The Philosophy of Cyprianism can be employed to enhance one’s creative process. There are, in fact, those that only use it for that reason. As an artistic discipline, Cyprianism has the potential to infuse your work with mastery, eroticism and the connection to the audience that creates a masterpiece.
Cyprianism is a great foundation for artistic expression, especially for those that are not afraid to admit the Erotic Force. Music, sculpture, painting, flower arranging, dance, drama … if it is devoid of sexuality, it is useless. As acerbic American satirist H.L. Mencken famously said, “the great artists of the world are never puritans and seldom even ordinarily respectable. No moral man – that is moral in the YMCA sense – has ever painted a picture worth looking at, or written a symphony worth hearing, or a book worth reading.” He would agree with Cyprian illustrator Franz von Bayros that we should “always seek out Beauty, and attempt to find it in situations that cannot be mentioned in prudish circles.”
Whether Cyprian art is literally erotic or not, the Philosophy says that it has a sexual narrative that underpins the energy of the piece. Cyprianism wishes to give (a sometimes unconscious) shape and voice to the intangible (and often subtle) Erotic Force.
This is why so much Cyprianist art is (and virtually all of the Cyprian Rituals are) Erotic. But it is also why virtually none of the erotic art being produced today is Cyprianist. The Erotic Force demands more of us, just as the Current does. By interfacing with the Current through the Erotic Force we are opening up creative channels not available to most people. The pulsating, seething ichor that runs through the veins of Cyprianist artists is made of the Poetry unleashed by our connection to the Current.
Cyprian vs. Cyprianist
Today, artists that apply the principles of Cyprianism in order to create better art are called Cyprianists (a named coined by Australian painter Catherine Abel). The term Cyprian, however, refers to those who apply the Philosophy and Practice to all areas of their lives.
Since Cyprianism can be applied directly to the creation of art, it is not absolutely necessary for it to inhabit your whole life. The latter is obviously, however, a better, more holistic approach and should be considered. The “Beautiful Life” approach to Cyprianism requires pursuing the creation of a masterwork, of your life or your art, or both. So then it is possible to be Cyprianist without being a Cyprian, but not a Cyprian without being Cyprianist.
Tenets of Cyprianist Art:
Cyprianist art is tethered to and resonant with the energy and influence of the Current.
The Current is the most important concept in Cyprianism and also the hardest to explain. Imagine for a minute that you are playing first violin in a vast orchestra. As you look at your part on the page you see only the notes that you are to play. At this moment your section is resting but as measure sixty-five approaches you fold seamlessly into the fray. You only play one note at a time but the listener hears many … chords, rhythms … the entire score comprising the pleasurable music resonating from ears to chest. You barely look up from the page: You don’t have to. You feel the souls of the players all around you. You could see the conductor with an easy glance, but it’s more natural just to let the cadence run through you.
The piece of music ebbs and flows. It gets louder – softer. The tempos change drastically; at times even within one measure. And yet, you’re perfectly in sync with every other artist on that stage. Also (and this is where it gets important), you’re in sync with the members of the audience who are along on the journey. The composer, dead many centuries, is there – alive – in this room. His pen is spilling ink at this very moment for the array of notes being massaged out of each instrument. And only those who are ritualistically trained to create and experience it are that closely connected.
This is the Current.
Religions of every stripe have concepts for It. Even many irreligious people have “spiritual” ideas about why the human race is wholly connected on mysterious levels. The difficulty of conceptualizing the Current is the fact that It is the “something else that one cannot know” that Auguste Rodin spoke of in Art, Conversations with Paul Gsell, a veritable bible for Cyprianists. Ultimately, the Current is beyond us. It is creativity. And It is mutuality. And as such, truly creative people can experience It but never explain It truly.
The Current is that place where history is written in memory and stored alongside the moments we are making right now. It is cadence. It is vast enough to be peaceful, yet personal enough to adapt in a breath. It is always moving, but not always toward the future. It is S-xual. It is horrible, primal Nature and It is the Beautiful, clever architecture that dares to defy it.
Understand, though, that we do not need to codify It. We need Mystery. We need ritual. And we need art … truly Cyprian art that is bound to the energy and influence of the Current.
Cyprianist art is created by living as ritual.
Cyprian artists live with a ceremonial flourish. We value ritual above convenience. It is believed that every step we remove from a process has the tendency to pull us from our connection with the underpinning cadence of the Current. The time spent personalizing our moments is where the creative process is best fed. Intentional acts of ritual automatically set us at a different pace than the rest of the world. Without living your life as a ritual, great art is impossible. As Rodin put it, “Art is always sacred.”
Cyprianist art is a total, collaborative work of art.
A piece of Cyprian art is just that: A piece. It is not the whole. Your work informs and influences the work of others. An ancient work stands alive – immortal – because of something you are creating now. Connecting to the Current has the ability to energize and animate all art. Your work has an intimate relationship with all other work. You learn from what came before and understand you are writing the history of the future.
Cyprianist art is a rejection of conservatism.
