ART & ORGANISM
ART IS A LIE but BEAUTY is TRUTH ?
Art is a lie I use to tell the truth —Picasso
L’exactitude n’est pas la verité —Matisse
[GET ORIENTED WITH
A connection between truth and beauty is immortalized in John Keats famous lines: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know” … from the concluding couplet to his poem ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ (1819) (comments).
OUR NEED FOR TRUTH AND BEAUTY.
In the business of living well, maybe even mere surviving, truth and beauty might seem unnecessary. But we often think beyond our finite selves at a given moment: About William Blake, Maria Popova wrote that he was “animated by unflinching faith in the human spirit, in our capacity for self-transcendence, and in the ability to ameliorate the sorrowful finitude of our lives by contacting eternity through the supreme conduits of truth and beauty — truth and beauty that continue to radiate from his art. He may have died in poverty, but he lived enriched and electrified by the mirth of creativity.” (see Maria Popova’s blog entry on Blake). Of course art is practical in that it enlarges and intensifies our awareness
THERE IS truth and then there is TRUTH.
They asked him, “Is there anything truer than truth?”“Yes” he replied, “Legend.” (Kazantzakis). And Salman Rushdie speaking about el realismo mágico, held that “The real, by the addition of the magical, actually gains in dramatic and emotional force. It becomes more real, not less.”
It is easy (very easy) to overthink this: to paraphrase Seng-T’san, the third Zen patriarch, ‘Seeking the mind with the mind–is this not the greatest of all mistakes?’ Understanding is more than mere mind (look at A&O notes on “embodied cognition”).
Well we know that science (a highly specialized version of everyday experience–Huxley) consists of facts and theories. That is, phenomena that we assume exist in the world alongside us, and the relationships between them that we guide our thinking about how they relate to each other and to ourselves. These might determine or reflect the modes of reality-testing that we possess (correspondence and coherence) that confer a measure of confidence in them (are they real? illusory? hallucinations?), but more about these cognitive mechanisms and their evolution and adaptive utility later.
It is significant that our experiences—perceptions and conceptions of the world—are presumed to be more-or-less accurate internalizations of something outside ourselves.
Actually, we will see that the boundaries between inside and outside our selves is often very fuzzy. Write these promises down—make sure that they are kept.
At this point you would not be surprised that someone like Frank Lloyd Wright could say, “The truth is more important than the facts.” But facts are isolated little things: their importance is in the roles they play constructing narratives–the scripts by which our lives are lived. A false or weak fact can destroy a narrative: “The great tragedy of science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact”(TH Huxley 1870) Amongst our mantras: “Tell the best story you can with the best facts you have.” We cannot expect “perfection,” only the closest approximation of the truth–perfection is for the gods alone, transcendence to a place we cannot know.)
TRUTH and BEAUTY
In his review of Ian Stewart’s Why Beauty is Truth: A History of Symmetry, Martin Gardner points out that the title … is, of course, taken from the enigmatic last two lines of John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn”:
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”–that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
“But what on earth did Keats mean? T. S. Eliot called the lines “meaningless” and “a serious blemish on a beautiful poem.” John Simon opened a movie review with “one of the greatest problems of art–perhaps the greatest–is that truth is not beauty, beauty not truth. Nor is it all we need to know.” Stewart, a distinguished mathematician at the University of Warwick in England and a former author of this magazine’s Mathematical Recreations column, is concerned with how Keats’s lines apply to mathematics. “Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare,” Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote. To mathematicians, great theorems and great proofs, such as Euclid’s elegant proof of the infinity of primes, have about them what Bertrand Russell described as “a beauty cold and austere,” akin to the beauty of great works of sculpture.”
