Technicians Of Ecstasyby Mark Levy
This book grew, in part, out of an undergraduate course Dr. Levy taught at the San Francisco Art Institute. Finding that students were still subscribing to the 19th-century bohemian myth that to have a vision, one had to, in the words of Rimbaud, "systematically derange" one's senses, he attempted to expose them to an alternative myth that is more positive -- a myth rooted in the grounded practice of shamanic techniques.
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TECHNICIANS OF ECSTASY takes the reader on a scintillating, scholarly tour through the work of several artists. While not all artists see the world as shaman do, there are some artists who see, dream, and perform in much the same way as the shaman. Some of the 27 artists included in TECHNICIANS OF ECSTASY are: Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Alex Grey, Henri Rousseau, Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Ann McCoy, and Jonathan Borofsky. What makes this book so fabulous is the way it demonstrates ways that spiritual meaning and wisdom is at the heart of much of the world's best art. The world's best artists know how to break out of habitual modes of looking, and in sharing their visions, empower all who view their art by helping people open their eyes to new ways of seeing. Author Mark Levy explains, 'In shifting attention from common sense or 'consensus reality,' artists as shamans succeed in expanding their consciousness and the consciousness of their communities and offer blueprints for spiritual development.' I particularly loved the shamanic techniques mentioned to stimulate creativity, as these exercises indeed are part of the core of all shamanic training: isolation, not-doing, prolonged looking, the strong eye, and setting up dreaming. TECHNICIANS OF ECSTASY is essential reading for everyone who is excited by meaningful art, as well as for anyone wishing to better understand how to see the world through the artist's and the shaman's eyes. I give this book my highest recommendation!