CHAPTER 6
HOW CHILDREN VISUALIZE HOME:
THE STUDY OF AN ARCHETYPE

 

Ecocide
 


Introduction

This chapter focuses on the artwork of children, particularly on pictures they draw of home. By focusing on the way children draw the built environment, we can begin to understand the urgent need for a spiritual revolution to restructure the physical environment and revolutionize education. There is a major shift in consciousness occurring presently on this planet, and is essential that educators take a leadership role in this worldwide evolutionary movement. A new archetype in architecture is emerging one which will deepen our sense of home and change our lifestyle.

The American Dream

The founding father of the American Dream, Thomas Jefferson, had a vision of land development which corresponded with that of the first European colonists of the New World. The cultural changes initiated by the European colonists cannot be fully understood without looking at the ecological changes resulting from their practices--especially the effects of their domination of the land. Clearly, "capitalism and environmental degradation went hand in hand" (Cronton 161).

The Native Americans had a radically different approach to the ecosystem from that of the European settlers. They loved the land and respected it. The New England Indians had developed a system of equilibrium between the environment and the human community. Their lifestyle was not centered around a permanent settlement like that of the homesteaders; instead, they most nomadic, traveling to different locations depending on seasonal needs. As William Cronton points out in Changes in the Land, villages in the eastern U.S., were not "fixed geographical entities: their size and location changed on a seasonal basis, communities breaking up and reassembling as social and ecological needs required" (38). Their houses, made of wooden frames covered with grass mats, could be broken down and reconstructed in a new location within a few hours. Relocation reduced their impact on the land, enabling them to work less and enjoy natural diversity more. When they used other species, they "made sure that no single species became overused" (53). The American Indian's seasonal mobility also made surplus property undesirable; they were confident that each environment would provide them with what they needed. However, as Cronton notes, their willingness to give property away was not a sign that the property concept did not exist; rather, by giving, Native Americans received social prestige and social position within their culture.

Cronton states that the real struggle between the Indians and the settlers was between the mobile, seasonal and communal use of the land on the one hand, and the fixed impact of permanent settlements and private ownership of the land on the other. These different approaches expressed the different ways in which two people conceived "property, wealth, and boundaries on the landscape" (53). Colonists such as John Winthrop characterized the two ways value systems as natural verses civil.

Winthrop believed the superior system was that of the colonists; their presumed civil right to land ownership represented an evolution beyond “the natural way,” where "man" sowed and fed wherever he pleased. Winthrop's philosophy was an extension of the biblical precept that an individual should possess as much land as he could "subdue and make productive" (73). In the anonymously authored "Essay on the Ordering of Towns," it was declared that the individual should be given the amount of land which was his due proportion, based on how many servants and cattle he possessed with which to "improve" the land. These colonial theorists trivialized the Indian economy and ecology, thus paving the way to the destruction of their culture. Cronon writes, "In this way, the social hierarchy of the English class system was reproduced, albeit in a modified form, in the New World" (73).

The values behind the single family detached house are derived from the patriarchal/matriarchal tradition responsible for our attempted domination of nature and other people. Jeffersonian democracy had a vision of creating an agrarian society by dividing small parcels of land across the United States. Jefferson's plan, a reaction to feudalism, was intended to create democratic land ownership as a base for a political system of a "property?owning democracy," in which political and economic freedom were contingent on land ownership.

Jefferson’s vision of the good society differed from that of his adversary, Alexander Hamilton: Jefferson wanted to decentralize power through small family farms, while Hamilton wanted to develop the new Republic into a great industrial nation. In order for Hamilton's vision to be realized, there needed to be a centralized government with economic control. Hamilton did not believe that democracy would be created by an equality of wealth, whereas Jefferson thought economic equality (among propertied white males) was essential to maintaining a democracy. In order to avoid autocracy and coercion, Jefferson believed, economic independence gained by property ownership was just as important as political independence gained through the ballot box. Possession of farmland was the only available means for the citizen to gain economic independence, allowing families to become self-sufficient. Jefferson taught that farming and property-owning were democratic, fair goals, while industrialism and city life were undemocratic and corrupt. Certainly, European industrial cities of the time such as London, were unpleasant, even unhealthy places to live.

Womens' rights were not even considered important in this vision of land development. Jefferson believed that the good woman's life was centered around home and children. The house was also believed to be a symbol of the female womb. One can see how easily this vision connected to the old saying "a woman's place is in the home."

Jefferson's vision was flawed by the very nature of land itself. Some pieces of land are far more fertile than others; consequently, some pieces were more valuable for agriculture than others. He also did not take into account that some people have no desire to become farmers. And no matter what Jefferson’s vision for the United States, the forces of industrialism would assure that industry would become the wave of the future. Even though Jefferson made sure that land per se could not be monopolized, businesses such as transportation, storage, and marketing were soon able to establish monopolies (Green 1977).

Jefferson's vision was, of course, insensitive to the philosophy of the Native Americans. The Indians had an economy based on hunting and gathering, which required vast wilderness areas in order to be sustainable. They could not understand the cutting down of forests in order to build houses. In 1663, the Indians were offered individual land allotments by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As long as they conformed to the establish order, they would be given the same terms of ownership as the settlers. But since that meant giving up hunting and gathering they could not accept the offer. The Indians preferred tribal ownership and corporate land?use over individual and nuclear family forms of land development.

In order to better understand the thought system which allowed the "American Dream" to become established and to spread throughout the world, lets look into the psychology of children's drawings.

