Cheimonette

Artwork and writing by Eden Gallanter.

Eden is a professional artist, author, and scientist, and is the creator of the Cheimonette Tarot, sold in over 30 countries, across 6 continents.

Filtering by Category: Science

Artifact

This is a monthly art-related (or at least art-adjacent) post about what I've been doing and thinking about. Welcome to the month of August!

General News

1. One of my tarot paintings, "Love" was accepted to a group exhibition at The Studio Door in San Diego! It will be on view from August 3rd to 26th. If you're one of my tarot customers and live in the area, it's really worth seeing the original painting, and it looks like it's going to be a wonderful show!

2. My drawing "The Sparrow and the sparrows" is up on view at Arthaus Projects gallery in Williamsport, Pennsylvania! Exhibition closes on August 11th.

3. I am participating in San Francisco Open Studios this year! Open Studios is a series of five weekends where local artists open their studios to the public and sell their art. The weekends are divided up by neighborhood, and my weekend is November 3rd and 4th. If you're going to be in the bay area, mark your calendars and PLEASE COME! I'll be posting more details as the event gets closer.

Painting in my home studio, photo by Jessica Palopoli (https://www.jessicapalopoli.com/

Painting in my home studio, photo by Jessica Palopoli (https://www.jessicapalopoli.com/

It's been a weird weekend. Over the last year, I succeeded in tracking down the movie that scared the everloving shit out of me when I was four years old, and I finally watched it last Saturday night.

If you ever have the opportunity of revisiting movies (or stories, songs, amusement park rides, pictures, or any other innocuous thing whose fearsomeness derives from the unformed and imaginative mind of the very young), I recommend doing so. You will find that you remembered some parts with surprising precision, and that other parts (in my case, most other parts) were largely fabricated. It is a glimpse into how utterly unrecognizable the same event can be when experienced by different people. I often think how miraculous it is that any of us can communicate with each other at all.

Me wearing my favorite elephant bathing suit (I still think the Pink Elephants song from "Dumbo" is one of the best things Disney has ever done), summer of 1983.

Me wearing my favorite elephant bathing suit (I still think the Pink Elephants song from "Dumbo" is one of the best things Disney has ever done), summer of 1983.

Now, of course, you would like to know what the movie was.

Embarrassingly, it was "The Horror at 37,000 Feet", widely known (among Shatner fans, at least) as William Shatner's worst movie—a made-for-TV production that first aired in 1973. The plot featured a haunted airplane, and ended relatively tamely, with two gore-free human deaths and one frozen dog. It was apparently still making the rounds on one evening during the summer of 1983, when my parents took me to their friends' home for a dinner party. The household children, who were several years older than me (and I imagine were secretly hoping to be entertained by putting a little kid into hysterics) were clustered around the TV, and of course I joined them. It appears I made it through almost the whole movie before silently leaving the room and rejoining my parents.

I need hardly say that William Shatner's worst movie was not, on second viewing, especially scary. The interesting part wasn't the movie, it was watching prototypes of all my nightmares since age four march across the screen for 90 minutes. Although I had apparently invented several scenes, my inventions had done a strangely excellent job of capturing the story and the characters' state of mind—better, in fact, than the actual movie did.

To conjoin a pair of disparate dictionary definitions of the same word, "artifact" (an unintentional or meaningless by-product of, say, a scientific experiment or photograph) turns out to be a valuable treasure-trove of historic information. Making up stories is an essential part of the pattern-recognition processes of the executive system. Our minds come up with a plausible narrative about what is going on and even who one is. These narratives never quite match with reality, but that is not their purpose. Without our stories, we would not be able to learn, to remember, to sympathize with others, to recover from negative emotions, or even to recognize ourselves. We would have no coherent identity.

I'm not exactly saying that such mental artifacts are either desirable or destructive—it really depends on the mind that's making them, I guess. Although every story we can think of is in some sense true, not every story is equally useful. However, I am surprised by how often our memories turn out to be deeply insightful fabrications, if that makes sense. Because isn't this, too, a form of art? Isn't reconstructing reality in a more human-sized way, in a way that distills its importance and meaning for us, what art is? And our minds do this all the time—it is fundamental to our functioning in the world. Many scientists even argue that this storytelling part of the brain is the cornerstone of consciousness.

