Please note, you can access all previous explanatory and inspirational WTM Emails at the end of this email. Wednesday’s explanatory emails and Friday’s inspirational emails are numbered in order of appearance, so one is odd and the other even numbered.


This is inspirational WTM Email 22


Art: The agony and the ecstasy of the human condition


From Francis Bacon’s tortured self-portraits and Edvard Munch’s terrifying Scream, to the radiant beauty of Van Gogh’s and Gauguin’s depictions of nature and life, art has the power to express the agony and the ecstasy of the human condition when words fail us.


Bacon’s Study for self-portrait

Bacon’s Study for self-portrait

Munch’s The Scream

Munch’s The Scream


Consider Bacon’s and Munch’s works (above). While in our day to day lives we block out the reality of the human condition, these paintings expose the true nature of human’s corrupted and alienated existence. Indeed, they depict what the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing so honestly described when he wrote:


“Our alienation goes to the roots…the ordinary person is a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be…between us and It [our true selves or soul] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete.” (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967) (See paragraphs 123–125 of FREEDOM.)


Jeremy Griffith explains the significance of Bacon’s work in his book FREEDOM:


“While people in their state of denial of what the human condition actually is typically find his [Bacon’s] work ‘enigmatic’ and ‘obscene’ (The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Apr. 1992), there is really no mistaking the agony of the human condition in Bacon’s death-mask-like, twisted, smudged, distorted, trodden-on alienated faces, and tortured, contorted, stomach-knotted, arms-pinned, psychologically strangled and imprisoned bodies; consider, for instance, his Study for self-portrait (above, top left). It is some recognition of the incredible integrity/honesty of Bacon’s work that in 2013 one of his triptychs sold for $US142.4 million, becoming (at the time) ‘the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction, breaking the previous record, set in May 2012, when a version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream [another exceptionally honest, human-condition-revealing painting shown above on the right] sold for $119.9 million’ (TIME, 25 Nov. 2013).” (See paragraphs 124–125 of FREEDOM.)


At the other end of the spectrum, however, are those artists who have the astonishing ability to break the hold of our tortured, preoccupied existence and remind us of the beauty of the world who offer some glimpse of the magic we will be able to fully and properly access when we are no longer trapped behind the “fifty feet of solid concrete” the human condition has wedged “between us and It [our soul].


van Gogh’s The Sower

van Gogh’s The Sower

Gauguin’s Will You Marry Me?

Gauguin’s Will You Marry Me?


Jeremy also explains this aspect of art in FREEDOM, writing:


“Great art ‘can make the invisible visible’; it can cut a window into our alienated, effectively dead state and bring back into view some of the beauty that our soul has access to. After years of developing his skills, Vincent Van Gogh was able to bring out so much beauty that resigned humans looking at his paintings find themselves seeing light and colour as it really exists for possibly the first time in their life: ‘And after Van Gogh? Artists changed their ways of seeing…not for the myths, or the high prices, but for the way he opened their eyes’ (Bulletin mag. 30 Nov. 1993).” (See paragraph 829 of FREEDOM.)


So while Bacon and Munch attract record-breaking prices because their honesty has immense cathartic power, it is through the art of masters such as Van Gogh and Gauguin that we are shown the radiant life that awaits humanity now that the human condition has been solved.


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Read Jeremy Griffith’s breakthrough redeeming explanation of the human condition in chapter 1 of FREEDOM; and about his insights into how humans have used painting and music and other artistic expressions to depict both our alienated state, and the world’s true beauty, in chapter 8:11C of FREEDOM.


Discussion or comment on this email is welcomed see below.



See all previous WTM Emails


(Note, Wednesday’s explanatory emails and Friday’s inspirational emails are numbered in order of appearance, so one is odd and the other even numbered.)


