Modern art is a hot topic. Everyone has an opinion about Damian Hirst’s shark in formaldehyde, or Tracy Emin’s unmade bed. In The Animal Within Christopher Hollins unpicks the reason why art has taken such an apparently bizarre and controversial turn in recent years. In laying out his startling new theory of modern art he shows how human intellect has marginalised the animal instinct in all art forms. This is the ‘animal within’ which has been pushed to the back of the modern mind, and artists are particularly attuned to respond to it.
Condemning modern trends in art as mere worthless attention-seeking is too superficial a response. Hollins shows how the root of these apparently new ideas in fact stretch back into human pre-history. The very process of evolution has hard-wired us to make these kind of images in an attempt to free the mind from an overbearing intellectualism. Our fascination with the shock of the new stems directly from our genetic heritage.
The Animal Within explains Modern art as an attempt to look beyond our intelligence to rediscover an ‘animal’ sensation of objects and events we still possess in the oldest, deepest parts of our mind.
For Sharon Marie Conway
Taken from us by cystic fibrosis
Feed not your loneliness on empty days, but fill each waking hour in useful ways.
Helen Steiner Rice
INTRODUCTION .......................... Art and animal perception
GENESIS ....................................A brain within a brain: Our early animal mind and its modern master
BEFORE INTELLIGENCE ........... An animal view: Instinct and its perception of the world.
INTELLIGENT PERCEPTION ...... An ape becomes an artist: We evolve an awareness full of imagination
PRIMATIVE ART .........................Images on walls: Art becomes a way of hiding our animal perception
DEMONS AND GODS ..................A fearful presence: Our animal mind becomes an inner place of torment
TRADITIONAL ART .....................Sensual perfection: Art keeps our animal mind buried under technical grandeur
THE START OF OUR AGE ..........Our animal mind begins to make a return
MODERN ART ............................Learning to live with the animal within
CONCLUSION ........................... Why don’t animals create art?
BIBLIOGRAPHY ........................List of books relevant to this idea
This electronic edition of my first book is complete and unabridged, however I have taken the opportunity to remove some embarrassing irregularities that crept through the editing process in the hardback. I have also corrected small errors in the text and included more relevant books to the bibliography. On the whole the writing is as the original, it is just that, with experience, you come to see how better it should have been. I am working to reach this reworked visualisation in Art & Evolution. CJH Whitby England. This update 20 December 2015
In this book you will find an idea of art that is different from the accepted history. The accepted history will have taught you to believe the word art has many diverse meanings depending upon its use in different times and cultures. This is the historians’ idea of art and it places emphasis upon art objects. It tends to describe art in terms of the skilled creation of works of beauty or other features of significance to a specific society or culture. It sees art as an exercise in human craftsmanship and imaginative insight applied to the representation of painting, sculpture, music, drama, dance or literature.
I remember being given a book* when I was young and being disturbed by the opening paragraph. It read, “There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists. Once there were men who took coloured earth and roughed out the forms of a bison on the wall of a cave; today some buy paints, and design posters for the hoardings; they did and do many things. There is no harm in calling all these activities art as long as we keep in mind that such a word may mean very different things in different times and places, and as long as we realise Art with a capital A has no existence.” These are the words of an eminent art historian, but I think you will find that if you ask an artist he or she will try to tell you that there is indeed such a thing as Art with a capital A. For the historian art is a classification of a certain type of object, but to an artist Art is not an object at all but is an unidentified ‘feeling’ in their mind that drives them to create art objects. I therefore believe Art is depth of perception that transcends all cultures, and I see this as different to the historians idea that sees the categorisation of certain types of objects created in specific times and places as the identity of art.
