Thursday, September 27, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Daniel: I suppose it’s possible I’ve been confused about objective spirit. I hope I’m not too thoroughly confused about it, because I just had an essay come out that is based on Bonhoeffer’s use of the concept. In any case, I don’t have the Encyclopedia onhand and so can’t really carry this end of the conversation further.
John: I didn’t read your comment in its entirety before putting it off, and now I see that it’s mostly you bitching about how unfair I am to you in light of the shortness of your article. I would note that being personally annoyed by the amount of Lacan in Zizek is not the same as saying that Lacan is unimportant to understanding Zizek. (I also don’t buy Daniel’s “Lacan == Hegel, ergo….” Zizek is doing a Lacanian read of Hegel, which differs from the traditional reception. And in any case, John has never defended himself in that way, only expressed an understandable preference for dealing with the Hegel stuff.)
By “inwardness” I meant essentially that by means of which the subject stands in absolute relation to the absolute. (It may not be the exact terminology SK uses in Fear and Trembling, and if it’s not, I apologize.) Something incommunicable — “he cannot speak,” as I keep pointing out. In Zizek’s read of Lacan, there are two modalities of the subject — the “feminine,” which is the pure self-relating void, and the “masculine,” which is basically one’s “identity” as normally conceived (one’s social being). In Indivisible Remainder and some other places, Zizek claims that the “feminine” mode of subjectivity is ultimately identical to objet petit a — the traumatic kernel isn’t some solid “thing,” but is the subject’s “insane” eternal choice of character. In extreme situations — such as Abraham’s, I would argue — one is reduced to this incommunicable zero-level of subjectivity.
He works out the feminine/masculine things in terms of Descartes: the feminine is the abyss of radical doubt that even doubts whether he exists, and the masculine is the cogito ergo sum that allows him to dig himself out and found some kind of intelligible system. I don’t know for sure what page it’s on, but in Parallax he draws a comparison between Descartes and Kierkegaard in this regard.
I’m sure that’s still too compressed, but it’s something.
I never said - nor hinted - that Lacan was unimportant to Zizek, or to understanding Zizek. That would be a nutty thing to think. So I don’t see the fact that you don’t have this nutty opinion, and I don’t have this nutty opinion, as marking a clear line of distinction between our respective positions. I just said I tend to approve more, or disapprove less, of the bits that strike me as more Hegelian. (OK, I’m sorry to get exasperated. But just cut it out with saying the things that exasperate me.)
I am entirely happy with Daniel’s exposition of Hegel on objective spirit and would be content for Adam to address that. If Adam can address Daniel, my questions will be largely answered. “If what Zizek really wants to talk about is world-historical suspension of sittlichkeit, then Zizek and Kierkegaard aren’t concerned with the same topics.” This is my suspicion. The main criterion that separates Kierk. from Hegel, in this regard, is the idea of retroactively making sense of what you have been doing. Hegel is big on this, to put it mildly. Kierkegaard is insistent that this isn’t faith. Faith isn’t having it make sense, looking back, after it’s done. This is important.
Two minor points: I don’t insist that Hegel = Lacan. It is true that Zizek thinks that Hegelized Lacan and Lacanized Hegel makes for mutually reinforcing structures. So there is a certain heuristic value to Hegel = Lacan. Eh.
Daniel writes: “I think that Kierkegaard really may want to oppose this entire system; this is certainly how Holbo reads him. I’m not sure that Kierkegaard’s criticisms of “The System” are aimed at Hegel himself, but I think he does hold to some ideas which are opposed to Hegel’s.”
One thing that makes reading Kierkegaard against Hegel hard is that he is clearly addicted to the rhetoric of standing Hegel exactly on his head. This makes for wonderful jokes, which are spoiled by any attempt to come at Hegel at other than right angles. There isn’t any negotiation of ‘well, I sort of agree with Hegel about Ethics, but not about Faith.’ By way of exactly disagreeing about faith, K. has to pose as if he agrees perfectly about ethics, so as to throw the disagreement about faith into absolutely stark relief. So I just say ‘Ethics’ and let it float, not committing to the snap-to-grid 90 degree angles of the rhetorical frame. But it’s important that it isn’t going to float off that point that Daniel makes, above. Which is the main point.
