On Monday evening, May 24, from 5 to 7 pm, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library will hold a reception celebrating its current exhibition, The Invisible World Revealed: Selected Works of the Occult From the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library curated by Brynn Burke and Derek Christian Quezada.
The occult ranges widely in modern significance and meaning; it is not simply the mumbo-jumbo hocus-pocus of credulous thinking from a bygone era. Astrology, Alchemy, Magic, Mysticism, Ghosts, and Devils are all part of it as the product of a unique set of historical, cultural, religious and aesthetic conditions that have and continue to change in their definition over time.
What unifies them is an ardent belief that just outside human perception lies an invisible world that exists, with its own secret laws that influence and even govern our everyday existence.
The exhibition, which runs through July 1, 2010, represents only a small portion of the occult works held at the Clark. Although the Library has no single collection dedicated to the occult, the items exhibited have been carefully selected from across the Library’s collections as a whole, with particular emphasis upon the occult in 17th and 18th centuries.
While the occult is often dismissed as simply the product of misguided inquiry, it should be remembered that prominent thinkers in and practitioners of math and the sciences, i.e. Isaac Newton, also followed the occult as the distinctions between math, the sciences, chemistry, and alchemy were well-nigh non-existent, and their shared origin is not without significance; t's fair to say that the modern world emerged from that of the occult.
If nothing else, these works demonstrate the transformation of methodology during the 17th century to a more rational, empirical, and testable model that retained the essential role of curiosity, joy, creativity and the imagination that remains crucial to the pursuit of knowledge. The attraction to mystery and the drive to solve it is a human fundamental.
Thus, the occult is not merely an artifact from a bygone era of thought. It represents the simple but powerful idea that there is always something hidden just beyond the veil of the ordinary.
The Clark Library is located at 2520 Cimarron St., Los Angeles, CA 90018.
The public is invited to this event but you must RSVP to Scott Jacobs.