Updated: Nov 21, 2020
I recently ordered an edition of a retrospective of Giger's work, I received notice that it had been delivered to my rural mailbox here and not to my house. When I went to pick it up it was gone - the mail was box empty. Both Amazon and the USPS confirmed it had been delivered. Since I do live in a rural area rife with meth addicts, Trump supporters and potheads, my suspicion was it had been stolen.
Although I was furious it may have been stolen, this thought actually made me laugh, because I kept imagining the books contents giving this clandestine mail thief nightmares for the rest of their life. LOLOL
Miraculously! The book mysteriously turned-up 24 hours later, neatly placed in my mail box.
Disturbing, solidly grotesque, anti-religious, biomechanical erotocosim, and recurring surrealistic themes of birth and death seem to be interwoven into almost everything he created. Yet the truth and purity of his images and sculptures cannot be escaped by those who do not just gloss-over them, but are willing to look at them with eyes unafraid of what they might discover and what of themselves may be reflected directly back at them.
The darkness of these works is our own darkness. I am reminded of Jung's writings on "The Shadow." (In Jungian psychology, the shadow (also known as id, shadow aspect, or shadow archetype) is either an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself; or the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side.) A wonderful book about this subject was written by Robert A. Johnston -
Besides Johnson, I highly recommend reading or listening to lectures by James Hillman, another brilliant scholar on the subject.
Even the most casual student of mythology and folklore learns early-on that modern western society has collectively been desperately repressing and burying all shadow material from conscious awareness. I have dubbed this, "The Disneyfying" of America.
In fact, I will go so far as to publicly surmise here that a large part of America's current political and social dysfunction is due to this "Disneyfying" effect. The absolute denial of the existence of our shadow makes neutralizing and releasing it impossible. Thus, we resort to projecting our shadow onto others. To quote Roberts, "Group Shadows can be particularly malicious." We only need to look at people like Hitler, Stalin or Trump to see this played out. I further suspect that this unconscious denial of shadow is the birthplace of Narcissism.
Perhaps this is why I so readily accept and understand Giger's work. Fortunately, I can easily accept my own shadow because I had a very unique childhood raised as an only child isolated deep in the Adirondack mountains of New York by two self-absorbed alcoholics. I was never completely civilized nor was I socialized. As a young adult I had to figure out how to navigate "society" by observing and mimicking what passes for acceptable behavior. Because I was never "programed" to NOT acknowledge my own shadow or made to think it was "bad" or "wrong." This and my prolific imagination may be the greatest gifts from my isolated young childhood.
The Swedish artist is best known to American Sci-Fi fans for one singular, iconic creation ...
Ridley Scott's 1979 film "Alien"
Not surprisingly, Giger had an artistic falling-out with Hollywood shortly after his initial involvement with them because they had altered and watered-down his vision and so, was then ostracised from any further work on subsequent films. I admire, applaud and respect him for this.
Creativity succeeds in delivering its message only if it is genuine. It can only touch someone else if it comes from the creator's truest, most intimately genuine place. Creations that are derivative, created for commercial success or any other reason, besides the purest expression of the creator's truth, ultimately fail in this respect. It is Giger's willingness to risk sharing his truth that I most appreciate.
In writing this blog post I traveled from Giger to Jungian Psychology, social commentary and back again. I think this is the first blog post I've written where I was unafraid to unleash some of my mythological academia without disguising it. Perhaps I've been holding back because I was leary of sharing my own truth here. In that regard, this departure in writing felt very fulfilling to me.
Until next time ... Here's part 1 and 2 of Robert Johnson's 1 hour lecture, "Your Shadow" -