Jack Chambers' Red and Green.

Author:Franks, Alex
Position:Book review

Tom Smart (author); JACK CHAMBERS' RED AND GREEN; The Porcupine's Quill (Nonfiction: Philosophy) 22.95 ISBN: 9780889843608

Byline: Alex Franks

Tom Smart has embarked on a noble mission to decipher Chambers' intellectual and deeply meaningful work about art, life, and spiritual philosophy.

Jack Chambers' Red and Green is a peculiar work of art criticism that attempts to explain a complex, fragmented manuscript left by an artist after his early death. Jack Chambers was diagnosed with leukemia in the late 1960s, and the event served as an intellectual catalyst as he embarked on a near decade-long quest for meaning and understanding. Concerned with perception, representation, and comprehension, Chambers' writing is steeped in esoteric philosophy and spiritualism, his concern with art soon becoming secondary to his rigorous examination through art of both the world and epistemology.

The text, however, is not easily digested -- not only due to difficult content, but also its very physical formulation. Photographs are provided throughout of the actual document Chambers' wrote, the material itself resembling one of William S. Burroughs's "cut-up" works. For this reason, the work has been "translated" by biographer Tom Smart, who attempts to form a cohesive message from the chaotic -- but meaningful -- source material. Red and Green, the explanation of Chambers' work, is segmented into small, palatable postulations interrelated by central tenets concerned with art.

Much of Smart's text is devoted to deciphering Chambers' complex theories regarding dichotomy, contradiction, and ultimately the unity of all things. Readers familiar with philosophy will note the similarity between these theories and the Aristotelian conception of form and matter, though Chambers almost always...

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