“The drama of Western society is just this: not having anything to do. The search for something to do strikes a note of desperation. The longing for heroism causes men to set up their own monsters, as with the stream of men circumnavigating the world; it is no longer part of a struggle for survival, though it does perhaps indicate curiosity about how the mind responds to stress.
But are all outward journeys really about the adventure within? Is our problem not that there is less to do, but that we have collectively lost our way in mid-journey - a Ulysses who has mislaid Ithaca, a Dante who does not meet Beatrice”
- Monica Furlong, Traveling In (1971)
Monica Furlong states on the inside cover of Traveling In - part diary, part rambling LSD trip, “the religious man is the one who believes that life is about making some kind of journey”. Throughout Traveling In Furlong explores how a (widely) varying spectrum of Poets, Artists and Philosophers have metaphysically asked, “what is the journey and where does it take us”.
Transformation is an overarching theme throughout Furlongs’ oeuvre. Her biographies include the medieval Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and the 60’s counter culture revolutionary Alan Watts. Her book Visions & Longings: Medieval Women Mystics revolts against a biblical legacy on women. Later in Furlongs life she wrote the Wise Child trilogy - a fantasy world set in medieval Scotland. Not only does transformation take place within her books through subject matter, but on a wider level, the reader feels part of her internal transformation.
What stood out about each of the selected artworks chosen for this project was a resonance with Furlongs’ thoughts on exploring a more spiritual level of consciousness. Each work feels like an inquiry or a break “mid-journey”, not a neatly completed thesis. What I love so much about each work is the courage to Travel Inwards when most of us are constantly trying to distract ourselves with stuff, the consumerist journey through activity.
The clarity of seeing an artwork through an artists mind is an honor, we are given permission to look into their guts mid-journey. What a terrifyingly vulnerable position to be in. Will Beatrice show up, will Ulysses find Ithaca?