Tuesday, March 17, 2009

From The Origin of the Species (1859)                  
"....Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult - at least I have found it so - than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind. Yet unless it be thoroughly engrained in the mind, the whole economy of nature, with every fact on distribution, rarity, abundance, extinction, and variation, will be dimly seen or quite misunderstood. We behold the face of nature bright with gladness, we often see superabundance of food; we do not see or we forget, that birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds and beast of prey; we do not always bear in mind, that, though food may be now superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year."    Charles Darwin

The cat and what she drug in  (Emmitsburg,MD)  Kain 2009

Postcard sent March 8th, arrived March 21st from Jury Rubeling-Kain

Mom, Dad & Noah - Just got done the sea kayaking section of the semester. We spent 23 days [in?] Marlborough Sound, island hopping, getting trapped on beaches by hurricane force winds. The landscape in the sounds is something that I have never seen. Crystal blue and green waters, full of stingless jellyfish and lots of stings rays. The mountains that make up the coast are full of tall pine trees and small ferns and palm trees. Very tropical. We would paddle by seals and then penguins. I've had very little time to think because we are always "go,go,go" because of weather windows. But I've had some of my most relaxing moments drawing with the set Dad gave me. I've awaken an enjoyable talent I thought I never had. I saw that I got accepted by both schools. I'm going to try not to think about that. I will write again. Love Jury

And from the previous post - March 12 (as an intertwined appendix)

Brock Enright, Penguin Paradox 2009 (at Kate Werble Gallery)  photo:Kain 2009

Michelangelo BuoinarrotiThe Creation of Adam 1510  
Brock Enright, installation veiw with Penguin Paradox  photo:Kain 2009

David Summers, in his chapter on Scattered Beauty, from his text Michelangelo and the Language of Art, refers to Erwin Panofsky's writing on the subject (gathering scattered beauty in antiquity), who in his prior turn makes reference back to Aristotle's Posterior Analytics. I'm quoting at length from Summers' text:

"...As Panofsky has noted, the idea of gathering scattered beauty was already current in antiquity; it was attributed to Socrates, and repeated both by Plato and Aristotle, neither of whom developed it. Most important seems to have been the fact that the idea of scattered beauty and its specific instance, the tale of Zeuxis' Helen, was altogether consistent with Aristotelian psychology, which held as its first principle that knowledge arises from experience. (Posterior Analytics, 100a)

"... out of sense perception comes to be what we call memory, and out of frequently repeated memories of the same thing developes experience; for a number constitute a single experience. from experience again----i.e., from the universal now stabilized in its entirety within the soul, the one beside the many which is a single identity within them all---originate the skill of the craftsman and the knowledge of the man of science, skill in the sphere of coming to be and science in the sphere of being.

We conclude that these states of knowledge are neither innate in a determinate form, nor developed from the higher state of knowledge, but from sense perception ... for though the act of sense perception is of the particular, its content is universal ... the process does not cease until the invisible concepts, the true universals, are established: e.g., such and such a species of animal is a step toward the genus animal, which by the same process is a step toward a further generalization." "

To temper unreflective inclinations for universal truths, categorical generalities or stabilized experience (things do remain in flux), I will add, as a complement to Aristotle's thesis, these thoughts from Robert Smithson. From his brief essay Art and Dialectics (1971):

" ... nothing is isolated from the whole ... No particular meaning can remain absolute or ideal for very long. Dialetics is not only the ideational formula of thesis--antithesis--synthesis forever sealed in the mind, but an ungoing development. Natural forces, like human nature, never fit into our ideas, philosophies, religions, etc. In the Marxian sense of dialectics, all thought is subject to nature. Nature is not subject to our systems. The old notion of "man conquering nature" has in fact boomeranged. As it turns out the object or thing or word "man" could be swept away like an isolated sea shell on a beach, then the ocean would make itself known. Dialectics could be viewed as the relationship between the shell and the ocean. Art critics and artists have for a long time considered the shell without the context of the ocean"

For Smithson, an oceanic 'scattered beauty' is the operative condition of life - associated with, but independent of human perception. For Aristotle, the operative condition is bound up in human perception - driven and caused by the mechanisms of the body and mind within an implied phenomenal world. Repeated patterns (memories of perceptions) give form to a reality, which is impressed within the soulknowledge arises from [this] experience. Aristotle’s thesis is confirmed by Darwin and Jury Rubeling-Kain, in their deliberate and un-prescribed reports on their perceptions. Their concrete and fecund attentiveness to the source of their perceptions (the material world) supports Smithson's polemic.

Brock Enright, with his repeated memories of the same thing, creates a temporal analogy – a metaphor of a potentially stabilizing universal. At the same time, his ‘gathering of scattered beauty’ leaves the condition open for other reformulations of material, within a destabilized entropic world [the cloak-of-god / Smithson’s Spiral Jetty]. The self-procreation of Enright's Penguin Paradox and Michelangelo's Creation of Adam, are monstrous beauties - analogous to Darwin's birds and beasts of prey.    

And earlier on, from The Origin of the Species:
"We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and the mistletoe; and only a little less plainly in the humblest parasite which clings to the hairs of a quadruped or feathers of a bird; in the structure of the beetle which dives through the water; in the plumed seed which is wafted by the gentlest breeze; in short, we see beautiful adaptations everwhere and in every part of the organic world." Charles Darwin 

You say you've seen seven wonders, and your bird is green  
(J.Lennon) And Your Bird Can Sing 

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