Adam, I’ll have to think about the ‘inwardness’ point. I still don’t really get it. Following up on a comment at the Weblog, I think “The Indivisible Remainder” should have been entitled “The Invisible Reminder” That makes more sense.
All I can say is that Zizek doesn’t understand Hegel to be saying that objective spirit really is this universal all-encompassing thing — just that in order to work, it has to be regarded as such. Every historical era is “the end of history” from its own perspective and can’t help but view itself that way. Your reading of objective spirit is “Althusserian” — subjects are brought into existence by and for ideology. In Zizek’s Lacanian reading, the subject can always “opt out” in psychosis or in the self-directed negative act that Zizek calls the “properly ethical” — the social subject is the product of the primordial subject’s unconscious choice to submit to ideology (which includes basically all the things that Hegel classes under objective spirit).
Daniel appears to have read The Indivisible Remainder — isn’t the account of the rise of the big Other “Hegelian” or dialectical in its approach? The big Other arises out of the mutual deadlock among subjects, but in order for it to function, it has to be posited as “eternal,” always-already there. I understand this to be compatible with what I have read of Hegel, though obviously not with the traditional reading of Hegel, and I unfortunately remain unable to engage you at the level of detail that you have given me — and I’m sorry about that. All I can say is that Zizek’s reading of Hegel on this point seems plausible to me.
The tail-end of Holbo’s “Short Article is Short” rant actually did have some substance. He asked a question at the very end. Skipping the rest was probably an OK thing to do; Holbo seemed to be losing his temper, so it seems charitable to just let him get it out of his system and then go on.
I have not read The Indivisible Remainder in its entirety. I had an evening to kill at a bookstore; catching up on Yotsuba&! volumes hadn’t taken as long as I thought it would. Barnes & Noble had a copy of “The Indivisible Remainder” for some reason (as its only Zizek book, even), so I figured I’d check it out, since you keep speaking so highly of it. I read several pages into the first part, hit an argument that struck me as bad in a particularly toxic way, and skipped to the second part, which I read most of, but don’t recall very well at this point. So, a half-step above skimming. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t recall the origin of the “Big Other” given in that work; the summary you give sounds vaguely like something Hegel might say, but it also sounds like something Fichte might say, or even “social contract” theorists. One should not put too much weight on “sounds dialectical.”
I do recall the argument which struck me so badly: It was attributed to Schelling. Zizek notes that a subject has a variety of beliefs, desires, and other mental states of various sorts at any given moment. But these are not sufficient to motivate action: Given all that I believe etc., I could still do either p or ~p. Thus Schelling claims that we must also appeal to “eternal Character” to explain action: So-and-so is the sort of person to do this in this case. What struck me was that Schelling-Zizek simply rushed to say that (for instance) “I should like a drink of water” is not sufficient motivation for my getting a drink of water (since I could opt not to satisfy my thirst). But this is not the case in all cases — when I do get a drink of water, I often do it because I wanted a drink of water. My belief that I should like a drink of water caused my action, the getting of a drink of water. (Or if you prefer, my desire for a drink of water caused me to get a drink; there is no reason we cannot say both.) My mental states can be sufficient to cause me to act. A given mental state does not necessitate any given action, is what Zizek-Schelling notice; they conclude that there must be some additional element in action. But this is to fail to canvass all possibilities. In effect, Schelling-Zizek notice that there are no natural laws which go from mental states to actions, and conclude that there must be additional elements which can be added to mental states to produce the needed laws: Mental State + Eternal Character -> Action.
But there is another possibility: The anomalism of the mental. There are no laws of nature governing thought, because to use “law of nature” talk we must also use talk of mental states, and so mind-talk cannot be reduced to nature-talk, or replaced with it. And there is no reason for this to preclude the causal efficacy of mental states. Not all causal relations need to be instantiations of covering laws; the belief that they do is what McDowell calls (in “Functionalism and Anomalous Monism”) the “fourth dogma of empiricism”: “The Nomological Character of Causality.”
