By Lynn Brunet

ISBN-10: 3039118544

ISBN-13: 9783039118540

The artist Francis Bacon (1909-1992) and the author Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) either show of their paintings a feeling of foreboding and confinement in bleak, ritualistic areas. This booklet identifies many similarities among the areas and actions they evoke and the initiatory practices of fraternal orders and mystery societies that have been a vital part of the social panorama of the eire skilled via either males in the course of childhood.
Many of those Irish societies modelled their ritual constructions and symbolism at the Masonic Order. Freemasons use the time period ‘spurious Freemasonry’ to designate these rituals no longer sanctioned by means of the Grand resort. The Masonic writer Albert Mackey argues that the spurious varieties have been these derived from some of the cult practices of the classical international and describes those initiatory practices as ‘a process serious and onerous trials’. This analyzing of Bacon’s and Beckett’s paintings attracts on theories of trauma to signify that there is a hectic hyperlink among Bacon’s stark imagery, Beckett’s imprecise performances and the unofficial use of Masonic rites.

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Additional info for 'A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials': Bacon, Beckett and Spurious Freemasonry in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland (Reimagining Ireland)

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114 As noted previously, the use of hypnotism was a feature of Druidic initiation practices but also featured as a popular practice in Masonic Lodges from the eighteenth century. Amongst those contemporary Freemasons who have commented on the use of hypnotism in the Lodges, J. D. 116 It is possible that Bacon’s fascination with the practice of hypnotism may have been due to its use in the initiatory process, which this argument suggests may be the source of some of his most significant imagery.

There are many more elements in Bacon’s idiosyncratic imagery that could be read in terms of the clandestine use of fraternal practices in Ireland and as traces of a traumatic initiatory process. However, to make any direct correlation between the artist’s images and any particular group would be an impossible task. As noted previously, a wide range of secret societies in Ireland have incorporated Masonic rites into their ritual practices and use these rites in a range of forms. Many of these forms involve the concept of ‘a course of severe and arduous trials’ as a test of manhood prior to acceptance into the group.

94 As Bruce Lincoln argues, in the classical tradition rape is one of the key ordeals associated with initiation into a patriarchal culture. 95 One of Bacon’s earlier paintings, also depicting a tweed overcoat, Figure Study 1, 1945/6, suggests a bent over figure, this time with a hat, as if the figure is smelling a bunch of hydrangeas. 96 A preparatory study Bacon had done in 1944 depicts a similar scenario set in a curtained space. 97 These arrangements of crouching and howling figures with flowers or foliage combined with the sense of death and despair, along with references to the initiatory space, imply the utter desolation felt by an individual initiated using such cruel methods.

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'A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials': Bacon, Beckett and Spurious Freemasonry in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland (Reimagining Ireland) by Lynn Brunet


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