They are expressed in the spatio-temporal frame in which any manifestation is shaped, with the human being surely included as a part of the latter. Thus, all of these simultaneous revelations of beings and things would be contemporaneous with time in a determinate spatial framework. And accordingly, the possible expressions subject to these spatio-temporal dimensions-in which human existence is produced-which coagulate in crystallized forms, have to have a previous structure, corresponding to certain coordinates (models or archetypal ideas), if they are to be able themselves to be the things and beings that constitute the universe. Indeed, these entities to which we are referring are but symbols, or force-energies, representing-each one in its form or substantial manner-ideas that they incarnate, thus occasioning the entire cosmos, which they configure. In the symbolism of the tapestry, it is easy to notice that the brilliant and luminous face of the visible, of the exoteric design, is the expression of the laborious, hidden, dark, and orderly labor of the weft and wrap. The idea of a structure "anterior," or previous, to any phenomenon or expression is obvious not only for the philosopher, the architect, the artisan, or the professional-or for any kind of laborer-but for all of those who have ever thought about language, or even simply about some morphology. The visible image, then, is the projection or reflection of the thought, the idea, or the intellectual intuition, by whose mediation things are manifested or attempted to be expressed. It goes without saying that these symbols or combinations of symbols-which establish among themselves various relations, each of a distinct type-configure different codes or languages which, upon being exposed at a less subtle level of comprehension, necessarily obscure their content, or conceal it, from the standpoint of a more dense or rarefied level of reading. Hence the mediating function of symbols, as emissaries, bridges, or gates of passage from one level of reality to another which is always beyond it.12 This obtains especially in a world that we suppose flat and egalitarian, when actually the universe is differentiated and hierarchized. We have proof in the different species that people it, as well as in the various spaces that constitute it, and the different times that succeed one another in it. Therefore every symbol is significative, or signifying, and in particular those in which the distinct traditions of antiquity broadcast their experience, as testimony of their cognition in respect of the symbolized. For these peoples, symbols are nor arbitrary, or conventional, or "metaphorical," but they shape the principles themselves, with which they maintain an analogical oneness as alive as it is real. This is what permits symbol to pass from the phenomenal order to the transcendent. That is: this is what facilitates the synthetic revelation or the comprehension of a universal, eternal language, of which symbol itself is merely a support, for access to a distinct order, on another level vis-à-vis the literal or allegorical view that we are accustomed to have of facts and things. 

On the other hand, symbol-generally numerical or geometrical-conceals itself from ordinary view under the tinsel of the decorative or the functional, since that is the manner in which the natural order of manifest things is executed. This is particularly observable in the symbolism of construction, especially with reference to the center or the axis. Such is the case with the invisible center of any space, in which the outer and inner walls, or the frame surrounding them, are altogether evident. The same occurs with the symbol of the architectonic arch, in which the evident columns have been erected symmetrically from the center outwards, in the horizontal plane, which is but the projection of the vertical axis. This latter, on the other hand, abides perfectly hidden and imperturbable, while we are accustomed to admire the luxurious, weighty outer draperies and the more or less recent concrete blocks.13 The symbol has passed unperceived, and we must perform work with ourselves, an internal one, in order to be able to rescue the symbolical values. At the same time, this language, as we know, has been utilized by all of the masters and artists of all traditional civilizations. We must therefore begin to create, deep within ourselves, the possibilities of comprehension that are necesssary in order to interpret and experience these "secrets" of art and symbol. After all, between them and ourselves is only a psychological barrier, which can be transposed, despite an immense difficulty attributable to forgetfulness and, more than anything else, to the total inversion of current values concerning the world and even the human being, who nevertheless, today as yesterday, has been born for knowledge. And although symbol, myth, and rite can be handled conjointly, it may be necessary to establish some differentiation among them.  

The iconographical symbol is more related to space, and indeed-as we know very well in the case of the Hindu yantrams, and in the icons of Eastern Christianity-seeks to induce, or create, a distinct space in the awareness of the one contemplating it. Myth, by contrast, would be able to connect itself in a greater degree with time, and actually connects us with a time different from our everyday. In the temple, these two characteristics are combined, and the sacred space attempts to "catch" the time of the heroes and gods. Rite, for its part, dramatizes (or psychodramatizes, to speak in modern terms) ceremony, and repeats, through voice, gesture, and movement, primordial time and space.14 It restores them to their original virginity and purity, bestowing on the internal order, and on thought, their authentic value, their intrinsic harmony.15 And here we must recall that all art recognizes sacred (not necessarily religious) origins. Such is the case with dance, music, poetry (vates, whence "Vatican"), and so on. On the other hand, art has proposed itself nothing else as its goal, throughout time, inasmuch as it has been a permanent quest of cognition, or better, of re-cognition. Now: if archetypal ideas exist, or structural prototypal principles anterior to all manifestation, and in expressing manifestation shape it, then it is logical to infer that these coordinates constitute an exact, precise, and concrete universal model. 

True, such a model would not be rigid or mechanistic, or a clockwork artifact, as we could imagine it with our industrial programming. And still less an infernal computer, or gigantic, limitlessly large cassette, which would finalize, together with our lives and that of the world, in a constant cause-effect relationship. Rather it would be a matter of a living organism, like the human being and nature, and thereby a mystery, charged with points of conjuncture impossible to compute in their own supralogical and metaquantitative behavior. In sum, a poetics. A work of art. In this sense, the cosmos, and the plane or level on which the cosmos has taken shape, configure the most gigantic possibility of expression, and imaginable artistic conception, inasmuch as, from this model, and its manifestation, derive all possible and secondary forms of realization, whether or not they may hold any meaning-the inverse meaning-or be neutralized between both meanings. It is the constant dissonance of the parts that necessarily produces the harmony and balance of the whole. This is as valid for the universal cosmic model, as for the human being in his and her integral quality, which is only a miniature of the other. On the one hand, we have the true human being as inner point or heart of the cosmos; on the other, oppositely, we have the universe as a projection of being.  

