Comments on the Group "Art Free-for all" in the Thread Original "Art Free-for all" started by Fry Karins.
"There have been, and still are, tribal cultures that were not matriarchies, and tribal cultures that were/are agriculturally based".
For one there are no longer any real tribal societies in existence today. What is presented today in the media as tribal societies is no more than the amalgamation of tribes in early kingdoms or tribes that have fled modernity for decades in an environment that rarefied. Comparing that to what tribal societies and animism were all about is treacherous.
For the rest an interesting summary of the codification of the Jewish worldview. The same mechanisms were basically at work later under Christianity.
As a general rule we observe:
- There was no one set of stories, but several.
The men of knowledge gradually included add-ons to animism and over thousands of years the worldview diversified. There was no real unification of the narrative other than through oral transmission from a benefactor and the necessary adaptation to local conditions (geography, climate, culture, economics...) which means that each man of knowledge was basically transmitting a story that was in some degree different from the one of his peers but meanings were nevertheless observed to coalesce locally around a common body of beliefs. The story of such coalescence and how the ulterior unification mechanism operated in the Middle-East is best described by Arnold Toynbee.
- A unification of the disparate narratives was eventually imposed later on by the men of power...
As you state some residue of animism lingered on for a long time in the form of:
- "divination ceremonies"
- "One of the Gods (deities) was female ... that was eventually banned by the 'completed' text".
But eventually all "religions of the word" broke totally with animism through their ultimate codification. This is in stark contrast with what happened in China where animism remained the foundation of the Chinese civilization. This differentiation between East and West is at the root of the difficulty to understand the other and communicate effectively that lingers till today.
- "I feel “past lives” are experiences stored (by others) in our DNA/RNA – that can be “read” - by us".
I don't know if "past lives" are stored in our DNA/RNA. But, if they were, why do you suspect they are stored by others? Our DNA-RNA is an actor in the theater of life so it is not surprising that it retains the memory of its most salient experiences.
Biologists speak about epochal variations that are being retained in the biological memory that is stored in our DNA/RNA that, by the way, allow them to shed light on what happened in those past epochs. I have in earlier posts postulated a theory of beauty based on such an idea.
- "...the “self” and the “soul,” if they’re configurations of our DNA, may indeed amount to substances. Articulations of strings of chemicals, methylated nucleotides".
There is a tendancy today to try to objectify everything by allocating it a place in our genes or in our DNA or RNA. I feel there is no good reason to objectify evrything more particularly something that at heart is a cultural reality. That a cultural activity makes use of certain connections in the brain that are located in one of its particular segments does in no way imply that this cultural activity is encoded there nor that the bio-chemical processes and energy path involved contain the configuration of that cultural reality.
Implying that the "self" or the "soul" resides in a particular configuration of our DNA is like saying that we use bicycles so we are bicycles. There is a world of difference between "using" and "being" that is often forgotten nowadays.
- "If our future is also encoded in our genes...". This is, I feel, jumping the fence of reason. I know of no credible scientist that jumped that fence. What credible scientists are proposing is that the future is probalistic. That means it is not a given.
"Do you believe, personally, in a soul or Spirit? "
I believe that we are no more than specs of dust in the whole of reality.
As particles we unmistably inherit the more general specifications of the whole. That in my mind qualifies as us being possessed by the spirit of the whole. But being possessed by the spirit of the whole does not automatically shed consciousness in our minds about its operation. We eventually gain such a consciousness after an intensive and long process involving observation and meditation that possibly concludes, after a lifetime of discipline, in forgetting about one's ego. That I call the art of life.
Yes I think that our use of concepts does not cover the same meaning.
Those are small groups that average 150 participants (Dunbar number). First discovered in anthropology the theory of "small groups" is now also applied to groupings in social media...
Tribes were small groups that emerged as an enlargement of kin groups sometime after the last mutations that gave Homo Sapiens his present form some 150-200,000 years ago. Tribes operated a division of labor that tasked women to rear the kids, crafting tools, ustensils and cloth while filling the granaries with their plucking and filling ground reserves with their collected roots and tubercules. Men were mostly tasked with hunting for meat and occasional trade/transportation of goods with/from far away tribes (the trade of stone for cutting-tools and ground silicates used as pigments in paint and cloth dyeing is well documented).