Universal Patterns

Rhoda Kellogg in The Psychology of Children's Art states that children all over the world draw houses that look alike. She writes, "Each makes a square to form the walls, a smaller square to show a window, and elongated square for the chimney, a curly scribble to indicate smoke. Indeed, the houses are so much alike that the national origin of the young artists might well be the same" (11). In his essay, "Cross-Cultural Research in Arts Education," Elliot W. Eiser considers the first five years of life--when nationality in children's drawings cannot be distinguished--to be the "universal years," in which specific culture has little or no influence (Eiser 1984).

Even though there seems to be a universality to children's early drawings, interaction with the environment does impact these early years. This universality indicates that today we have a single cultural structure and myth of the home throughout the world. Only after further development do children pick up the specific cultural symbols and the particular drawing formulae of their respective societies. A young child does not draw a particular dog or house, but the archetype of a dog or house--the ideal type. Consequently, we have a fundamental global culture, created through our basic interaction with the environment, which can be witnessed in the early drawings of children. Kellogg acknowledges that children "are building upon the creative impulse which is the heritage of all mankind [sic] and is limited to no one land and culture" (Kellogg 1967, 77).

Carl Jung attributes such universality to a common human heritage of archetypes, the range of which comprises the collective unconscious. These archetypes make up the essential psychic energy of brain patterns common to the human species. Herbert Read notes that "as consciousness develops, these archetypes sink below the level of consciousness, where they exercise an unconscious control of our modes of imagination and thought" (Read 1966, 247). Into these patterns our emotions and fantasies automatically fit. A series of archetypal forms create myths, what Jean Houston in The Hero and Her Goddess calls "the DNA of the human psyche" (7). Houston further explains, "these primal patterns unfold in our daily lives as culture, mythology, religion, art, architecture, drama, ritual, epic, social customs, and even mental disorders" (7).

Herbert Read emphasizes that archetypes are not phantasms of the imagination, but are the built-in structures that give direction to our mental activities and amorphous feelings.
Jung observed that when archetypes are at their best the mysteries of life unfold to us, bringing together mind and body, individual and community, and self and the universe. When archetypes are repressed from conscious awareness, alienation occurs, cutting off our ties with nature, the community, and the Infinite. When an alienated culture begins to use this unconscious and destructive archetypal energy, as in the case of Nazi Germany, the energy can become brutal.

However, as this book will point out, the archetype we use for shelter-- the home--is also brutal. As Jean Houston explains, "For the real question behind the prevailing fear is not about economics, politics, or even militarism--it's about archetypes" (13). Therefore, we should not blame the architects for the destruction of the land while ignoring the underlying cultural assumptions which have forced the architects to build such a dysfunctional environment. Suzi Gablik declared that the metaphor of our epoch is the bulldozer. The ultimate end of the bulldozer is the nuclear family house.

The Bulldozer
by Robert Frances

Bulls by day
And dozes by night.

Would that the bulldozer
Dozed all the time.

Would that the bulldozer
Would rust in peace.

His watchword
Let not a witch live

His battle cry
Better dead than red.

Give me the bullfinch
Give me the bulbul

Give me if you must
The bull himself

But not the bulldozer
No, not the bulldozer.

The Image of Home

Children in the West tend to draw similar, box-like houses with windows and a door. Do modern children's drawings of home indicate that there is a
world-wide conformity regarding types of land development--the single-family detached house--which is impressed upon the child early in life and which directs her or his values about land development? James L. Peacock states in Consciousness and Change,

Adults learn systems of symbols beginning in childhood, but they postpone learning their adult roles until adulthood. Only as adults do they become fathers, mothers, voting citizens, and full-fledged workers, though they may have played at such roles in childhood. But children begin to learn the rudiments of myths, beliefs, totems, theologies, worldviews, and aesthetic convention as soon as they are born, if not before. Accordingly, such systems of symbols are imbedded in the experience of childhood, with all of its "magical thinking," fear, loneliness, and worth (225).

Today’s dream of home, as a single-family detached house regardless of whether they reside in a high-rise urban apartment or in temporary housing shelters. This is a clear sign that these children are receiving certain land development values which they will strive to realize during their lifetimes. House mortgages are the main debts that people in the United States work to pay off.

Home ownership is an economic slavery for those who are upwardly mobile, while those who are renters are slaves to landlords--that is, if they can afford housing at all. In The Palace or the Poorhouse: The American House as a Cultural Symbol, Jan Cohn observes that, "Both as an objectification of tradition and as the realization of property, the house has been a bulwark against threats to political stability and, therefore, a profoundly conservative institution in America" (214).

It is not just in America where the cultural symbol of the nuclear family house predominates, but increasingly throughout the world. The global corporations controlling the mass media have indoctrinated the entire world with this image of the consumer dream house and, in turn, this image dictates our identity, our social status, and how we must conform if we are to achieve the American Dream. Perhaps the goal of the multinational corporations is to saturate the world with the image of the "global shopping mall" as the only pattern of development. This consumerist image of development is, of course, a danger to the delicate biosphere which is planet Earth; a new image of development is imperative for our very future.

A surprising correlation to this image of home involves romantic relationships which are also molded to fit into this archetype. In 1926 Edward Carpenter, in Love's Coming of Age, wrotes,

The man needs an outlet for his passion; the girl is looking for a "home" and a proprietor. A glamour of illusion descends upon the two, and drives them into each other's arms. But at a later hour, and with calmer thought, they begin to realize that it is a life-sentence which he [the priest] so suavely passed upon them--not reducible (as in the case of ordinary convicts) even to a term of 20 years (75).

