July 27, 2007

Discourses and Brutal Obsenities.

Jacques has some interesting stuff in his blog, as always (see his Saturday, July 21, 2007).

He's been posting a few items this week that has provoked a few thoughts...

- First of all, "the discourse" isn't a singular phenomenon. It isn't clear, concise, indisputable, free of contention, durable, or plain spoken. Part of the initiation into art school belies this fact. Perhaps this sleight of hand is important in the acculturation of an art student in to the "art world".*1

- My years in the navy were served in the dark room behind the bridge lit by rotating scopes, edge lit plexiglass streaked with glowing grease pencil lines and edged with blinking lights. The place was called "Combat", short for "Combat Information Center". I was there for a few years, "seeing" the world via this virtual cerebral cortext of a nuclear powered exoskeletonized creature, the sharp pointy end of a nation state. We drew a picture of the world around us, always sweeping RF energy over the horizon, fabricating and updating a picture of the world composed of unknowns, friendlies and hostiles.

You know, kind of like what we --each of us-- do all day, every day.

- It seemed to be quite a picture of philosophy for me then, a picture that became more vivid when I later encountered Hume, Berkeley, Kant and Locke in undergraduate school. Well, I can tell you that the world does indeed exist and you and I are real. This, I know and I think you do too. We paw our way through it, in the dark, inch for inch. The world is revealed to us through the many modalities that can be experienced, some through our senses. There are many more modalities (ways of apprehending the world) than the number and type of sense organs each so configured to recieve them.

- This brings to mind a little ditty that I would truck out for students when I taught architectural design. There an many ways to represent a building as you imagine -in your head-... you have drawings in plan, section (a plan made vertical), isometric (to see abstractly, a god's eye view), perspective (a single human's view), in model form... an artful combination of each has to be put together to gestalt a representation of what you are imagining. The process of articulating this imagined experience reveals the limitations of imagination (we always think somthing is imagined complete when it usually is not so), and conjures a related representation in another preson's mind. Hopefully, it is what you are imagining too.

- The question for Jacques' narrative thread is (assuming that he would concede the redraw of the discourse away from the quadrilatieral rational tablet): are the clouds of discourse a precipitation or a condensation? Or if they are both, how can they be so?


Then, Jacques has been getting all Werner Herzog on us:

I've been watching all of Werner Herzog's films starring Klaus Kinski. I wish I had time to write a proper essay on Herzog's view of nature and civilization. Herzog's colonial anti-heroes are usually left drifting in a nowhere land between two equally unappealing choices: the soulless and cold rationalism of Western Civilization, and the dumb and irrational Primitivism of the Native. The collision of these two worlds reveals the mistake we often make of Romanticizing Non-Western cultures as somehow Noble or above reproachment. In an interview, Herzog refers to Nature as a brutal obscenity and I think that he is strangely accurate. The jungles and rivers of Cobra Verde, Aguirre, and, Fitzcarraldo are indeed dark and murderous, placed in direct oppostion to the Will of Man. Ultimately of course, for Herzog nature works as a metaphor for the human spirit...and the realization that is slowly formed is that we are looking not at something other than oursleves, but at the dark mirror of the soul. If nature is brutal, than man is equally so. There is no resolution to this contest, although the effort consumes us. Man's conquest of Nature is itself a linguistic hallucination.....a task something akin to biting one's own teeth...for how can one conquer that which he is?
Not for nothing are we*2 are Judeo-Christian deep in the woodpile. The philospoher's doubt knows no end. If we do not conquer nature (a misleading phrase, but alas) then we will become it, in all of it's beauty and ugliness, this is where the secular slide of good intentions leads us. Only a leap of faith can erect a polestar, a final backstop, a single G-d that is absolute enough to be beyond a mere human's meddlesome grasp. The desire to acquiesce our responsibility to steward nature will indeed render us brutal monsters, as natural as a lion's incisors' plunge into the neck, the oxygenated blood rich in adrenalin from a bulging carotid artery sprayed into the air. The problem for all of us secular-educated-international-elites*3 is how not to become monsters, especially when there exists no rational argument that can stand against this terriblly (G-dless) conclusion.

Are we too religious in our secular identity to accept the slender solitary conviction in an ultimate doubt in doubt itself?

*1 There are many art worlds, by the way.

#2 "Westerners", an unfortunate name that, since the legacy of the West is for all mankind. It is interesting to consider that there is as yet no name for the world we have made: based on induvidual freedom, configured by the marketplace, networked with information, moderated by tempered democratic systems...

*3 I figure that anyone who is reading this blog is one of this category. The contents of the university has been spilled all over the world/marketplace, we all "don't need badges...", se?or and anyone who traffics the internet is a default member of this no-longer-exclusive club.

Posted by Dennis at July 27, 2007 2:37 AM

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