I think it is a mistake to believe that only the sum total of all objects makes art and that artists just uphold this surface level observation. I believe art objects are what are left over after artist have tried to give the unidentified ‘feeling’ a tangible form, and I believe historians fail to understand this insight because they are not artists. I will try to show you that this unidentified ‘feeling’ comes from a part of our mind our intelligence has evolved away from being able to identify and it is this that makes Art a sensation most of us fail to comprehend. My purpose here is to describe Art as an experience generated in the depth of our mind that drives artists to want to come to know sight, shape, sound and movement in a far more intense way than we normally encounter in our day to day existence. The object could be an image of a bison painted on a cave wall or it could be a story from the Gospels pictured on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. It could even be as simple as illustrating a poster on a display hoarding or as complex as an opera. These are the objects artists create but these objects should not, in themselves, be thought to reflect the Art experience: which I will describe as an unidentified 'animal' way of sensing objects and events we all inherit from our distant ancestral origins. Perceptive artists attempt to show us how to sense sight, shape, sound or movement at this deeper level of awareness to our normal way of perception. It is this different level of awareness that is Art. This tells us we possess another way of perception to the one we use every day, but we no longer know how to recognise this other perception. It is lost to us because we have evolved away from being able to sense it, and I believe modern art tries to reveal this to us. This little book therefore tries to look beyond the art object, and beyond the cultural use to which the objects are put in society, to find the true identity of Art as a deeper level of perception that we all inherit from our 'animal' beginnings.
We will be considering the idea that the oldest parts of our mind still generate an inherent instinctive way of perception and it is this that perceptive artists ‘feel’ within themselves. We will see that the feeling artists call Art is a powerful animal way of knowing sight, shape, sound and movement that our intelligence stops us experiencing. Artists, in their attempts to give this ‘feeling’ some form of identity are driven to rearrange our day-to-day level of perception into a more intense sense of order and organisation. This makes artists create art objects but these creations then suppress the old way of sensing that is the true experience an artist encounters in their view of the world. What I have written about is therefore an idea of Art as an animal sense of perception that some of us recall within our powers of observation. To me, this sensation is the true identity of Art and not the art objects artists have left behind that litter the historians interpretation of what an artist actually comes to experience in their view of the world.
* The Story of Art by E H Gombrich.
CJH Whitby England 2009
Each morning, when you awaken, you recognise the objects and events around you through a perception that your intelligence learns to construct when you are very young. This ‘intelligent’ perception is relatively new to the human way of thinking. It has evolved over a few hundreds of thousands of years compared to many millions of years through which your ancestors struggled to survive using an older ‘animal’ perception generated by instinct. Your new ‘intelligent’ perception has therefore to keep the old ‘animal’ perception buried in the depth of your mind. To do this you have evolved to recognise objects and events before you are allowed to sense them in the old animal way. Your modern perception can therefore be thought to look out upon the world as if through a closed window. You look, but your experience of your surroundings is never exposed to the view of objects and events as they should be sensed through instinct. Modern art tries to reopen this closed window. It tries to disrupt what you recognise, in an attempt to reveal a way of sensing the world that you have evolved away from realising actually surrounds you.
Art and Animal Perception
“A monkey could do better than that!” How many times have you heard these words said by a bystander towards some obscure or bizarre work of modern art? You often find the lay person feels particularly insulted by art that does not conform to any type of traditional skill or control over content or presentation, because these people think their understanding of art is being abused.
The idea most people have of art, even of contemporary modern art, is rigidly entrenched in tradition, and when confronted by work that tries to avoid this criterion, the bystander is often left lost for words to explain what they see. As modern art moves further from traditional techniques to more and more outrageous and ludicrous works, the gap between what the bystander expects to see and what the artist presents gets wider. This whole shift of modern art away from traditional roots towards ever more obscure uncertainty was bought home to me some years ago at the preview night of an exhibition of abstract paintings. The works not only duped me but they also fooled all the critics and patrons who attended that night. We all found ourselves confronted by very forceful modern paintings admired for their brushwork, colour and powerful use of form. They turned out to be the work of a chimpanzee. Similarly, I have seen paintings from Asia that tourists can now purchase as ‘collectable’ works of modern art which have been produced by Elephants.