The fairy tale marriage becomes a nightmare of codependency when the couple becomes totally dependent on one another for their sense of security. They cannot act independently for fear of causing instability within the relationship. The male is dependent for emotional and physical support on the woman playing the traditional female role. The female (or one who is playing the traditional female role) is dependent on the male to make all the public decisions and to provide shelter. Anne Schaef writes,

An addictive relationship is, by definition, a permanent parent-child/child-parent relationship. It cannot survive if either person becomes a whole person or a full adult and takes responsibility for her or himself. It is jeopardized if either person begins to grow or change (28).

In order to free ourselves from these destructive codependent relationships, ecologists throughout the world are imploring us to radically change our lifestyles. This change would mean new architectural designs based on solar energy, recycling, miniaturization, communalism, mass transportation, and harmony with nature, as well as a new educational, ecofeminist philosophy based on equal access to knowledge. Worldwide rainforest loss and ozone depletion are directly linked to land development, which I argue here is directly linked to child development.

The adult world imposes the single-family detached house worldview on the child. This has helped guarantee the continued growth of the carcinogenic megalopolis around the globe. This unhealthy growth can be seen as children begin drawing their dream house. In Children Drawing, Jacqueline Goodnow remarks, "The child is developing not just a type of line but also a concept, discovering similarities, and realizing that many separate items may be represented by a single symbol" (141). The hypothesis of Wayner Dennis' book, Group Values through Children's Drawings, is similar to Goodnow, in that he also theorizes that children's drawings not only mirror the environment but reflect values or preferences (4). He writes, "the drawings of children show not only the values of children but also the values of their society" (7). Herbert Read likewise notes that the development of art is parallel to developments of thought, and both are directly linked with social and economic forces. When there are changes in the “laws” of art, the laws of the state are likely to change with them (Russell 1981, 26). The law or archetype of art which must change is the way we perceive home and the role art plays in making our planetary abode a good, healthy, and beautiful place.

The Changing Laws of Art

Suzie Gablik explains Kaprow's theory of the two contrasting art traditions within modernism: it is "artlike" art in which art is seen as separated from life, making it a mere egocentric object in the buyer\seller marketplace; and it is "lifelike" art if it is connected with all of life, and plays a vital role in building community. Lifelike art revolves around the formation of our relationship with the environment and with each other, fusing together values and knowledge. The lifelike artist embodies, and thus, becomes, a work of the Earth spirit, where as the artlike artist is seen in terms of her or his "competitive individualism and economic striving." Artists who have succeeded along the old path of artlike works--receiving money, fame, power and glamour--have failed to meet the real challenges of our times. Gablik writes, "The need to transform the egocentric vision that is encoded in our entire worldview is the critical task that lies ahead for our culture" (141).

In order to do this, Gablik urges, artists must quit playing the marketplace games of the "art world," which are only destroying us. Only by embarking on a new path of health, vision, interconnectedness, and participation will artists find the self-fulfillment and happiness necessary for creating a better world. Art then becomes a release of the power of the lifeforce itself as the artist becomes the avatar, prophetess, or teacher of a divine message. In this way, lifelike art becomes a work of wisdom because it relates to the whole. Gablik writes,

Once we have changed the mode of our thinking to the methodology of participation, we are not so detached. For the participating consciousness, things are no longer removed, separated, "out there." Objectivity strips away emotion, wants only the facts and is detached from feeling. Objectivity serves as a distancing device, offering the illusion of impregnable strength, certainty and control. Knowledge can then be used as an instrument of power and domination (178).

The world of the participating consciousness does not destroy the autonomous vision of the artist; rather, it grounds her or his vision in the social and ecological responsibility necessary for the founding of an ecocity. The production of art objects will then no longer be the primary function of artists, but will be replaced by a new primary goal of becoming teachers of self-knowledge in the New Cosmology. Jose A. Arguelles sums this up nicely writes in The Transformative Vision, "If art is no longer specialized, then it becomes a means of relating to the whole; that is, it becomes an activity that responds to and helps direct environmental impulses rather than an art (or a technology) that is imposed on the environment" (285). Money will no longer be the goal of life or art. Instead the invisible, non-material, and non-measurable values of the creative and courageous spirit will be highly rewarded as people begin to realize that our natural resources are both objective and subjective phenomena, each necessary for the survival of the species.

Further, we now have the means to create a perfect balance between supply and demand, a new system where nothing is wasted. It is becoming economically possible to give value to this vital balance between the invisible and visible world. Jon Huer describes this "perfect state of economy" as the aim of all societies to become self-sufficient. Already we have the means to maintain society's survival needs and life's comforts, if we choose to use them. Huer writes, "demand is determined through necessity and supply by (1) the extent of demand and (2) whether the society has enough resources to meet the demand" (Huer 1991, 277). In the perfect economic state, no one will demand more than what they need, and nothing will be supplied that is more than is demanded.

