Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Getting excited folks as the date of the rat game show leans backwards from the future towards us .... This passage is also out of The Book Of Symbols, Reflections on Archetypal Imagery (Taschen). From fire dragon Matt Dooley. Who has kindly agreed to lend me a third eye recording device (helmet cam) for the show.


Who knows what makes us play? The young of very many species, including our own, spontaneously chase, leap, twist, wrestle and cavort, promoting strength and endurance, instinct, social bonding and adaptation. Complex play with objects and goals is associated with more complex brains. But playing is also, apparently, just for the sheer pleasure of play. An aquarium fish will repeatedly leap in and out of a tiny waterfall. Ravens have been observed sledding on their backs down slopes of snow, and kea parrots toss rocks in the air. Elephants kneel to equalize play with a smaller playmate (Brown, 2ff). Cats, dogs and primates, among others, incorporate objects and obstacles in their play and often have favourite toys. Dolphins invite play with human swimmers. Play, in fact, is a principal way in which acquaintance is made with another.

Human games are often formalizations of play, framed by fixed rules, while allowing for individual strategies. Many of our most familiar games can be traced back to archaic rituals and myths the cosmology of which is embodied in the structure of the contest. Hopscotch, for example, derives from myths of the soul's journey from earth to heaven through a labyrinth. Chess employs the hierarchy of medieval kingdoms. Games of chance are probably descended from divination rituals, and invoke the mythic forces of fate. In Hindu mythology, the spirit of
lila or divine play, is behind the infinite manifestations of the gods and their maya, or power of illusion. "The divine mother is always sportive. This universe is her play ... her pleasure is in continuing the game." said Ramakrishna of the goddess Kali.

Artifacts of cultures thousands of years old reveal toy conveyances, miniature weapons, pull animals and human figures. Toys come alive through imagination and unconscious projection, reflecting in children the still-tenuous boundaries between inner and outer realities. Like the religious fetishes of antiquity, stuffed animals and dolls in particular reflect numinous facets of their possessors unknown identity. They embody threshold guardians in developmental transitions. They are potent objects of comfort and companionship, expressed affects, urges and compulsions, protection, aggression and role-playing.

Natural forces outside their ken made ancestors imagine they were themselves playthings of the gods. Contemporary computer-simulated games of sports, war, intergalactic conquest, evolution, urban planning and interactive doll-playing and the hands on making of models into a virtual experience in which enthusiasts play and are "played" by the unexpected components of the game. Psychologically, consciousness and unconscious interact and impact each other in all kinds of play. The reverie of play unveils feelings, aspirations, impressions, locked up pieces of experience and potentialities.Play can evoke the affinity and polarity between psychic opposites, and dynamics of exclusion and integration, separation and reunification. Alchemy described a part of the opus as "child's play" despite the arduous nature of the work of self-understanding. Jung played childrens games of drawing , modeling with clay and
meditatio, the dialogue with an unseen partner, as a means of engaging the unconscious aspects of psyche and bringing its contents into consciousness. Dreams often utilize images of play. They reveal the stuff that supports or subverts our capacity for creative play. They illuminate a process related to contending in life, stepping up to the plate, going the distance, winning, losing, excelling. They invite play.

Lack of play, or abnormal play - sadistic, bullying, teasing play - is associated with abuse, abandonment, depression or sociopathy. Play is frivolous, serious, consequential. There are sexual games, political games, war games. Game theory mathematically describes the seemingly unpredictable convergence of competing parties. Physicists lay speculative "god-games" with giant particle colliders. Out of play emerges evolutionary change, self awareness, scientific discovery, artistic composition, invention, good friends of multiple species and the resolution of many questions. "The game's afoot," the legendary Sherlock Holmes would say when he had a lead to the mystery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Caroline Anderson
7:03 PM (19 hours ago)

to Bek, Torben, kristen, maiangi, erica, Simon, Matt

Greeting rats and rat friends,

I am delighted to have you all on board with the unveiling of a few of my pretty psycho yet strangely logical behind the scenes activities at the Chinese Horoscope Art Show. (Enjoy Gallery, Feb 15th, 6pm)

I have titled the performance piece :

What's Going To Happen ...

(with this catchphrase :)

NZ's forerunning PASS THE PARCEL PROPHET, Caroline Anderson officially wonders : which came first?
in the context of a rat art opening.

