The folds of the human garment – on Huxley’s trail

April 15, 2007 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Just these two paintings by Albrecht Dürer from (1526), John and Peter on the left, Markus and Paul on the right, and a quote from Aldous Huxley‘s Doors of Perception based on his mescaline experiments.

Johannes und Petrus by Albrecht Dürer Markus and Paulus by Albrecht Dürer

This was something I had seen before-seen that very morning, between the flowers and the furniture, when I looked down by chance, and went on passionately staring by choice, at my own crossed legs. Those folds in the trousers—what a labyrinth of endlessly significant complexity! And the texture of the gray flannel—how rich, how deeply, mysteriously sumptuous! And here they were again, in Botticelli’s picture.

Civilized human beings wear clothes, therefore there can be no portraiture, no mythological or historical storytelling without representations of folded textiles. But though it may account for the origins, mere tailoring can never explain the luxuriant development of drapery as a major theme of all the plastic arts. Artists, it is obvious, have always loved drapery for its own sake—or, rather, for their own. When you paint or carve drapery, you are painting or carving forms which, for all practical purposes, are non-representational—the kind of unconditioned forms on which artists even in the most naturalistic tradition like to let themselves go.

In the average Madonna or Apostle the strictly human, fully representational element accounts for about ten per cent of the whole. All the rest consists of many colored variations on the inexhaustible theme of crumpled wool or linen. And these non-representational nine-tenths of a Madonna or an Apostle may be just as important qualitatively as they are in quantity.

The Doors of Perception, Harper Perennial, New York, 2004 [1954], pp. 30-31.

Can somebody help me get some mescaline, please? Where did those folks get it from in the 1960s? Legalizing drugs wouldn’t be a problem if there weren’t so many people who don’t know what to do with themselves and who’d use it just to kill time (and their mind).

Btw, Dürer’s disciples are also considered an illustration of the four temperaments (or four humours): choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic and sanguine. You decide which one is which!

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