Submitted by ARASAllison on
This edition of ARAS Connections marks two new milestones in the history of our publication. This is the first time that all of the contents of an issue have been produced by our National ARAS Board. Our Board has always been passionately committed to the mission of ARAS. We are also much more gifted at exploring symbolic imagery than raising money, the usual function of most Boards. The production of our video “On Taking a Knee” was a wonderfully collaborative exercise between ARAS staff and Board members. The effort was led by Board member Deborah O’Grady, an accomplished artist, who combines music and image in a video that explores the symbolism of “On Taking a Knee” in response to the George Floyd murder and the outpouring of political activism and human outrage at senseless murder. The video went viral on the internet instantaneously, perhaps because it expanded the cultural meanings and depth of the symbolic gesture. It has been one of our primary goals to bring ARAS into the world and “On Taking a Knee”, along with The Book of Symbols, represents one of our most successful efforts at finding a way to connect our rather esoteric and inner researches with the painful realities of living in the modern world. That ARAS has spawned creative collaboration among its staff and Board is not new as exemplified by the performance of their “Myth of the New World” by Deborah and fellow Board member, Melinda Haas, at the Dvorak and Ives Festival under the auspices of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in February, 2020.
This leads to the second milestone of this edition of ARAS Connections. We have long considered expanding our exploration of the archetypal image into the world of music. Melinda Haas has found the perfect and timely way to initiate this new direction of studying the symbolic in music with her discussion of a most unusual and haunting rendition of America the Beautiful by Anthony McGill, the principal clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. Melinda’s essay is something of a masterpiece itself in that she has revealed how McGill tapped into an entirely different level of emotional and symbolic reality by “changing only two notes and omitting a third."
And, finally, we have included my visual essay on “The Flood: Using ARAS to Illuminate the Imagination.” This essay was most recently presented at the Art and Psyche Conference in Santa Barbara in 2019. It explores the multiple ways in which we are flooded at a time when the world seems engulfed in changes that threaten our very existence—from the pandemic to climate change to political polarization and upheaval. The essay suggests we need modern-day arks such as ARAS to contain and preserve what is best of our civilizations.