Figure 1 Elsa, an Indonesian elephant who loves to paint. Photo © Alex Melamid, AEACP. 2009 Reproduced with permission of David Ferris, www.elephantart.com
The work of animals being mistaken for modern art is a good example of a need for understanding between the controlled and uncontrolled application of paint to canvas - the same could be said of sculpture, music and dance. I am sure animals can create an uncontrolled sculpture in clay, or an uncontrolled sound with sticks and tins, or can move in an uncontrolled dance like way. The point is that there is a subtle difference between the uncontrolled acts of painting by an animal and what appears, at first sight, to be an equally uncontrolled result from a human. This subtle difference is the key to understanding modern art.
I hope that this book will reveal that it is the unique human ability to create our own sense of order and control over perception that has driven us to override our animal senses. It is this alone that distinguishes an abstract painting created by a chimpanzee or an elephant from what appears to be an identical result by a human being. When a chimpanzee or an elephant paints an abstract it does not impose any sense of order or control over its actions, but when a human tries to do the same thing he or she must work to stop their mind imposing order and control. To create an abstract painting the human mind has to work in the opposite way to the animal mind. The human has to attempt to work without their mind guiding the paint to attain a recognisable result, but the animal mind works without having to do this. The animal lives without this sense of order and control needed to create a recognisable picture, and the animal can therefore experience objects and events in a more direct way. This direct experience is lost to us, because it is very difficult for us to remove the sense of order and control we impose over all we see and do.
The animal mind does not generate the structures of controlled visual organisation that drive us to seek patterns of recognition in sight, shape, sound or movement. The animal mind generates recognition of these essential senses by instinct but the human mind goes further. It seeks to override this instinctive awareness of sight, shape, sound and movement by imposing another layer of recognition upon the experience. What we look for in art is therefore not just the uncontrolled paint image – or clay shape, or sound, or movement – but the sense of additional order we expect to find. For example, a traditional painting of a landscape is an object full of this additional order. The paint has been very carefully placed to form an image we can recognise. The flat canvas takes on an illusion of depth and a semblance of light and form. To an animal mind, ruled by instinct, this additional depth of perception does not exist. The animal mind therefore sees the painting of the landscape in a different way. It sees the carefully placed colour and form as nothing more than splotches and smudges. Much as one would see an abstract painting that has no recognisable subject matter.
As we move towards looking at abstract painting, sculpture, music or dance, this additional level of perceptual awareness becomes harder to recognise. This causes us to begin to sense our older, instinctive view of the world encroaching upon the order and control we look for in all we see and do. Our modern mind will fight to stop this older view of objects and events (which can only be seen without intelligent order and control) returning into our awareness of the world around us. This is because we have evolved to structure this older, instinctive view through an additional level of recognition. It must have given our animal ancestors an advantage in the struggle for survival. An ability to see objects and events in a new dominant way has evolved, in human beings, so that we no longer see objects with their original instinctive appearance. A good example of how our intelligence fights to stop this old instinctive view emerging into our mind involves natural objects. We will often find ourselves searching for a recognisable face or some other shape in the twisted form of a tree trunk or a weathered rock formation. This ‘ability’ to find such images where they do not exist is an example of how our intelligent perception creates an additional level of recognition around all we see and do. It is my contention that our intelligence does this to stop our old sensation of animal instinct emerging into our mind.
