This video was shot over a 48 hour period in Glenstal Abbey, Co. Limerick. Glenstal Abbey is a Monastery set on a 500-acre estate and is home to a community of Benedictine monks. It is also home to a boarding school of boys. On October 29th 2008 the monks elected a new Abbot for the next eight year term. The monk elected for the position was Br Mark Patrick Hederman. Mark Patrick has been a monk at Glenstal for forty five years and has written eight books. He was formerly headmaster of the school and has lectured in philosophy and literature at home and abroad. The text recited in this video piece is adapted from the introduction to Patrick Hedermans 2001 publication The Haunted Inkwell: Art and our Future. In this book Hederman lays out his argument as to the importance of art and the role it can play in the development of our future. The video is chronologically edited from evening to evening of the two day period. The camera explores the interiors and exteriors of the sites architecture as well as the Icon Chapel on the grounds. The library is filmed at night, at a time when it is usually uninhabited. Hedermans text resounds through the largely empty spaces and aims to give voice to the invisible presence in the stillness. These modern times bear witness to the widespread collapse and abandonment of organised religion. The general absence of people on screen echoes this sentiment but there is still something present despite the absence. The flashing lights that ripple through the library at night aim to indicate this presence - this autonomous other within the space. The creative act can capture the haunting spirit and personify it (even if few actual inkwells are used these days). Whether we listen to the voice in the art is one thing but whether we are able to view it objectively and not identify with it when we are being creative is another. This video aims to introduce these ideas to the viewer.
We do not create the art we make no more than we create the ideas we have. The creative act is an autonomous occurrence within us. In other words, we are not the authors of the thoughts or ideas we call ‘ours’. Modern poetic and artistic constructs are not just allegories or metaphors for the known but they are abstractions of an autonomous psychic reality that has become cloaked within our conscious and overtly intellectualised world. The modern mind tends to identify immediately with its subjective experience, claiming everything that comes into it field of awareness as its own, but in doing so we are actually laying claim to things that were never ours to begin with.
To become aware of the subjectivity of our experiences is to break the chain of unconscious identification with that subjective experience. If this happens, we can then begin to realise that it is not ‘I’, the ego, who creates ideas but only ‘I’, the ego, who experiences the ideas and thoughts as they come upon me. Only when we do not identify with our subjective experience can we start to become aware of the objects and subjects hidden within our previously subjective state.
What we call affects or emotions appeared as autonomous personalities to the early Greeks. These deities were personifications of what Jungian analytical psychology calls ‘the Archetypes’. These personifications were not just constructs to the early Greeks but actual experiences. Contemporary film, art and literature etc. all personify and give expression to this autonomous archetypal world. The archetypes constantly describe themselves through creative works and this has both direct implications for the creative individual and the collective group equally. We often claim this archetypal influence as societal or cultural when it is not. To make such a statement is to put the cart before the horse. Constellated archetypes influence our collective and individual behaviour and these archetypes, in turn, personify and dictate themselves through the arts.