Through this balance all things will become free. With all human wants satisfied, the misery and pain of human poverty will no longer be a problem. A time will then come when "our individual life begins" when a true meritocracy based on virtue and talent is established. Non-economic values will then replace market values and purchasing power as people's goals begin to reflect non-material ends. Huer foretells that "the society’s basic obligation thus fulfilled, it enters what we might call a post-economic era of high civilization and lofty humanity" (283). Our surplus energy can then be used for the creation of ecocities, the formation of a society of art and new science, and learning how to love one another. Carpenter writes,

When mankind [sic] has solved the industrial problem so far that products of our huge mechanical forces have become a common heritage, and no man or woman is the property-slave of another, then some of the causes which compel prostitution, property-marriage, and other perversions of affections, will have disappeared; and in such an economically free society human unions may at last take place according to their own inner and true laws (138).

A panelist at a Earth Day conference in Amherst several years ago said that in the new epoch the value which will replace profit will be nourishment, the idea of progress will be replaced by sustainability, power will be replaced by fulfillment, and products will be replaced by relationships.

The Development of Drawing in Children

Children are autodidactic; that is, they teach themselves to draw. They begin by scribbling, then begin drawing abstract forms very much like primitive drawings. These drawings are enchanting and spontaneous. Rhoda Kellogg observes that children who are not coaxed by school teachers and parents to draw real-life objects develop a "store of knowledge which enables them to reach their final stage of self-taught art" (17). She believes that confidence in one's self?taught artistic ability is necessary for the growth of the creative spirit (17).

Teachers and parents who rate a drawing on its realistic similarity to an object may stifle and kill the confidence of the child. Kellogg believes adults rob children of the joy of their self-taught, non-pictorial work by encouraging a representative form of expression. Buckminister Fuller expresses similar sentiments: "Every child is a genius until it is degeniused by education."

According to Ellen Winner in Invented Worlds: The Psychology of the Arts, these earlier stages lead to greater desire and skill in representing the world in a naturalistic style. By the age of nine or ten, children draw for optical realism. By adolescence most children in industrial societies have given up drawing altogether. Helga Eng, in The Psychology of Child and Youth Drawing, is of the opinion that naturalistic drawing is the natural form reached in of drawing development, and that modern abstract art (like that of the youngest child) is a regressive movement away from the evolution of art. She explains,

...child and youth drawing does not fraternize with art that is moving away from realism, away from humanism, away from culture, away from nature, away from life. The free, spontaneous drawing of child and youth is akin to Greek Art, "the most natural art ever found." This kinship seems to indicate that the evolution of Greek art is an instance of the natural growth of art (13).

Other art educators and modern artists argue that naturalism is not the most natural form of artistic expression. In Education Through Art, Herbert Read emphasizes,

We must realize that the child's graphic activity is a specialized medium of communication with its own characteristics and laws. It is not determined by canons of objective visual realism, but by the pressure of inner subjective feeling or sensation. From the very beginning the drawings of children are wholly and spontaneously of this kind. They only change because a naturalistic attitude is gradually imposed on children, first by the necessity of coping with an external world??by the need they experience of objectifying their perceptual world so that they can measure it, assess it, deal with it, subdue it; and secondly, by the impulse to imitate the naturalistic modes of representation which they see practiced by their parents and teachers. In so far as the former need is met by conceptual modes of thought, the image merely disappears, or is devitalized, and no need for representing it graphically or plastically is experienced; and in actual fact only a few children, belonging to a specific psychological type, acquire any considerable skill in naturalistic representation (135).

Read states that nothing could be more unnatural for the majority of children than naturalistic drawing. Raphy M. Pearson also expresses a similar view in his book The New Art Education. He asserts that "children are born creators and remain so until their native art impulses are killed by the imposition or imitation of adult standards concerned with skill and literal fact" (206). And, similar to Rhoda Kellogg, Pearson believes we cause spiritual poverty to children early in their lives by consciously or unconsciously demanding that they mold themselves to the established pattern of design. Howard Gardner asks in, Artful Scribbles: The Significance of Children's Drawings: "Is our picture of the development of drawing following the initial stages a genuinely general account, or is it rather a caricature obtained through the technologically tinted lens of our own culture?" (159) He believes that children follow a natural progression towards literalism because they need to know whether the rules of that culture "promote realism or abstraction." He observes as well that alternative schools which promoted abstract expressionism became just as dogmatic and rigid in their own ideology as traditional schools that promote realistic expression.

I believe that the image of the house encapsulates how children around the world are molded by naturalistic indoctrination, corrupting their subjective and objective lives at early stages of development. The symbol of home breeds isolation and a competitive mentality rather than a sense of community and love. Houses divides people into ethnic and kinship groups, rather than creating a culture of the united family of wo/man. The child becomes alienated from the self, as s/he strives to conform to the social norms of society’s emphasis upon the single-family dwelling. Sadly, s/he loses the subjective spirit which connects one with the universal symbolic language of creative mythology.

In Beyond Alienation, Ernest Becker concludes that, "not nature, not instinct, but society, social fiction, early training of the child--these were the sources of constricted behavior, of evil in the social realm" (157). Becker believes that parents start the social indoctrination; schools and universities carry it on. Even the spatial environment of the traditional late-elementary classroom setting, which divides the chairs into rows composing a grid, reinforces totalitarian values. The purpose of the such partitioning is to monitor and interrupt communications, as well as to isolate the student's individual performance, training them to fit into the competitive job market as they consume the objective knowledge offer by the school system.

Teaching students to choose the right mate is not even part of the school curriculum. James Hillman points out in Insearch: Psychology and Religion that "eros is cultivated through intense internalization." People reach intimacy with another not so much through horizontal connections, but through "parallel vertical connections of each within himself [sic]," creating a spiritual communion with the other (82). But in the totalitarian system, eros is not even discussed, and it is certainly not acknowledged as the supreme reality underlying all life!

