The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1860

Allan Kardec

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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.

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