A&O Class Notes for Jan 29, 2019



Tuesday, January 29, 2019 Class Notes

reposted on April 11

Last week (Jan 22), THINGS that STOOD OUT for some people that can be connected to core content included TS Eliot’s idea of “stillpoint.” It was connected through CHANGE and through the arresting of a process that leads to a “permanent” work of art.    That touched on more-or-less ABSTRACT versus FIGURATIVE art.   “ABSTRACT” has many properties beyond that of “selective emphasis.”  Watch for that.  

What art “represents” can be at many levels 


SO, TIME is an issue: as the scholar 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).

“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). Such stillness is a rare and precious “momentary stay against confusion,” said Robert Frost.

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshness; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is…

IN TIME, there is a past, present, future … and the still point — identified in TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton:. Read about it, hear it read, see the words at https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/11/18/t-s-eliot-reads-burnt-norton/


THINGS that “emerged” from discussion of 2nd class meeting

  1. SONDER: on-line
  2.   Is your MIND-MAP of the word “ART” essentially your personal DEFINITION of the word?
  3. What else?


THINGS that you reported “stood out” from our last meeting

  1. Mind-maps (looking deeply, facilitated by spontaneity)
  2.   Music (faint and in the background but a positive effect on atmosphere)

[i]. From my 1988 paper, “Art, Science, Arete”:  Emile Zola (writing of art) wrote the phrase “fragments of nature seen through a temperament.” (Emile Zola (1886), “Proudhon et Courbet,” In Mes Haines (Paris : Bibliothèque- Charpentier, 1923). Originally published in 1886. “Une œuvre d’art est un coin de la creation vu a travers un tempérament” (p.25).   Zola later changed `creation’ to `nature’.     Zola quotes Claude Bernard in The Experimental Novelnear the end of Part I: “The appearance of the experimental idea,” he says further on, “is entirely spontaneous and its nature absolutely individual, depending upon the mind in which it originates; it is a particular sentiment, a quid proprium, which constitutes the originality, the invention, and the genius of each one.”


NEW GLOSSARY. NOTICE that we have a cumulative GLOSSARY: every year it grows as new research or thinking draws ideas (and the terms that represent them) into our spheres of interest. Look in on the GLOSSARY


IDEAS we touch on and attempt to connect in a meaningful narrative in our third seminar meeting:

  • Key terms about which we must have clarity and consensus about meaning: these are foundational in that they refer to phenomena at every LEVEL OF ORGANIZATION:
    • NEEDS” – there are five of them and they weave though all DEEP ETHOLOGY and at every LEVEL OF ORGANIZATION
    • ADAPTIVE” – referring to identifiable traits, important in all of DEEP ETHOLOGY with special emphasis in EVOLUTION.  Adaptive traits contribute to “FITNESS”
  • We will check into a few key ideas in DEVELOPMENT: This is a major domain in DEEP ETHOLOGY:
    • DEVELOPMENT is CHANGE (“the maelstrom of disintegration and renewal”)
    • DIVERSITY In learning styles of humans (at least WEIRD humans) can be characterized by the “Learning Style Inventory” (LSI):  Link to A&O notes on the LSI
  • Speaking of diversity, what is “NORMAL”
    • PHYSIOLOGY.  The genius of Oliver Sacks and his studies dysfunctions and extremes or deficits of processes that ordinarily maintain adaptive balances within the brain: “every pathological malady of the mind is a complex clinical extreme of a core human tendency that inheres in each of our minds in tamer degrees. By magnifying basic tendencies to such extraordinary extremes, clinical cases offer a singular lens on how the ordinary mind works…”   What are disorders of RECEPTION (aphasias with respect to language) or EXPRESSIVE (apraxias)
    • PATHOLOGY as a window on “normality” and OUTSIDER ART   Outsider art?  “Even when it is most determinedly realistic, it is conceived in accordance with the laws and limitations of the human mind…..even the most desperately `naturalistic’ art…is, at its most literal, nature passed through a human mind….”  (Krutch, 1932) [bold italics mine; Compare Zola (1866):[i] “Art is a fragment of nature seen through a temperament.”]   The “normal” temperament is a delicately balanced assemblage of processes, each centered in a small array of structures … but what happens when that array—picture a great Calder mobile floating in the atrium of the Guggenheim—become unbalanced by (e.g.) anything from a breeze to an accident …


  • OF COURSE we are all individuals with unique endowments of genes (and selective attention to memes) but HOW MUCH OF WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE IS ACTUALLY YOU?  Look into the A&O website on SELF


Leave a Reply