By Lynn Brunet
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 e-book 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 through either males in the course of childhood.
Many of those Irish societies modelled their ritual buildings 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 kinds have been these derived from many of the cult practices of the classical global and describes those initiatory practices as ‘a process critical and exhausting trials’. This examining of Bacon’s and Beckett’s paintings attracts on theories of trauma to signify that there's a demanding hyperlink among Bacon’s stark imagery, Beckett’s vague performances and the unofficial use of Masonic rites.
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Additional resources for 'A Course of Severe and Arduous Trials': Bacon, Beckett and Spurious Freemasonry in Early Twentieth-Century Ireland (Reimagining Ireland)
Anthony Buckley describes the Orangemen’s Royal Arch Purple ritual as ‘something of an ordeal for the initiate. 9 It is possible that within the context of an irregular, abusive and clandestine initiation that Orange sentiments, Masonic content and Druidic themes could have been woven together to create a set of formidable and terrifying initiations. The following will briefly outline the history and practices of the Orange Order and discuss the ways in which Bacon’s imagery reflects some of the ritual aspects associated with this group or with related groups.
Bacon was unable to piece together the narrative in his own lifetime; however, given the transcripts of Masonic rites and the knowledge of ritual abuse available today it is possible to piece together something of the horrifying ritualistic scenario that could be informing his work and make further sense of the nightmarish quality of some of his images. 66 The Principal Sojourner prepares three candidates by having them take off their coats, supplies them with a veil and slippers and ties a bandage around their eyes as a blindfold.
The stooping position of the figure and the fact that his head is thrust amongst the leaves of a plant may also be related to classical themes that are woven into Royal Arch rites. 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.