The seven essays which constitute this book were written and published in series from September, 1928, to Christmas, 1929. Our aim in bringing out these condensed formulations of "seed ideas" has been to present solutions to the most essential problems confronting the creative artist and in general all men for whom civilization is real, for whom it is an ever-widening quest, and who long to understand better the workings of the cultural forces which are moulding the future of the human race, especially in the occident.
Many solutions are proferred in our age of crumbling systems, hectic hypotheses and experiments. Many claims are made on the basis of new discoveries, new ideas and personal revelations. But most of these lead at best but to fragmentary conceptions, to particular and biased truths.
The ideas presented in these essays are not new, not original; in the ordinary sense of the terms. They are formulations of principles and laws which are universal and eternal, which can be found, differently expressed yet basically the same, in old philosophies and religions which did not disconnect Art from Life, but considered the former as the creative manifestation of the latter.
A new type of human being is in the process of development. We allude to this new "race" in our last essay. But it is not so much, as yet, a physiological race as the exteriorization through various individual organisms of a spirit unfamiliar to minds steeped in European classical traditions. This new spirit calls for a type of knowledge which seems new only because it has long been forgotten and because but a very small minority of men have ever been able to use it in the past. Today the need for this knowledge is growing: a knowledge dealing with laws and universals rather than with phenomena and particulars, and moreover dealing with them in a vital creative manner. The new spirit is to be essentially a creative spirit builder of organic forms, of magical Art-forms.
Unfortunately many would-be representatives of this new manhood are at present led astray by leaders who advance claims to supernatural revelations, to "occult" privileges, who base their teachings and works on psychic powers and mysterious revelations and the great monuments which, in their eager and devotional enthusiasm, they fain would build to the glory of their wondrous dreams totter for lack of solid foundations.
The Christ-child was born in a manger. Living Civilization manifests as a small flickering flame in the hearts of a few noble men and women who have dedicated themselves intelligently to it, who are not only unselfish and sincere, but who have evolved spiritual discrimination and intellectual honesty and thoroughness.
These qualities constitute the only foundation on which this Living Civilization of the future can ever be built. In proportion as the pioneers of today will unearth in themselves heroically (for this is a process of the Will) this foundation of soul and mind, in such a proportion will the Living Spirit vitalize this new civilization and triumph over the worship of dead forms or of imaginative psychic bubbles.
Our only aim, in whatever work we may perform, is to lead a few toward the intellectual recognition and spiritual realization of this Living Spirit which is changeless, eternal, true, which is the source of all Power.
New York Jan. 4th, 1930
Art as Release of Power