The science of Anthropology had its origins, in part, in a classic work by Sir James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, which was a study of ancient ritual and religion, a kind of an encyclopedia of magic.
Frazer wrote, “Hence the strong attraction which magic and science alike have exercised over the human mind; hence the powerful stimulus that both have given to the pursuit of knowledge. They lure the weary enquirer, the footsore seeker, on through the wilderness of disappointment in the present by their endless promises of the future: they take him up to the top of an exceeding high mountain and show him, beyond the dark clouds and rolling mists at his feet, a vision of the celestial city, far off, it may be, but radiant with unearthly splendor, bathed in the light of dreams.”
This image had its start as a drawing of the beautifully overgrown area around my home. But the drawing itself failed to jell. I would put it away, then pick at it, then put it away again. I simply couldn’t capture the overwhelming, dense information before me, nor could I fix the mess, even though there were parts of it that seemed worthwhile, amid the chaos.
The more I worked on it, the more it reminded me of my own artistic shortcomings, all the gaps in my training, all the laziness and lack of discipline,. Then I tried playing with digital enhancements, and did a mirror image split screen. The drawing suddenly transformed into an abstracted forest cathedral. All it took was the simple addition of a complimentary image, almost, but not entirely symmetrical. Perhaps you could use the term “simitry”, a simulation in many senses of the word, an imitation; the product of a computer process; and a pretense or a deception. The transformed drawing resonated with me, conjuring something ancient, but in contemporary form.
So I’m putting this image upfront, an icon of the process of gathering material for this website, the mess and disorder of things that seem to have nothing to do with one another, an icon of my lack of skill in making them all congeal, and an icon of what it might yet become, through trickery, or through the process of discovery, or by accident. The picture seems to change every time I look at it. Sometimes it seduces my eye into the depths on which it pivots, wherein lie intimations of infinity. And sometimes I see only its flaws and illusions, like the way it hangs askew. Fixing it would sterilize it, or expose its trickery and nonsense; and it is better for its flaws, which must forever remain as they are, I tell myself– for the task of fixing every flaw could also last forever, and the danger of ruining the picture completely and irreparably would always be there, were I to attempt another change.
Every time I see something different in or about the picture, it changes what I want to say with these accompanying words, which form an inseparable part of the experience. I’m still trying to transform everything else in this site to match this image, to show the way science and magic are integrated, and how that integration relates to Art, Law, Medicine, Comic Books, Pulp Magazines, Literary Criticism, and Fiction. Yeah, the picture is only a visual gimmick, like something you could achieve with a child’s kaleidoscope. That is part of the way the world presents itself, in portions that seem disordered and unrelated when considered in isolation, without apparent purpose on their own, with startling or subtle or profound changes whenever there is a slight shift in angle or a gentle tap on the contents.
Then Life Begins to Get Complicated
To escape the boredom and harassment of 4th grade, Stuart Hopen wrote and illustrated a science fiction and fantasy short story collection that began with a work titled “Me, Temporary Teenager.” He’s been escaping into his writing and art ever since. A graduate of Princeton University, he has written comic books published by D.C. Comics, Marvel, Fantagraphics, Eclipse, and Amazing Comics. His critical writing has been published by Rain Taxi Review of Books and the Comics Journal. He married a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the cover painting on the first edition of his novel, Warp Angel, and they have three children. Though he has traveled extensively across galaxies and dimensions, he spent most of his life in a small town mantled with its unfulfilled dreams of becoming the east coast motion picture capital of America– Hollywood, Florida.
My artistic heroes, heroines, and influences (in no particular order):
Thomas Pynchon, Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, Jack Kirby, Tanith Lee, Phillip K. Dick, Brian Aldiss, J.G. Ballard, Roger Zelazny, James Ensor, Jules Bissier, Gunter Grass, James Joyce, William Shakespeare, Elizabeth Hand, Jeff Jones, Alan Moore, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ray Davies, A.S. Byatt, Anais Nin, Ingmar Bergman, Barrington J. Bayley, Stanislaw Lem, Angela Carter, Michael Kaluta, William T. Vollman, China Mieville, Herman Melville, Eudora Welty, Robert E. Howard, Mike Carey, Will and Ariel Durant, G.I. Gurdjieff, Winsor McKay, Neal Stephenson, Toni Morrison, Arnold Drake, Kin Platt, Thomas McGuane, Patti Smith, William Faulkner, Michael Moorcock, Herman Hesse, Lester Dent, Marisha Pessl, Steve Ditko, Maurice Ravel, Ken Russell, P. Craig Russell, Cormack McCarthy, Samuel R. Delaney, Vladimir Nabokov, Colin Wilson, Dashiell Hammett, Donovan, Raymond Chandler, Lon Chaney, Tod Browning, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Norman Spinrad, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Flannery O’Connor, John LeCarre, Don Delillo, Neil Gaiman, Ian Fleming, Bert Jansch,Gardner Fox, Robert Stone, Norvell Page, Bob Dylan, and…
Site Contents: Writing, Paintings, and Drawings ©Stuart Hopen 2018 (or earlier as noted on individual works), excluding quoted material, Whisper, Delta-Wave, and Daemon Mask Art by Russ Martin, Delta Wave Art by Albert Val and Kenneth MacFarlane, and Cyril Knight Art by Mike Hoffman.