Or, if you want to hang onto your fourth dogma (Davidson did, for reasons I haven’t been able to puzzle out), there is Davidson’s “anomalous monism.” Each mental event is token-token identical to a physical event, and there are covering laws governing all physical causal relations. Thus mental events are involved in causal relations, since the same event can be characterized in both physical-talk and in mental-talk. But mental events cannot be talked about in nomological terms; law-talk is not suited for the task demanded of it. We need talk of propositional attitudes as support for any talk of the objective world at all, and thus also for talk of natural laws. Thus an absence of strict psychological laws, yet the causal efficacy of the mental is retained. (The locus classicus for this doctrine is Davidson’s “Mental Events”; in “Three Varieties of Knowledge” he does a much better job in arguing for the anomalism of the mental. ME is in “Essays on Actions and Events” and also “The Essential Davidson”; “Three Varieties of Knowledge” is in “Objective, Subjective, Intersubjective”. McDowell’s “Functionalism and Anomalous Monism” is in his “Mind, Value, and Reality”.)
I could go on about this longer, but you get the general idea. If you don’t, then this is probably a good thing to discuss.
I regard the anomalism of the mental as something very important to take note of; missing it can cause one to produce a great deal of bad metaphysical speculation. It appears to me from what you’ve written above that this has likely happened in Zizek’s case (if not in Lacan’s): a second “subject” is posited to explain why there don’t appear to be any mental laws, just as with Schelling’s “Eternal Character”. But a proper understanding of the propositional attitudes, of the relations which hold between belief, action, reasons, causes, the world etc., leaves one without the compulsion to posit the additional entity. The ordinary subject doesn’t need to “withdraw” anywhere to be free from nomological constraints, because there is no point at which it is not already free of such imaginary shackles. Hegel speaks of the relation between will and freedom as being like the relation between a body and weight — an unfree will would be no will at all.
Kotsko: “All I can say is that Zizek doesn’t understand Hegel to be saying that objective spirit really is this universal all-encompassing thing — just that in order to work, it has to be regarded as such. Every historical era is “the end of history” from its own perspective and can’t help but view itself that way.”– it occurs to me that any interpretation which leads to ascribing an “error view” of some sort to Hegel should be suspect. Hegel is not one to maintain a strong demarcation between what appears to us to be so and what simply is.
More substantively, Hegel does not think that all ages regard themselves as the “end of history”. Philosophical world-history is a novel development in the development of historicizing; indeed, Hegel says it is so far only practiced in Germany during his own time. It is the distinctive mark of this “highest” form of historical reflection that it knows historical development as self-directed, as guided by an internal telos. Hegel argues that the only telos which can do the required work in guiding our understanding of history is freedom, as other notions would simply be external purposes; Hegel is a critic of all external teleology, following Kant. And freedom reaches its fullest development in the modern state. Hegel repeatedly says that the Greeks did not know freedom; this was the failure of Aristotle, simply that he was born in Ancient Greece rather than Lutheran Germany. The idea of freedom only comes into play with Christianity; even the Stoics still had a flawed notion of it, since for the Stoic man as such was not free, but only man insofar as he was a sage. After the rise of modern civil society and the spread of Protestantism in religion etc. there is no longer any in-principle reason for man to be alienated from nature or society, to not know himself as freedom. Any further “historical” development will be the working-out of the modern political ideal which is already known: Man is and ought to be free. Thus history, as the self-development of freedom, has ended with modern society.
“Your reading of objective spirit is “Althusserian” — subjects are brought into existence by and for ideology.” — Here I think the assimilation of Hegel to a later figure has again caused a misunderstanding. As I understand the term, “Ideology” seems too rigid to do the work of Hegel’s “Objective Spirit.” Ideology is something basically static, given; I am born into an ideology, which governs me, moulds me, makes me who I am. But this again makes it seem as if it is something basically over and against me; whereas I am a novel moment of Objective Spirit, always with my own particular will, my own personal idiosyncrasies, my own novel familial and social relations etc. “Objective Spirit” is the actuality of the Idea, and the Idea is ever-active, ever unfolding itself out of itself; “The chalice of this realm of spirits/ flows forth to God his own infinity”, to quote the closing verse of the Phenomenology.