Wednesday’s explanatory WTM Email 1 Why solving the human condition solves everything | 3 The false ‘savage instincts’ excuse | 5 The explanation of the human condition | 7 The transformation of the human race | 9 The historic fear of the human condition | 11 Ending the stalled state of biology | 13 One hour introductory talk | 15 FREEDOM chapter synopses | 17 Commendations | 19 Are humans innately and unchangeably brutal? | 21 How did we humans acquire our altruistic moral conscience?


Friday’s inspirational WTM Email 2 WTM Centres opening everywhere | 4 Can conflict ever end? | 6 ‘This is the real liberation of women’ | 8 Is God real? | 10 Anne Frank’s faith in human goodness fulfilled | 12 Bonobos nurtured cooperativeness | 14 Understanding millennials | 16 Women’s beauty | 18 Prophetic songs | 20 ‘How this liberated me from racism’


These emails were composed during 2017 by Jeremy Griffith, Damon Isherwood,
Fiona Cullen-Ward & Brony FitzGerald at the Sydney WTM Centre.



Please note, we encourage constructive discussion about this information and so reserve the right to moderate or decline posts that we feel are not relevant or inappropriate. In particular, with the subject of the human condition being so confronting, malice can easily occur, and where comments are deemed to be motivated not by objectivity but by malice, they will be declined. It has to be appreciated that the possibility of malice toward this subject matter is very real, and we have a responsibility to manage that as best we can.


  1. Vania on September 5, 2017 at 2:20 am

    True art is the true reflection of our human condition, even music lyrics, ie,linking park,breaking my habit

  2. Matt on August 9, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Good perspective FrankB, yeh, ‘sort of like a timeline’. Its all there isn’t it. Our artists kept it all alive for everyone else. Just like Jim Morrison and the rock stars who wrote about the human condition in Email 18. Have a read of that everyone.

  3. Winston perkins on June 24, 2017 at 12:57 am

    Would love my friend Sarah marks to read this!

    • nomad on June 24, 2017 at 10:46 am

      The more the better!

  4. Frank B on April 5, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Incredible to see the prices paid for these art pieces. It goes to show how honestly they depict our upset stricken state along with the radiant life now possible for all humans. Even after some 130 years in the case of Munch and Van Gogh their Art is somehow more relevant than it’s ever been, it’s kind of become part of our human treasure, sort of like a timeline of how we once were to the life that is now possible and awaits us.

  5. Brony on April 4, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I agree, wonderful post!

  6. Prue Wb on April 1, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Beautiful post, I keep re-reading this part ‘…resigned humans looking at his (Van Gogh’s) paintings find themselves seeing light and colour as it really exists for possibly the first time in their life…’. It connects me to what a lonely, alienated and estranged existence it’s been for us resigned humans up until now. To think this explanation of the human condition liberates us, not only to see but experience the radiant beauty and aliveness of a world that has been so out of reach just makes your heart sing.

  7. nomad on April 1, 2017 at 10:03 am

    We all have both aspects of the human condition within us — the tortured state, and the occasional glimpses of a life free of the human condition. Teenagers feel the polarity most keenly, but most eventually block it out, but some never do, and it remains a day to day proposition, which it sounds like it still is for you. So I dont think its hormonal, not at all. Its the polarities of the human condition that you are experiencing. I reckon Kevin, that you would just love chapter 2:2 of Jeremy’s book FREEDOM. Its all about those teenage years, which you seem to be still in! Catcher in the Rye, and all sorts of other amazing examples of that tumultuous state.

  8. Kevin Huckstep on March 31, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    But it can’t be a linear progression from one state to the next, from a Bacon, say, to a van Gogh. I have always been much influenced by the arts, and I clearly remember as a young person being drawn to one end of the spectrum on one day, and the other end on another day. And back again! From Hell to the sublime and vice-versa.
    Looking back on my teenage years, I would say that it was all hormonal activity. So, what accounts for it now, as I approach my 64th birthday?

  9. Tiger on March 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    A soul-awakening post, thank you!