In its broadest sense, a temple is a place devoted to a specific and elevated purpose, one not necessarily limited to the spiritual. Maybe it’s fair to say that what I’ve needed lately are secular temples, houses where I can refocus my capacity for reflection, which has been eroded by an economy hinging upon attention as a commodity. In this world, the time and space set aside for the rigorous and uninterrupted contemplation of almost anything have shrunk, and as this happens, this kind of time and space have taken on an intensity verging on the spiritual. The indispensable conveniences of modernity—the internet, smartphones, social media—feel to me like a never-ending series of false idols standing in opposition to this intensity.
It was with this mind-set that I stumbled upon the long-hidden temples of illustrator and spiritual seeker Herbert Crowley. Philadelphia artist and scholar Justin Duerr’s monograph The Temple of Silence: The Forgotten Works and Worlds of Herbert Crowley (Beehive Books, 2019) compiles much of Crowley’s extant work, including drawings, comics, and sculptures, and presents his detailed personal history. Duerr’s nineteen-inch-tall book reproduces a number of Crowley’s meticulously hand-drawn temples, including the Temple of Love, Temple of Mysteries, the Temple of Silence, and a two-page spread dedicated to the Temple of Dreams. This last image is featured on the book’s cover, which replicates, in some small measure, the experience of encountering Crowley for the first time. A keyhole cut-out in the sleeve that protects the cover only teases a glimpse of the Temple of Dreams, but as you slip the book from the sleeve, you are treated to a full vision of Crowley’s lush drawing.
Read more here…
(image courtesy of Beehive Books)