The Black Sun

Black Sun #1 by Sean Hood, pastel on paper, digital remix

My interest in the “Black Sun” as a symbol and a metaphor began when I read Stanton Marlon’s book The Black Sun.

It is a symbol that evokes death, depression, suicide, and nihilism, but The Black Sun also shines with eerie, numinous luminescence. If the white light of the noonday sun is a symbol of positivity, optimism, the Ego’s plans for perpetual growth, the paradoxical light of the Black Sun is a symbol of egoicide and rebirth through creativity.

Under this weird illumination, depression is not (just) a disease to be cured by medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, but a call to creative action.

Black Sun #2 by Sean Hood, pastel on paper and digital remix

I have the sense that in our consumer-capitalist frenzy of relentless activity and growth we attempt to abolish melancholia, boredom, and grief. The Black Sun is desperately needed as balance to the Tyranny of our well ultra-bright, smiling world.

The Black Sun is a portal that allows the depressed and despairing a path to avoid literal suicide through symbolic egoicide. This path leads into darkness instead of away from it, and reveals an unexpected bounty of compassion, gratitude and awe.

“Do not then close your eyes to the agonizing Sphinx, but look her in the face, and let her seize you in her mouth, and crunch you with her hundred thousand poisonous teeth, and swallow you. And when she has swallowed you, you will know the sweetness of the taste of suffering.” – C.G. Jung

Undergrid Four (of Fifty)

Undergrid Four – Pastel on paper, digitally manipulated

The abstract images I’m making for undergrids are probably a bit bland and puzzling for you, so here are a few things that might put them in context.

  • Each picture titled “Undergrid” is a visual representation of the ideas behind Undergrids (see definition.) It is a representation of the complex, fractal, grid of relationships each of us has with other people and foreign objects, a grid that determines identity and meaning. So, each “Undergrid painting is a picture of my undergrid and in that sense, a self-portrait.
  • Each picture with its overcrowded multiplicity of shapes and connections represents how I experience the world. I often feel overwhelmed and overstimulated by too many things, people, and complex systems. (In future articles, I’m planning to write about Concentration Deficit Disorder.) The world seems to generate an overwhelming surplus of objects, and I have trouble screening out the noise to get to the signal. So, the images look jam-packed with “noisy objects” and it is hard to know which one to look at.
  • Each picture is a kind of Mandala. So making them is very calming and meditative. The way some people color in mandalas with colored pencils in coloring books, I draw “Undergrids.”
Image From Mandala Coloring Book

Notice that Undergrids do not have the formal balance and geometric structure of Mandalas. Despite studying mathematics and formal geometry, my raw phenomenological experience tends to be more disorganized and chaotic.