Artist With Pineal Cancer Creates Lucid and Visionary Work
SHAWN Thornton has cancer of the pineal gland. As his condition worsened, his art changed.
I suffered from a slow growing cancer in my pineal gland while I attended art school and during subsequent years while my paintings developed with an underlined mythology that alluded directly to the pineal years before I even know of its existence.
I think I’d work myself into a frenzy for a while and yes, when I would fall lie down in bed I’d have something like a manic episode that was very lucid and visionary. That still applies to this day, but I try to control it better so I don’t get sick again.
I’ve had a lot of truly mystical and otherworldly experiences as a result of my history and battle with brain cancer and I’m really drawn to things that resonate with a certain powerful energy, and I’m always honing in on that more and more. whether consciously or subconsciously.
I treat depression with mushrooms. Haven’t done DMT ‘intentionally’. Man made chemicals are a thing of the past for me, as I’m really sensitive.
Shawn talks to Green Line Cafe:
Painting, for me, is largely an attempt to decrypt the mechanisms of illness through a disciplined medium. I feel, on some deep internal level, that through my painting practice I’m engaged in a psychic process to illuminate the intricate vessels and cogs of an insidious physic current that stems, in part, from having had a serious illness, and all the subtle and profound ways I was altered by this experience.
All throughout my early adulthood, I struggled from the mental and physical effects of a slow growing tumor in my brain, the symptoms of which were repeatedly misdiagnosed by my doctors as purely psychological in origin, and it ultimately took over half a decade to get a proper diagnosis and treatment to shrink the tumor. I suffered immeasurably during this period from having repeatedly undergone a host of treatments meant to treat the symptoms of mental illness, and paradoxically, from a mental illness that ultimately could not be contained. The tumor was in the very center of my brain, in a small, mysterious organ at the top of the spinal column, the pineal gland. I didn’t have any prior reason to consider the actual material existence of the pineal before this.
As for its spiritually ominous and physically precarious location at epicenter of my being, my ability to conceptualize these facts seemed utterly unreal, ethereal, like nothing short of a sordid space exploration, as it had been making its presence known to me for so long and now there were surgeons probing into my head – into my consciousness. As I further researched my illness directly after being released from the hospital, and after having had undergone emergency brain surgery a few days earlier, I quickly became very quizzical by what I was finding. What had been developing in my art, half unconsciously, over the previous several years in which I had been very ill and labored to keep painting, all of a sudden became very clear. Elements in the paintings seemed to correlate directly to the pineal gland and to many of its mystical and biological functions that have puzzled humankind for centuries.
All throughout the history of human sciences, religions, and philosophies, of different civilizations and cultures all over the world, people have contemplated and researched the pineal because of its mysterious location at the center of our brain. For me, most notable, was its purposed role in the production of endogenous DMT in humans, and its proximity in our brains to the Ajna chakra, or third eye. I also found it intriguing that the pineal gland regulates biorhythms in humans through the production of the hormone melatonin. This brought to mind images of medical charts; of archetypal schematics and universal symbols.
He told The Art Blog:
I am really no saint but I can attest to having had many an unwelcome vision. In my experience there is an inexorable amount of physical pain and confusion that would accompany these episodes. It was for many years the most dehumanizing pain I could imagine having to endure.
I have not read anywhere while doing research on the subject any connection to physical maladies and hallucinations, nor have I read any medical data to suggest that pineal tumors could induce a state of mental psychosis. In contrast through looking at metaphysical data it is quite undeniable that pineal dysfunction could implement a host of mental and physical aliments. Our medical understanding of organic brain dysfunction falls far behind, which I presume is why I was mistreated for years for lack of empathy in the medical community. I was not permitted a brain scan for six years though I determinedly expressed my concerns that I had a brain tumor and had symptoms consistent with a brain tumor diagnosis. I wonder if “seers” in the past had similar types of physical ailments.
I hardly consider my art work to be prophetic, even visionary, but I think that there is a strong connection. I am interested in finding enlightenment through the dregs of my fractured health and sanity prior to my diagnosis. I am interested in how the landscape of the [Buddha] would change if a mandala was constructed by a schizophrenic or a brain tumor patient- Joseph Campbell, “the shaman swims in the same waters that the psychotic drowns in.
Spotter: The Nexian