I felt naîve as I realized how complex history and reality can be, my impulse was to push it away, and yet, I felt the urge to share with others what I had found, a giant hole in the fabric of society; without any idea about how to patch it.

After years of slowly unlearning cultural and religious teachings that began with my Catholic upbringing and school days, the project became a way of exploring my past —possibly to reconcile ideas abandoned early in my life— and of searching for the original teachings; is it possible to see the other as my brother or sister, as myself?
I proceeded to pick and assemble related images from the internet, connected to the subject of the missions in diverse ways, some just glimmered, some had clear meaning, and others made me feel ambivalent, even sometimes alarmed, with their content.
How could it be any other way? Soon, the exercise became fascinating, a portrait of contemporary culture, with all its complexity and contradiction, started emerging, in complete

St. Paul, Issenheim altar (detail) by Mathias Grünewald. See video furhter down.

disarray, and I just allowed the pieces to fall where they may.

Then it all started weaving itself into a "coherent disonance" that turned into the mental maps .

It is important to mention the role of the Bilderatlas Mnemosyne  played for me. It was a project developed by Aby Warburg (1866-1929) and Gertrud Bing, German historians of Jewish origin. Their interest in Western classical culture, took them to devise a procedure for exploration and presentation of systems of relationships, not always obvious, through image association techniques. The result is a vast amount of multi image panels displaying relationships meaningful to them, deeply personal, heuristic and non-linear —not universal truths, characteristics my maps share with theirs.
This freedom of association Warburg explored, inspired me, because it allowed for creativity to play a central role, in which a series of
seemingly disparate images is assembled and used to create a kind of overwhelm or swarm of associations, which, I say, can potentially push the mind into the deeper unconscious.

I believe this apparent cacophony, can help the viewer to establish a bit of distance from them due to their apparent disparity, and experience how each may have a trigger effect of internal programs that, in turn, generate emotions and memories.
It is important to underline the importance of remaining conscious of that which the images may bring up, vs. reacting to them with an emotion, be it of resonance, or of rejection. The importance of this optional, yes/no process, will be explored later.

Some of these events may have been experienced in person by the viewer, but it is likely that most of them have been recreated in our minds based on historic information (always narrated by someone), sociocultural identities or from family accounts amongst many.

USA XXth Century (detail)

The maps are meant to be looked at as one who witnesses, without judgement or, necessarily connecting dots, but just recognizing the content the images bring with them, as if looking at a paradox.
As much as this idea has been overused, t is an invitation to look at things through the heart not the mind, possibly providing insights into the "idea forming" moment in the mind, in which we look for resonance based on what we perceive visually.

An intrinsic component of being human, is what Carl Jung calls the "shadow". He suggests that, as children grow older, the parts that displease the parents, like anger or selfishness, are rejected. Paraphrasing Robert Bly, " we disown them, placing them in a bag, for the purpose of keeping the love of the parents."

As this process repeats with teachers, spouses, bosses and others that represent the paternal and maternal roles in our lives, our energy dwindles and our identity grows incomplete. There are different bags we carry, our family bag contains material sensitive to our ancestry and siblings, each country has one conforming to accepted national canons, as does each racial group, and so on... as our cultural circle changes, so do the contents in the bag. [1]
Jung, Bly and others, suggest that if these traits not owned and accepted, eventually re-emerge through the unconscious, demanding their recognition and resolution; they are components of a single non-dual process we have to learn to resolve internally.

[1] *Bly, Robert. A little book on the human shadow, 1988. Harper San Francisco. P.17
In other words, what takes place and manifests in our life, particularly what we don't like, may have a 'prodigal son' attribute to it, knocking at our door asking for acceptance.

Life has its ways to bring our attention where it is needed. There's been times in my life, in which I acted arrogantly and self centered. It was fascinating, and painful, to go from one, difficult, humbling event to another, until I heard the message. It became clear I needed to become sensitive to the lives and experiences of others, to look beyond my self-righteousness and appreciate the life I have been given.
Furthermore, I understood that recognizing and acknowledging the relationship between my thoughts, and events in my life, was needed to heal.
The idea of seeing illness (physical, mental, social) as a portal, is not uncommon amongst holistic healers, sickness can provide the conditions to get insights into the meaning of its presence in our life, be it through a dream, a vision, an intuitive feeling, etcetera. As difficult as this may be, I believe in the power of paying attention to difficult events (apparently circumstancial), in our lives, and ask: what is it that I should learn from this? The answer has always surprised me.