LOCUST X LOCUST ( Chortoicetes terminifera x Robinia pseudoacacia )

LOCUST X LOCUST (Chortoicetes terminifera x Robinia pseudoacacia)

Speaking of finding important truths in trite places, the idea for my latest painting came from a misunderstanding I have always cherished. When I first heard the word "Locust", I thought the teacher had said "hocus" (as in Hocus Pocus). The association is now immovable; I always think of magic—of fairytale, joyfully implausible magic—when I hear the word Locust. Magic then becomes the foundation for all the word's other associations: penny-slice leaves clattering in the breeze (the black locust tree), destruction and ruin (the plague locust insect), species invasion (the tree), the dry, muffled snapping sound of the swarm (the insect), creamy and delicately scented cascades of blossoms (the tree), the judgment of God upon Egypt in the Book of Exodus (the insect), and so on.

The best part of making something new is always over as soon as it is finished. Artists and makers who feel the way I do tend to make the most intricately detailed things, because we don't ever want it to end. More opportunities for new artifacts, too.

The Artist's Legend

There are some metaphorical concepts at that lie at the core of many of the images than run through the Cheimonette Tarot. I saw René Magritte’s legend last week, at his special exhibit at the MOMA: a mirror, a bird, a ribbon in a bow, an apple, a bowler hat, a candle, all collected on one canvas, for the benefit of his beloved observer. So, here is mine, explained for my best beloved reader, and you can add your own, and we can make our own language together in this way: high:deepThere are deep things and there are high things.

Deep things, being either underground, underwater, or buried burning within the core of some star or singularity, are slow-moving and silent. They take on the aspects (the surge current, the echoing crunch of seismic uplift and subduction, the blinding glow of irradiated atomic fusion) of their environments, and express their identity by a profoundly isolated and recursive imagination. In the way that the infinite field of postulated “collapsed” Calabi-Yau dimensional spaces take up no space and yet exist at every point in the universe, deep things each contain their own, disconnected little internal worlds.

High things have their own mass, their own energy and their own gravitational field. They do not take on the aspects of their environments because those environments have no size or shape of their own. Biological or tectonic forces keep the surface of the earth in a state of flux, and by the time we rise up into the stratosphere and beyond, the crowd of molecules and their motions have thinned out to a bare minimum.

Therefore there are only two directions in the whole world in which we may move: higher and deeper.

X: The Wheel

There are eight spokes in the tenth card in the major arcana, The Wheel. At the end of each spoke, where a limb of an angel terminates, there is an icon. This is the eight-letter pictogrammatical alphabet of the Cheimonette Tarot.

appleThe Heart-Apple: the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  This is the ability particular to human understanding, in which we are able to grasp our position in relation to the world, and exert ourselves to change it. (This tree is also known as the tree of death.)

flowersThe Mandala-Flower: the fruit of the tree of life. This is the temporary escape from the demands of biological existence we find in profound feeling and creative understanding. This flower, when eaten, is also called freedom.

moonThe Crescent Moon: the sign of truth. Not only is truth not always beautiful, it is not always even righteous. It is simply the course of events along the inexorable passage of time.

godThe God Sign: the mark of a divine concept or entity that cannot change or die. Really a rough zero and one, placed together like a phi.

real eyeThe Real Eye: the symbol of life. Life is to be understood as the whole arc, from understanding and joy to suffering and intellectual darkness. Life as an opportunity, life as an adventure, life as a cruel trap, life as a responsibility: all of these.

false eye

The False Eye: the symbol of death. Death may also be understood to be eternal life (in which life is not life, but a changeless observation tower in which the corporeal body transforms into a bird and never returns to the mortal coil of existence and non-existence).

zeroThe Bubble: the number zero. Like all bubbles, zero is a potential event and trajectory that has not yet happened: a star that has not yet exploded, an egg that has not yet hatched, an eye that has not yet opened.

oneThe Helix: the number one. A 1 curled up on itself, this number is both linked with numerical concepts such as zero and infinity, and also the beginning of all real numbers, which constitute the set of the visible universe. One is the integer who makes its debut into the world of flux, change, and chaos in which we find ourselves.

(Author’s Apology:

This world that surrounds us is in fact not self-made, but in our own subversive way we create another world out of differentiated labels (this is how language is made).  We are nothing but helpless children in the midst of the lovely and fascinatingly unfamiliar light projections of our dreams, which we can of course never touch but which we mindlessly worship as the truth.  What we are constantly forgetting is ourselves, holding out our palms sadly to one another and each of us wasting our desire on these things, which have been created by us, after all, and are not in themselves real and cannot compare to the indescribable beauty of their creators.)

Copyright 2014 - Cheimonette