Francisco Goya and the Sleep Of Reason

Saturn Devours on of His Children
Carlos IV

Francisco Goya started his career as a royal painter to the kings of Spain during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. For much of his career, he was wealthy and in demand. But that stability didn’t last forever. At middle-age, sometime around 1792, Goya became seriously ill with an unknown disease that left him deaf. When he recovered, Goya began to withdraw from high society, and started exploring darker themes in his work. He looks to the Spanish aristocracy and portrays them as monuments to desperation, folly, arrogance, and incompetence.  In 1799 Goya published a book of etchings called Caprichos. This series has been reproduced a number of times, and here is how Aldous Huxley described the collection in a twentieth century re-print:

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters

“These creatures who haunt Goya’s Later Works are inexpressibly horrible, with the horror of mindlessness and animality and spiritual darkness. And above the lower depths where they obscenely pullulate is a world of bad priests and lustful friars, of fascinating women whose love is a ‘dream of lies and inconstancy,’ of fatuous nobles and, at the top of the social pyramid, a royal family of half-wits, sadists, Messalinas and perjurers. The moral of it all is summed up in the central plate of the Caprichos [originally plate 1], in which we see Goya himself, his head on his arms, sprawled across his desk and fitfully sleeping, while the air above is peopled with bats and owls of necromancy and just behind his chair lies an enormous witch’s cat, malevolent as only Goya’s cats can be, staring at the sleeper with baleful eyes. On the side of the desk are traced the words, ‘The dream [or ‘sleep’] of reason produces monsters.”

The Third of May 1808

Life didn’t get any easier for Goya. The French invaded Spain, starting the Peninsular War. On May 2nd, 1808, the citizens of Madrid rose up against the French occupiers, killing approximately 150 French soldiers. In retaliation, on the 3rd of May, French soldiers lined up and shot hundreds of people, and these executions continued for days in other cities throughout Spain. This brutality united the Spanish people against Napoleon’s invading French army and, although it took them many bloody years, the Spanish were eventually able to push the French out of their country. Much of the cruelty and war was witnessed by Goya first-hand. Being an artist, Goya had to put down what he saw and recorded it in his series of prints called The Disasters of War. This series is very disturbing.

Horrors of War

Goya’s work kept getting darker and darker. In 1819, after his wife died, Goya moved to the Spanish countryside and completely isolated himself. He began working on his Black Paintings, which explore themes of insanity, cannibalism, the witch’s sabbath, and other dark themes. These paintings were never meant for public display, and most were painted directly on the walls of his house.

Goya eventually died alone and in exile. Much of his work had to be “donated” to the crown in order to protect him from the Inquisition. Goya started his life as a Romantic, believing in the power of reason. But in the end, his work shows what happens when reason is replaced by human folly and corrupt social customs.

The Great He Goat (Witches Sabbath)
The Fates

Paracelsus Research Society

“When a man undertakes to create something,” wrote Paracelsus, “he establishes a new heaven, as it were, and from it the work that he desires to create flows into him.”

Alchemy is an old science, a forerunner of chemistry, best known as a quest to turn any metal into gold. It didn’t start out that way, but it is now known as an occult science.

To be honest, I’ve spent quite a lot of time reading about alchemy, and I don’t know much about it other than that it kind of makes my skin crawl and bores me at the same time. I think they speak in a code language, kind of like Slytherin, but they don’t say it’s a code language. You only know it is one because you immediately start thinking about what’s for lunch or where did you put your yellow socks, while feeling a little dirtier than you normally would while thinking of lunch or socks.

In the 1930s to the 1960s, Salt Lake City was home to a great school of alchemy. According to researcher Richelle Hawks, the Paracelsus Research Society, was a fully functioning school, with classes lasting from a few weeks to up to seven years. The school was advertised via pamphlets, and looked a lot like a bail bondsman’s office.

The building is still here in the heart of the homeland today. I don’t have the exact address, but it was somewhere near 3300 S and 700 E. It is utterly, boringly ordinary and brownish.

Do you ever find yourself MORE curious and confused by things that just blend in? When walking past your neighbors homes, do you think about everything that happens within those walls that goes unspoken in the outside world? Dreams born and dashed within its walls? Blood spilled? Religious awakenings? Birth? Old souls slipping away in the night?

I do. I sometimes think every home and every building is a temple of alchemy, or worship or rebirth or – worst –  a home to agonizingly, slow suicide. The Paracelsus Research Institute is a great example. I bet you’ve seen it a million times without seeing it. Within these walls, a significant part of the U.S. occult practices of the 20th century spattered forth out of a magik practitioner’s body in that home – and it died inside a manure oven despite being painstakingly fed human blood with great science and care.

This post goes out to Carrie de Azevedo Poulsen for introducing us to the Paracelsus Research Society. Happy Halloween!

