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Author Topic: An Essay on Art  (Read 1662 times)

RSL

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An Essay on Art
« on: August 21, 2017, 11:55:02 AM »

Since The Coffee Corner has been taken over by "Trump II" and related head-rattlings I'll post this link here. Just finished this essay: Touching the Seer.

David Eckels

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2017, 02:28:11 PM »

WOW! I have read many of your website postings, Russ, but Touching the Seer is certainly one of your best and, I think, touches the seer itself. By the way, not to change the subject, but since you have such a wonderful philosophical, artistic, and technical sense, you might enjoy Now: The Physics of Time by Richard Muller. It touched the seer in me and it addresses the metaphysical threshold and limitations of modern physics. I guarantee you'll like it and, like I did, learn something astounding and a propos of your post.

RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2017, 03:17:58 PM »

Thanks, David. It looks fascinating. I'm going to scoop it up. In response, I'd send you to THIS, which I wrote 25 years ago.

Rob C

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2017, 03:37:30 PM »

Nice work, Russ.

It's a shame you don't understand Italian. The film La Dolce Vita does much of what you write about in its Italian version. I have watched it several times, both straight and with English subtitles, and only the straight Italian language version does it (for me!). Not only does the subbed version suffer from language accuracy problems (even a bit of censorship), but also from inevitable compression. Perhaps much of the power of the film derives from what's not said, but exists within the silences and even sources directly from the locations. Having said which, the musical theme is just wonderful in evoking Rome, and probably an Italy that has vanished along with the style of music. Certainly, if one watches La Grande Bellezza, the contemporary version of much the same idea, the music is quite different but yes, it also has a somewhat different job to do. Film music must be a wonderful thing to be able to produce. The ability to add successfully such a defining level to another set of artistic works is quite a mixture of talent and responsibility.

Rob
« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 05:24:28 PM by Rob C »
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RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2017, 04:02:41 PM »

Thanks, Rob. But I don't agree that I should learn Italian. I sometimes read English translations of librettos, and let's face it the stories in most grand opera are ridiculous, stilted, silly. At the same time, the music is magnificent. I want those voices to be musical instruments, not story-tellers. To me, the finest musical instrument in the world is the human voice.

David Eckels

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2017, 04:28:01 PM »

Thanks, David. It looks fascinating. I'm going to scoop it up. In response, I'd send you to THIS, which I wrote 25 years ago.
I read it a couple years ago! That's what I meant. And given that poem, boy, are you in for a treat when you read Muller's book. Just promise me you'll stick with it until the final chapter.

GrahamBy

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2017, 04:30:53 PM »

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

It's fascinating how limited philosophy has turned out to be for exactly this reason: we as humans seem to be pretty limited in our imagination. We can't imagine the infinite because we've never seen it; we can't even imagine very large numbers of things... even the human population of earth is pretty much beyond real visceral comprehension, I believe.

Sometimes, science drags us screaming out of our comfortable philosophies via something like the Michelson-Morley experiment: the Ether didn't exist, but but... it must. So then along came Einstein, and time was just a different direction in 4 dimensional space, and different speeds are just different directions. Then take it a little further to think about falling elevators with physicists in them and we found we were living in curved four dimensional space. Then that just maybe the signature that distinguishes time from the other directions might not have always been there, and we have the Hartle-Hawking model where we find that time is just an epi-phenomenon, that somehow very early on there was no time, in which case it doesn't even make sense to say "early": time didn't exist anymore than smart phones did in 1850, the universe was getting on just fine, then something happened and somehow there was some notion of future and past.

That without even going near quantum mechanics, which I'm not convinced anyone understands in their gut.

Maybe that's how art works: it rattles something in our mental cupboards that we didn't know was there, that we hadn't had reason to imagine. In which case it might be an image of humans in a diner and memories of our youth, or it might be abstract splashings of colour that reflect something, not from the early universe but about how our neurones evolved to deal with some survival challenge when we were still more comfortable in trees...
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David Eckels

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2017, 04:51:54 PM »

That without even going near quantum mechanics, which I'm not convinced anyone understands in their gut.
Read the Now book by Muller and you'll see that is exactly what they are trying to understand... and getting quite uncomfortable by the way.  :)

Rob C

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2017, 05:33:46 PM »

Thanks, Rob. But I don't agree that I should learn Italian. I sometimes read English translations of librettos, and let's face it the stories in most grand opera are ridiculous, stilted, silly. At the same time, the music is magnificent. I want those voices to be musical instruments, not story-tellers. To me, the finest musical instrument in the world is the human voice.

I wasn't suggesting Italian would help your enjoyment of the music, Russ - just of that movie.

My wife used to enjoy listening to operatic works, but even with Italian as an understood language, I could almost never make out a goddam word any of them sang; just too noisy! My wife couldn't get the words either, but it didn't diminish her pleasure.

I used to move to another room.

;-)

Rob

RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2017, 07:43:52 PM »

I read it a couple years ago! That's what I meant. And given that poem, boy, are you in for a treat when you read Muller's book. Just promise me you'll stick with it until the final chapter.

