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ART & ORGANISM
CLASS MEETING February 19, 2019
moved to posts on 4/12
OPEN with CHECK-IN (#1 and at least two others):
REVIEW LAST WEEK (Feb12)
Point being: we each have a DEFINITION based on a combination of OUR EXPERIENCE and our SOCIAL GROUP’s DEFINITION:
In A&O, we speak of art in a very broad way, including both the EXPRESSION of an object or experience as well as its RECEPTION. (Adapting terms most commonly used te decribe common aphasias)
We argue that ART is a form of communication that may have its roots with r efforts to communicate with OURSELVES.
There seems to be a threshold of meaningfulness on the part of the creator and/or the audience: As a form of communication (even communication between levels of an individual) we can distinguish input of information (stimuli, sensory perception), its integration into an individual’s psyche (conception), and the output (actions or feelings that guide actions).
As communications, what are we learning about what we see and how is that affecting us? When we speak about senses we are speaking of aesthetic experience. A few years ago, Slobodan Marković of the University of Belgrade (Serbia) tried to deconstruct the idea using an interdisciplinary (psychology/biological) approach [see Marković (2012) “Components of aesthetic experience: aesthetic fascination, aesthetic appraisal and aesthetic emotion.” i-Perception. 2012;3:1–17. doi: 10.1068/i0450aap. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Cross Ref] ].
His ideas made clear progress but also identified areas needing more investigation if we are to ever have a clear and satisfying meaning for aesthetics. One implicit theme in his essay involves “levels of organization,” a core theme in Art & Organism as well.
At some level we often seem to know that aesthetic experience can be informed by the intention of the creator (maybe that helps us focus on our own intentions in paying attention to it). Can great art be UNINTENTIONAL? –An ARTIFACT of activity? (sometrhing that meets a NEED other than communicating with others? RELATED: … are phenomena in nature (a beautiful sunset?) “works of art?”
Informed by “COMMUNICATIONS” between two individuals (or two levels of organization with us?) , we can think of ART as more-or-less overlapping concentric circles which has the (unattainable?) “true self” at its center. Following the principle of “we seek to KNOW and BE KNOWN,” we want the message to originate and to penetrate at the deepest levels. A “heart-to-heart” conversation. We already know that “the best things can’t be told”
DIAGRAM of two isolated concentric spheres communicating within and between nested spheres and each other
But we may never be able to get what is deepest: The skeptic Gorgias spoke to this: (Nothing exists … Even if it did exist it could not be known … Even if it could be known … it could not be communicated.” (Gorgias spoke sarcastically)
DIAGRAM of bell curve with NOW as a vertical ordinate with memory and imagination on either side. Ordinate on side of degree of VALIDITY [see essay on memory and imagination in the brain] (discussion started with “still-point”)
Review on VALIDITY of BELIEFS related to TRUTH (which exists only within us and is…) tested by cognitive processes of CORRESPONDENCE and COHERENCE (corroboration and context cues and how satisfactory is the story into which it more-or-less fits)
Time: Last week we spoke of “NOW” (“Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, and the eye of the storm—an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.” (Saul Bellow 1915, In George Plimpton Writers at Work (1967) 3rd series, p. 190) [such stillness is a precious “momentary stay against confusion,” as Frost called it.] And there is time, past, present, future … and the stillpoint in Burnt Norton: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/11/18/t-s-eliot-reads-burnt-norton/ ) (As Ellen Handler Spitz put it, the aesthetic ideal dissolves categories of time and space and absorbs into itself past memories and anticipation of the future (1985:142).
So follow up with “in the “River of Consciousness,” and “How long is NOW” (see A&O notes on TIME)
THEN, more about TRUTH:
And COMMUNICATIONS (within and between levels)
Steering into PHYSIOLOGY and the nervous system, SOME ASPECTS of BRAIN FUNCTION serving CONSCIOUSNESS
For individuals, fore each of us, at every second, there are THREE STREAMS of information about the world outside of consciousness:
● INPUT: Proprioceptive (information from the body by means of sensory neurons in the inner ear, stretch receptors (spindles) in striated muscle and tendons (Golgi tendon organ) ● Interoceptive (information from internal organs conveying information such as pain, hunger, cardiovascular and respiratory activity) ● Exteroceptive (information from outside the body involving visual, auditory, tactile, chemical—olfactory and gustatory)
“Hall of Mirrors?” In the nervous system, understanding different ways of modulating specific areas in the brain —facilitating and inhibiting a specific site– is often confusing because functions of one specific area often augment or inhibit activity in another. For example, diminishing the activity in one site might enhance the activity of another site that is ordinarily “held in check” by the first site’s actions. Many pathways and areas in the brain maintain a balance of influences on specific functions. “The Cerebral Symphony.”
ORDER from CHAOS: the neurons are typically “on” and on the edge of chaos. Anything useful is done by coordinating their actyivity… chaos is incredibly sensitive to slight perturbations (such as the proverbial butterfly’s wing or sensory input) and these can begin the cascade that result in PERCEPTS and CONCEPTS that REPRESENT the perturbation: a sensory input (representing the world outside of consciousness) or a chance constellation of random or accidental internal perturbations (hallucination). Look in on Charles Bonnet Syndrome. (link)