The Awakening Artist: Madness and Spiritual Awakening in Art

Patrick Howe. O-Books (NBN, dist.) $18.95 trade paper (268p) ISBN 978-1-78099-645-5
In this ambitious yet muddled book, Howe (Dramatic Light) attempts to detail "the awakening" in artists which he describes as "a gradual movement out of our unconscious state and into a conscious state." Howe explores art throughout history and looks at artists who, he believes, have submitted to "ego" and "madness" or "unconsciousness." Unfortunately, in this process, he pervasively and mystifyingly attempts to define all parts of art and the artistic process, generally in reductive ways: "[the brain] doesn't distinguish between good creativity and nefarious creativity. What makes the difference is whether the people using their brains are sane or insane. An insane person will come up with insane creative solutions, and a sane person will come up with sane creative solutions." Howe deems certain artists and movements good ("awakened") and certain artists and movements bad ("unawakened"), and ascribes motives and actions accordingly, leaving little room for complexity, mystery, or contradiction. While he gets at some intriguing ideas, nuance stays so stubbornly absent that the book makes for a frustrating and obtuse read. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 10/07/2013
Release date: 08/01/2013
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Open Ebook - 268 pages - 978-1-78099-646-2
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