Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Ward Trotter

Trad climber
Dec 9, 2013 - 03:49am PT
How is it that eastern approaches to perspective, whether in Iran, India, China or Japan were historically based on conceptual notions of space, using isometric or herringbone approaches to spatial representation, representations of a narrative sort as opposed to veristic depictions, where as in the west, that is Europe, perspectives were/became exact representations of visual perception based on the precise geometry of orthogonal lines and vanishing points ultimately based on a methodical and mathematical representation of how we see and a desire for visual accuracy in the illusion?

I'd like to respond to that by putting aside the special discussion on perspective itself and tackle the broader issue of the origins of perceptual differences between east and west.

These differences are profound in many ways and are beyond a simple explanation. Nonetheless an examination of the respective written languages can be illuminating in several respects:

The written languages of the East are essentially based upon the inclusive and iconic image. Information is transferred via the pictograph and the ideogram. These modes are nonlinear, mosaic-like, and requires the participation of the reader in the completion of the image in a way that renders the image essentially impressionistic. Space is organized along non-repetitive ,iconic, indefinite , low-definition participatory lines. This situation results in a depth of feeling of locality and uniqueness. It is non-rational and intuitive.

The written languages of the west do not rely upon the iconic image. Space is organized in a linear , repetitive way ---much like a railroad or an assembly line. The alphabet is strictly non-local and uniform everywhere---allowing for a sort of cohesion and projection at a distance. It does not invite participation or completion in the perception of information but is rather high-definition ,self-referential and stark in its portrayal of data. The alphabet is exclusive, rational , non- intuitive and uniform.

It's getting late, so I'll elaborate on this later. Much still left to be said along this riff.

Remember, The Medium is the Message

Lol.

FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 9, 2013 - 10:37am PT
In the east those representations are subordinated to the mind’s desire for an authoritative influence with regard to ideas and culture.

But you could argue the same for western art. Consider how much of Western art was based on the authority of the Christian Church... then followed by the "academy" system. IMO there's a basic difference between how the western mind "sees" vs. how the Eastern mind "sees". I put "see" in quotes because there's no difference between the mechanics of seeing....that is, an image projected through the lens and onto the cornea....but seeing as in "interpretation": what goes on between the mind and the hand. An excellent source for this kind of thing is Ernst Gombrich's book: "Art and Illusion".

I'd maintain that culture follows mind, only because artistically, it seems that different cultures follow (mostly) similar trajectories, at least, according to their artifacts. The major exception being Eastern culture. Apparently, a fundamental idol-type is missing from their paleo-history (or so I've read). Their's is also the only one with upturned roof lines; what the hell is up with that, anyway? Ward Trotter asked the question, a while back, of when the earliest occurrence of the rectangle was. It'd be nice to know that....as well as what followed afterwards.

But then, even the use of the term "art" is loaded. With the possible exception of "ornament", we tend to think of it as something displayed for it's own sake; a concept that's only maybe little more than 100 years old. Why is that?





paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Dec 9, 2013 - 10:48am PT
What I was referring to is the idea that in western art nature becomes the authority for representation and this only happens in the east through western influence much later. In the east representation of the conceit and narrative clarity are most important. Why is this?

The notion of art for art's sake is really a formalist take that only occurs relatively later in the late 19th century.
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 9, 2013 - 10:52am PT
western art nature becomes the authority for representation and this only happens in the east through western influence much later

I don't agree....I've seen some ancient Chinese landscapes watercolors that were stunning for their accuracy. Not to mention Jadeite sculpture that would have shamed the Greeks. They were perfectly capable of seeing perspective AND accurately representing it, almost as though they were taking it for granted. It seems that they weren't interested in showing it off for it's own sake. Either that, or the necessity of "seeing" receding linear geometries just wasn't that important.

I haven't vetted the following, but found the first 2 minutes interesting...


Paul...FF to 11:50 & 31:00 of the above. 34:00 shows the difference in viewing "perspective".