Figure 2 Faces and figures are often imagined in natural objects. Driftwood photographed by tillsonberg. © iStockphoto.com
This additional depth of recognition is not just confined to art objects or natural forms like tree trunks or weathered rocks. It exists in everything you see and do every day of your life. When you wake up each morning your mind begins a process of projecting a learned knowledge of recognition onto all you see and do. This learned knowledge stops an instinctive view of the world around you from disturbing you. Every object you see around you is being structured through this additional level of perceptual awareness. A simple everyday item like a table or a chair or a cup is given a level of perceptual awareness by your intelligence that stops you experiencing the object in an instinctive way. It is very difficult to look at a cup on a table and to see it in a new way that STOPS your intelligence sensing the form and function as a cup and lets you see it through instinct. You could, of course, present your cup as a work of art. You could, perhaps, cover it in fur and place it in an art gallery. Such an object has now lost part of its identity, and has begun to disturb your intelligent understanding of cups and their function in life. The cup no longer serves its purpose as a cup and can begin to disturb your perception. However, as a work of art, the cup has now been given a new identity by your intelligence and you can realise from this that what we wanted to discover - the instinctive view of the cup without intelligent identity - has been lost once again. Our human mind has to find some other form of recognition so it can impose order and control over perception and simply cannot see the cup through instinct. We have evolved away from being able to comprehend the objects and events around us in this way.
Figure 3 A fur covered cup. Meret Oppenheim. Object (Le Déjeuner en fourrure) 1936. Artist © DACS 2009. Photo © 2009. Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence
To experience objects and events in a frame of mind that would allow us to know them through our old ‘animal’ instincts would require our intelligence to look at our surroundings as if we had never seen them before. We would have to sense the landscape around us – its shapes, colours, sounds and movements – without the recognition our intelligence learns to impose on all we see and do. Only then could we begin to sense objects and events with an inner awareness that we inherit from our most distant animal beginnings. It is inbred in all of us, in our genetic inheritance from pre-history. It does not have to be learned but, in most of us, lies dormant and undiscovered. What you experience all around you is therefore an intelligent interpretation of what instinct sees. As such, another view of the objects and events in the world lies hidden from you. This view is always lost to us - and it is this that modern art, when released from the restraints of traditional representation, can be shown to be capable of exploring.
We will look at the idea that modern art is intricately bound with the discovery that we have animal origins. The idea of evolution (the biological concept that we have emerged from animal ancestry through adaptation and modification of genetic inheritance over vast periods of time) has caused an unprecedented transformation in our understanding of ourselves. The fact that this change in understanding coincides with a decline in the traditional art object is no mere coincidence. The establishing of the idea of evolution not only changed our biological understanding of ourselves but caused a revolution in our belief about creativity.
When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species it caused great consternation among religious people because it challenged the idea that living things were created in an immutable order of existence. The Origin of Species placed all things as having evolved from a single beginning that, over a vast amount of time developed small advantageous adaptations that led to a vast diversity of living forms. By the turn of the twentieth century the old idea of a purposeful guiding hand of God, who had created all things in their rightful place in a grand scheme of things, was being replaced with a concept of adaptation to environmental change. Reluctantly, but with growing conviction, the idea of creativity shifted away from the belief in divine decree to one of random causality.
As the scientific knowledge and observable facts about our biological origins emerged, our self-confidence in explanations about our existence, once founded upon myths, superstitions and religion, shifted towards a more informed understanding based upon the discoveries of science. In this changing intellectual climate it dawned on artists that the idea of creativity could no longer rely on the traditional definition of art. The old idea that art was a miraculous gift of a superior intellect given to mankind to be enshrined in art objects has no place in the evolution of a species through natural selection. It was realised that the old idea of art was a dogma developed within, and passed down from, ages that had little or no idea of how life evolved. With the idea of evolution and genetics artists had to create a new understanding that shifted art away from the belief that it was a miraculous gift given by a superior intellect. They had to begin to realise art was an awareness that, through evolution, has endowed us with a unique way of sensing sight, shape, sound and movement from animal beginnings. This unique way of sensing had arisen in us because, under the influence of natural selection, we have adapted into creatures with an intelligent awareness that STOPS our animal instincts from revealing our surroundings to us in a raw emotive way.
