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DoubleQuoting Jacques Louis David

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

[ by Charles CameronNapoleon at the St Bernard Pass goes to Turkey ]
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Jacques Louis David, Bonaparte, the first Versailles version:

Jacques Louis David, Napoleon 600

Introducing Erdoganist art, tweeted by Mustafa Akyol and RT’d by Hayder al-Khoei:

Erdogan

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Oh, but it gets better. How’s this for a wild DoubleQuote? I found it while rummaging around for a “best version” of the Erdogan pic:

From John Robb to Jean Paul Gaultier

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — via Christopher Alexander, Arthur Koestler, James Clerk Maxwell, Hermann Hesse, and Wells Cathedral ]
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My topic today is a comment that John Robb just posted on his FaceBook page. As so often, I’ll proceed by indirection. Here’s a wild DoubleQuote illustrating a blogger’s perceived similarity between the “scissors arch” at Wells Cathedral and one of the models in Jean Paul Gaultier‘s 2009 Spring collection:

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 wells cathedral 1

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John Robb posted:

Some philosophical thinking:

Human knowledge, at an elemental level, can be described as a “transformation” of data.
Complex ideas are built using layers of “transformations” with each layer feeding into the next (think pyramid)
We teach these transformations at home and at school to our children.
We communicate by sharing transformations.
Questions We Need to Answer in the Age of Cognitive Machines:
How many transformations would it take to model all human knowledge?
How deep (how many layers of transformation is human knowledge) is human knowledge? Both on average or at its deepest point?
How broad is human knowledge (non-dependent transformations)?
How fast is the number of transformations increasing and how fast is it propagating across the human network?

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My interest is in John’s pyramid, considered as a pyramid of arches.

My starting point (with Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game ever in background) is Arthur Koestler‘s observation in The Act of Creation that the creative spark occurs at the intersection of two planes of thought —

koestler

— or to put that another way, that the creative leap is an associative leap between two concepts, disciplines or aspects of knowledge — thus, an arch:

Maxwell

Likewise:

synthesis

— which in my own DoubleQuotes notation gives us:

Karman Gogh mini

— thus, many arches build to a pyramid:

pyramid of arches

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Of course, with arches one has to be very circumspect, buecause in rich contexts, they’re not simple creatures:

rib vaulting flying buttresses

Among the greatest such arches I know are Taniyama‘s 1955 “surmise” as Barry Mazur puts it, that “every elliptic equation is associated with a modular form” — arching way above my pay grade — an insight that was to bear rich fruit forty years later, in Andrew Wiles‘ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem; and Erwin Panofsky‘s great book similarly linking the structures of medieval cathedrals and scholastic thought:

panofsky gothic architecture scholasticism

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White we’re on the topic of gothic iconography, another form of arch we might consider is the vesica piscis:

vesica-piscis

— frequently found in medieval art and architecture:

320px-CLUNY-Coffret_Christ_1

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I’m not suggesting, John, that your inquiry and mine are identical — far from it — but that they have a sufficiently rich overlap that an appreciation of one is likely to spark insight in terms of the other.

And with Hesse’s Game, with which I recall from our earlieest conversations you are familiar..

I mentioned Hesse and Christopher Alexander in my bracketed note at the top of this post. It’s my impression that both were striving for a similar encyclopedic architecture to the pyramid John proposes. Hesse on the Glass Bead Game:

All the insights, noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras, all that subsequent periods of scholarly study have reduced to concepts and converted into intellectual values the Glass Bead Game player plays like the organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; its manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond number. Theoretically this instrument is capable of reproducing in the Game the entire intellectual content of the universe.

And Hesse is clear that individual moves within the games take the form of parallelisms, resemblances, analogical leaps — writing, for instance:

Beginners learned how to establish parallels, by means of the Game’s symbols, between a piece of classical music and the formula for some law of nature.

Speaking of the playing of his great Game, Hesse said:

I see wise men and poets and scholars and artists harmoniously building the hundred-gated cathedral of the mind.

And Alexander? His book A Pattern Language is pretty clearly his own variant on a Glass Bead Game, following on from what he terms his Bead Game Conjecture (1968 – p. 75 at link):

That it is possible to invent a unifying concept of structure within which all the various concepts of structure now current in different fields of art and science, can be seen from a single point of view. This conjecture is not new. In one form or another people have been wondering about it, as long as they have been wondering about structure itself; but in our world, confused and fragmented by specialisation, the conjecture takes on special significance. If our grasp of the world is to remain coherent, we need a bead game; and it is therefore vital for us to ask ourselves whether or not a bead game can be invented.

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Gentle readers:

For your consideration, delight, temptation, confusion or disagreement, here are three more of Gaultier’s arches, as perceived by Kayan’s Design World:

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 1

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 7

Jean-Paul Gaultier 2009 10

Of a Faig Ahmed carpet, huzzah!

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — a perfect visual example of linking between similars across distance ]
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Double Tension-Dark edition. Faig Ahmed, 2011. Image Courtesy of Faig Ahmed Studio 602
Double Tension-Dark edition. Faig Ahmed, 2011. Image Courtesy of Faig Ahmed Studio

This is a magnificent carpet from among the magificent carpets of Faig Ahmed. It also reminds me..

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In March 1998, during an online forum with the computer scientist David Gelernter, I formulated my sense of how a move in Hermann Hesse‘s Glass Bead Game would function in these terms:

My own hunch is that an aesthetic sense is *the great sorting principle*, that it has to do with pattern recognition, and specifically the recognition of isomorphisms parallelisms in deep structure. So an AI that recognized deep isomorphisms across wide topic distances would be the ideal web navigator as an AI that recognizes deep isomorphisms across wide topic distances is a creative mind. It would also be playing Hesse’s Bead Game, no?