Some psychologists are perplexed about why the majority of adolescent children stop drawing. According to Eng there is "little agreement among drawing psychologists either as to the age at which this stagnation generally sets in, or the cause of it" (1). It is known that in nonindustrial cultures, where art is not separated from daily life, this period of decline does not happen. This drawing stagnation is caused by the false imposition of naturalistic standards early in the educational process. Drawing is no longer a source of spiritual joy for adolescents; the drawing style passed down to them by the adult world is not a form of liberation, but a form of domination. Throughout sacred time, myths have been "written" in a universal symbolic language. But modern people, for the most part, have lost this language--not when they are asleep, but when they are awake. The dream world is rendered senseless to the men who build the machines and systems which are so destructive; the rationality of logos dominates their world. Could it be that the symbolic inner life itself constructs the good world, and that now it must be emancipated? (Fromm 1951)

Logos and Mythos

Logos refers to speech used as sequential development and causality, (unacknowledged) reasoning grounded in the subject of the knower, with the world objectified for knowing. Logos can be described as gathering, counting, reckoning, explaining, reasoning, and the categorizing of stable systems. It is a thinking mode the results of which can supposedly be demonstrated, measured, and verified. It is a process defined by precision and can be fit into single modalities. Meaning is here disembodied from the reality of change and flux. Logos reduces the complexity of mythos into a purely mechanical and computable certainty.

There has been a long-standing intellectual debate on which mode of thought, logos or mythos, is the mature and “better” way of thinking. Established thinking says is that logos and its reductive inquiry is the better way, while mythos is only "an immature degraded version of logos" (Sternberg 1990, 56). The personal and inner dimensions of life are seen as less real than the collective and outer way of relating to the world. By the outer world, I especially mean the dualistic worldview set up by the patriarchs, the “fathers of philosophy,” such as Aristotle, who divides mind from body, inner from outer, the universal from the particular, and the sacred from the profane. Aristotle is also, unsurprisingly, sexist. This can be seen in his description of human reproduction: the woman's womb was seen as the material and primitive, environment (the ovum was unknown) while the man's sperm provided the essential spiritual and divine spark. Women were believed to be utterly and solely biological beings, unable to sublimate their nature and thus incapable of creating culture or comprehending science.

In the 18th Century Enlightenment worldview, which rediscovered such early Greek thought, man was able to remove himself from what he was observing and rationally analyze what was under his observation. Woman by contrast was stuck in the material body, and unable to become an objective observer. Women were considered unable to distinguish between subjective and objective reality, and therefore could not understand abstract scientific knowledge. Likewise, female experience was believed thought to be inferior to that of the scientific male. Susanne Langer states, Everything that falls outside the domain of analytical, propositional, and formal thought is merely classified as emotive, irrational, and animalian.

All other things our minds do are dismissed as irrelevant to intellectual progress; they are residues, emotional disturbances, or throwbacks to animal estate and indicated "regression to a pre-logical state"(Labouvie-Vief 1990, 65).

According to Gisela Labouvie Vief, educational theorist Jean Piaget believed that reality was solely defined by the impersonal, external, collective outside world. In order to connect with it, the mature adult had to submit to the processes of logos. Piaget thought that mythos was a childish and immature state of mind, which the normal child outgrew with the desire to function within the social framework. The child’s own innate, inner symbolism was degraded and thought to have no real, that is objective, meaning. The child is thus forced to forget her or his inner life in order to fit into the status quo. Self?knowledge, the interplay between subjectivity and objectivity, is lost, as is the child's natural juno or genius.

For there to be an evolution of wisdom, a reintegration of mythos and logos clearly needs to take place. Labouvie-Vief writes,

What makes the artist, the poet, or the scientist wise is not expert technical knowledge in their respective domains but rather knowledge of issues that are part of the human condition, more generally. Wisdom consists, so to say, in one's ability to see through and beyond individual uniqueness and specialization into those structures that relate us to our common humanity (77-78).

What do we mean by wisdom? Wisdom is the mythic, holistic, Gaian perspective which is discovered through our own intuitive knowledge of our archaic selves in relation to the environment. In Skolimowski’s words, "wisdom is the possession of the right knowledge" which is "based on a proper understanding of the structural hierarchies within which life cycles and human cycles are nested and nurtured" (38). Colin Wilson writes,

What I wish to emphasize here is that a highly developed reasoning faculty has nothing whatever to do with genius. Nothing was ever discovered by logic. All things are discovered by intuition, as the lives of the great mathematicians and scientists prove again and again. Logic plods after intuition, and verifies discoveries in its own pedestrian way. Logic is a mere servant of the imagination. To exalt it--as modern thinkers tend to--is to invite spiritual anarchy (Wilson 1957, 102-3).

Mythos and Love

I believe that, first and foremost, intuitive knowledge calls prophetesses and prophets to the task of creating a compassionate world. Mythos, the force which brings things together in a holistic picture--is an important ingredient motivating force for love. This intuitive "knowledge of the heart," when focused on the image of a creative humanity, is essential for planetary salvation. Mythos is the guiding microbial force that creates harmony between the sexes, and gives logos, science, and technology an ethical basis upon which to explore nature and the mysteries of the universe. Love then takes us to the origins of life and creates new worlds where our dreams become the surrounding culture. In Becoming Human Through Art, Edmund Burke Feldman writes,

Love has to be a dimension of everything that education means and does because of the crucial role it plays in bringing about wholeness of human character. Whether love is an instinct or a type of spiritual reaching out, it is nevertheless the force that generates all human effort, especially educational effort, striving always to bring about oneness among the things it touches (128).