The connections between TRUTH and BEAUTY is often noted but digging deeply–exploring subtext and underlying assumptions–we come to the intersection of cognitive constellations of SAPIENCE and SENTIENCE. Possibly a deep bias, possibly involving intuition, but always affecting CONFIDENCE (TRUTHINESS?). Sometimes FACTS just FEEL RIGHT (or not): For example, the blog “You’re Wrong About” debunks the stories of the past. But its real subject isn’t so much facts as the process by which we absorb them. (“And yet the show’s allure goes beyond mere fact-checking, which has become, by now, just another genre of entertainment. Fifteen years ago, in the first episode of “The Colbert Report,” Stephen Colbert coined the term “truthiness,” to distinguish those who “know with their heart” from “those who think with their head.” The deeper theme of “You’re Wrong About” is this divide—how we transcend it, or whether we are doomed, for eternity, to subordinate facts to the iron force of our instincts.”) By Rachel Syme (October 12, 2020). https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/10/19/how-we-lie-to-ourselves-about-history
THE PROBLEM WITH PRECISION. See St Paul’s Problem of personal experience versus the precision of the church; “the Spirit (PNEUMOS) makes alive.” (2 Corinthians) And see A&O note on Borges on Exactitude in Science. It seems there may truth at one level of organization and not another. What kind of truth is that? and Recall one ofthis page’s epigraph, L’exactitude n’est pas la verité (Matisse)
PRECISION and BEAUTY. Saint Augustinian’s paradox:
Augustine observed that “… the more a portrait gives us the illusion of a real person… the greater its authenticity as a work of art;” that is, the more believable the art, the more we are deceived.” (quoted by De Bruyne 1969:41) “the image of a demon, who is in reality ugly, is in itself beautiful, provided that the likeness is accurate.”
Or maybe it is perspective: John Constable (d.1837) said, “there is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.”  And in another spirit but no less concerned with truth, Hercule Poirot tries to make it clear: “Understand this, I mean to arrive at the truth. The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it”
What is more REAL than REAL? Obviously, SURREAL ! The most transparent of art forms because it is based on dreams: the truth of the subconscious before we’ve had a chance to “sanitize” it—make it socially acceptable (sensu Freud) … before our “organ of civilization” (the frontal cortex according to Luria 1966) has a chance to rationalize and to accommodate it to cultural correctness.
REALISM and IDEALISM. “For him, Realism meant painting the head of a peasant woman. As soon as you wanted to paint something pretty, That was no longer Realism. That was called Idealism.” Sert, misunderstanding Renoir’s point, tried to defend Idealism, saying that one wasn’t always obliged to paint reality. “Who paints truth,” asked Renoir, “I’ve never been able to render an eye exactly. And if one did render the truth, perhaps it wouldn’t please us.” [look in on “hyper-realism“ and “the uncanny valley“]
“…almost nothing is more incomprehensible than how an honest and pure urge for truth could make its appearance among men. They are deeply immersed in illusions and dream images; their eye glides only over the surface of things and sees “forms”; their feeling nowhere lead into truth, but contents itself with the reception of stimuli…” On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense (Frederich Nietzsche 1873)
One year, the Art & Organism seminar had as a class motto, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (from René Magritte’s, La trahison des images, 1929).
Discussion and debate was constantly peppered with the phrase.
As obvious this may seem, we still need frequent reminders. Consciously or unconsciously, representations and the things they represent (e.g., words) become interchangeable and tools may become more important than the project they were devised to act upon. (look in on “reification”)
“The map is not the territory”
(paraphrasing Alfred Korzybski 1948:58)
“Physicists have come to see that all their theories of natural phenomena, including the ‘laws’ they describe, are creations of the human mind; properties of our conceptual map of reality, rather than of reality itself. This conceptual scheme is necessarily limited and approximate, as are all the scientific theories and ‘laws of nature’ it contains. All natural phenomena are ultimately interconnected, and in order to explain any one of them we need to understand all the others, which is obviously impossible. What makes science so successful is the discovery that approximations are possible. . . . This is the scientific method; all scientific theories and models are approximations of the true nature of things, but the error involved in the approximation is often small enough to make such an approach meaningful.” (Fritjof Capra 1975 in The Tao of Physics, p. 287)
On Representation and Revelation
Description is revelation. It is neither
The thing described, nor false facsimile
It is an artful thing that exists
In its own seeming, plainly visible,
Yet not too closely the double of our lives
Intenser than any actual life could be.