As I understand it, “ideology” is something more or less constant: Thus ideology always attempts to continue itself, but sometimes fails to produce the subjects it intended, and in this way do ideologies rise and fall. Objective Spirit does not try to maintain its previous shape, but fail; it tries and succeeds to develop itself as concrete freedom. I may be misunderstanding you on “ideology”; I tend not to use the term, and so may be missing some subtleties to it.
“In Zizek’s Lacanian reading, the subject can always “opt out” in psychosis or in the self-directed negative act that Zizek calls the “properly ethical” — the social subject is the product of the primordial subject’s unconscious choice to submit to ideology (which includes basically all the things that Hegel classes under objective spirit).” Here Zizek seems to be thinking of Hegel’s “infinite power of the negative”; the power of Spirit to abstract itself from all content that is given to it. (I don’t have my books on-hand at the moment, so I can’t place this more precisely.) But for Hegel this is not a way of escaping from Objective Spirit; it is a moment of it. The recoil from the “given” is part of the development of freedom, and Objective Spirit is the actuality of the Idea in its freedom. And of course I’ve already made another criticism above, that Zizek wouldn’t feel the need to talk this way if he took notice of the anomalous nature of the mental.
We’re getting to the point of having such long comments that I’m tempted to just point you toward Zizek’s most detailed reading of Hegel, in For they know not, and ask you to get back to me once you’ve gotten a chance to read it. (If that doesn’t seem assholish.) And I’ll go do a more intensive reading of Hegel (in and for himself) while you’re getting around to that, and we can talk again. I’ve read a good chunk of Hegel and a few commentators other than Zizek, but I’m not yet at the point where I feel comfortable throwing around Hegel at the level of specificity you’re using.
Recommending we “hit the books” and get back to this stuff later doesn’t seem assholish at all at this point, though I have no idea when I’ll get around to reading any given thing; my backlog is legion.
As for reading Hegel intensively: I’d recommend focusing more on the Encyclopedia Logic and the Philosophy of Spirit. Hegel wrote the Encyclopedia volumes for use as textbooks for his lectures, so they’re quite a bit more readable than the Science of Logic or the Phenomenology. The Encyclopedia Logic also has the advantage of having a fairly-recent Hackett translation, which means plenty of handy footnotes, annotations, etc.; I’ve never been able to understand why Miller was so stingy with footnotes. Hegel’s text benefits from having constant reminders about what terms were used in the German.
(The translators’ introductions to the Encyclopedia Logic are great, too. Just reading their arguments over how to translate various terms does a lot to spell out how Hegel’s using them. It also explains how in the hell “ob-ject” was deemed fit for print.)
Also, to be assholish, Davidson is seriously fantastic and you should read him if you haven’t already. “On The Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme” is one of the best essays ever written. “A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs” is also terrific, and by the time I was through with it I was pretty much sold on all things Davidsonian. And I really do think it’s relevant to the sort of things you’re interested in.
If you’re going to take a long time, though, maybe I will have the chance to “bone up” on German and just read it straight.
There are some really terrible older translations of the Encyclopedia Logic, at least; some of them are mentioned in the translators’ introduction to the Hackett. One of them translated most of Hegel’s technical vocabulary literally: Daseyn was “There-Being”. Given the sheer amount of technical vocabulary Hegel accumulates, you can guess how well this worked out.
I have no idea if the translation of the Philosophy of Nature is any good, nor do I care. Nor does anyone. All of the the secondary stuff I’ve read on the PoN has fallen into one of two categories: 1) Utterly worthless dreck whose authors should be ashamed of themselves; 2) an article by Terry Pinkard about why the PoN is justly neglected, and what its irrelevance tells us about the relation between Nature and Spirit. Pinkard pointed out that Hegel’s attempts to unify mechanism, chemism, and organism went on a few years before the accidental distillation of urea, which rather revolutionized ideas about the relationship between “organic” and “inorganic” matters. This is just as well, since there are a few places in the PoN where Hegel just says “We still have a lot to learn about this subject” and moves on to the next heading. This is not a sign that Hegel’s strategy was going as planned.