This division of labor left women in charge of the base camp which explains why tribal matriarchy took root.
Based upon knowledge garnered through observation of the rhythms of nature and oral transmission tribal societies espoused very similar ways of doing and believing around the whole world that lasted over long spans of time. Anthropology and its sub-specialties evolved extremely rapidly these last decades and the accepted span of tribal societies grew nearly exponentialy to... ,believe it or not, over 100,000 years.
Tribal societies were transformed by male brute force into Early kingdoms after the emergence of agriculture. That's when matriarchy was supplanted by patriarchy. This is assuredly the defining characteristic of the switch from tribal to Early-Kingdom.
Climate warming some 12-14,000 years ago melted much of the ice and animals followed the flow of water to the areas where deposits of rich sediment accumulated that gradually formed new and very rich land where flora and fauna were particularly abundant. Men followed the animals.
This same story has been documented in the Middle-East, the Yellow River and lately the Yangze River in China (India, Persia, Latin-America experienced similar processes that I'm not familiar with).
Those migrations to richer lands gave rise to agriculture. But this process of emerging agriculture spanned thousands of years along which successfull Early-Kingdoms (those that shared a strong worldview among all their citizens) eventually gave rise to Empires (some 4-5,000 years ago). Along those thousands of years animist beliefs and tribal economic models co-existed with agriculture, kingdoms and their evolving worldviews.
The trouble in communication comes from the fact that this switch from tribal to Early-Kingdom has only been discovered very recently by political scientists which explains why the field is still so very badly understood and mistreated in the media.
The lonely tribes discovered these last decades in the Amazon do not fit the description of tribal life for the good reason that they had to move and hide from an encroaching Modernity over the last centuries and only stopped resisting due to pure exhaustion... You just can't compare the situation of those exhausted people with the economic abundance of traditional tribal life.
"I am not that far away from you except that I believe each speck has its own
discreet portion of the whole and that portion is connected to every other portion."
I'm with you. This interconnectedness between all particles is indeed central to the principle of life. This is how we can eventually share the specifications of the whole... even physicists are coming on board.
I'm again with you.
The consciousness of sharing the specifications of the whole (I intentionally use a software term to get Paul on board) with all other specs of dust in the whole (sub-sub atomic particles in the whole of reality) such a consciousness awakes us to our inter-relatedness (as in universal family of brothers and sisters). And the feeling generated by such a consciousness of our inter-relatedness fills us with a profound sentiment of empathy for all the other particles. This is perhaps what you call love. I myself prefer to use the term empathy that I feel is less charged with past interpretations (including the Christian one) and is more in tune with the language of biologists.
I think biologists and more particularly those specializing in evolution come finally to recognize that the past evolutionary models, that were based exclusively on the idea of competition, are not really representative of the reality they discover being at work. What they discover is that competition exists exclusively among particles that feel a distance among themselves but appears absent among particles that feel or are conscious of their inter-connectedness. For those that feel such an inter-connectedness cooperation appears the favorite choice. This goes for humans, other animals, and also plants. This is definitely an area where thinking and belief are generating outcomes as present and future reality.
So the philosophic conclusions we are discussing about are slowly being rejoined by scientists and this is not just limited to the ideas of empathy and cooperation. All of this, it seems to me, indicates that we are definitely leaving the mechanical modeling Modernity was based upon. But knowing that we are abandoning the "machine model of reasoning" does not give us a description of the new model of reasoning that is starting to emerge. It just sheds some light on one branch of the tree representing humanity's future "worldview" in After-Modernity. Yes, for reasons I summarized earlier, I believe humanity is very slowly building a new narrative about what reality is all about and our discussions on this thread, I'm convinced, participate in this.
"...like a constellation of microprocessors 'unyfied' by a trascendental function of conscient appercetion (the self)".
Would you agree that the following possibly better reflects what you have in mind: "......like a constellation of microprocessors that unify into one entity simply because of their conscious perception of self and of their inter-connectedness with all the other".
I think the "unification" you speak about does not necessitate the intervention of any transcendence to possibly function.
I don't remember Leibniz. But this idea of "physics and philosophy integrating" is definitely something that I feel is starting to happen nowadays as I mentioned in my last answer to Daniel.
It's mid-night here in Beijing and the fireworks are all around. It's Chinese New Year's eve... sorry that I can't send you an MP3 because the noise is really something special that we never hear in the west.
Happy year of the horse to all.
I could not share the noise of the fireworks but here is something even better.
Lang Lang and Guo Gan -- The Horse Race.
The self is an illusion in the grand scheme of things (macro) but seen from the micro perspective the self emerges as an actualization of consciousness.
Take away consciousness and the self disappears.
Now check how eastern philosophies conceive of consciousness as the instrument to grow the self till it melts into the whole (Buddhism, Taoism) which is called absolute wisdom.
The self and ego are two different things.
Being conscious brings about the self which is thirsty for ever higher levels of consciousness. The ego blocks any possibility to progress on the ladder of consciousness and regresses one to aconsciousness.
Glad to see that you come nearer to my point in your answer to Christine.
The fact is that "Dunbar number" small groups are the only kind of grouping that possibly can work without any notion of power. Inspired by early accounts about tribal groups Dunbar and other sociologists studied "small groups" because of their possible governance out of power structures. Christine you should check those sociological studies about "small groups".
This is what appears, for example, in Open-Source software communities and other web groupings that are governed without power centers. It is also the reason why the web is said to tribalize...
About your following 2 statements:
"""- My point being the governing source is where the power is.
"""- I have not heard of the open software group so I just googled the notion - from what I briefly read they are governed by the notion of freedom for all - that is huge notion and is not without power, social, psychological, physical, historical.
I thought your focus on the notion of power related to the societal (political, social, cultural...). So when you state that "...they are governed by the notion of freedom for all - that is huge notion and is not without power, social, psychological, physical, historical" it looks to me like you end up theorizing the obvious. Individuals are not created equals; we are all different. But this is kind of a tautological statement is it not? If A were equal to B why would we call them A and B in the first place?
Having said that what is your point exactly? Do you regret the variety observed in our differences? Do you long for a world where we all are As? This would be boring is it not? Or is the literary deconstruction perspective so powerfully steering the working of your mind that you become unable to observe the richness contained in the variety observed in our differences.
In my book the differentiation between the particles of a whole, their variety, is what brings that whole to life which conduces me to conclude that the health of our species resides in the variety observed in our differences. This leads me to think that the objectification of those differences through literary deconstruction is a waste of time. What counts is how those differences negotiate the formation of the present.
This idea of determinism emerged sometimes during the milena when religious thought was forming.
The idea is unknown under Animism (the oldest human worldview that spanned over tens of thousands of years if not hundreds of thousands). The "whole of reality" was being thought of as a complex system bathing in an energy field (spirit) that was inter-connecting all the particles of the whole. Stones, trees, birds, etc. and humans were understood to be powered by the same spirit and were thus considered to be able to communicate, potentially at least, among them (potentially because the particle needs the gift to communicate with the other particles which was not a given. Animism appears to consider that lower levels of evolution have the gift but higher levels of evolution, humans for exemple, have lost the spontaneity of the gift and have thus to undergo an apprentiship with a master). Each particle was also considered to be its own self, distinct, and autonomous which was leaving the future open as the expression of the result of the present actions of all particles. In this sense Animism was imposing on all particles of the whole the idea of individual responsibility for what would unfold later (morality).
Religions eliminated this idea of individual responsibility for the unfolding of the future. The future was given by god or the divinities and so emerged this idea of determinism in religious followers' minds. That idea being orally transmitted over thousands of years started to stick in the individuals' neuronal formations and it is thus understandable that we find it difficult to change our neuronal circuitry today even when we are confronted with scientific reason that indicates that the future is not given but probabilistic.
The probabilistic nature of the future means that each particle of the whole, each human individual, is autonomous and his actions are thus participating in the formation of the future. In this sense, I feel, science is re-connecting with animism and perhaps opening the path toward the emerging worldview of "What comes after Modernity".
Now check around and watch where this idea of determinism is sticking.
- It is nearly totally absent in China and its geographic extensions (nearly 25% of the world population). China is an animistic civilization!
The Yi-Ching (oldest book on earth) is the written codification of how the present unfolds into the future. The Yi-Ching is like an algorithm, or a peace of software, that analyses the formation of the future through the statements of the questioner about his present and his questions about the future. The sticks and the coins are used to capture the essence of the questioner's present.
- It is very present in the Middle-East, Europe, and all the European geographic extensions that are geographic areas where the worldview is religious (even atheists derive their concepts from the religious canons).
