"Traces of the Catacombes"(7) adopts its name from the French artist Mireille W. Descombes, who tells us that her work "seems to collapse into the dense 'mass' of Memory, a 'mass' of such enormous density that one word only--or one cluster of words--can come to the fore..."(8) This is echoed by the psychologist James Hillman, who wrote, "As the psyche moves toward the underworld--which is a perspective and not necessarily actual death--there develops an ever stronger feeling of sameness, an identity of opposites, where the cure is the disease, the healing is a deeper wounding, and the newborn infant is death. One cannot distinguish here from there. There is only one image."(9)

One image, one Mind, one Word, one God. But this is only the beginning. Descombes' aesthetic continues by "tearing shredded forms out of torn words..."(10) while Hillman's orientation is toward a generous revelation of pagan archetypes, implying that, as W.B. Yates famously said, "The center cannot hold," and that, while organized from a center, the text reincarnates itself in the mode of a plenum.Likewise, from centuries of dominance by monotheistic religions, each violently defending its own projection of "God," we see that this enterprise is hopelessly neurotic. For what is neurosis but a knot, a loop, a closed circuit? Thus, Descombes tears her texts apart, working with fragments of word-impressions, "quasi-words" that supersede each other "with ever-increasing speed," trying to overcome the gravity of ingrained ideas.

In most religions, as it was in early Christianity, the notion of reincarnation has been, and in some cases still is, viable. For example, in Tibetan Buddhism reincarnation plays a central role. One doesn't die and go to a heaven, or a hell. One dies, then returns to continue on the path of spiritual development. There is no judgment, only opportunity, usually missed. While the Council of Nicaea outlawed the insight that we are all potentially the Messiah, Buddhism still councils that we are all Buddha, although most of us have not yet reached this level of awareness. Although I am not yet convinced that reincarnation is a fact, maybe because I'm reaching a point where my death is within sight, I am open to studying the materials, and there is interesting contemporary research to be found.

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