To which Gelernter responded:

I think basically, that’s exactly right. I wrote a book about this issue of what you call recognizing isomorphisms in widely different domains, a tremendously important issue in how the human mind works.

Some years later, in a post here on Zenpundit, I rephrased my original insight more precisely, thus:

The leap that intuits similarities, particularly rich similarities between rich concepts in widely separated fields, is the most powerful tool of the thinking mind.

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I mean, the two ideas — one purely visual, deriving from the creativity of an artist who works in carpets, and one theoretical, from my own work in creative juxtapositions — are themselves richly parallel across a wide disciplinary distance..

SPEC DQ carpet

Differently said, you can DoubleQuote ’em.

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For reference:

The DoubleQuotes board linking two ideas, before —

and after play —

Oh, and did I mention the apocalypse / terror connection?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — Robert Dear, a crazed? apocalyptic? Christian? terorist? — & what of William Blake? ]
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John Horgan commenting on Robert Dear:

Horgan on Dear

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Apocalyptic? Here’s Richard Faussett, For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack, in the NYT today

In a sworn affidavit as part of her divorce case, Ms. Micheau described Mr. Dear as a serial philanderer and a problem gambler, a man who kicked her, beat her head against the floor and fathered two children with other women while they were together. He found excuses for his transgressions, she said, in his idiosyncratic views on Christian eschatology and the nature of salvation.

“He claims to be a Christian and is extremely evangelistic, but does not follow the Bible in his actions,” Ms. Micheau said in the court document. “He says that as long as he believes he will be saved, he can do whatever he pleases. He is obsessed with the world coming to an end.”

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Was William Blake crazy?

Beatrice Addressing Dante from the Car 1824-7 William Blake 1757-1827

In this month’s Literary Review, Nicholas Roe reviews Leo Damrosch, Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake, and offers an anecdote about David Erdman, the editor of The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake and his psychologist wife:

I recall a conference twenty-five years ago at which the great scholar David Erdman was lecturing brilliantly on Blake’s poetry; in the audience his wife, Virginia, a distinguished clinical psychologist, leaned across to the person sitting next to her and observed, ‘I’ve never been able to convince David that Blake was completely mad.’

Terrorist?

The closest Blake came to terrorism was this, as reported in his Poetry Foundation bio:

Before Blake could leave Felpham and return to London, an incident occurred that was very disturbing to him and possibly even dangerous. Without Blake’s knowledge, his gardener had invited a soldier by the name of John Scofield into his garden to help with the work. Blake seeing the soldier and thinking he had no business being there promptly tossed him out. In a letter to Butts, Blake recalled the incident in detail:

I desired him, as politely as possible, to go out of the Garden; he made me an impertinent answer. I insisted on his leaving the Garden; he refused. I still persisted in desiring his departure; he then threaten’d to knock out my Eyes, with many abominable imprecations & with some contempt for my Person; it affronted my foolish Pride. I therefore took him by the Elbows & pushed him before me till I had got him out; there I intended to leave him, but he, turning about, put himself into a Posture of Defiance, threatening & swearing at me. I, perhaps foolishly & perhaps not, stepped out at the Gate, & putting aside his blows, took him again by the Elbows, &, keeping his back to me, pushed him forwards down the road about fifty yards–he all the while endeavouring to turn round & strike me, & raging & cursing, which drew out several neighbours….

What made this almost comic incident so serious was that the soldier swore before a magistrate that Blake had said “Damn the King” and had uttered seditious words. Blake denied the charge, but he was forced to post bail and appear in court.

Christian?

Theologian Thomas Altizer writes of Blake that “From the beginning, he rebelled against God, or against the God then present in Christendom” — perhaps thinking of Blake’s own words in The Everlasting Gospel:

THe vision of Christ that thou dost see
Is my vision’s greatest enemy.
Thine has a great hook nose like thine;
Mine has a snub nose like to mine.
Thine is the Friend of all Mankind;
Mine speaks in parables to the blind.
Thine loves the same world that mine hates;
Thy heaven doors are my hell gates.
Socrates taught what Meletus
Loath’d as a nation’s bitterest curse,
And Caiaphas was in his own mind
A benefactor to mankind.
Both read the Bible day and night,
But thou read’st black where I read white.

— and then calls him “the most radical of all modern Christian visionaries”, explaining that “no poet or seer before him had so profoundly sensed the cataclysmic collapse of the cosmos created by Western man” —

So yes, apocalyptic, too.

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Terrorist? Christian? Muslim? Artist? Mystic? Poet? Blasphemer?

Words strain, TS Eliot wrote, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden / Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, / Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, / Will not stay still.

Poetry is dead vs the death penalty for poetry?

Monday, November 30th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — current affairs, target practice, and incarnation ]
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Ah.

Palestinian poet and painter Ahraf Fayadh is currently under a death sentence in Saudi Arabia.

It appears important to recognize the full human significance of one’s target

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Flaubert apparently pronounced poetry dead in his posthumous opus, Bouvard et Pécuchet, 1881, and even Newsweek had noted the fact — “filed under: News” — by 2003. Neither Flaubert nor Newsweek, however, was reckoning on the long-standing Arab enthusiasm for poetry, nicely illustrated to this day by the seriousness with which the authorities treat their poets.

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Oh..

and while we’re on the subject of targeting..

it may also be wise to recognize the full divine significance of one’s target.


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