Conservatism, for our purposes, is defined as “an opposition to change”, but often as we get new information and formulate new thoughts based on it, our central theses bear the strain and must be shaped again. Yes, there are truths that never fully change, but we must be careful not to become so arrogantly stubborn as to think that we own all of them outright. Where most conservative thinkers go beyond their usefulness is in their nostalgic adherence to “values” and “morals” that never truly existed.
Certainly, the reality in most things lies in mutuality, not in opposing and binary “rights” and ‘wrongs”. This is what Cyprians call “both things being true.” Remember, “In Art, immorality does not exist” (Auguste Rodin). However, this isn’t an excuse to live an entirely subjective life. There is quite a fine point to understanding “values” and it boils down to lack of arrogance, undistorted and humble honesty and the “Watchful Eye” (a willingness to change).
Cyprianist art is also a rejection of “progress for its own sake”.
So much of modern thought is predicated on the belief that creativity and creation are the same thing. We tend to give higher praise to the person who seemed to create something ex-nihilo than we do to the person who perfects it.
Progressive thought is immensely distracted by the concept of “moving forward”, but this is basically just a binary reaction to the singular arrogance of conservatism. Everything moves anyway; it is all always moving. We don’t have to live constantly on the leading edge to be relevant.
Cyprianist art need not invent to lay claim to creativity. Sure, being the first to develop a technique or some-such is an extraordinary thing – and Cyprianism is as capable, if not more-so, of doing that than other artistic “isms” – but it is not our chief aspiration. We seek to learn as much from our history as we do by creating its future.
Cyprianist art requires an acceptance of harmony and mutuality instead of balance.
Central to Cyprianism is the fact that all the universe oscillates in a vibrant mutuality. Binary concepts of Beauty versus ugliness, right versus wrong, gay versus straight, and every other seeming opposite is a pure folly of the imagination. They are an immature understanding of the nature of things.
And because one of the chief aims of Cyprianism is to, as Ingres said, “Perpetuate the tradition of the beautiful”, it demands an acceptance of the wild darkness and unpredictability beneath that Beauty. Cyprianism does not shy away from darkness, even death. It embraces both knowing that they are not opposites of light and life, but aspects of the same, wholly dependent on the other.
Cyprianist art requires the rejection of the “easy”, or the “needlessly crude”.
This goes back, in many ways, to ritual. There is an arc to life and to creativity. There is an arc to art. Without ritual, all is immaturity and scribbles. Shortcuts have the tendency to remove the artistic from a work. There is a dynamic worship of Beauty in the Cyprian method that constantly declines the “easy”.
That is not to say that Cyprian art is only created by doing things the “hard way”. To an adept of Cyprianism, the ritual often comes naturally. As John Ruskin said, “A great thing can only be done by a great person; and they do it without effort.” But there is a difference between “easy” and “without effort”. And that difference is Grace. This is especially true of art that is charged with true S-xuality as is always the case in works of Cyprianism.
Cyprianist art is created upon an acceptance of the confrontational nature of Beautiful S-xuality.
In that place where the arc of sexuality is written in shorthand, or worse, lost altogether, art is at its most uninteresting. True S-xuality is confrontational. Cyprianism begs the breadth and depth of that arousal. It requires the mind to be connected and the senses heightened. Cyprian S-xuality can be animal and raw, clever and haughty and/or redolent with a deeply moving narrative. But it cannot be immature, flavorless and easy. Convenient, one dimensional stabs of sexuality – no matter how technically perfect and well composed – are at odds with Cyprianism.
Cyprianist art is profuse with the “knowing wink”.
Remember that an entire half of Cyprian Philosophy and Practice was inherited from our sacred prostitute sisters. In fact, courtesans were the models for many of the great masterpieces of art that hang in museums all over the world. That special S-xual relationship between the artist and the subject contains all the mutualities of the S-xual experience.
Without that Lustful, S-xual element there is no art. Picasso said it best: “All art is erotic.” Music, sculpture, painting, flower arranging, dance, drama … if it is devoid of S-xuality, it is useless. All great art admits Lust. I’m not necessarily talking about “erotic” art per se, but it can be. What I am saying is that all Cyprian art has a S-xual narrative that underpins the energy of the piece. Cyprianism wishes to give (a sometimes unconscious) shape and voice to the intangible (and often subtle) Erotic Force.
Renaissance playwright Pietro Aretino famously said, “Reject the filthy custom that forbids the eye what delights it most.” What delights the eye most? The Beauty of the Erotic Force.
Rodin and his wife surrounded themselves with nude models at their home and studio. These models would perform daily tasks or simply live at the manor, but always in a state of complete undress. When Rodin would be struck with inspiration, he would instruct one of them to stop then make a quick sketch on paper or a wax model and allow them to resume what they were doing. In this way, he constantly surrounded himself with the sexuality of the human existence.
Much Cyprianist art contains nudity. Much of it is even erotically explicit, but whether the piece itself contains nudity or is explicit doesn’t matter. In fact, it is possibly more difficult to create truly Cyprianist works with explicit content since the tendency is to halt the journey at the mere exposing of flesh instead of revealing the pulse beneath. It is easy to get a sexual reaction out of a viewer simply by being explicit. But sheer gynecological exposure as your reaction generating convention is shorthand and therefore not Cyprian.
