“It would be worse if modernism were associated with new ageism than it would be if it were associated with racism”

Looked up Georgiana Houghton (an unwelcome and actually shocking possibility that spiritualism and modernism might be related occurs to me while reading of her for the first time, though her paintings are only described as “abstract” here and are probably the farthest thing imaginable from abstract expressionism, for example) (*) (the intimation that modernism might be rather related to new ageism is yet quite disturbing really, enough to make one disavow)… I am struck suddenly by how completely my faith in modernism would be rocked were I to learn with certainty it had the least thing to do with spiritualism; am struck by how this is not entirely far-fetched. (Actually, it is kind of far-fetched — excepting Yeats?)

Something for me to ponder: it would be worse for me to consider that modernism was associated with astrology, say, or anything New Age, than it would were it associated with racism. (My guess would be that astrology and racism are more associated with each other than they are with modernism, that these walk the same paths, for example Nazi mystics… but I don’t know that.) Certainly, modernism is associated with anti-semitism: Pound, Eliot, various Impressionists; though it’s also true that many anti-semites were also anti-modernism (the Nazis). Also, modernism is pro-semite: Leopold Bloom. And some of the most notable modernists (as we think of them) were Jewish: Proust, Kafka.

Somehow, however, the knowledge that Picasso, say, might have been a secret spiritualist would utterly destroy the modernist project in my mind. It has to be the case (for my world view to remain intact) that Bouguereau and those people (French Academy people) were the spiritualists….

%d bloggers like this: