Demonic to Divine: the Double Life of Shulamis Yelin
Published in 2015 by Véhicule Press, Demonic to Divine is a weaving of the Montreal writer’s stories, selected diary excerpts and family photographs that reveal a far-reaching creative personality who was haunted from the age of ten by the “moods taking over.”
This book poignantly illuminates the dramatic duality of a public and private literary and emotional life through her published and unpublished stories of an idyllic Montreal Jewish immigrant childhood contrasted with deeply troubled and often shocking diary entries that document the author’s lifelong battle with mental illness.
Yelin’s insightful yet light and humorous stories have been cherished by generations of children and adults for their universal appeal. The journal entries that she maintained for most of her 90 years document the abuse, paranoia, self-loathing, doubt and devastating depression of Yelin’s true emotional state. These concurrent lenses reveal the profound struggles and suffering of a fascinating and highly gifted woman who transcended her ongoing deep-seated emotional agony to create a significant literary legacy.
The many threads of this multi-layered book have been woven together through the collaboration of Yelin’s daughter Gilah Yelin Hirsch, and Yelin’s first stories’ editor, Nancy Marrelli. – Véhicule Press
“Although the title Demonic to Divine alludes to extremities of feeling, and the text gives some inkling of the great darkness with which Shulamis struggled throughout her life, the overarching narrative in this volume, for both Shulamis and Gilah is very much about the transformative power of art and poesis – making living things with words and images. There is much pain in these stories, still more in the excerpts from Shulamis’ intimate diary and Gilah’s reflections – the pain of separation, rejection, injury and loss – but also moments of great joy and transcendence.” – Excerpt from Foreward by Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD
“Fraught with rage and admiration and bewilderment, a daughter reaches through the pages of time to heroically attempt to fathom her mother.” – Michele Zackheim, author of Last Train to Paris and Broken Colors
“The known presence and increased prevalence of major mood disorders in highly creative individuals is reinforced by this saga.” – Stuart Brown, MD, Founder and President, The National Institute for Play, and with Christopher Vaughn co-authored, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul
Excerpt from Montreal Review of Books: “To read Demonic to Divine is to bear witness to a process of remembrance and healing that refuses to either condemn or exonerate this particular “crazy” mother. The book prompts contemplation on the political implications of mental illness in a world where sexism and other social oppressions prevent individuals from flourishing to their full potential.” – Chai Cheng Thom, Reviewer
Demonic to Divine: The Double Life of Shulamis Yelin is available on Amazon.com: paperback and e-book.
GILAH YELIN HIRSCH is a multidisciplinary artist and Professor of Art at California State University Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles.
NANCY MARRELLI is Archivist Emerita at Concordia University, Montreal. She is author of Stepping Out: The Golden Era of Montreal Nightclubs 1925-1955, and Burgundy Jazz: Little Burgundy and the Story of Montreal Jazz.
The Traveling Exhibition 2005-2009
…has been shown in Bratislava, Komarno, Kiev, Kracow and Budapest. The work highlighted in this exhibition ranges from the intense paintings of the late nineties, the Diamond Series, in which Hirsch visualizes her intricate internal injuries from a near-fatal car crash on a remote island in the Pacific; to the Patince Series, painted in Slovakia during a residency at the International Artists’ Symposium in 2004, in which she delves into nature’s more mystical imagery; to the Column Series, documenting another evolution of her latest fertile flow of imagery that grew out of concentrated sessions in her Venice studio in 2005.
Reading the Landscape – Movie Trailer
Combining science and art, Reading the Landscape is a magical voyage around the world following the migratory patterns of humankind. We follow five forms identified in nature that are present in alphabets universally, ancient to modern, and show that these forms were chosen ubiquitously as they mirror neurons and neural processes of perception and cognition.
Reading the Landscape was first shown in transdisciplinary conferences in Europe and the US in 2018-19. This first public screening celebrated over a hundred adults and children from twenty-eight countries who participated in the film, as well as the numerous individuals, foundations and cultural agencies whose generosity made this film possible.
A few of the many good words about Reading the Landscape:
“Beyond honored to receive this world-unifying lifetime achievement… Thanks for your dedication, perseverance and being true to your heart-wise insights. As I continue to marvel at our species design for and need to play, your contributions through this elegantly produced transformational film will take us a step farther into the evolution of wisdom, language and more. The biblical tower of Babel no longer needs to hold our mythic belief systems about language differences….”
– Stuart Brown MD, Founder of the National Institute for Play
“A terrific, intelligent and fun movie that will appeal to everyone, in every country, culture, background…important, fascinating showing how all humans are fundamentally the same – same brain, same alphabetic forms used universally as neurons reflect shapes appearing in nature…a step toward peace as it can unify friends and foes… should be shown ubiquitously – festivals, TV… great for adults as well as children… special showings in schools, kindergartens should be arranged. Lovely, magical, educational, passionate movie. Truly a tour de force!”
– Nathaniel Gutman, Illusion Pictures
“She’s discovered a back road into the imagination that, unless you have a guide, you ain’t never gonna find this trail…We must constantly look at life in a different way – Gilah’s new film will most certainly empower young people to look at our wondrous world in different, highly creative, new ways.”
– Steve Price, CBS News
“WOW! Utterly compelling film.
In addition to the idea, the premise, the visuals, the graphics, I fell totally in love with the soundtrack. It is superb. In addition to stimulating my neurons by watching your amazing movie I’d be happy to just LISTEN to it over and over and over again.
– Lionel Friedberg, Writer, Director Award winning PBS films
“Gilah, Ellen and I have just watched your amazing film, which played without a hitch on her desktop computer. My apologies for not following through sooner in setting up this doubly enjoyable movie date. We both took it in with ohhs and ahhhs as your visual landscapes conjoined with the signature lines, arcs, x’s, circles referencing the alphabet hills, forests, palaces, houses, trails, ponds, rivers, the oceanic sphere turning and tuning it all together with movement and music, not to mention the beautiful faces of adults and children so quiet in speaking their primal words – Mama, Papa, Brother, Sister, Grandma, etc. And, of course, the animals…**
Together with your singularly conscious visuals, you suggest so much unconscious resonance regarding who we are, where we come from and what we imagine we see.
Ellen and I are in awe of the insight and patience with which you made it all happen. Though in a local sense I was probably “the last” of those you initially sent the film to see it, I hope to be numbered among the many to come who will see and experience its wonders.
Thank you for making this beautiful film.”
– Martin Epstein, Associate Arts Professor, Tisch School of the Arts / NYU
Cosmography: The Writing of the Universe
…traces the evolution of a series of interrelated ideas which Gilah Yelin Hirsch has studied over a period of twenty-five years. Lengthy sojourns in wilderness, augmented by world travels, have expanded her vision and the pool of information contributing to a theory on the origin of the alphabet as based in pattern in nature. Hirsch’s multidisciplinary approach spans the realms of art, philosophy, psychology, theology, psychoneuroimmunology, spirituality and global culture.
COSMOGRAPHY explores the relationship of form to emotion – how images are stimulated and how they affect the physiology of the viewer: the nature of perception and cognition – how the human mind makes sense of what it perceives and why; how all alphabets may have stemmed from five patterns in nature which mirror the neurons and neural processes of the perceptual apparatus; and how indigenous cultures utilize these forms in healing techniques because of their power to catalyze a sense of physical and emotional harmony.
Through the vehicles of painting, photography and innovative experimental video effects, the discovery process is brought to life so that the viewer participates experientially in the creative journey of the artist.
The unusual visual qualities of COSMOGRAPHY were developed in collaboration with editor Eric Marin. In addition to his editing of documentary and feature films, he has also directed and edited his own prize-winning documentaries, including Lou Harrison: Cherish, Conserve, Consider, Create.
“There is always something thrilling when the laser of human intelligence succeeds in focusing itself in such a way that another hidden code of the universe is suddenly uncovered. Hirsch’s discovery teaches us much about the congruence of human consciousness and the natural world, that is to say, the congruence of mind and matter, of natural systems and mental constructs.
Through Hirsch’s extraordinary perception, we experience the world truly as a Moebious strip, continuous ever and always with itself: the mirroring of relational patterns and DNA strands that interact, metabolize and weave alphabets from butterflies’ wings until the life of nature and the nature of life are seen to emerge from the same elemental ideogram, and we are all, as Hirsch says, part of the same substance. The intuitive scope, the imaginative reach, of this video is no less than breathtaking. It is absolutely crucial that we understand its message of oneness and its principle of interconnection so that we experience intimately how things fit together. I see this project as a significant contribution to the new, emerging discipline of deep ecology.”
– Suzi Gablik, critic/author of The Reenchantment of Art, and Has Modernism Failed?
“Not only is the artistry fantastic, but her insight is pure genius – the quality people rarely encounter even once in a lifetime.”
– Carolyn Myss, author of Anatomy of the Soul