“H” is for Homunculus

Roger the Homunculus

There are many systems of magick (gratuitous “k” included) that I find very interesting. The idea of bending the rules of the world to your personal will. The truth is, many modern scientific accomplishments have their origin and beginnings with magick and occult wisdom. A lot of what we’d consider to be modern science actually evolved from magickal thought and practice. Doesn’t science try bend and change the physical world to our collective will? It is easy to find the origins of chemistry in the ancient practices of alchemy, for example. With science, we just tend to understand the rules of the game a little bit better.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many strange practices and dead ends in magick and alchemy. Take the homunculus. I’d heard of the homunculus before, but about a year or so ago a friend was telling Anna and I about a group here in Salt Lake that was trying to create their own. It is one thing to know about a legend, but to hear that modern people are actually spending their life and time trying to do something so… bizarre. Since that conversation, the homonculus has kind of taken over our imagination, and we seem to come across these strange little people everywhere. In art, jewelry, literature, all over!

The homonculus is a man-made artificial human being, similar to the unthinking and dumb Jewish golem, except the homonculus has it’s own will, personality and is usually thought to be about the size of your thumb. There are many different legendary ways to make a homonculis, but the local SLC alchemists buried a mixture of semen and blood under a pile of dung during the full moon. A fully formed miniature human was supposed to emerge from that pile of dung to do their creator’s bidding, as long as the creator fed it blood. From what I understand, after extracting their experiment from the poop our local alchemist’s thought they might have seen some sort of cell division, but even that is in doubt. Wasn’t successful. How strange is that? I just don’t understand why they’d go through all that trouble. If they wanted to create human life, why not just do it the old fashioned way? Seems like it’d be a lot more enjoyable.

The Hollow Men

Even though we love to read, literature and poetry aren’t blog’d about all that much here at ArtDuh. I was flipping through some of my old books that are tucked away on the shelves and came across The Hollow Men by T. S. Eliot. I enjoy poetry and the imagery words can create, and this is still one of my favorite poems, even though I probably first read it a long time ago as a teenager. Maybe most of us did? Still, it is so good to come across a treasure like this. Plus, it completely suits this haunted season. Hope you enjoy re-reading as much as I did:

The Hollow Men – by T. S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.
          A penny for the Old Guy


We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.


Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom


This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.


The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.


Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

          For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

          Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

          For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Coming up on the People’s Market Stage: The 14th Ward, Live from the Rubber Room School of Dance

The 14th Ward, Anna, Rachel and Jessica
The 14th Ward, Anna, Rachel and Jessica

In July, Todd and I started The Rubber Room School of Dance and Flexibility in our garage. With our 5-year-long extreme home make over winding down, we finally had space to stretch out and do some of the things we love. The garage is now The Rubber Room, and my performing belly dance company, The 14th Ward, has already become quite amazing. We’ve packed at least a year’s worth of technique into just a few months, and we are already performing.

Come see us in our vintage-inspired antiqued costumes at the People’s Market between 11 and 1 pm on Sunday, October 23. Our line-up includes a traditional Egyptian belly dance piece, followed by a techno-flamenco-tribal fusion number to Shake Break Bounce by the Chemical Brothers, and wraps up with a performance art-inspired dance to a remix of songs I love from musicals, most notably Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Rent.

The company includes talented beauties Rachel Hayes and Jessica Payne, who are not only performing after a few months of practice, but are also choreographing. Both lovely ladies are experienced dancers from the days of yore, Rachel in modern and Jessica in belly, and are excited to reignite the dance flame after responsibilities like kids, jobs and higher education began to compete with creative bliss for their time and attention.

Come out and support The 14th Ward, and let us know if you are interested in any of the classes we have to offer. I am also offering beginning and intermediate belly dance in the Rubber Room, and Portia Early teaches restorative yoga on Fridays at 5:45.

The Hive Gallery presents: The Second Annual Dead Artists Ball

Picasso. He's dead.
Picasso. He's dead.
Art by someone dead
Art by someone dead

Celebrate Halloween by dressing up as a dead artist and heading over to The Hive’s Dead Artist’s ball for food, music and prizes. It will be held at Fat’s Grill and Pool 2182 South Highland Dr Salt Lake City. The event is coming up on Saturday, October 22, and the fun starts at 7 p.m.

Live musicians will include: Christian Coleman and the Blue Zen Band, The Mountains Lost and Sofa Sly. Salvadore Dali mustaches and Frida Kahlo eyebrows will be available at the door, and winners of The Hive’s photo contest ‘A Dance With Death’ will be announced and on display.

Yep, dead.
Yep, dead.

Occupy ArtDuh!