I believe individuals are to society what cells are to tissue, if we could explore the contents of our minds as contributions to what is experienced, both, at the personal and the societal level, we could possibly realize they may not be disconnected.
Video briefly describes an approach on the process of healing, propossed by David Levi Strauss:  Between Dog & Wolf: Essays on Art & Politics.

These maps represent arenas in my mind, identified thematically.

⊹The first two maps refer to my beliefs about the nature of reality,
⊹The third and fourth are about my vision, a priori, of Saint Francis of Assisi and the missions.
⊹ Five and six encompass views about Fray Junipero Serra and the painful experience of members of Native American descendants.
⊹ Six iterations of the "shadow" follow (7 to 12).
⊹ Number 13 is a map in which each hero is a villain in another story, and viceversa. Good and bad are polar qualities, conform a unified whole —not antagonistic— as society tends to caracterize them.
Click on images to enlarge, double click to maximize
             Audio track, suggestion to view the maps: Resonance 432, 9 min.
Germán Herrera, 2021, 9 min.

What is the relationship between these chaotic thought forms found in the maps, and the world we live in?

After exploring the maps and their contents, now I realize I carry this stuff inside, all this information, as disparate and antagonistic as it may be... wherever I go; this is what society accepts and we tend to integrate, in order to be accepted.

And what is this "stuff"? Memories, history, thought forms, feelings and beliefs. 
All of these operate vastly at the subconscious level.

I did not have to go far to see the effects of this information, it happens every day, when dealing with my family... in the simplest exchanges. Going into these patterns with more awareness of them as part of my psique has not been easy. It seemed inevitable —everytime I find myself in the threshold of a given event— to enter that vortex of feeling and thinking, feeling and thinking... particulary when emotions are strong or unavoidable. I feel sucked into it. When an event in my life touches deep emotional fibers, particulary in relationship to painful events, relationship mishaps, history of my country or the planet, it was really challening to go back to neutral. What I describe can be as trivial  as interactions on the street, friendhips and family, or socio-poltitical instances.

The question then is, now that I have become aware of something I want to change, can it be changed?
To options come to mind, the first would be not to react, not allowing my reaction to express itself, to dissociate with it, observe it. Is it possible not reacting to an issue that I know may get me to react, sometimes explosively?

The second would be to question that which makes me react, and ask: Is this real? or, is this experience taking me to re-live a memory or experience from the past?

How do I change history? How do I change beliefs and feelings that seem to transform me into a different person, separating me from others?
I felt tired of finding myself in habitual situations which included anger or antagonism without having, consciously, decided to experience them; they reminded me more of a computer program being triggered into action.

As I observed myeslf I wondered if others were experiencing something similar to me.

Back to the maps, the conclusion I reached was: If we expect to live an experience as conflict (ideas in my psyque), this is how it will manifest, if, to the contrary, we think of an X situation and can visualize, in our imagination, a harmonious and positive outcome, this is what will tend to happen.

If these maps reflect my idea of the world, if these images live within my psyque, is it a coincidence that the physical manifestation has very similar characteristics?
If we think about this for one moment, it makes a lot of sense: the TV, the news, and the media in general, tend to propagate, to prioritize that which produces fear or instigates separation ¿Is it a coincidence that my external world resembles so close the one that lives within me?

At this point, this took a turn for me, it excited me enticing me to be responsible. First, it invited me to become conscious of all of which I think about I do not like, which makes me uncomfortable or makes me feel fear. Secondly, to disociate myself from every image related to feeling like a victim, be it of circumstances or actions of others. To stop that thought, period.

At this point it became evident I needed help to change my maps, and it came from a book called A Course in Miracles —a teaching device that addresses universal spiritual themes to rewire our form of thinking and acting.

For the purpose of this project, I will limit myself to to briefly mention why it has been so effective as a way of becoming conscious of the contents of my mind, my beliefs, and to see the connection with the world we  live in. A text, designed to undo our way of processing information, and to create another one radically different. This subject will be further explored in An Invitation. [2]
[2} For the time being I will have to set aside the thoughts related to how I may be seen by others: Is this a religion? It sounds like one...
Why is it being talked about "asking for help" or an intelligence that can "send us" a malady to help us wake up?
To take responsibility for all we think about is not possible. Why would you consider it?
Copyright Disclaimer: Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use. Please contact us if you would like an image removed.

Transmigration of Ruin was developed with the generous help of the National Fund for Culture and the Arts (FONCA), an organism for the promotion of culture of the Government of Mexico.
Back to Top