I promise. Had to buy the Kindle edition since the paperback isn't out yet.

farbschlurf

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2017, 03:33:10 AM »

Interesting read.
Maybe this is a little OT.
My art-therory-classes are a while ago, but though I guess you mean it in an even broader sense, I got reminded of "the sublime". This idea and concept which is hovering around for long and is hard to describe in few words. Your essay lets me think: Maybe the sublime is not only about greatness that cannot be depicted, really (a very simple way to put it), but also about enigmatical things or strange constellations that you cannot decrypt, but still "somehow" understand. Maybe it's a similar thing, even though caused by different things ("greatness"/"complexity")? Interesting thought for me, thanks for the impulse, lets me think new ways, never a bad thing ...
;-)
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opgr

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2017, 06:32:49 AM »

Well, the devil's advocate in me wants to have a word with you, because she doesn't care much for all the agreement here. She's confused somewhat by your choice of words, perhaps finds it almost pretentious that you require a new word or at least a redefinition of an existing word just to describe something that you maybe have failed to define properly for yourself.

She isn't quite sure, so she wants to ask you this:
what differentiates "touching the soul" from "touching the seer"?
Does "seer" relate to a "collective higher conscious" in some way?

Additionally, she's aware of a lot of conscious learning required to appreciate poetry for example. You need to first learn language, then learn ambiguity and metaphore, and then you need to learn to read between the lines. So she wonders whether your "seer" can only be touched if you at least have some form of education, or, if it is truly beyond conscious or emotional comprehension, whether a child can have the seer touched as well?

And can the seer be touched by the beauty of nature for example? Or maybe a single color? Or does it require a more complex construct?

She'd like to point out that these are just questions for her own understanding and education, they are by no means meant to be a criticism of your essay, although she finds the conclusion somewhat strongly worded if the only evidence provided comes in the form of personal experience which, for all she knows could be merely subconscious visceral emotion...
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Regards,
Oscar

RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2017, 10:08:05 AM »

Hi Oscar,

From the tenor of her advocacy I'd guess your advocate's devil is all shook up. Let's answer her questions so her devil can relax.

What differentiates the "soul" from the "seer" is that the word "soul" comes with thousands of years of religious connotations and associations, which tend to veer the "soul" off the road. The "seer" is much cleaner, and keeps us away from the edge.

Before I can answer the advocate's second question I'm going to need to get her to define "collective higher conscious." I've run across that vague phrase dozens of times, and at the least it suffers the same problems "soul" suffers.

As far as "conscious" learning is concerned, I'd agree with her that you need to get past infancy in order to deal with these things. I almost said "understand" these things, but I don't think "understand" is the right word. If "understand" were the right word, you'd be screwed if you ran across a line like " Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay." I may be talking about "unconscious" learning, but I'm not sure that's right. This is not something you can sit down and discuss.

As far as the seer being touched by the "beauty of nature" is concerned, I think if you read carefully you'll find I've already answered that question more than once in the article.

I'm glad your advocate isn't criticizing. But you might point out to her that all "evidence" comes in the form of personal experience. And if she's experiencing "subconscious visceral emotion" as a result of Winogrand's "New Mexico, 1957" she's in bigger trouble than she realizes.

Best,

Russell

RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2017, 10:10:33 AM »

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

It's fascinating how limited philosophy has turned out to be for exactly this reason: we as humans seem to be pretty limited in our imagination. We can't imagine the infinite because we've never seen it; we can't even imagine very large numbers of things... even the human population of earth is pretty much beyond real visceral comprehension, I believe.

Sometimes, science drags us screaming out of our comfortable philosophies via something like the Michelson-Morley experiment: the Ether didn't exist, but but... it must. So then along came Einstein, and time was just a different direction in 4 dimensional space, and different speeds are just different directions. Then take it a little further to think about falling elevators with physicists in them and we found we were living in curved four dimensional space. Then that just maybe the signature that distinguishes time from the other directions might not have always been there, and we have the Hartle-Hawking model where we find that time is just an epi-phenomenon, that somehow very early on there was no time, in which case it doesn't even make sense to say "early": time didn't exist anymore than smart phones did in 1850, the universe was getting on just fine, then something happened and somehow there was some notion of future and past.

That without even going near quantum mechanics, which I'm not convinced anyone understands in their gut.

Maybe that's how art works: it rattles something in our mental cupboards that we didn't know was there, that we hadn't had reason to imagine. In which case it might be an image of humans in a diner and memories of our youth, or it might be abstract splashings of colour that reflect something, not from the early universe but about how our neurones evolved to deal with some survival challenge when we were still more comfortable in trees...

+1

elliot_n

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2017, 10:42:26 AM »

I'm confused. How does your 'seer' relate to the dictionary 'seer' (the one that rhymes with 'queer' and denotes a person who has visions of the future)?
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RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2017, 10:44:29 AM »

Hi Elliot. It relates about the same way a Boeing 747 relates to a potato.

elliot_n

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 10:55:52 AM »

But the dictionary 'seer' derives from the verb 'to see' and means 'the one who sees' (i.e. the see-er) - isn't that the meaning of your 'seer'?
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elliot_n

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2017, 11:19:20 AM »

Your link to Hopper's 'Rooms by the Sea' goes to a CGI reworking of the original:

http://www.damieldesigngroup.it/index.php/anamorfosi/10-digi
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RSL

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2017, 01:58:06 PM »

Hi Elliot. The "meaning" of my seer is exactly what I put in the article. And if the link on your computer goes to the picture in your link, you have a serious problem. You might want to run an antivirus scan.

elliot_n

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Re: An Essay on Art
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2017, 02:08:02 PM »

Hopper's 'Rooms by the Sea' does not include a tea-cup atop a pile of books. The image you've linked to in your essay is a re-imagining of Hopper's painting by a CGI studio. Your seer is not seeing clearly.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ec/b3/8c/ecb38c5992d69371e0e7f3de65d9f712.jpg
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