Observations from Modern Consciousness Research
By Stanislav Grof with artwork by H.R. Giger
Foreword by art historian Claudia Müller-Eberling
Stanislav Grof, the pioneer of consciousness research, interprets HR Giger’s visionary world for the first time from the perspective of transpersonal psychology in this unique essay. To date, HR Giger’s images have been described in myriad variations, but never before within the context of the social relevance of his art. With his interpretation of the claustrophobic, nightmarish aspects of Giger’s art, Grof allows for a new, more profound understanding of the overall work.
“I don’t know anybody else who has so accurately portrayed the soul of modern humanity. A few decades from now, when they talk about the 20th century, they will think of Giger.”
– Filmmaker Oliver Stone
Distributed by Synergetic Press in North America and Europe (excluding Switzerland, Germany and Austria). Published by Nachtschatten Verlag.
In this remarkable book, the psychoanalyst Stanislav Grof presents the artwork of H.R. Giger, the renowned Swiss painter, sculptor, and set designer. The bilingual format broadens the book’s audience, but the paintings need no descriptive words — they speak for themselves and render the depths of the psyche in a way that is both illuminating and terrifying. An astute reader need only to study this artwork to understand why human beings are capable of creative illumination on the one hand, and fomenting terror on the other.
–Stanley Krippner, Professor of Psychology, Saybrook University (from Amazon.com)
Giger’s rich and intense paintings are also replete with demonic, sexual, scatological, and claustrophobic motifs as well as sexual organs and appendages, laboring naked women and stricken, aggressive fetuses. Grof’s hypothesis is that these combinations of themes in Giger’s work are, rather than a random juxtaposition of images such as those found in surrealism, reflections of a deep and consistent experiential logic which is meaningfully related to the psychological death-rebirth process. Giger’s art depicts the kinds of “dark night of the soul” experiences that routinely occur during the process of inner psychospiritual transformation. Individuals engaged in deep and systematic forms of self-exploration, such as psychedelic therapy or holotropic breathwork, encounter the same elements portrayed in Giger’s paintings at certain points in their inner journeys.
His research further suggests that the perinatal layer of the psyche, so evocatively portrayed in Giger’s art, is responsible for many emotional and psychosomatic problems in human life. “Our self-definition and attitudes toward the world in our postnatal life are heavily contaminated by this constant reminder of the vulnerability, inadequacy, and weakness that we experienced at birth. In a sense, although we have been born anatomically, we have not caught up with this fact emotionally.”
Giger’s rich offerings, so gracefully interpreted by Grof, can be seen as alluring invitations to humanity for a deeper self-knowledge, calling us to face our disowned shadow material and, in doing so, reclaim the spiritual dimensions of existence. This foundational book, a collaboration by two masters, is a must-read for all serious students of art and the creative process, depth psychology and psychopathology, history, self-exploration, spirituality, and transcendent states.
Renn Butler on May 8, 2014 (comment edited for length)