In: Zsuzsanna Váradi-Kalmár, The Cultic Code, Buda, Hungary, 2015. ISBN 978-963-12-2131-2



A search for the essence: extraction of substance from shadows

What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you, but one, can every shadow lend. – Shakespeare, Sonnet LIII

The genre of this research may be formally termed analytical-analogical criticism, but I propose it primarily as a mental adventure, a treasure hunt: a search for substance, for a liberating certainty and a certain liberation in the dark labyrinth of the world, of art, and of literature in particular. The mysterious, counterpointal double metaphor of shadow and substance is my guide. (As it arises from and leads back to the intuitive unconscious, its academic or religious discourse is avoided in order to let its direct sensuality speak for itself, and reveal its reflection within the reader. After all, we are looking at something which is primarily of the spirit, emerging as a sense.) The quest is both literary/literal and metaphoric. While searching for meaning on the external, objective phenomenal plane, we may come to the source of meaning bursting from under ground, and realise the original, greater reality of the inner, subjective nuomenal realm. The interconnectedness of the two different dimensions of reality may allow us to see the common structure, the sacral or magical code which connects them. I believe art has always been based on the recognition that what is invisible in an image is what gives its form. Let us clarify that substance is, in other words, this invisible essence: the juice, the light of things, not abstracted but constantly present behind the surface. The magic of art lies in its ability to reveal to the audience what is not seen but hides in narrative, mundane reality. The heart of art, the essence of a timeless masterpiece not only holds a mirror to conscience, but by opening our eyes to the world, gives vision, clairvoyance. Such a masterpiece, its guiding light found and held within, may change one’s life completely, and indeed may change the course of history. We must not forget, that art is originally rite, cult, initiation. Temporarily, books relieve readers from their burdens, re-establish their integrity, and establish new, higher grounds from which to move on. So the magic lies in a sequence of transmissions between written word and lived life. The mechanism of the cultic agency is revelation. What we are witnessing is the spirit of a book revealing itself as text, in other words, the structural manifestation of a subtle body.

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