The Portrait Of My Soul

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The Portrait Of My Soul-Man Ray 1922
Man Ray’s curious photograph of the Marchesa Luisa Casati, who desired to be a living work of art and was the wild-eyed muse of the Italian decadent, Futurist and fascist Gabriele D’Annunzio. Entitled The Portrait Of My Soul, the fact that Man Ray decided to portray his soul as feminine seems to anticipate Jung’s theory of the anima/animus, however Man Ray was well versed in the same esoteric doctrines that so profoundly influenced the Swiss psychiatrist.

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72 thoughts on “The Portrait Of My Soul

    1. Absolutely.. It is interesting because Man Ray is often accursed ( with some justification) of being one of the worse offenders of the male gaze. It also shows the occult influences of surrealism as the whole doctrine that your soul is the opposite gender is an old alchemical theory.

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      1. I don’t see it as an offense. I see it as appreciation. It is necessary for the survival of the species that our souls contain both male and female aspects. There must be balance in nature. We are all one…not separate. There is no such thing as opposites. Yin and Yang. Your posts have inspired me to dig a bit into Man Ray. Any suggestions to start?

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      2. I have loads of man Ray on the site, a lot of the dreams of desire series is man Ray…a few of my stories on the site the picture is his…I am really just hoping you go searching on my site. Thank you

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    1. Well not necessarily limited to alchemy, although alchemy abounds in androgynes, marriages of the Sun and Moon, the Red King and the White Queen, and other dense and bizarre symbolism. One of the aims of esotericism was the reconciliation of opposites (as I see it) male and female, night and day, matter and spirit. Jung’s theory of the anime and animus was that individuation could only happen when the person had reconciled with their anime/animus which is the opposite gender. One of Jung’s most famous works is Alchemy and Psychology which has a number of bizarre and beautiful alchemical engravings and drawings. By the bye Balthus son produced a number of books on alchemy and was kind of the resident expert for the King’s Road set in Swinging London in the sixties, including Mick Jagger. Balthus was the King of Cats before I started my reign.

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      1. Reconciliation as in how they work together/balance each other? Or come to terms with (for lack of a better term)? Our physical bodies reflect that type of balance – male and female. It’s a valid idea… You are following in some interesting footsteps, your majesty

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      2. Hmm the alchemists were very oblique and there is a fair amount of Gnosticism in that and the gnostics had a very complicated view of sin. For instance if you take the as above, so below dictum literally then the more you sin the closer to god you get. Though other sects were very ascetic. I told you not to get me started.

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      3. I suppose if you look at it in the respect that the worse the sinner the more the need for redemption… Also depends on how you define sin. Based on a unique set of standards it’s a falling short of the mark. Who sets the standard? The flawed god of the Gnostics?

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      4. Even in chiropractic philosophy we discuss the limitations of matter. Inhibiting the flow of mental energy/innate intelligence/universal intelligence. Maybe not evil, that implies acting with determination, but rather incomplete or if you will “sinful” as in falling short of the mark.

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      5. I know H was all about contrasts, but I don’t think of strife that way I suppose. I mean simply the definition of the word. I think of it strictly in a negative sense. Turmoil, upheaval – not so negative. But is that what you mean?

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      6. It’s been a long time since I read Doors by Huxley. I was of course (at that time) open to um… replicating his experiences… Blake had a far reaching influence: the beat poets, Jim Morrison and of course my beloved Yeats. I’ve never looked deeply into his work however…

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      7. Well i have a revised post coming out in about 5 mins, another one of my Surrealist Women series. I just dont want to put to much racy stuff on the site or people might get the wrong idea, however that ship has left the port and is in the middle of the ocean by now I think.

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      1. Thank you so much. I do live the Surrealists and it is a good subject because they touch upon politics, religion, esotericism, symbolism. Whereas other art movements like cubism are excellent but it limited to the technical aspects of art, though I am sure you could broaden it a bit. Sorry rambling here thank you for the compliment.

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      2. No problem, I love the surrealists too.

        Have you ever seen this movie ‘Midnight in Paris’? I think you would get a kick out of it, a 21st century guy time travels in Paris and has some encounters with Salvador Dali and Man Ray 🙂

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    1. I am not too sure. She really was wild-eyed and quite the character. I try to find out where possible about the models in the paintings and photographs. For some reason they seem so much more interesting than the models of recently, though that could just be a misplaced nostalgia for a period I never lived in.

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