Good luck on learning German, though. I’ve done a piss-poor job at maintaining my Greek and Latin, so I’ve more or less resigned myself to reading works in translation. Luckily the German Idealists are pretty well-represented, here; the only Kantian works which still need translating are some lecture notes on random subjects and parts of his Reflexionen. The Cambridge edition of the Opus Postumum is actually said to be superior to any German edition, just because the Cambridge folk did better critical work on the manuscripts.
My readings in patristics have made me fond of outdated scientific schemes, but maybe an early modern one wouldn’t be different enough to be interesting. (Sometimes I’ve pondered becoming a crank who defends Plato’s Timaeus instead of creationism, just for the sake of generating controversy on blogs.)
I could be way off since looking at his faculty page this information I thought I was remembering is not there. Still… is he one of the cranks?
I suppose the PoN is bound to be better than it’s generally taken to be; it can’t possibly be worse. Though the Amazon description for Houlgate’s book does not fill me with hope; trying to develop Kant’s “Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science” in a positive way can’t end well. The “Metaphysical Foundations” is a trainwreck. (See Kenneth Westphal, “Kant’s Transcendental Proof of Realism” for an excellent analysis of just how badly Kant’s project goes here; Gordon Brittain tried to defend Kant’s book in “Kant’s Theory of Science”, but mainly succeeded in writing a fine book discussing a lot of Kantian themes in light of Quine. Brittain did not actually do much to dispel worries that Kant’s project in “Metaphysical Foundations” was a bad one from the get-go. Though again: “Kant’s Theory of Science” was a good book. The same can’t be said for the “Metaphysical Foundations.”)
I’ll just stick with my assumption that the real philosophy of nature starts in 1907.
Scene points go to those who can figure out my reference.
there is a big difference between ‘never say die, can-do spirit’ and ’spirit overcoming despair through the possibility of eternity-in-time.’ The latter is a very different sense of ‘never say die’. Kierkegaard is the latter, Lenin is the former. So that’s the objection.
Much more than Lacan’s nuance, the point is that if we assume the unconscious/real we can’t know the difference between ‘can-do spirit’ (?) and ‘spirit overcoming despair through the possibility of eternity-in-time.’ It means this even if the difference makes a BIG difference, which is Holbo’s claim. Even Kant thought that our ‘inner and outer experience’ were divided such that we can never know for sure the “purity” of the maxims of our own action, let alone the actions of anyone else. Holbo’s position assumes it is accurately/reliably possible to tell the difference (as he does between Stalin and Lenin), if not practically, at least in theory. In general, the main antagonism between Adamb and Holbo’s positions is that Holbo’s doesn’t take into account the concept of the unconscious, while Adam’s does (as does Zizek, of course) It is in this sense that Adam’s point about the big Other is valid, and why Holbo doesn’t respond. Simply put, Adam is considering Kierkegaard in light of the “Freudian Experience” and Holbo is not.
Holbo: “I don’t get why inwardness should equal objet petit a in this way”
Because he does take account of the unconscious. Psychoanalysis is very interesting. It is its own leap of faith in a way.
One Response to “Bogue on Deleuze and Art” va Says: September 24, 2007 at 3:35 am How timely (for me)! I just read Daniel W. Smith’s essay on this topic but yesterday. Among the many things I learned is that the Francis Bacon in question is not, in fact, the Renaissance philosopher, and it turns out that the modern-day Bacon has a very cool body of work.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life through the Eyes of Actors
By Retta Blaney Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Paper 0-7425-3319-0 / 978-0-7425-3319-6 2003 160pp TABLE OF CONTENTS SAMPLE CHAPTER(S) REVIEWS "Blaney digs deeply into the lives of actors in this engagingly written book."— Publishers Weekly See all reviews
Stage and screen actors form unique relationships with their audiences. Through their work, they challenge, teach, and inspire us by shedding light in all corners of life and connecting with us through our senses and emotions. Working on the Inside goes backstage into the inner lives of respected actors like Liam Neeson, Vanessa Williams, Phylicia Rashad, Edward Herrmann, Kristin Chenoweth and many others to reveal the deep spirituality each one relies on in their lives and work. The result is a book like no other that draws ten key elements of the universal spiritual life from the perspective of actors whose work it is to tap into the essence of life, tell stories, and reveal life's truths.