The simplest form is in all forms, which is tantamount to saying that all is in all and that all is in one. And it is curious to observe that these simple truths, which we know in some manner-and which we all have surely experienced-are today as if covered by a veil of self-censuring shame, because perhaps we feel a fear that they might drag us back to infancy, or to adolescence, and perhaps deprive us of an "intellectual" baggage at times so laboriously and energetically acquired. For some, it would be a dubious pleasure to assert that life-or nature as an illustration of life-never makes a mistake. Or that their skin has every kind of texture, and is shed and replaced with each season. Or to assert that they grow, develop, grow old, and die. That the universal manifestation-symbolized by the dance of Shiva-is perfection, balance, and harmony; that throughout the length and breadth of the world, or of the cosmos, it takes all possible forms, and that there is no scent or sound not included in it. Likewise, if we declare that this manifestation is the only one that has not ceased to be novel, or surprising, and that a man or woman will always be able to contemplate it for the first time. Or that it has succeeded in overcoming the pessimism and optimism of its projects, since the latter are its everyday realities. That between its symbols and itself there is no difference. And that through the contemplation of its symbolics we transcend the duality of the prison of the mind, since to contemplate is to re-create the work of permanent art. And that, just so, we are regenerated, each time a new cycle is accomplished and a gate of access opens for us to other realities, that are all the more effective for being nonillusory. 

Symbol and art-transmitters and receptors of energies-offer us the possibility of an emergence, a ladder, a route to be traversed much more easily than we imagine. At times the paths are lost in the labyrinth. Perhaps this is the only way, for some, to emerge from it. In the case of art and the artist, the words of William Blake are particularly valid: "By the route of excess, one also arrives at the palace of wisdom." Furthermore, having a universal cosmic model, the work of art is already made. It has been symbolized. And it has a plan and an order. All of our work consists in rescuing and uniting the fragments of ourselves, until the definitive synthesis is at hand. The most simple is always within reach, and in the interiority of each one. To realize our toil with the sum of our abilities, participating in the great universal work by way of concrete guidelines and methods-the first of which, as we know, is surrender to toil: a form of love. And understanding that we are not excluded from life and manifestation, but rather that everything is hoped of us, in accord with our particularities, whichever these may be, without establishing comparisons or judgments, as relative as they are arbitrary. 

We say that symbol is oneself. That the true work of art is what each one can make with oneself in the depths of one's heart. Productions are secondary, and come as something "extra." The really valid is situated in the most mysterious, most unknown zone. And this, no one, of course, will be able to judge without committing an error, since internal freedom is nonqualifiable. Much less by the actual person in question. After all, freedom has need of nothing, but being only the virtuality of a point, an empty space, it is simply what it is. Whether we like it or no-we, our "friends," or "enemies," or our illusory mental superstructure, which at times drives us into a frenzy with its applause and we throw out our breasts like turkeys, while other times it depresses us altogether, and we go plunging down the first catch basin.

1 A poetics is not only a metaphorics, or confused daydream, or vague "cosmic feeling"-as symbol is not only allegory-but rather a form of being, a manner of living always related to the quest for truth-and in this sense it is heroic-always related to the thirst for knowledge and thereby to reintegration with oneself.
2 See below for the theory of the cabalistic Tsim-Tsum.
3 A name that the alchemists, too, liked to use for themselves.
4 Rhythmic or rimed expression is proper to poetics, just as for music and dance.
5 The pontiff derives his name from the Latin pont-, meaning "bridge." Which is equivalent to saying, from a vehicle standing as a mediator between two shores or points, which are heaven and earth, the two poles of creation.
6 In the sense in which Plato, in the Timaeus, says that "time is a mobile image of eternity; it imitates eternity."
7 Greek theatrical masks are the origin, through the Latin, of the word "person."
8 "Blind guides, who strain out the mosquito and swallow the camel!" (Matthew 23:24).
9 Cooking, gardening, medicine, hunting, legerdemain, arithmetical calculation, and so on.
10 Cf. chap. 2, n. 12.
11 These persons are also ourselves, or many of our egos.
12 Every message or messenger is the expression of a vaster and superior reality, of which the said vehicle is only the representative.
13 The same is valid for any geometrical figure or "primary structure"related with numerology, and especially the series from 1 to 9.
14 The temple joins space and time, just as movement-the ritual movement of the wheel- conjoins them and renders them present and effective. Templum is a diminutive of tempus, the Latin word for "time." A microspace and a microtime symbolize all space and all time, put into action by the "wheel of life."
15 Fortunately or unfortunately, one cannot understand ritual, symbol, or all creation unless one is in possession of the keys that these expressions implicitly contain and offer, in the frame in which they have manifested themselves. If the work of art corresponds to an idea, or at least to a form of thought, we must draw back to the origin of this idea, or to identification with this mode of thought, in order to be able really to understand it. Hence the necessity of teaching, and gradual apprenticeship, in the realization of knowledge. That is to say, the initiatory route along the symbolical or mythic or poetic way. For these indeed offer an especially adequate medium, a scaffolding permitting incarnation, in relation with the opening of awareness, and which, surely, modifies not only our mentality, but our life. If we are able to hear the revelatory voices deep within us, by the mediation of patient and delicate work, an art, then we shall come to the conviction that these voices correspond to the teachings that have been given us, and, on the other hand, constitute that symbol or myth which we begin to understand and which is rendered present and effective or given life in ritual form in the depths of consciousness, which in this fashion acquires universal category.
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