Symbolic History Through Sight and Sound by Charles Greenleaf Bell is a comprehensive, compendium of milestones in artistic and scientific achievement through out history. Bell’s magnum opus has already educated thousands of people over decades. The episodes contained in it are arranged in chronological order, marching us through the centuries with enlightened flashbacks and fast-forwards intended to lead students, researchers and truth seekers to a well-rounded understanding of the profound transformations of human advancement and fundamental designs underlying all progress.
Professor Charles Bell’s life spanned nearly a century. Most of it he dedicated to acquiring, accumulating, compiling, cataloging, collating, coordinating the circulation of and commenting on, the wealth of images and audio clips in this series; contributing his own voice and luminous prose to confer historical fluency upon anyone with a hungry eye and ear.
Charles G. Bell’s life’s work examines humanity’s life’s work. The scale and reach of this digital publication is on par with the Vedas or the Bible, incorporating both, along with all great works, but with multi-media immediacy and post-modern insight. At times it attempts to integrate the total freight and occupancy of history and would seem to require an expenditure of equally prodigious scholarship to take full advantage. But a single viewing of Dr. Bell’s magnum opus will make anyone much better informed and attuned to our changing world.
Inside the 42 volumes of this series is revealed the evolving mindset of our predecessors, over the layered passages through which we’ve progressed as a species, onward through time to the present. Dr. Bell was a master at identifying symbols in the collective consciousness and imprints in the collective unconscious. This is obvious in his marrying visual with audio content for conjuring vivid glimpses of our past and connecting them with relevant realities in our present.
Charles G. Bell was on the Physics faculty at Princeton University with Albert Einstein. He switched to the English department to make this series his life’s work. Humankind, as observed through Dr. Bell’s filter, appears, ingenious, intelligent, endearing, fascinating, fated, fallen, savage, bedeviled and capable of transcending all.
His multi-disciplined voyage of discovery, through art and architecture, philosophy and physics, poetry and music, intertwined throughout this series, present the viewer with an encyclopedia of masterworks, anecdotes, example upon example of the genius of every generation, for all to discover, appreciate and learn from. There were many occasions over the course of one of Dr. Bell’s lectures and later watching his series in which I was introduced to works of art or ideas that I’d never known, and that is invaluable, but there were also a fair amount of art and ideas put forth in these volumes which I was already familiar with, but I felt as though I was encountering for the first time, owing to the illuminating text and context provided by Dr. Bell.
For example, lets suppose you were researching the Gothic Era. Dip into Symbolic History for cherry-picked images of those resplendent, hand-made cathedrals in Europe. Notice how their imposing towers preside over the landscape, or go inside and observe how the sunlight pours in through stained glass. See how those windows depict gospel scenes and project pools of vivid color on to the adjacent wall at the same time.
Dr. Bell explains with genuine amazement how church builders in the Middle Ages progressed from massive, shady bunkers of block, to colossal, ornate sheds of light. At the same time, underneath all these stunning images, adoringly presented. we’ve been listening to a recording of voices shaping a song. The singers happen to be standing in the very church we are looking at. So we can comprehend how the design of such a place converts the human voice into something godly inside. By the way, that musical composition happens to have been commissioned for that very cathedral and heard by its occupants on the day of dedication 800 years before. This gives you an idea of the time travel capabilities owing to the immediacy and intimacy of this series.
Now imagine being able to delve into more than 5000 years of western civilization this way. With a little of our own imagination, we are allowed to advance or retreat anywhere on the timeline of human history.
The significance of this series to anyone interested in the history of art and ideas is obvious. Dial yourself in to the time, place and mindset of any period in western history. For scholars contemplating exhaustive research, Charles Bell has done much work for you here. To designers and visual artists interested in evoking or reenacting history, for their films, theatricals, or operas this is a windfall. To authors writing, plays, screenplays, novels, histories, biographies, or other period pieces, the substance of this series can hardly be matched. From any other single source, it would be hard to find a more rich resource.
With his family’s blessing, Open Channel Content is pleased to introduce Charles Greenleaf Bell’s Symbolic History Series, in its entirety, to the World Wide Web free of charge. The artists and thinkers whose work is featured here were helping to fulfill humankind’s highest potential. We believe this was Dr. Bell’s intention as well. It is with that same commitment we pass these enlightened volumes on to you.
Watch the entire series here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWpAWEq4tp4&feature=c4-overview&list=UU_Wltrk4BWrTJazdBpMfOvQ
For a much improved viewing experience, order the full series on DVD from NE Historic Film (Bucksport, ME) at 207-469-0924