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[Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Language as a form]

If I may, to all and sundry,

I recall in a course called Methodologies of Modernism, as an art student, there was one fantastic lecture by my humanities professor Ray Mondini. He showed us how it was that the themes and work of artists were precursors to the work of scientific discovery. There were about eight different examples he gave. Unfortunately I do not remember them all. I recall The Yellow Wallpaper came just before Freud's solidifying work on repression and the unconscious. Cubism came just before Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. The others I don't remember. It made me see that artists are very capable of either catching the zietgeist of thought and reifying it in their art, which might then direct the attention of scientists, or perhaps something more ethereal is going on, not spiritual, but something more subtle on the social plane of historical existence. A similar phenomenon in kind when Darwin and Wallace came up with their versions of the theory of evolution, but in that case it seems it is because they'd both read a book by Malthus on populations, so they shared similar inspiration from the same source. 

So I'm inclined to stand by David on this trans-disciplinary position. However I don't think it's about weak versus strong frames. I see it differently. For artists, they see the world from the general to the specific. For scientists, they see the world from the specific to the general. Of course these "laws" I have observed in thinking patterns vis a vis scientists and artists are not hard and fast, but that is my lived experience. 

To be an artist is to be a scientist in terms of form and color, tone and texture. But artists are not attempting to discover new worlds of material, they are searching for new worlds of meaning through testing the material. I haven't worked closely with scientists, however we know from Einstein his position on visualization and imagination. This presents me with a personal hypothesis, if I'm allowed to engender a personal one, that the best artists are ones with a bit of the scientist in them, and the best scientists are ones with a bit of the artist in them. Not sure how to quantify that exactly, except perhaps through play.

If anyone wants to know what lays ahead in scientific discovery, one thing to do is bone up on what the art scene is, because they are experimenting on the same thoughts as scientists, just from the top-down. A starting point is by perusing magazines like Art Forum, ARTnews, Art in America, Art Review, and others. I'm sure you can find themes that resonate and run parallel.

Just follow your nose.

Kind regards,


From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of HENRY SHONERD <hshonerd@gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2014 5:04 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fate, Luck and Chance [Language as a form]

Hi David,
Sorry I’m way behind. Respectfully:
Would it be fair to say that science needs art if both are to be creative? And that time and space are prototypical themes in both art and science? So, a 2-by-2 matrix with prototypical examples of the mash up in each quadrant. Just a thought.

> On Nov 27, 2014, at 3:00 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
> I too liked Huw's comments, but for rather different reasons than his
> compelling defense of what Basil Bernstein calls "strongly framed,
> strongly classified" categories of knowledge. What I liked is the way
> that he brought in Dickens, simultaneously enriching and undermining
> his argument.
> On the one hand, Dickens is the ultimate in blokish writers (I can't
> think of a single likeable or even bearable female character in the
> whole of his oeuvre). On the other, Dickens will begin a book (e.g.
> "Hard Times") with a clear list of characters he intends to slate
> (utilitarians and political economists) and then he'll attribute views
> to them that are really quite the opposite of what they hold (real
> utilitarians and political economists actually agreed with Mr. Sleary
> that work is a curse and that "The people mutht be amuthed"). So in
> addition to being a blokish writer, Dickens is a bit of an
> intellectual slob (as opposed to a snob): a masher-together-er, to put
> it more charitably.
> But by bringing in Dickens I think Huw also brings in the
> aesthetic--and even the ethical. And here what Huw says about strongly
> framed and strongly classified (or "technical") categories of
> knowledge is much less compelling. I have been arguing for a
> perspective that is "trans-disciplinary" rather than
> "inter-disciplinary", where inquiries into art and into science alike
> can be based on themes like quantity, history and structure rather
> than narrowly defined according to objects of study such as matter,
> living things, society and consciousness; it seems to me that if
> strongly framed and strongly classified categories of knowledge must
> predominate in scientific categories (else it is hard to see how the
> hiearchical structures Vygotsky sees as essential to science concepts
> can emerge) then weakly framed and weakly classified categories of
> knowlede necessarily predominate in aesthetic ones, and even in
> ethical ones (which I believe are closely related).
> We are reaching the end of the semester in my class on immersion
> education, in which I adopted a syllabus idea I stole from Carol
> Macdonald, to wit, that immersion classes might begin with classes
> like Physical Education, Music and Mathematics (where word meaning is
> not a central concern) and only end with classes like (Natural)
> Science, Social Science and Ethics. That means that this week my
> students are preparing immersion classes in ethics. One of my students
> contested the idea that ethical education was for higher grades only,
> so I asked her when she thought ethics education should begin.
> She said that ethics education really begins with a mother holding a
> newborn infant. On my way home from class, I thought of Martin's work
> on the prisoner's dilemma, and how it fit, quite despite itself, into
> a whole tradition of neo-Kohlbergian ethics education. And I was
> reminded of Carol Gilligan's and Nel Noddings' critique of
> Kohlberg--the critique that by emphasizing the autonomous individual
> above the relational one, and "justice" above "caring", Kohlberg had
> constructed a blokish ethics, for gentlemen only. It is also an ethics
> for small businessmen rather than young mothers and teachers: Mr.
> Sleary and his creator would have been amuthed.
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> On 27 November 2014 at 20:46, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com> wrote:
>> I have been reading McLellan's "new abridgement" of Capital recently.
>> Probably my most powerful impression is the prevalence of the conditions
>> Marx documents.  Unlike writers of fiction today, it is quite clear to me
>> that his contemporary, Dickens, was barely required to lift a few stones to
>> find the extremes of luck, fate and chance that he also portrays.  A
>> second, more palliative, impression is the documentation of the source of
>> so many of the problems arising in working conditions that remain with us
>> today, albeit in more 'civilised' form.
>> Regarding 'muscularity', I find it interesting to consider how technical
>> utterances and work-a-day competences do tend to carry a certain kind of
>> muscularity in a literal sense of holding steady.  To be technical is to be
>> precise under varying conditions in which one holds those conditions steady
>> and it is normal to hear technical discourse with some degree of
>> articulatory stress and moderate facial tension etc.  Under such
>> circumstances, one doesn't merely pile up the words in additive form but is
>> concerned with their configuration and placement.
>> On the business of the objectivity of consciousness and focal distinction
>> between the experience of consciousness and that which yields it, I think
>> we can make the same statement about any scientifically studied phenomena.
>> We are not aware of the internally manifest form of any kind of internal
>> calculus undertaken by a studied system, yet we may study it from without
>> (with meter readings etc) and perform equivalent calculations and follow
>> the transformations taking place.  Alternatively, we can study that
>> calculus as a system itself, which will have, again, its own internal
>> manifestation.  That's how we come to improve our approximations...
>> Best,
>> Huw