Retta Blaney, an award-winning journalist now specializing in theatre and religion, was inspired to write this book by the spiritual wisdom actors conveyed in their interviews with her over the years. She dared to ask actors questions few ever do--How does your spirituality influence your life and work? How do you pray? What do you pray for? How do you stay centered in a career with so much uncertainty? And they answered her, readily sharing experiences of faith, being in the moment, listening, silence, prayer, self-knowledge, community, hospitality, ritual and transformation. The result is a book that takes readers into the private thoughts of some of their favorite actors for inspiring tips on how they, too, can begin working on the inside.
About the Author Retta Blaney is a theatre and religion writer in Manhattan. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Newsday, National Catholic Reporter, The Jewish Week, The Living Church, American Theatre, Back Stage, and other publications.
Friday, September 21, 2007
In each of these rhetorical maneuvers there’s a disclosure that takes place and a simultaneous concealing of other discourse possibilities. One of the aims of the rhetorician should be the archeology of these silences, as Dan Price argues in Without a Woman To Read, that would allow for the production of other possibilities and be generative of deterritorializations. The peril to perpetually be avoided, however, is that of rhetorical judo that uses these deterritorializations as the very substance of reterritorializations and capture.
- Deleuze often argued that thought is not a natural disposition, but requires a disruptive encounter that engenders thinking within thought. The rest of the time, according to him, we’re simply stimulus-response machines governed by the model of recognition or the familiar (his polemics against phenomenology largely issue from the way in which it valorizes recognition or the everyday lifeworld).
- Lacan argued that thought requires a trauma, an encounter with something missing from its place, the failure for something to be where one expects it. Russell said that he was lucky to think for a single minute of a day each year.
- Badiou argues that thought requires an event, the emergence of something that nothing in the Encyclopedia allows for.
- For Heidegger, the present-at-hand only becomes illuminated as present-at-hand when the ready-to-hand fails or breaks down. When my hammer breaks, I suddenly discover the world in its brute facticity, divested of my various concernful engagements, alien and over against me.
I can see why Logic professors focus on categorical and symbolic logic. Everyone is happy. There are simple rules to follow such that the automatons can come to the right answer in much the same way a calculator calculates a solution. But what would be a pedagogy of the encounter that departed from the production of the endless stimulus-response machine?
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Yo, I don't know who you are doni... but that dvar torah was hard core refreshing! It was such a spin on the depth of torah as an art form and not something stagnant... Now we just have to bring it out-- good luck to all of us! Peace out!
9:38 AM, September 18, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
ABSTRACT MUSICS: contemplative/signification-meaning/rational/personal (modern)
TRANSPERSONAL MUSICS: integral/intuitive-experiential/spiritual/transpersonal (postmodern)
It is important to remember at this point that the thrust of evolution, in the integral view, is to "transcend and include", meaning that while abstract, contemplative music proceeds from ritual music, it does not completely bypass or exclude ritual music, nor does it have to exceed the communal functionality of it. In a given social system abstract and ritual musics may even exist side-by-side and operate in conjunction with each other. As musical praxis extends into the mental-logical dimension it retains aspects of ritual that remain necessary or useful in that new dimension. To be specific, concert music cannot exist without some trace of ritual (particularly the ritual of concert performance), without a mythical framework upon which to construct, interpret, and reinterpret its themes and deify its great composer-heroes, without communal interdependency to make possible the cultural preservation of old works and the ongoing creation of new ones. So it follows that a transpersonal music must be able to differentiate itself but NOT dissociate from the functional identities of both ritual and abstract musics if the overall goal is to transcend and include.
