The following question was addressed to the spirit of Alfred de Musset
(see detail below in the session “Spiritist dissertations received or
read by several mediums at the Society”) in the session of the Society on
November 23rd, when he manifested spontaneously:
• Painting, sculpture, architecture and poetry have been successively
inspired by the Pagan and Christian ideas. Could you tell us if
after the Pagan and Christian art there will be spiritist art? – A.
You ask a question which is already answered. The larva is a larva.
It becomes the silkworm, then the butterfly. What is lighter, more
gracious than a butterfly? Then! Pagan art is the larva; Christian
art is the cocoon; spiritist art will be the butterfly.
The more one deepens the meaning of that graceful comparison, the
more one admires its accuracy. At first glance one could suppose that
the spirit wanted to belittle Christian art, placing the spiritist art on the
top of the edifice, but that is not the case and it is sufficient to meditate
about that poetic image to capture its accurate meaning. In fact,
Spiritism is fundamentally based on Christianity. It does not come to
replace Christianity. Spiritism complements Christianity and adorns it up with a shiny outfit. The germs of Spiritism are found in the infancy
of Christianity. If they repelled one another one would disown the child,
the other would reject the father. Comparing the first one to the cocoon
and the second to the butterfly the spirit describes perfectly well the relationship
that bonds them together. There is more: the image itself paints
the character of the art that has inspired one and will inspire the other.
Christian art had to find inspiration mainly in the terrible trials of its
martyrs and paint the severity of its maternal origin. The spiritist art, represented
by the butterfly, will find inspiration in the misty and splendid
images of the unveiled future existence. It will fill the soul with joy, a soul
that was filled by admiration and fear by the Christian art. It shall be the
song of joy after the battle.
Spiritism is entirely found in the Pagan theosophy, and mythology
is nothing more than a poetic and allegorical picture of the spiritual life.
Who would not identify life in Jupiter with the Elysian Fields, with
the ethereal bodies of their inhabitants; the inferior world of Tartarus; the
errant souls in the Manes; the protecting spirits of families and homes in
the Penates; in the Lates, the forgetfulness of our past at birth; in the foretellers,
our clairvoyant and speaking mediums; in the oracles, the communications
with those beyond the grave?
Art has owed its necessary inspiration in the productive source of
imagination, but to elevate to the sublime it was missing the most import
sentiment: Christian charity.
Human beings only knew the material life. Art sought the perfection
of form, before anything else.
Physical beauty then was the first of all qualities. Art was bonded to
its reproduction, its idealization, but it was only Christianity that was
destined to highlight the beauty of the soul over the external form. Thus,
Christian art took over from the Pagan art by adding the expression of a
new feeling, unknown in ancient times.
Nevertheless, as it was said, Christian art had the feel the severity of
its origin and was inspired by the suffering of the first followers; persecution
impelled human beings to isolation and reclusion, and the idea of hell to the ascetic life. That is why painting and sculpture are in three quarters
of the cases inspired by the image of moral and physical tortures; architecture
takes a grandiose and sublime character, although somber; music
is grave and dull like a death penalty; eloquence is more dogmatic than
touching; beatitude itself is something of boredom, of idle, of personal
satisfaction. As a matter of fact, it is placed so far away from us, so high
up that it seems inaccessible and thus it almost does not touch us when we
see it reproduced in screens or on marble.
Spiritism shows a future illuminated by a light closer to our reach;
happiness is near us, by our side, present in the very creatures that surround
us and with whom we can communicate; the dwelling of the elected
ones is no longer isolated; there is continual solidarity between Earth and
Heaven; beatitude is no longer a perpetual contemplation which would
then be eternal and useless indolence; it is in constant activity towards
good, before God’s eyes; it is not in the quietness of a personal satisfaction
but in the reciprocal love of all creatures who have reached perfection.
The evil one is no longer exiled into the burning furnaces since hell
resides in the heart of the wicked, who finds punishment inside; but God,
in His infinite benevolence, leaves open the door to the path of regret and
at the same time of hope, the sublime consolation of the miserable.
What fertile sources of inspiration for art! What masterpieces cannot
be created by such ideas, reproducing so varied scenes, and at the same
time so kind or pungent from the spiritual life!
How many themes simultaneously poetic and thrilling with respect
to the permanent relationship between the mortals and the beings from
beyond the grave; in the presence of our loved ones!
It will no longer be the representation of cold and inert remains.
It will be the mother having the loving daughter by her side, in her
ethereal and radiant form of happiness; a son carefully listening to the
advice of his father, who wakes for him; the being for which one prays
that comes to show recognition. And in another order of ideas, the bad
spirit whispering the poison of passions, the naughty one avoiding the
eyes of the prey who forgives him; the isolation of the evil one amidst the crowd that rejects him; the confusion of the spirit at the time of death,
awakening and surprised by the sight of the cold body from which he is
now separated; the spirit of a cadaver among their avid heirs and hypocrite
friends; and so many other subjects which are the more impressive the
more they touch real life.
Does the artist want to elevate above earthly grounds? They will find
not less attractive themes in those worlds that the spirits like to describe,
true Eden from where evil has been banished and those other inferior
worlds, true hell, sovereignly governed by all passions.
Yes, we repeat, Spiritism opens up a new field to Art, an immense and
still unexplored field, and when the spiritist artist work with conviction,
as the Christian artists do, they will harvest the most sublime inspirations
from that source.
By saying that the spiritist art will be a new kind of art, we want to
say that the ideas and the spiritist beliefs will give a particular mark to the
productions of the genius, as happened to the Christian beliefs and ideas,
and we don’t mean that the Christian matters will fade away; far from
that; however, when a field is saturated, the farmer will harvest somewhere
else and will harvest abundantly in the field of Spiritism.
This has already been done, no doubt, but not in a special way as it
shall be done later when encouraged and excited by the general acceptance;
when these ideas are popularized, which cannot be long, since the
blind ones of the current generation daily disappear from the scene, by the
force of things, and the new generations will face less prejudices. Painting
has more than once found inspiration in similar things. Poetry, above all,
has plenty of those, but not isolated, lost in the crowds.
There will be a time when they will yield the production of masterpieces,
and the spiritist art will have its Raphaels and Michelangelos, as
Pagan art had its Apelles and Phidias.