This ability - to transform our old instinctive ‘animal’ perception of objects and events into intelligent awareness – has, like all things in the natural world, come about through adaptations selected through the forces of evolution. Nature has endowed us with the ability to discern sight, shape, sound and movement in a more advantageous way. Our intelligence has evolved to stop us sensing our surroundings by instinct, so that, while we look at the same sights, shapes, sounds and movements as all other living creatures, these sensations are transformed by our intelligent awareness. We create, in our minds, a different form of perceptual organisation from other living things and, in doing so, our interest in such sensations is transformed by our level of intelligence. Our sensations of sight, shape, sound and movement are generated in an altered state of awareness, so that what we experience is not a direct sensation of perception, as revealed by instinct, but a refined sensation that has been modified by intelligence.
Our intelligent perception evolved to alter our original animal perception but – because of the way evolution has to modify existing organisms to do new jobs – it could not replace the parts of our mind that generated the instincts we once lived by. That inherent structure had to be pushed to the back of the mind and this endowed us with two ways of perception. To control this, intelligence needed some way to organise how we recognise sight, shape, sound and movement that would stop the primal feeling of instinct that we once lived with from being sensed in our mind. This is where art begins. It comes into existence as a result of our intelligent need to remove the sense of instinct by organising how we recognise what we see. Traditional painting, sculpture, music and dance give forms of recognition in situations where, if art did not exist, we would be confronted with the sense of instinct. Modern artists realised this and began to remove forms of recognition from painting, sculpture, music and dance. Modern art became the antithesis of its traditional predecessor. It became a search for ways to generate instinctive perception, as opposed to a way to hide it.
Traditional art came about because intelligence seeks to find the highest forms of organisation it can recognise in any given situation. In pictures, for example, most people will look for something they recognise because, without this recognition, they begin to feel uncomfortable. This feeling of discomfort is their first sense of instinct infringing upon their ordered and organised intelligent view of the world. As our intelligence evolved it altered our powers of perception to ‘bury’ this uncomfortable feeling. Intelligence transformed the instinctive view into a controlled and ordered perception, and it is this control and order that traditional art upholds and reflects.
In pre-history people lived with this sense of discomfort in their perception. Their view of the world around them was mostly composed of instinct with a little glimpse of intelligent awareness. That glimpse gave our cave dwelling ancestors the ability to recognise images in the shapes of rocks or the shadows on cave walls. It bought with it a new power of imagination that pushed the sense of instinct to the back of the mind. The cave became a ‘controlled environment’ where the power of imagination could work at dispelling the sense of instinct. Outside in the ‘real’ world instinct still ruled, but in the cave it was subdued and, illuminated by the flickering of firelight, we began to outline images on walls with coloured earth. We began to scrape the shape of a beast in the wet clay under our feet and we began to make rhythmic noises in the silent depth of caverns. We began to move in a dance-like way and to chant to one another, because these acts began to teach us how to recognise order and control in a world that had always been dominated by chaos and instinct. The primitive mind found a new form of perceptual organisation - and art was born.
It was the beginning of a rapid journey – of little more than 40,000 years - towards intelligent awareness that propelled us, with our art, from cave dwelling primitives to the all-conquering, city living, creatures we are today. Now our intelligent awareness is so powerful there are almost no objects in the world around us that we can recognise in an instinctive way.
That old instinctive view is still inherited and created in our mind but it is now buried under our vast intelligent perception of all we see and do - an intelligent perception we learn to build for ourselves at a very early age. When infants scribble with coloured crayons, or make shapes with flour dough, or annoying noises with sticks on tins, they are beginning a process of overpowering the instinctive perception we are all born with. Long before we are old enough to realise what has been going on, our intelligent mind has full control over our sense of perceptual organisation and our original way of sensing objects and events through instinct has been all but lost to us.
Confronted by modern art, most people will feel uncomfortable because modern art tries to remove this barrier of perceptual organisation we are all born to create in our minds. Traditional art, by contrast, came into existence to help us create this barrier. Modern art has to destroy the traditional ways of creating art objects because the techniques used to make representational pictures and sculpture - and the control and order present in traditional music and dance - work to keep our sense of instinct subdued. Modern art takes this control and order away and this opens up our mind to sensing by instinct. The works often look or sound ugly and seem to make little or no sense at all. This is what we should expect, because intelligence has spent all its time working to hide the instinctive view behind an ordered and controlled perception. In the case of painting this order and control took the form of representational images, and this way of painting pictures served to hide the sense of instinct we begin to feel when we fail to recognise an image.