… And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you
(Paul Simon 1965) listen to Kathy’s Song (1966)
.THEN read the post on LOVE and TRUTH including its connection to the RADICAL DOUBT of Rene Descartes
WHAT INTRUDES BETWEEN REALITY AND OUR UNDERSTANDING OF IT (“TRUTH”)
- “Mario Vargas Llosa, author of The War of the End of the World, observed that the accuracy of a novel is as important to many people as whether it is a good or bad read. “Many readers,” he says, “consciously or unconsciously, link the two together.” Llosa once ridiculed the ban placed by the Spanish Inquisition on novels in the new world (effective in Mexico until independence in 1816) but now he feels that the Holy Office was “the first to understand ‑‑ before critics and even novelists ‑‑ the nature of fiction and its subversive tendencies.” “In fact novels do lie ‑‑ they can’t help doing so….and through lying, they express a curious truth, which can only be expressed in a veiled and concealed fashion, masquerading as what it is not.” (Llosa, NYTBR, Oct. 7, 1984). (This theme was reviewed and summarized succinctly in Illich & Sanders, 1998 ABC.)
- The goal of writers, actors, artists, and storytellers should be — as Shakespeare wrote — “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image.” (Hamlet, Act III, Scene II).
- Scholarly papers and study notes are amongst the most natural habitats for abstracts of text: the selective representation of what someone regards as the essential elements of a larger construct …
- Susanne Langer once said, “All good art is abstract,” (1957:69). But in fact, abstraction begins with the organism’s ability to detect and emphasize those stimuli most important to survival in the environments in which they find themselves.
- ” . . . every art purporting to represent involves a process of reduction. . . . This reduction is the beginning of art. . . . [it is] no less necessary when the painter is aiming at unlikeness than when he aims at life-likeness” (Andre Malraux, The Voices of Silence 1953:275).
The Willing Suspension of Disbelief
- The “willing suspension of disbelief” permits deployment of a vital (therapeutic) lie or evasion of a stressful memory or belief (such as death).
- Samuel T. Coleridge (1772-1834) wrote in Chapter XIV of his autobiography, Biographia Literaria, the following: “In this idea originated the plan of the “Lyrical Ballads”; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.” And see Wittgenstein on PERCEPTION.
- ART can also be a SCAFFOLD –a temporary structure that enables us to build something more enduring, and then is no longer relevant. See how RULES may be like this, click here
Artistic License, Poetic License
- “the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist in the name of art.” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artistic_license. But the implications go much further: from the most faithful, accurate representation possible of something through an abstract representation of it which can generalize more-or-less to the class of things in which it can be included. (mathematics as an abstraction plays in here) (see A&O notes on poetic license)
- ALSO reflects the idea that there can be too much precision! see PRECISION and BEAUTY (above)
In the sense that art is a faithful representation of a mental or physical phenomenon, Picasso’s “Art is a Lie…” or Magritte’s “Treachery of Images” might be a point on the continuum. (At University I was asked to consider the accuracy of a photo of a real bird or flower (as in some field guides) with a drawing, which is likely a composite of multiple birds. (see Peterson’s defense of drawings).)
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS. Where you do NOT have answers to questions you think are important, identify those questions and tell what might be done to get an answer. Do we have to do more study of ancient history? of psychology? ? Don’t just say what people know, but also what they do NOT know. What hypothetical experiments might be done to get some helpful information Or might you find a “natural experiment?”
ABOUT DYNAMIC BALANCE: the phenomenon you’re into may be the outcome of altered “balance” — Homeostasis points toward a set point, but must never rest there, at least not too long. The dynamic balance of tissues and organs enables life in the same way the dynamic balance of cognitive functions enables “consciousness.”
CHANGE. Back to basics: The organism from which we emerge as sentient beings changes continually. From conception to demise, the genes in every cell respond to signals and lead to transformations in functions and structure that presumably serve the needs of the organism as cells multiply and the morphology finds form and its processes change. That these changes are adaptive is assumed in the light of thousands, even millions of ancestral generations in which natural selection gave priority to changes that ramified through the organism to affect its final biological fitness. Often, very small failures lead to catastrophic consequences, underscoring the relatively simple roots of incomprehensively complex relationships.
- “… in ordinary English usage, [“denial” asserts] ….that a statement or allegation is not true. The same word, and also abnegation (German: Verneinung), is used for a psychological defense mechanism postulated by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. An individual that exhibits such behaviour is described as a denialist or true believer.” (Wikipedia on Denial) Denial is among the most common ways of resolving cognitive dissonance.
- The subject may use:
- simple denial: deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether
- The Denial of Death: Ernest Becker’s 1973 book built “on the works of Søren Kierkegaard, Sigmund Freud, and Otto Rank” (Wikipedia) proposes that “that human civilization is ultimately an elaborate, symbolic defense mechanism against the knowledge of our mortality, which in turn acts as the emotional and intellectual response to our basic survival mechanism. Becker argues that a basic duality in human life exists between the physical world of objects and a symbolic world of human meaning. Thus, since humanity has a dualistic nature consisting of a physical self and a symbolic self, we are able to transcend the dilemma of mortality through heroism, a concept involving our symbolic halves. By embarking on what Becker refers to as an “immortality project” (or causa sui), in which a people create or become part of something which they feel will last forever; people feel they have “become” heroic and, henceforth, part of something eternal; something that will never die, compared to their physical body that will one day die. This, in turn, gives people the feeling that their lives have meaning, a purpose, significance in the grand scheme of things.”
- Terror Management Theory derives from Becker’s ideas and “posits that culture is a series of activities and worldviews that provide humans with the illusion of being individuals of value in a world meaning—raising themselves above the merely physical aspects of existence, in order to deny the animal insignificance and death that Homo Sapiens became aware of when he acquired a larger brain.” (Wikipedia on culture)
[i] “Dirac’s statement . . . on the importance of “beauty in one’s equations” was intended for Erwin Schrödinger. In Schrödinger’s first attempt to concoct his famous wave equation, he looked for one that agreed with relativity theory. The equation he came up with, however, was not supported by experiment. Eventually he produced the Schrödinger equation, which was not beautiful, but did at least fit the data. Dirac thought that Schrödinger should have ignored the data and persevered in his pursuit of a beautiful equation.
Dirac did just that. He discovered an equation that was consistent with relativity theory but represented in a mathematics unfamiliar to most physicists – spinors, intermediate between vectors and tensors. The problem was that it predicted particles with negative energy, which everyone thought an impossibility. Werner Heisenberg condemned it as the “saddest chapter in theoretical physics”. Shortly afterwards, Dirac realised that these particles were actually antiparticles with positive energy. They were later discovered in the laboratory. Once again insisting on beauty in a mathematical theory revealed unexpected features of nature.” [from AI Miller’s essay, “Science A Thing of Beauty”]
… often ranked second only to Einstein in originality and brilliance, deeply admired for his “beautiful mathematics,” His hero was Einstein: ‘The only time I saw him cry,’ said his wife, Margit, ‘was at the news of Einstein’s death.’ Dirac’s younger daughter Monica could not remember ever seeing her father laugh.” (Quoted by Mary Jo Nye in a review of “The Strangest Man” in Science, 2009 – 27 Nov p1191-1192). Also some of Freeman Dyson’s comments about Dirac in NYRB 2010
 “We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth, at least the truth that is given to us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.” (Picasso, in Ashton, 1977:21). Picasso may be echoing George Braque’s comment on cubist representation here. Also, Delacroix said that painting, unlike photography, had to tell a lie to tell the truth (Vaizey, NYTBR 4/1/1984:10)
“L’exactitude n’est pas la vérité” (Matisse) the motto of a book about Walker Evans quoted by Hellmut Wohl in his essay, “Leonardo Da Vinci” (1967, McGraw Hill, N.Y.)