Then the physical show which we install on site during the opening will be known as :

Too Much Information

I am especially pleased to have you on the team seeing as my performance history ranges from being Small Fox number 2 in Fantastic Mr Fox in standard 2 and Tina Turner in a miming Stars In Their Eyes the same year ('93). As well as being understudy for Gaunt in the Wanganui Intermediate production of Monsters ('97). That is all.

But a new era is dawning !!

And I am glad I have some mates to help ease me into it.

Til next mail-out,


* * * * *

I received this response from Erica Van Zon :

Hey Caroline - coolio - thanks for sending through, I have forwarded to Bopha - sounds good - the opening part we get now...all will be revealed..time traveling parcel, sort of like a time capsule..to your future self!

talk soon

and this one from Michael Prior :

This notice has been magneted to the fridge door of my mind with a pineapple wearing sunglasses magnet that isn't very strong so it's sliding down the door just a bit.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Gearing up to represent the rat in a Chinese Zodiac art show I have been doing a spot of rodent reading. Turns out in my art practise, which is also my life practise, I display an array of metaphorical rat traits. Here is a passage about the rat as a symbol from the Wild Animals section of The Book of Symbols, Reflections on Archetypal Images, (Taschen), which magically arrived in my mailbox after a few clicks of a mouse from Matt Dooley in November. I have highlighted the most relevant parts in pink, for browsers.


Rats and mice are hard to pin down. Elusive by nature, surreptitious, they appear and disappear like diminutive magicians. Living in tandem with human beings, they are always coming from behind. They shadow us wherever we go, perpetual stowaways on our voyage through history and our passages to brave new worlds. They slip through the cracks of our physical and psychic terrain, privy to our closeted and cupboarded secrets. Like time, hunger and guilt they gnaw incessantly. They personify the labyrinthine restlessness beneath the surface of things. Their edgy commensalism is not widely appreciated. Vilified as vermin, feared as vectors of disease and death, despised as voracious plunderers of our amber waves of grain, mice and rats mostly exist at the margins. Denizens of basement and attic, sewer and alleyway, they furtive rummage the mountainous dumps of our collective rejectimenta. And yet, observing at dusk a happy group of rats recycling discarded Halloween treats or watching through the window of a passing bus the unmistakable silhouette foraging single-mindedly in the snowy darkness, you have to admire their tenacity, their eerie ability to beat the odds.

Like all rodents, rats and mice have prodigious incisal power. They can gnaw their way through just about anything, including brick, wood and lead. Unspecialized, omnivorous, they can adapt to almost any climate and resourcefully avail themselves to whatever they find at hand. The most prolific of any mammal, they persist, by sheer numbers, against the onslaught of their raptorial, mammalian and reptilian predators and the relentless persecutions of humankind. Curious, sociable, agile; endowed with an excellent sense of smell, fine-tuned hearing and taste-buds as sensitive as ours, mice and rats are portrayed in folklore and popular culture as heroes, helpers and even 5-star restaurant chefs. Gnawing through a net to free a trapped lion, dropping down a drain to retrieve a wedding ring, sewing intricate buttonholes a tailors hand can no longer manage, mice are
suggestive of the small, invisible, intricate workings of the unconscious to overcome obstacles, even without our conscious participation. So, also, the rat companion and "vehicle" of the Hindu deity Ganesha chisels the knots that tie us up and gains entry to the bolted treasures of the psyche. As emblems of fertility, both mice and rats - especially white ones - can signify wealth, good luck and abundance, as in The Chinese Year of the Rat.

On the other hand, as secretive creatures active after dark, rats and mice are inevitably associated with subversive occult forces and devouring influx. Notorious as hosts of the fleas that spread Bubonic Plague to millions of people in the Middle Ages (and also killed millions of rats), they are mythic harbingers of scourge. Rats leaving a sinking ship, or mice scurrying from a house are familiar omens of imminent misfortune. Paradoxically, troops of mice and rats are often depicted in folktales as vehicles of a just vengeance, the executioners of those who escaped rightful punishment, especially for crimes against the poor and hungry.

There is a rat or mouse element within many of us: a small, feral, chthonic aspect of ourselves reprehensible in the eyes of the collective. It is tempting to relegate this "rat" to the furtive edges of consciousness, where it will remain all but invisible. But if we are willing to engage it, to give it a respectful space within which to reveal itself, its energy can become an invaluable ally. Oracular, with its ears close to the (under) ground, it can warn us of the dark patches, and mediate our way through them. It will teach us a kind of psychic street smarts, instill a scrappy determination to survive and, ultimately, reveal itself as the deity in disguise.