Now that we understand evolution and genetics we can begin to realise why traditional art has often been a reaction against established styles and technique. Artists have always suspected ‘something’ was hidden behind the order and control imposed by the traditional way of creating art objects, but until the end of the nineteenth century, they were not in a position to understand what this ‘something’ was. They felt art was more than the sum total of the art object they created, but they still believed art was a miraculous gift of a superior intellect and so they made no effort to look at the world in any other way but through intelligence. With this myth largely dispelled by the idea of evolution, it has become possible to understand that this ‘something’ felt to be the true power of art is not created by intelligence but hidden by it. We can now realise that the true identity of art could be another way of knowing sight, shape, sounds and movement with which we once lived in our animal past. Artists sense this other way of perception but they struggle to give it form. They have to transform it into something intelligence can recognise and this destroys the power of the sensations generated by instinct. This is what our mind has evolved to do and we can understand from this that, even though the old instinctive view is still being generated in the depth of our mind, we are no longer allowed to experience objects and events in the old instinctive way. That view has become buried within us because of the dominant power of our own intelligence.
The aim of this book is to examine the idea that a change occurred in our sense of perceptual organisation a very long time ago. We will be considering the idea that long before we were truly human we sensed the world around us by instinct alone and, as intelligence emerged, we found ourselves learning to hide the instinctive view in the depth of our mind. We will see that, even though we still inherit this view, we no longer know how to identify the way the old animal part of our mind generates its forms of sight, shape, sound and movement. We will see ourselves as creatures that have evolved to modify instinct through intelligence. To know our surroundings by instinct requires that we sense without intelligence, and this is something we now find almost impossible. This idea will allow us to realise that what makes modern art so unacceptable to the majority of people is that it tries to reveal a way of looking at the world around us through our old animal sense of instinct. Modern art tries to create a view of our surroundings that our mind no longer knows how to recognise.
Part One of this book will concern itself with animal perception. We will try to see how the appearance of objects and events can be understood in an instinctive way. We will try to look at the world around us without the intelligent awareness we use every day. To do this I will talk about two forms of perception, two ways of knowing the sensations of sight, shape, sound and movement that our mind generates. One way of knowing is created and controlled through intelligence and the other way is inherited through instinct. Both forms of perception show us the same view of the world around us but in entirely different ways, and the intelligent view also works to keep the instinctive view from being recognised. To explain this idea I will talk about these two forms of perception as if they are entirely separate, independent entities in our minds. In truth such a division is probably incorrect. The human mind is a very complex organism and our perception is likely to be interwoven and linked in many different ways. Nevertheless, for the sake of clarity I will adhere to the idea of two forms of perception. I will describe one form as ‘intelligent’ perception. This perception is the one we use every day and it creates a very organised and controlled experience of our surroundings in which every object and event has a rightful place and a preconceived identity. We learn to build this intelligent perception when we are very young and, unknowing to most of us, we then use this perception to stop the other perception emerging into our mind. This other perception I will call ‘animal’. This animal perception does not have to be learned because it is inherent in every one of us. It has been passed down from generation to generation since our most distant ancestors lived entirely within its intense and emotive way of generating awareness. We can no longer know what the world looks like from this animal perception because we have evolved away from sensing it. Any attempt to come to know this experience through intelligence will place preconceived identities over it that will transform the experience into something intelligence has learned to recognise. This altering of our animal perception gave us a far greater chance of success in the struggle for existence within the animal world. Intelligent perception gave us an awareness that has allowed us to control our surroundings like no other living things but, as we will learn, this advantage came at a price. This price was a loss of a very intense way of knowing sight, shape, sound and movement. It is this loss I believe artists have always sensed and searched for.