Without love as the nucleus of education, logos will continue to dominate our culture with the one-sided perspective of scientific “realism.” Without mythos as the basis of education, educators will remain impotent in their ability to create the radical social change necessary for our species’ survival. Edward Carpenter writes,

The conclusion is that the inner laws in these matters--the inner laws of the sex-passion, of love, and of all human relationship--must gradually appear and take the lead, since they alone are the powers which can create and uphold a rational society; and that the outer laws--since they are dead and lifeless things--must inevitably disappear (143).

There is no reason to believe that children need to conform to naturalism in order to develop higher stages of reasoning. There is certainly reason to believe naturalism is necessary in conforming to the status quo. But this conformity is not an education that produces self-reliant thinkers and doers, rather it creates only neurotic middle-class workers striving to make home payments. Finally, Read notes that when young children are exposed to abstract design and paintings, they will develop an abstract style. He writes, "it has not been proved that the normal child has an irresistible desire to make naturalistic representations of objects" (125).

The Origins of Art

In Arnold Hauser's book The Social History of Art, he explains his theory of why the transcendental or naturalistic state was to be favored over abstract expression. He believes the domination of realism originated during the Paleolithic age when people were hunters and gathers, eating hand to mouth. Because hunting was so important to the survival of the group, it required an acute awareness of the natural world: all five senses of the hunter had to be directed outward into the objective realm.

George Bataille writes, in Prehistoric Painting, Lascaux or the Birth of Art, that the two capital events in history have been the making of tools, from which work was born, and the invention of art, in which play began to delight our minds with wonder. Wonder is the source of philosophy, which attempts to comprehend the intrinsically esoteric secret mysteries of life. In the world of work the Homo faber man was not yet human. He became a Homo sapiens when he began to practice art, not only for a utilitarian activity, but as a protest to the existing world. Here began the rivalry between the world of work and the realm of sexuality and death--the world of art and the goddess tradition. Hauser asserts that the Paleolithic cave paintings represented the monistic concrete worldview of empirical reality of the world of work, and not yet the abstract animistic designs which appeared during the Neolithic Age.

The animist worldview saw the artist no longer as an imitator of nature, but its antagonist, opposing the appearance of things with her/his own homogeneous pattern. With this shift of perspective in turn came the change in our economic relationship with the environment, as a result of the agricultural revolution. We were no longer totally at the mercy of nature, since we had learned to produce our own food. Art, then, no longer had to be a naturalistic representation of reality. It became a sign of an idea or vision. This was to change art into a pictographic sign language.

Primitive and Modern Artists

According to Otto Rank, primitive artists did not have the sense of individual fame and personal immortality that modern artists strive to achieve; rather, their art sought to create a collective immortality. The art work was a picture of the collective soul. Enriching the collective soul was the aim of art, in "the continuation of the individual existence in the species" (Rank 1968, 14). The soul needed to be represented by an abstract idea. Art, therefore, had become spiritual, not concrete and practical. Art historian Lucy Lippard writes in Overlay, "Art in fact was the concretizing vehicle that permitted the abstract ideal of religion to be communicated and thereby survive" (10). Neolithic artists were concerned with the presentation of ideas, and less concerned with the imitation of nature.

Thus, primitive art and modern art are ideologically opposed: primitive, or primal, art is integrated with daily life, while modern art is set totally outside daily life. In the primitive world, both art and religion were once inseparable aspects of collective life. Lippard writes, "Conflicts between nature and culture, between historical awareness and supposed universality of art, clearly did not exist in prehistory" (5). Nor did they necessarily continue after that. In various periods such non-figurative art has prevailed: in the Neolithic Age, as well as in the Celtic and Arabic civilizations. Read says that "such periods prove that a non-representational tradition can be ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ at all stages of individual development" (125).

In Modern Art and the Modern Mind, J.P. Hodin states that the problem between abstract art and figurative art lies in the philosophic difference between Plato and Aristotle: Plato believed reality could be found in the world of ideas, but Aristotle believed reality was only to be experienced through the senses. Abstract art thus represents the ideas of Plato, and figurative drawing represents the thinking of Aristotle.

In Aristotle's philosophy of art the elements of beauty took different forms: taxis, symmetria, and horismonon, which are prevalent in mathematics. Taxis means order; symmetria means measured together; and horismenon means restriction. These rationalistic modes of order and beauty have prevailed in Western civilization throughout history. Skolimowski writes,furthermore "the architecture inspired by the mechanistic logos has demonstrably failed us" (90).

Modern painters may have achieved a level of abstraction somewhat akin to the Neolithic painters. Gottfried Richter, in Art and Human Consciousness, has written that "modern art proves that the world of the senses is only foreground and that the spiritual world is the real, essential one" (250). Modern artists saw nature as a manifestation of the self; Jackson Pollock even declared "I am Nature" (McShine 1976, 125). Arshile Gorky, who also painted to express the nature within himself, agrees:

Beloved, abstraction is therefore the probing vehicle, the progressive thrust toward higher civilization, toward higher evaluation of the finite by tearing the finite apart, exploding it so as to thereby enter limitless areas. Mere realistic art is therefore finite and limits man only to the perception of his physical eyes, namely that which is tangible. Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipator of the mind. It is an exploration into unknown areas (McShine 1976, 127).

