Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yeats' Emblems of the Phases of the Moon

Yeats' Emblems of the Phases of the Moon - (1988 gouaches,inks,parchment).

W.B. Yeats’ work, A Vision, claimed its source as messages from spirit-communicators received via his wife through automatic writings and trances. The core of the messages concerned an elaborate system of human incarnations based on the 28 phases of the lunar cycle. The system delivered was also the inspiration for some of Yeats’ most alluring poetry.
The late George Mills Harper, Yeats scholar at Florida State, composed the definitive two-volume work: The Making of A Vision, and from this source and his encouragement, I was able to apply the descriptions of the so-called “emblems of the phases”  to my art and render my own interpretations. All images are taken from the card-file catalog found in Yeats’ papers. I tried to comply with his notes as closely as possible. The emblem titles are followed by the original descriptions included in parenthesis, as given by Yeats with each image. How they are emblematic of the phases may be reflected in his work ‘A Vision’ and/or is open to interpretation.

Click each image for larger view.
1. Complete Plasticity (a naked man with outstretched hands to tree/obsessing figure, not luminous, snake coiled around feet.)
2. The beginning of Energy (a white bird flying with an entranced limp leopard in beak. Bird not 1/16 size of leopard)
3. Beginning of Ambition (Eagle on sea with one foot caught in back of sea lion, one on dolphin. Eagle drags both)
4. Desire for the external world (figure climbing pine to grasp stars)
5. Separation from innocence (man making chain or putting it on another)
6. Artificial individuality (savage putting nails into idol)
7. Assertion of individuality (satyr -goat legs- follows own image or mask)
8. War between individuality and race (man over abyss, hands in beak of bird of prey, feet in mouth of bear, water below.)
9. Belief instead of individuality (leopard- eagle on head plucking out eyes)
10. The image-breaker (man with mouth forced open by gag and tongue torn out)
11. The consumer (A sword cleaving through skull)
12. The fore-runner (Sword cutting hand in two)
13. The sensuous man (Man hanging over pool)
14. The obsessed man (Leopard springing)
15.  No description except this is a phase of complete beauty (Man with arrow and stone, one in   each hand)
16. The positive man (Dark circle with hand)
17. The Daemonic man (Crystal arrow and  crescent)
18. The emotional man (Two faced figure)
19. The assertive man (Wolf)
20. The concrete man (White bird torn apart by wolf and leopard)
21. The acquisitive man (Man lamp; statue)
22. Balance between ambition and contemplation(Man beating self with flail)
23. The receptive man (Blindfolded man balanced on point of pike, juggling colored balls)
24. The end of ambition (Woman, cup, boar)
25. The conditional man (Vast figure of God with human figure flickering before his face)
26. Multiple man or Hunchback (Hunchback fighting his shadow with sword which bleeds)
27. The Saint (More or less Easter figure holds simulacrum. He stands on globe)
28. The Fool (A shrunken faceless man whirling a rattle)