"The United States of Corporate America Murdered the World One Soul at a Time ~ OR ~ The Triumph of a Dark Vision" - by Todd Powelson

I believe that most business owners are honest people. Most corporate workers and executives are great people. They are working hard for their families, employees, and community. Providing goods and services the rest of us use, make life better, and sometimes propel the species forward. That is honorable and noble.

But if you or the corporation you represent are using money and success to buy off a politician or influence over public policy, gain unfair advantage, steal from or are exploiting your fellow man, then you are a disease and a cancer. You’re influence needs to be removed before your contagion spreads! If you are a politician who is accepting this dirty corporate money, you are a whore, selling yourself to the highest bidder. Scratch that, you’re an untreated STD, making life unbearable. You don’t represent the people at all. You’re a greedy pig with a smiling face and an uncomfortable itchy crotch, getting fatter and fatter. Better be careful there piggy, there are a lot of people who still enjoy bacon.

We here at ArtDuh support the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy groups around the country, and Occupy Salt Lake City.

“But wait”, I can hear you say, What does it all mean, Mr. Natural? The protesters don’t stand for anything. What are they protesting? What do they hope to accomplish? C’mon. Deep down, we all know what has inspired these protests. The protesters are pointing out and raising awareness of widespread corruption, theft, lack of representation and injustice. We’ve all seen it. We’re paying for it. Corruption in our politics, banking, finance and business. Whether or not you’re comfortable with the status quo is something else entirely, but you’ve seen the corruption. It’s an important thing the protesters are doing because if we are able recognize, accept, and face a problem, we’re able to change it. It is also important to remember if you are not corrupt, the protester’s are not calling you out. Or, at least, I never would.

You can read the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City by clicking here. Are there any points listed that you haven’t seen or can’t recognize?

But they don’t offer any kind of solutions, only a list of complaints. To some extent, I agree. But at the same time, I think you’re expecting too much right now. Many people are just waking up to how bad things really are. Do you think Thomas Jefferson just woke up one morning and thought to himself, “I think I’ll write the Declaration of Independence today at lunch”. No. I am sure it took him years of observing suffering, corruption, injustice, not to mention conversations with friends and the public before he was ever even moved to the point of writing. And then, it was another good ten+ years before the U.S. Constitution was finalized and put into place.

That Obama sure has messed things up for us hasn’t he, he’s a real sun-o-bitch. Maybe. But our problems didn’t start with him. The ball got rolling with Richard Nixon and (bank sponsored) Fiat Money, and probably even earlier. Our financial problems became obvious when George W. Bush & Co. were allowed to let free market policy go unchecked. Or at least, it was deregulated way too much. Big business and banks had a big damn party, a party we are still paying for. I’m sure it was profitable for George and his friends, and they are still partyin’ down. If people are as selfish the free market suggest, then selfish people are going to take you for everything they can… and they sure have taken us, haven’t they.

The system is broken. Our government has sold out to the highest bidder. Accept it. They’ve pretended to fix the marketplace with trillion dollar band aides, but we are still hemorrhaging money, jobs, public services and homes.

Adam Smith (1723 – 1790, Scottish social philosopher and political economist), whose ideas are cornerstone for our current free market system, basically believed a successful economy needs to serve an individual’s greed, self interest, and selfish desires. If the economy serves those selfish desires, he says, an “invisible hand” will come on down and balance out the marketplace, cast aside ideas that don’t work, and embrace those ideas that do. Okay, great. But doesn’t it make sense that this invisible hand would serve and be easily manipulated by selfish people? Greed and selfishness are not admirable human qualities. I’m not a religious person, but isn’t greed one of the seven deadly sins? If we pursue and indulge it, greed will lead to our downfall. We are not just greedy monkeys. Sure, we might all have that side embedded into our nature and we need to recognize that, but most of us also have so much more than that one character trait.

Looking out for yourself and trying to control as much of the world’s resources as possible doesn’t work. Making sure that every time you give, you get more back than you need just doesn’t work. It might seem to work for a few people for a little while, but not for long. Because we live on a finite planet, it’s impossible for greedy behavior to go on forever. Consider this: when people share what they have (a skill, talent, time, food, money or whatever), they make friends and build community. When people exploit and take from others, they make enemies.

Money is just a symbol. It’s an abstract concept. We give money it’s power and meaning. The meaning of the symbol resides only in our heads, and we can change our mind. Why base our economy on greed and self interest? Wouldn’t it be better to base our economic system upon satisfying more admirable human qualities? There are so many noble human traits to choose from. We can change the paradigm of what money means if we want to. If we are able to change, the whole world will be better for it. If we don’t change, we are in serious trouble. | No Way in US System to Vote Against Banks | Chris Hedges – Occupy Washington D.C. | Panic of the Plutoctrats | Occupy Wall Street | who-we-are | mission


23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism – by Ha-Joon Chang