Modern artists felt estranged from society since they had no integral social role in daily affairs. In Abstract Expressionist Painting In America, William Sietz writes of the modern artist that, "society connotes to him not a social organism of which he is a part, but a huge middle-class world of property, manufacturing, buying and selling--a society to which he is alien" (139). The painter Robert Motherwell felt the artist was a spiritual creature trapped in a property-loving world. Shortly before his death, Vincent van Gogh said that the great steps in the future of art would be taken collectively, for no one would be able to bear the burden alone (Russell 1981, 104). What is this collective burden? Isn't it to create a new world? Indeed, modern and postmodern artists seem to yearn for a position in society which directs culture, rather than being received into the market place.

It could be said that the modern painter rebelled from the scientific experiences of the senses and returned to the archaic, out of the inner necessity of creating a new civilization. It was hoped that this civilization would foster a new relationship between the collective and the individual; in other words, between the social myth and the artist. The modern artist was in conflict with the collective myth, but unlike the primitive artist who perpetuated the collective myth, she or he aspired to achieve individual immortality through creating a new collective myth, a new dreambody.

Unfortunately, the modern period was not able to create a total revolution toward a new way of collective living, even though it did provide us with a new way of visualizing the world. This new way of seeing did not fully revolutionize art education; modernism failed to provide us with a political philosophy of art which could link our imaginations together.

Plato is one of the few philosophers who realized that art and society are inseparable concepts. Government is not a science, but an art having the power to fuse the divided world.

For there to be an effective revolutionary movement, a visual plan of action, evolving from the arts, must be implemented at the pre-school level and be allowed to continue to develop throughout life. Education must change its perspective on home by presenting images of futuristic high?tech ecological cities, or arcologies, in various bioregions on our home planet of Spaceship Earth. In this plan, both the practical skills of realism and the spiritual qualities of abstract art will be needed to deconstruct the present system and visualize the reconstruction of the world. We can no longer afford for these two viewpoints to be antagonistic towards one other.

The real images of our archetypal home are uniquely different for each individual, for it is inside the mind where the self resides. For those people who are not innately inclined to it, liberation from naturalistic way of self-expression is required so that they can reconnect with the mythic universal language, while providing a new visual model of collective behavior from a concrete architectural plan. This will offer us the foundation for a new artistic and educational philosophy.

Becker writes, "We need a unified world picture, founded on a living myth and vital belief; and we need in addition knowledge that is personally liberating, that makes our action less automatic and more free within the society that follows that belief" (128). He believes human freedom comes about in a community when it nourishes the highest development of both the individual and the community. In this community, unlimited knowledge is the goal and the mysteries of life guide communal action. The community's concern should be the best way to free the energies of all people, and communal meaning will incorporate the "celebration of the broadest and deepest meanings of the universe" (219). From this new place in the universe, the value of the human soul will be rediscovered, and the divine self will be found, as the illusions of commercial society fades into history.

Modern science has not been able to explain the mystery of life, nor answer the essential questions about the nature of the cosmos and the origins and meaning of human life. Nor has it been able to discover the "mechanism of the imagination." Yet these mysteries reveal themselves through the symbolic nature of the intuitive arts. A symbolic order remains necessary for us if we are to know our individual place in the organic-cosmic universe. Herbert Read observes, "science has in no means replaced the symbolic functions of art, which are still necessary to overcome the resistance of the brutish world" (Read 1967, 22).

Albert Einstein realized that science did not have the knowledge needed to solve the world’s critical problems. He believed that the problem of the survival of our species would be found within the dimension, not of science or mathematics, but in the arts and theology. Jean Houston writes, "Myths and archetypes communicate from the poetic level of mind and thought, allowing Nature to speak to the imagining soul rather than just presenting us with scientific laws and probabilities" (20). She sees a new world myth arising from Gaia. From this new myth, we can begin to build the architecture of the Imagination, so that the temples of our legacy are not the nuclear power plants, toxic waste sites, shopping malls, and suburban sprawl of the Modernist Era. Clearly, these must be replaced by the visionary architecture of ecocities.

Our brutish culture divides the society into pluralistic subcultures. Read explains, "The culture of an artist or a philosopher is distinct from that of a mine worker or field labourer; the culture of a poet will be somewhat different from that of a politician; but in a healthy society these are all parts of the same culture" (Read 1967, 23). By means of the suppressive visual formula of home, children first become trained to conform to the brutish world ruled by modern science, and it will be through a liberated artistic expression of a universal order, beginning with the training of children, where we will collectively find salvation. Instead of each individual pursuing her or his own dream house and personal pleasures, in the new cultural mythos, people will begin to share meaning, communal goods, natural resources, and social justice, so that everyone will have the means to pursue human happiness for the betterment of humanity.

In The Redemption of the Robot, Herbert Read writes that, the "imagination seeks and finds archetypal forms. Civilization is the search for these forms; civilizations decline when they relinquish the creation of form" (252). The first concern of politicians and dictators has always been to control and manipulate images and archetypes so that they serve the interest of the ruling class. Parents and teachers must stop being the unwitting, yet sinister, administrators of these social dogma and archetypes, which are destroying the ecology, and perpetuating the false hegomony of the socioeconomic structure of the ruling class, especially as encapsulated in the private house. It is imperative that the censorship of the poetic vision be stopped. As the houses of history collapse, the "blueprint of the archaic" may once again come forth to give us an eternal beginning, which "calls for a totally different design and points of stress."