Henri Matisse wrote, “…to sum up observations that I have been making for many years on the characteristics of a drawing, characteristics that do not depend on the exact copying of natural forms, or on the patient assembling of exact details, but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects which he has chosen, on which his attention is focused, and the spirit of which he has penetrated…” “… Thus there is an inherent truth which must be disengaged from the outward appearance of the object to be represented. this is the only truth that matters.” From an essay written in May 1947 in the catalogue of an exhibition of Matisse’s drawings in Liège cf Henri Matisse, Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture Organized in Collaboration with the Artist, Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition catalogue 3 April-9 May 1948, pp 33-34. Cf Chipp HB, Seltz PH, Theories of modern art, Univ of California Press, Berkeley…, 1968 p. 138 – quoted in http://wisdom.tenner.org/the-power-to-make-things-simple.html (downloaded 6/15/2016)
But compare this to Ezra Pound’s view of exactitude (1913:163) quoted from The New Freewoman, I: 9, 1913, p.163, By Marina Camboni: “Above all, Pound maintains, art should be valued for its relation to life and to fundamental issues. Touching these last, he writes, ‘the arts give us our data of psychology, of man as to his interiors, as to the ration of his thought to his emotions, etc.’ and concludes: “The touchstone of art is its precision” Here is the overall value of art. However, Pound believes that only a specialist can determine the value of a work of art. The specialist is his version of the artist as scientist, an artist who, like the scientist, abstracts from the ‘aegrum vulgus’ (p. 163).” From “Dora Marsden, Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Art of the Future” Part II by Marina Camboni; http://www.scc.rutgers.edu/however/v1_4_2000/current/alerts/camboni.html
“Among his discoveries, the quality he termed “precision” became the most conspicuous through the incessant reiteration of the term and its alternatives. Its connotation included such terms as “exactness,” “details,” “particulars,” the “true” and the “real.” By precision Pound meant, essentially, the authentic and direct experience of individual realities and “the exactness of poetic presentation” (87). He again considered that Dante typified this quality: “a sort of hyper-scientific precision [that] is the touchstone and assay of the artist’s power, of his honor, his authenticity” (87). To illustrate this notion, Pound repeatedly cited Dante’s example: “say, not ‘Where a river pools itself,’ but ‘As at Arles, where the Rhone pools itself ‘” (159). Tracing the quality of precision to a tradition that survived from the Provençal poets to Dante, Pound considered this quality representing a spirit of the medieval and a paramount criterion for modern poetry. All this addressed his desire to renovate modern poetry with the notion of precision serving as an alternative to symbolist obscurity or “atmospheric suggestion” (159). A similar significance Pound found in the troubadours was in “emotion,” “love,” and “truth.” For the young Pound, sincerity and emotion, even erotic passion, contributed to the crystallisation of ecstasy and intensity in poetry. Like precision, these elements were also considered part of the spirit of the medieval period: the troubadours “lost the names of the gods and remembered the names of lovers” (90). He traced the singing of erotic passion to Hellenic paganism, and to the mysteries of love as rhymed by Ovid and Virgil, both of whom influenced the Provençal poets (90). Pound thus considered emotion to be an enduring “cult” that was fading away in his own time, and so worth taking pains to invoke “the dead” and to remind his contemporaries of this tradition — “by naming over the most beautiful things we know we may draw back upon the mind some vestige of the heavenly splendor” (96). He even went so far as to modernise the cult of sexual attraction when he wrote Lustra, of which some poems were deleted from the commercial version because the editor considered them as obscene to readers of the time.” From CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture: A WWWeb Journal ISSN 1481-4374 CLCWeb Library of Research and Information … CLCWeb Contents 3.4 (December 2001) <http://clcwebjournal.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb01-4/tao.html> 8Purdue University Press By Naikan TAO, Chinese literature and comparative literature at Macquarie University, with particular emphasis on cultural relations between China and the West.
 Adapted from an epigraph from a Kazantzakis novel in A. Melnyczuk’s novel What is Told (NYTBR 27 March 1994: 6). (Sallust would agree, “These things never were, but always are,” he wrote. (http://patriot.net/~lillard/cp/sall.html )
 Salmon Rushdie in an appreciation of García Márquez in the NYTBR APRIL 21, 2014: 26
 Where correspondence means that the concept—the object in mind—is a good match for the object in the world outside, and coherence means that the concept “fits in with” other concepts—in memory, current circumstances, or expectations.
 Frank Lloyd Wright quoted in Context, 5/6/94 Vol 11/No 14 (Frequently quoted but unsourced and thus scorned by Wikiquote).
THE PROBLEM WITH PRECISION: “the Spirit (PNEUMOS) makes alive.” -2 Corinthians 3:6 (Interlinear Bible) the literal “kills”. The “mind of the flesh” is “death”. But seeing things in terms of their spiritual meanings breathes life into them and fosters true understanding. It was to these kinds of literal minded people that Jesus was referring when he said “seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand”. Literal interpretation misleads and results in spiritual blindness and death. Paul’s analysis of this problem proved to be frighteningly accurate. As witnessed by later developments, this literal, fleshly method of interpretation resulted in the deaths of John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, the rest of the Apostles and thousands… perhaps even millions of other Christians throughout history.” This enables the author to avoid the fleshly requirement of circumcision – it’s circumcision in the heart that counts. ( http://www.bci.org/prophecy‑fulfilled/ntint.htm )
 https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/ap-art-history/early-europe-and-colonial-americas/medieval-europe-islamic-world/a/a-new-pictorial-language-the-image-in-early-medieval-art An illusion of reality. Classical art, or the art of ancient Greece and Rome, sought to create a convincing illusion for the viewer. Artists sculpting the images of gods and goddesses tried to make their statues appear like an idealized human figure. Some of these sculptures, such as the Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles, were so lifelike that legends spread about the statues coming to life and speaking to people. After all, a statue of a god or goddess in the ancient world was believed to embody deity.
The problem for early Christians. The illusionary quality of classical art posed a significant problem for early Christian theologians. When God dictated the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, God expressly forbade the Israelites from making any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Exodus 20:4). Early Christians saw themselves as the spiritual progeny of the Israelites and tried to comply with this commandment. Nevertheless, many early Christians were converted pagans who were accustomed to images in religious worship. The use of images in religious ritual was visually compelling and difficult to abandon.
Tertullian asks: Can artists be Christians? Tertullian, an influential early Christian author living in the second and third centuries, wrote a treatise titled On Idolatry in which he asks if artists could, in fact, be Christians. In this text, he argues that all illusionary art, or all art that seeks to look like something or someone in nature, has the potential to be worshiped as an idol. Arguing fervently against artists as Christians, he acknowledges that there are many artists who are Christians and indeed some who are even priests. In the end, Tertullian asks artists to quit their work and become craftsmen.
Augustine: illusionary images are lies Another influential early Christian writer, St. Augustine of Hippo, was also concerned about images, but for different reasons. In his Soliloquies (386-87), Augustine observes that illusionary images, like actors, are lying. An actor on a stage lies because he is playing a part, trying to convince you that he is a character in the script when in truth he is not. An image lies because it is not the thing it claims to be. A painting of a cat is not a cat, but the artist tries to convince the viewer that it is. Augustine cannot reconcile these lies with patterns of divine truth and therefore does not see a place for images in Christian practice.* — A New Pictorial Language: The Image in Early Medieval Art, Essay by Dr. Nancy Ross. https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/ap-art-history/early-europe-and-colonial-americas#medieval-europe-islamic-world
 This ode contains the most discussed two lines in all of Keats’s poetry – ‘”Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ The exact meaning of those lines is disputed by everyone; no less a critic than TS Eliot considered them a blight upon an otherwise beautiful poem.” — http://englishhistory.net/keats/poetry/odeonagrecianurn/
. Pound, Ezra. 1913:163 quoted from The New Freewoman, I: 9, 1913, p.163, By Marina Camboni: “Above all, Pound maintains, art should be valued for its relation to life and to fundamental issues. Touching these last, he writes, ‘the arts give us our data of psychology, of man as to his interiors, as to the ration of his thought to his emotions, etc.’ and concludes: “The touchstone of art is its precision” Here is the overall value of art. However, Pound believes that only a specialist can determine the value of a work of art. The specialist is his version of the artist as scientist, an artist who, like the scientist, abstracts from the ‘aegrum vulgus’ (p. 163).” From “Dora Marsden, Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Art of the Future”: Part II by Marina Camboni; http://www.scc.rutgers.edu/however/v1_4_2000/current/alerts/camboni.html
“Among his discoveries, the quality he termed “precision” became the most conspicuous through the incessant reiteration of the term and its alternatives. Its connotation included such terms as “exactness,” “details,” “particulars,” the “true” and the “real.” By precision Pound meant, essentially, the authentic and direct experience of individual realities and “the exactness of poetic presentation” (87). He again considered that Dante typified this quality: “a sort of hyper-scientific precision [that] is the touchstone and assay of the artist’s power, of his honor, his authenticity” (87). To illustrate this notion, Pound repeatedly cited Dante’s example: “say, not ‘Where a river pools itself,’ but ‘As at Arles, where the Rhone pools itself ‘” (159). Tracing the quality of precision to a tradition that survived from the Provençal poets to Dante, Pound considered this quality representing a spirit of the medieval and a paramount criterion for modern poetry. All this addressed his desire to renovate modern poetry with the notion of precision serving as an alternative to symbolist obscurity or “atmospheric suggestion” (159). A similar significance Pound found in the troubadours was in “emotion,” “love,” and “truth.” For the young Pound, sincerity and emotion, even erotic passion, contributed to the crystallisation of ecstasy and intensity in poetry. Like precision, these elements were also considered part of the spirit of the medieval period: the troubadours “lost the names of the gods and remembered the names of lovers” (90). He traced the singing of erotic passion to Hellenic paganism, and to the mysteries of love as rhymed by Ovid and Virgil, both of whom influenced the Provençal poets (90). Pound thus considered emotion to be an enduring “cult” that was fading away in his own time, and so worth taking pains to invoke “the dead” and to remind his contemporaries of this tradition — “by naming over the most beautiful things we know we may draw back upon the mind some vestige of the heavenly splendor” (96). He even went so far as to modernise the cult of sexual attraction when he wrote Lustra, of which some poems were deleted from the commercial version because the editor considered them as obscene to readers of the time.” From CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture: A WWWeb Journal ISSN 1481-4374CLCWeb Library of Research and Information … CLCWeb Contents 3.4 (December 2001) <http://clcwebjournal.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb01-4/tao.html> 8Purdue University Press By Naikan TAO, Chinese literature and comparative literature at Macquarie University, with particular emphasis on cultural relations between China and the West.