Part two of this book will show that this lost animal perception drove us to create painting, sculpture, music and dance. We will see that, had evolution adapted us to survive in any other way, we would have become artless animals. Our understanding of evolution tells us that the process has to adapt an existing organism for new survival skills. In our case this adaptation occurred in the brain. Evolution, once established, can only modify an existing organism to meet environmental changes, and so our animal ancestors found their old instinct for perception being transformed into intelligent awareness as our brains expanded to meet new pressures for survival. This process left us with a deeply embedded instinct for sensing objects and events that our emerging intelligence had to work to keep subdued in our mind.
Cave art is shown as the beginning of a journey into creative thinking that taught our ancestors how to suppress their old animal state of mind. This began an advance, along with civilisation, towards devising some of the greatest and most wondrous works of the intellect. This advance led us, because our intelligence is an adaptation of the animal mind, to use art to hide the animal experience of the world. Art could have gone the other way. It could have taught our emerging intelligence how to understand instinctive perception, but the power of intelligence, and the need for survival, saw to it that art served to help intelligence bury the old animal way of knowing. Art became the slave of intelligence, rather than keeping open a way for us to know our old instincts. Instead, intelligence used art to create a sense of order and control over perception in the form of painting, sculpture, music and dance.
And so these objects developed to help us overcome sensations generated by instinct and, as we will see, art itself then became an unidentified ‘feeling’ hidden within the art object. This 'feeling' was the sense of instinct our intelligence could no longer recognise, and it is this that artists 'sense' more than most of us. It drives them to want to intensify how we perceive sight, shape, sound and movement in the forms of painting, sculpture, music and dance. The power of art to show us sensations through instinct became tamed under all the grandeur and superiority that traditional art bequeathed to us.
We will see that artists, as highly perceptive individuals, have always sensed a deeper experience of the world lay all around us but, before our age, they were not in a position to understand what that deeper experience could be. As a consequence art became misunderstood as an ‘inner’ spiritual feeling, and our old animal mind was mistakenly imagined as a devil to torment us, or as a god to love.
Part three of this book concerns our present day understanding of our origins through the theory of evolution and genetics. It reveals how we possess an old inherent way of perception that generates a very emotive and intense experience of the world that our intelligence has to work to keep subdued in our mind. We will see how we all bury the experience in the depth of our mind when we are very young. This can turn us into creatures who never learn how to recognise our ‘inner’ animal mind. We can spend all our lives in ignorance of the view the animal mind still generates for us. Those of us who are not artists will spend our time keeping these long-lost sensations safely locked away behind the power of our intelligence.
The conclusion is that this old animal perception has been influencing art right from its beginning, but only with the rise of modern art do we begin to see an attempt to rediscover the old instinctive perception. Painting, sculpture, music and dance become more and more erratic and chaotic as they begin to move from traditional order and control towards trying to present forms sensed through instinct. As art becomes more bizarre and ludicrous, most people will find themselves having difficulty understanding the distortions and disruption caused to the traditional criteria of art. Modern art, by avoiding traditional content, begins to expose us to our animal sense of perception, and this generates a feeling of uncertainty and even rejection towards such work. This should be expected because, if the work of modern art is a true attempt to remove our intelligent perception of an object or event, it will appear alien to our intelligent awareness. We will feel disturbed by the uncertainty the work presents - such a feeling should be expected rather than rejected. It can be shown to be the outcome of our intelligent mind trying to stop us becoming aware of the old animal sense of perception generated in the depth of our mind. Such a perception of our surroundings is not something our intelligent mind wants to rediscover, because it has spent the best part of our rise from animal beginnings keeping it hidden.
We will look closely at our need to seek out organised forms of recognition as being representative of our intelligence trying to block the older animal sensations that begin to arise in our mind when we fail to recognise something. We will see that modern art tries to disrupt our powers of recognition so that we are exposed to sights, shapes, sounds and movements that fail to comply with what our intelligence expects to experience. Only then, in this state of uncertainty, are we susceptible to sensing the old animal perception buried deep within us all.