Educators must begin to enact this great paradigm shift of understanding and communal living by revolutionizing the way we perceive and draw the home. With the collapse of the inner house of the soul, the outer walls of the built environment will soon lose their support and the square house will collapse (Arguelles 1975). To be locked into the square house is a prison cell for the mind.

One of the basic messages of Buckminster Fuller's teachings is that the square is an unsound form on which to structure civilization. The triangle, which is also integral to the circle, is the basis of universal order. Further, North Americans must no longer delude themselves that land ownership is the way to insure a just democracy, for it is clearly not. The pluralistic ideology that has emerged from the democratic society is unable to create the new social myth which we need in order to evolve and save the species. Our future rests in the new social vision. The social mission of education is to offer an alternative vision to students.

The Collective Wisdom

Advocates for the homeless’ building their own houses--as opposed to their living in makeshift shanty towns on the edge of megacities, or government planners building anonymous mass housing for them—should examine the new communal archetype in architecture. Advocates for a people's architecture must begin to realize that we can no longer live with Plato's belief that every man should build a house before he dies, that somehow it is one's divine right to build one's own home. No longer can we act as if it is environmentally and socially desirable to individually house one's own biological family. As I have shown in previous chapters, the notion of private ownership of land is part of our dysfunctional intrafamilial relationship, and are environmentally unsustainable.

The myth of building one's own home has lead to a mediocre and unhealthy environment which lacks any artistic merit. Skolimowski writes,

In our lowbrow culture, which is so often proletarian in the worst sense, the architect must assert his [sic] role as a patrician, must lead instead of bowing to acquisitive and materialist preferences. Only when people transcend their obsession with material acquisitiveness--which is one of the chief causes of environmental destruction and of our inner emptiness--will it be time for the architect to relinquish his [sic] role as the designer of a complete environment (101).

Advocates for a people's architecture say shelter-making is a basic human drive. Let's hope it is so, since shelter-making is what we desperately need in order to build successful and magnanimous ecocities. This new orientation will require a massive effort on the part of everyone. For ecocities to become reality, all members of the world community must contribute to their spiritual and material construction in a variety of ways, re-linking people with nature.

The problem is affecting another forefront of human habitat, the biosphere. The biospheric technology (e.g., the Biosphere II experiment) merges together ecology and technology, the organic and the mechanical. The enclosed pod of Biosphere II is clearly an opportunity to finally fuse together the two basic architectural archetypes in order to radically change power and economic relationships. However, there is now discussion about using this technology to create individual housing units. In an article entitled "Biosphere 2 at One" Kevin Kelly writes,

A personal biosphere is only a couple of jumps away from a long American tradition of self-sufficient homesteads...A personal household biosphere is the pinnacle of self-sufficiency. You drink your own recycled pee, breathe your own recycled farts, eat your own recycled shit. Not only do you make your own granola, you make your own atmosphere! (104)

Biospheric technology used in this fashion would only further nuclear family isolation, making the home into a high-tech cocoon. Of course, the poor who could not afford the new kind of shelter will be left without the protection of the clean environment of life underneath the dome. In this model, biospheres will be built to make a profit, and so the capitalist system would use another technology to serve the greed and self-interest of the few in clean, environmentally safe ways.

Using biospheres for individual housing units is absolutely unethical, as well as impractical. Using biospheres as nuclear family units will only perpetuate the domination model of the dysfunctional intrafamilial relationship. The Greeks believed the idion or individual domain was the province of idiocy. The evolutionary path we must follow is one which uses the technology to build shelter which is based on justice and equality for all. We have the architectural and technologic know-how to build ecocities, and it is our moral duty to do so.

Future civilization lies in visualizing, and eventually creating, new urban environments made up of biospheric arcologies. It is our adult responsibility to prepare children for this new way of living. It is time to abandon our old concept of housing, which has divided the world into master space and slave space, and move towards a planet of arcologies interconnected through telecommunications. Arcologies will provide us with the space to build community again, so that women and men will have places in which to "circulate, meet, and enter into union with one another" (Canto 1986, 344). Gyorgy Kepes writes in Structure in Art and in Science, "To reach what we all hope for, to become worthy of an environment worth living in, we must do what we can to bring our outer and our inner worlds together--renew the ancient marriage of art and science, art and nature" (vii). In Greek, ecology literally means home, and by building arcologies, planet earth will become the temple of harmony and balance between psyche and techne.

Summary

In this chapter we have seen how the Jeffersonian American Dream is based on a concept of land ownership brought over by European colonists. The lust for private ownership of land destroyed the Native American way of life that for eons had lived in balance with the natural forces. Throughout the world, children are learning to conform to the American dream house as they adopt the traditional patterns of drawing behavior based on Greek perspective. This destroys their subjective, inner voices, as well as the external world of the global ecology that they will embrace. Under this worldview, children lose the joy of drawing and love for art as they begin to conform to the rigid rules of naturalism. Modern artists sought to liberate humanity from this three-dimensional, scientific perspective by developing an inner voice through intuitive and abstract art. Perhaps luckily, Modernism did not become a powerful revolutionary force capable of changing the way children perceive home. What is urgently needed now is a new image of home which respects the interconnectness of all things.

 
 

 

 

 
 
Human Extinction or Lovolution?