Stan Brakhage's spiritual imperative : its origins, corporeality, and form

Lori, Marco (2017) Stan Brakhage's spiritual imperative : its origins, corporeality, and form. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the topic of film-maker Stan Brakhage’s occult-derived spirituality. The origins and contents of his positions about spirituality and art are traced back to an occult-derived philosophical tradition discussed by and subsequently associated with the poet Ezra Pound. Pound recovered and reworked certain occult-related beliefs which in turn had roots in a medieval synthesis of ancient Greek doctrines. These beliefs constitute a precise historical perspective against which to read and understand Brakhage’s apparently eccentric positions about art as spiritual revelation, trance states, the Muses, the artist as instrument, and the divine as ineffable. After defining the origins and substance of what I term Brakhage’s spiritual imperative, other aspects of his spiritual quest are considered. The corporeality as functional to it, positioning it beyond a mere metaphysical sphere, and the formal features through which such spirituality is articulated and manifested, constitute the other two directions of my investigation. The corporeality of the world is discussed as a vital part of Brakhage’s spiritual imperative in his stances towards science, sex, the body, and rhythm. The actual form through which it is manifested his spirituality in art, and the theoretical implications of that form, are the topic of the third and last part of the investigation. This form is identified as fragmentation, intended by Brakhage to produce not only a continuous present for the viewers of his work, but also to imply a precise model for reality. Such model relates Brakhage’s spiritual imperative with his lifelong aversion to what he regarded as constricting forms, such as narrative and grammatical structures. The thesis aims to demonstrate the origins and theoretical content of Brakhage’s spiritual ideas as occult-derived, mainly through Pound; and to assess the resulting spirituality as deeply intertwined with the corporeality of the world, and manifested through a form related to his critical stances towards language and narration.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Arts > English & Humanities
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2017 13:53
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2017 13:53
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/257

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