Duchamp was not only an extraordinary gifted painter he was a thinker and an experimenter. But he was only able to touch the essence of his thinking and experimentation in the fifties when he realized that his earlier pre-occupation with concepts was merely artifice without real potential outcome. What he discovered was that art had always been about "narrative". He was more particularly clear-minded and sharp about that idea in an interview with James Johnson Sweeney:
“I was interested in ideas -not merely in visual products. I wanted to put painting once again at the service of the mind. ... In fact until the last hundred years all painting had been literary or religious: it had been at the service of the mind. This characteristic was lost little by little during the last century. ... Dada was an extreme protest against the physical side of painting. It was a metaphysical attitude. ... It was a way to get out of a state of mind -to avoid being influenced by one's immediate environment, or by the past: to get away from clichés- to get free. .. Dada was very serviceable as a purgative. ... There was no thought of anything beyond the physical side of painting. No notion of freedom was thought. No philosophical outlook was introduced. ... I thought of art on a broader scale. There were discussions at the time of the fourth dimension and of
non-Euclidean geometry. But most views of it were amateurish. ... This is the direction in which art should turn: to an intellectual expression, rather than to an animal expression. I'm sick of the expression “bête comme un peintre” - stupid as a painter”.
in “Painting at the service of the mind” from an interview with James Johnson Sweeney in “Eleven Europeans in America”, cited in Herschel B. Chipp. Theories of modern art. University of California Press.
This idea of the narrative in fine art came to him by looking at the past when "all painting had been literary or religious". He "thought of art on a broader scale" as "an intellectual expression, rather than an animal expression". That intellectual expression was about the content of the artwork that he saw as the essence of the art. Form being no more than the outward expression, the skin, of the content. But what kind of content was he after? He mentions some scientific pre-occupations at the time but insists painters views of those scientific pre-occupations were very amateurish. The most striking is his "I'm sick of the expression “bete comme un peintre” - stupid as a painter”.
Narrative is about a story. Religious, literary... or more generally, in my interpretation, a story about the "worldview" or the "Zeitgeiss" of the time (story about wkat reality is all about). Duchamp's idea of the dumbness of painters shows his impatience with a failure of knowledge. In the past, I should say roughly till the end of the 19th century painters relied on the knowledge supplied to them by the "men of knowledge" (remember my distiction between "men of knowledge" and intellectuals or scientists) but those had disappeared on the level playing field of the market for ideas and painters were thus left on their own. It's here that Duchamp's impatience with failing knowledge takes its real dimension. Painters have never been given access to the kind of knowledge necessary to sense what is forming or what is emerging in the ambient culture (culture as all the ways of doing by a people or nation in the now). This brings me back to your conclusion in your post about beauty:
"This co-option by the museum/gallery/industrial complex has more to say about societies failure. mostly in terms of education on the part of the buying public and artists manipulating the ideas for their own gain than it does about Art and its statements on beauty". Yes absolutely.
Titus. On beauty you write:
"I think beauty is an emergent property of structure".
This is particularly true when applied to your works where structure is also the content. Now, in my practice, content is about knowledge (in the sense of wisdom) and beauty is an emergent property of the structure of my work (as in your work). Where we differentiate is in the nature of the work's structure. For me structure is an emerging property of knowledge. For you structure is an emergent property of an algorithm (or mathematical formula or software).
In that sense it is our outlook on reality (our worldview) that separates us. You come to determinism as a philosophic view of reality by closing the "open loop" of causality through the introduction of an "end-cause" (mathematics) at the image of the Christians who break the "open loop" of causality by introducing an "end-cause" that they view as an all loving God. My personal take is that we can't just arbitrarily close the "open-loop" of causality and so I'm forced to recognize that the nature of what is the whole of reality is inaccessible and so the best we can do, in the circumstance, is to refine a story about reality that is plausible in the now or what is emerging in the now as the root of the future (plausible based on our knowledge).
My view is based on the idea that the whole of reality is unattainable to humanity so I logically have to conclude that there is no way to prove or disprove any view that is different than mine and this gives me the fortitude of tolerance for ALL other views. I know that tolerance pokes a hole into societal cohesion that I believe is the necessary condition of humanity's survival. I know of no way to solve that shortcoming but I think things will sort out by themselves over time. That's when we all perhaps shall be sharing a new worldview that could very well prove to be radically different than anything we might be thinking about now.