It is possible to have two seemingly identical works that possess most of the same elements – subject and story, composition and color, technique, etc – and yet one is clearly Cyprianist and the other is clearly a shell.
Take, for instance, Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du monde. Here we have an explicitly erotic work meant to arouse. But it is definitely not shorthand. There is a mastery of execution. There is a relationship with the subject. There is a relationship with the viewer. There is shock, but there is playfulness. It provokes and arouses, but does so with a skill that could never be shorthand. In fact, the care and mastery with which this exquisite piece of Cyprian art was created makes it only that much more perversely wicked. L’Origine will stand the test of time, and already has, while most explicit works will be swept away by the next thirty seconds of history.
Now consider Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s Les hasards heureux de l’escarpolette (The Happy Accidents of the Swing). There is not an exposed bit of naughty flesh in the work. In fact, there are yards and yards of voluptuous fabric covering each player in the scene. But Fragonard and the patron for whom he painted it considered it a sexually provocative piece, as did guests of the patron’s unveiling party who were flush with sexual excitement. There are many erotic elements at work in this piece even though it is not explicit. That, and the fact that Fragonard worked closely with Maîtresse-en-titre of Louis XV of France, makes him a Saint of Cyprianism.
Cyprianist art embraces an acceptance of the constant relevance of our history.
Time does not move in one direction. It exists in a largeness of directions which includes moving in more than one simultaneously. One need only to remember in order for time to exist in the past and present at once. Thus, there are more ways that art can move than new and old. Keeping Cyprian Saints and the legacy they created just under our fingertips is essential to creating art that looks forward, and out, from right now.
The meaning of life is to desire significance – to matter and be Known. We search constantly for the immortality that being significant will bring. Cyprianism animates the long dead masters that came before, keeping them immortal and ever teaching. And it creates immortals by developing artists of consequence and substance.
Cyprianist art rejects the preeminence of “concept”
If you sat in François Boucher’s atelier in the 18th century you would not have often heard him describe the “concept” of his work. That doesn’t mean they were without concept, just that the concept of “concept” wasn’t the preeminent force in the art world like it is today. The art of the last hundred years has become so reliant on concept that Beauty is lost. Concept needs to be an important element in the creation of art, but it cannot sacrifice Beauty on its altar. Be more in love with your subject than your process.
Cyprianist art accepts the Beauty of skill.
Concept is also too easily used as an excuse for a lack of skill. There is nothing wrong with technical proficiency. It is essential to prioritize skill, artistry, ability, talent and ritual exercise above concept.
There are rules and there are reasons to break them. Seek mastery and understanding before you jump into the realm of deconstruction.
Cyprianist art prioritizes “designing to experience” above “designing from experience”.
There is a certain quest for fantasy present in Cyprianism. Artists of this method often use as their subjects narratives they wish for rather than those that they’ve already experienced. This is closely tied to the practice of ritual within the Philosophy. Those pursuing ritual are intentionally seeking to experience, which is to say constantly running after fantasy. One Beauty of Cyprianism and Its rituals is that these fantasies often begin to be folded into one’s actual life experience, creating folds upon the Current and proving that time is not linear.
When you are learning a skill in your artistic discipline, you practice until you get it. You build muscle memory as you go. One day, it all clicks and happens for you. It is the same with designing to experience. Your art should be aspirational. It should reach out into the realm of what you wish for and your experience will pursue it.
Cyprianist art often directly represents and depicts Cyprian principles, themes and legends.
Actual content and subject matter for works of Cyprianism often belong directly to sagas and traditions passed to us from the history of Cyprians. This assemblage of artists and their prostitute/model companions (known as The Privileged) left a rich legacy of stories such as “The Birth of Venus” and “The Origin of Shame”; rituals like “The Affair of Breasts and Wine” and “Anthis’ Dance”; Cyprian Virtues and Vices, and Principles such as “The Liberty of Privilege” and “Knowledge Over Superstition”; all common threads in works of this method.
Cyprianist art is Poetic.
Too often artists get bogged down in the discussion of what is art and what is not. Ultimately, it is subjective and doesn’t matter. What matters to us as Cyprianist artists is whether or not a work is Poetry. Poetry is the space between the elements of a thing, where something more vibrant and meaningful is created. A collection of words may mean nothing, or it may have meaning, but in the hands of a poet, those same words can cause oceanic feelings on the deepest levels of your humanity. There is a magic born of true creation that infuses our art with “something more than one cannot truly know.” (Auguste Rodin). Poetry lifts the veil and lets us join in the mystical experience.
Cyprianist art is regenerative and resonant.
Cyprian art animates and gives life. It is the breath beneath the breath. If the Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions of chaos theory, then Cyprianism is the butterflies in your stomach. It is the thick connective tissue of electricity and air that resonates in mystical places, placing a pleasurable memory upon the Current and giving immortality to art and artist.