 In C. R. Leslie Memoirs of the Life of John Constable (1843) ch. 17
 “Organ of Civilization” (Luria 1966)
 Renoir commenting on Courbet, quoted by Fenton (1996) in ADegas in Chicago,@ NYRB 10/17/96 pp. 14-18.
 Über Wahrheit und Lüge im außermoralischen Sinn (in English: “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense“, also called “On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense“) is an (initially) unpublished work of Friedrich Nietzsche written in 1873, one year after The Birth of Tragedy. It deals largely with epistemologicalquestions of truth and language, including the formation of concepts. … These ideas about truth and its relation to human language have been particularly influential among postmodern theorists, and “On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense” is one of the works most responsible for Nietzsche’s reputation (albeit a contentious one) as “the godfather of postmodernism.” Wikipedia
 Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1817): “That willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith.” — Samuel T. Coleridge (1772-1834), British poet and literary critic, wrote in Chapter XIV of his autobiography, Biographia Literaria, the following passage:
“In this idea originated the plan of the “Lyrical Ballads”; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth, on the other hand, was to propose to himself as his object, to give the charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us; an inexhaustible treasure, but for which, in consequence of the film of familiarity and selfish solicitude we have eyes, yet see not, ears that hear not, and hearts that neither feel nor understand.”
[Related to HABIT & deautomatization]
When the reader/viewer becomes involved in the artist’s work and, even though s/he knows that none of the events or person recorded in the story can actually occur, s/he “lets it happen” and can thereby enjoy a stronger bond with the mind of the artist.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1817. Biographia Literaria ch. 14 p314 in Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. by H.J. Jackson, Oxford, 1985 — http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Etexts/biographia.html
- http://www.english.upenn.edu/~mgamer/Etexts/biographia.html Preface to the Lyrical Ballads: http://www.bartleby.com/39/36.html
“… between Wordsworth’s early principles and his late principles came a period of about ten years when he had no firm principles, only questions and intuitions; and it was from these that his great poetry was born. If Wordsworth survives as a living possibility for today’s readers and poets—and he should—it is thanks not to his teaching but to his use of verse as a medium for introspection and self-questioning. No poet before him paid such close attention to the way the mind actually works, the odd jumps that connect our ideas and perceptions.” … “He grows close to the brilliant Coleridge, collaborates with him on their reputation-making volume of “Lyrical Ballads,” in 1798, and eventually breaks with him, fed up with his neuroses and addictions. He has five children with his beloved Mary, three of whom he buries, to his tremendous grief. And through it all he rises slowly from cult author to national institution.” —Adam Kirsch in The New Yorker DECEMBER 5, 2005. “STRANGE FITS OF PASSION: Wordsworth’s revolution” (blog comments) (Wordsworth Resources)
- BORGES on EXACTITUDE
- GORGEOUS TRUMPS EVERYTHING
- LOVE and TRUTH notes
- NATURAL HISTORY of TRUTH (MetaNexus lecture, Phoenix, 2009)
- TRUTH in the BRAIN Beijing (Consciousness Reframed lecture, Beijing, 2004)
- BEAUTY AND TRUTH IN SCIENCE (Overby 2002)
- TRUTH and BEAUTY in ART and SCIENCE
- POST on TRUTH