- "Whatever science says about beauty, it does not concern me. I am making art, not beauty".
What arrogance! Duchamp's quote fits you well. You better start defining what is art in your eyes before imposing on us the idea that what you make is art. Please show us how your work fits with your words.
- "Regarding beauty as a scientific, neurological fact, the greatest indicator of what is viewed as beautiful in a human face is symmetry. Does that mean, since beauty is so important, all paintings and sculptures should be symmetrical?"
Someone to the rescue; how's this kind of logical fallacy called again?
- "Artists, due to necessity of expression, killed, or at least put to rest, the notion of beauty as a component of art".
Daniel much of what you write is subjective drivel. Where are your aguments? Stop imposing your subjective statements. Put some meat on those bones.
- Your quote of Barnett Newman is spot on. This is real substance. I'll gladly address this in another post.
"About the issue of aesthetics and beauty, I don't see how you can go to Kant or the Greeks or History – to resolve or look at or try to understand what's going on right inside yourself".
I'm absolutely with you on that. I like how you phrased this. Right to the point.
There is something in the fabric of life (our biology) that draws us towards "forms, colors, lines, sounds, etc. or combinations thereof" that by the virtue of universal human attraction we have come to define as "beauty" and the latest science is corroborating this particular idea.
This is more particularly evident in music. Sounds directly impact our biological construct and some sounds can inflict pain that can become extreme pain (If I'm not mistaken Fry talked about that somewhere). Some sounds are said to be able to kill. No wonder that sound is in the portfolio of technologies being developed by military and order institutions. How to call such kinds of sounds? Anywhere on earth we have come to call them uggly, detestable, sounds because they overwhelm us with variable levels of displeasure that can go as far as our dieing (not comfortable indeed).
Visual arts don't have that physical limitation suffered by musical freedom. Vision is addressed to the brain/mind for processing. The mind has no physical limitations as to what kind of visuals can reach it. But the mind imposes other kinds of limitations than the physical type. Culture is building up the mind aspect of the brain and culture, as all our ways of doing in the now + our worldviews + our civilizational axioms, rejects some "forms, colors, lines, sounds, etc. or combinations thereof" while recompensing us, with pleasure, when viewing or hearing some other combinations. Pleasure and displeaure are being procured by the fine tuning of the levels of certain bio-chemicals in the brain. This last aspect is the particular contribution of science to our understanding of beauty.
We know that we are suckers for pleasure. This is a universal truth for all living species. So when we start to understand that our biological system is fine tuning the injection of bio-chemicals to the brain according to what kind of "forms, colors, lines, sounds, etc. or combinations thereof" our brain is being supplied with by our sensors... , well, the only possible conclusion is that we are being bio-chemically programmed or conditioned to search for beauty and to run away from ugliness.
There is no possible escape from our bio-chemical processes. We are not mastering them. Ancient wisdoms understood how to please them thus triking them to supply us with pleasure and well-being and ecstasy and sublimity and so on. So the idea that artists could nevertheless have "due to necessity of expression, killed, or at least put to rest, the notion of beauty as a component of art" is not tenable in the realm of logic, nor reason, nor whatever. A subjective necessity of expression that would favor the ugly is doomed to leave her/his creator as well as the viewer of his work on shaky ground that would directly re-enforce the bio-chemical process in the brain that makes us feel bad. So what would be the sense exactly of inflicting pain on oneself and rushing the viewer to run away from our sick creations?
Any deviation from beauty in the supply of information to our biological organs by our sensors, is bound to result in our being punished with displeasure, pain, and yes sickness eventually! This is a medical condition defined as a mental disorder (SH, DSH, SI).
Thomas was onto something interesting when he stated "... push something toward "ugly" hard enough, it results in a strange kind of beauty.
The energy put into making ugly renders the thing back into the scale of beauty.
So I think Leonardo was speaking of "ugly" as the low energy (low Qi) kind of beauty.
But a high energy kind of "ugly" is another kind of beauty".
In other words the depiction of ugliness can be a valid subject for an artist (the content of is work) but it not necessary for that artist to use an ugly skin in order to render that ugliness. Such content would have a higher impact on the viewer if it was skinned (form) in beauty. At least the viewer would not run away...