It is also important to note that even though we are dealing with hierarchical organization of holons (or holarchies), it does not necessarily follow that all abstract music is more advanced than all ritual music. Those familiar with Wilber’s writings will understand that he repeatedly emphasizes the point that evolution often proceeds very unevenly, and an individual or a society may be very well advanced in one line of development, and simultaneously very underdeveloped or even pathological in another (Wilber’s common example is the Nazi doctor – one who is very intellectually advanced but morally and ethically stunted).
So the challenge now is to adapt the integral view of evolution to a musical point of view. How exactly does a transpersonal music work, being a form of communication that transcends (and includes) symbolic communal function as well as language-based rational/mental perspectives and philosophical concepts? Might this line of inquiry provide a clue as to what is truly meant by the old axiom, "Music is the universal language"?
Here we might take a cue from the visual arts, which in the twentieth century were more immediately successful at escaping the confines of literal representation than music (even though music as an abstract form was the initial inspiration for abstract art vis-à-vis Kandinsky):
"The ‘pure’ red of which certain abstractionists speak does not exist, no matter how one shifts its physical contexts. Any red is rooted in blood, glass, wine, hunter’s caps, and a thousand other concrete phenomena. Otherwise we should have no feeling toward red or its relations, and it would be useless as an artistic element." - Robert Motherwell, "Beyond the Aesthetic" (1946)
There is a telling scene in the movie Pollock where Jackson Pollock’s character, played by Ed Harris, is asked about the "meaning" of his paintings. Pollock relates the experience of art to looking at a sunrise, "You don’t ask what it means…" This statement gets to the core of what a transpersonal art should do; it ought to be as simple as looking at a sunrise. We don’t need to see a sign posted to tell us to sit down and enjoy it, or even a program to interpret its meaning for us. The sensitive individual already knows intuitively what to do. Everything that has ever been known about beauty comes into play at that point, as we experience the sunrise as a brand new synthesis of emotional values, symbolic associations, and literal meanings that were in place previous to this experience. We create experience – we improvise at that point, by discovering and forging new connections to our prior experience, our prior knowledge.
SEMIOTIC: rational/language - writing, telling or listening to a story about a sunrise.
INTUITIVE: trans-rational/trans-language - experiencing an actual sunrise.
1. CULTURAL: style-associations (LL)
"It is the artists who guard the spiritual in the modern world." - Robert Motherwell, "The Modern Painter’s World" (1944) Mysticism has to do with experience, creativity with establishing experience as realization. In this way the artist reveals something hidden behind and beyond mysticism. The art work in this context assumes a spiritual dimension, becomes a spiritual text.
This integral spirit is obvious in the music of Bach, Beethoven, Ives, Stockhausen, Ellington, Sun Ra, Mingus, Braxton, Dylan, Zappa… these figures are not so much innovators as they are integrators, having that rare ability to perceive the breadth of information available to their time period and craft a holistic, profoundly artistic and culturally apposite statement from it. As well or as little known as some of these figures have become, so far this potential is yet to be fully realized on a global scale. There is no reason not to believe that the heights of creativity achieved by the great master artists might someday be universally accessible, as the scientific inventions of Edison, for instance, are now available to us all.
But contemporary art culture praises focus, which may be why we don’t reward our Bachs and our Ellingtons anymore (and possibly why they weren't so rewarded in the first place). The integral-thinking artist is considered unfocused, unable to be pigeonholed or explained in terms of style, or summed up in a tidy feature article or a concisely written grant proposal. The obvious example of this is Braxton, who has completely repositioned literal meaning in his music with the pictorial and systemic titling of his works, and after nearly four decades continues to mystify his critics.
Creativity is evolution, integration, the continuous revealing of the full spectrum of consciousness – the completion of which is the unfolding or involution of spirit in the world. Our task as individuals is to seek and reveal the authentic, and to learn to understand that the only absolute is that which is so completely beyond and within oneself. The task of the creative musician is to chip away at this essential truth, one sound at a time. There are many small revolutions within the one Revelation. Posted by KRIS TINER at 4:31 PM Labels: aqal, integral, the open work