Edit: The above (Korean-produced) video is a worthwhile overview of basic differences between Eastern and Western thought processes, never emphasizing the superiority of one over another. It may a little simplistic and the baud rate is ridiculously low, but, it was nice to learn a few important things.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Dec 9, 2013 - 11:24am PT
I would agree with the accuracy of detail in Chinese imagery, yet the spacial representation is always ambiguous or isometric if not herringbone in terms of perspective. A unifying, accurate perspective, historically, is a construction of the western mind. And it's a southern European (Italian) construction as well. Remember it was largely an interest in Japanese prints that opened the door for late 19th and early twentieth century European painters to abandon western perspective and celebrate the flatness of the picture plane.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 9, 2013 - 11:42am PT
A unifying, accurate perspective, historically, is a construction of the western mind.
--

In a broad, thematic sense, this is what postmodernism went after in it's loose-cannon, scattershot way. The unconscious templates through which reality gets extruded render vastly different takes on existence, both inside and out. That's why focusing on the shifting terrain of content requires science to nail it down, while "the palm at the end of the mind, beyond the last thought, rises in the bronze decor." IOWs, focusing on figure (foreground) is a slippery game; focusing on ground (background), ironically, lands one on solid ground only for it to morph into no-ground the moment we fall back into it.

Huh?

JL
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:00pm PT
Huh?

yeah... seriously. WTH are you going on about?

Paul was talking (roughly) about the Western tradition of visually seeing ideal geometrical relationships in terms of mathematical constructs.
rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:40pm PT
I haven't vetted the following, but found the first 2 minutes interesting...

I found it interesting because I seem to have an Eastern viewpoint. I picked group A for the flower and the rectangle for the wood block.

I have no Eastern genes in me for at least five or six generations, so it's sort of weird. But then I am a bit of an artist, which could make a difference.

Dave
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:43pm PT

Mirrors


Credit: Marlow
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Dec 9, 2013 - 12:48pm PT
I was just trying to point out the local inflections given to the human understanding of space and how those might affect and reflect a broader spectrum of thought. Do those differences manifest themselves in local mythological thinking?

The thing about postmodern thought/philosophy is it’s such a hypercritical approach to understanding to which all comprehension is vulnerable: a kind of turbo-sophistry seeking to discredit reason in the same way religion was discredited in the 19th c.

IMO already defeated by Socrates many centuries ago…
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 9, 2013 - 01:02pm PT
...a kind of turbo-sophistry seeking to discredit reason

perfect....

ML, you listenin'?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 9, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
"Turbo-sophistry is too harsh per post-modernism - a word so broad it hardly means anything in particular. And Fort, you don't traverse very easily, do you. You're sort of a straight-line, uber-linear kinder dood. I was "going on about" any kind of "unified perspective" that posits the truth this way or that.

Fact is, once any perspective gets to rigid or codified it runs the risk of claiming an exclusive on truth or reality. A counter movement is bound to arise to restore balance.

In literature, for example, poetic forms and narrative structures, reaching back to the Greeks, were finally seen to be unnatural impositions that didn't reflect real life at all. Life itself rarely if ever tracked a straight line hitting certain dramatic beats and plot points - not saying all literature did so, but classic forms were responded to with beat poets and writers like Beckett in which the people in stories were no longer protagonists or antagonists and were basically doing nothing, just waiting in existential stasis.

This ethos was, of course, as distorted a view of reality as "they lived happily ever after." But it managed to loosen the moorings of the old and give rise to a new wave of creative forms ranging from Davis and Evans and "cool jazz" to interesting visual arts to cinematic anti-heroes like Cliff and Brando, roles and characters impossible to imagine even a few years before.

Interesting stuff. Back to work.

JL
MH2

climber
Dec 9, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/weinberg.html
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Dec 9, 2013 - 02:56pm PT
Postmodern thought at least as it relates to deconstruction is a kind “steroidal” sophistry in that it introspectively exposes every aspect of a given culture to a critique that suppresses the spontaneous generation of that same culture.

If all reason and logic are susceptible to and defeated by their own circular nature then what can become. If all apori are inherent in their opposite, as someone like Derrida would have you believe, then we are stuck in a labyrinth of cultural paralysis.

If the Greeks had succumbed to such thinking there would be no Parthenon, no Acropolis, no theatre, just the fear of fallibility.

I don’t think it’s pedantic bullsh#t to think about such things… just think it’s kind of fascinating
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 9, 2013 - 03:01pm PT
I'm thinking, Fruitcake, that anything beyond 1 + 1 throws you into a tailspin and we gots to start bracing for your next rant against Abrahamic religion backed up with perfunctory boot licking of featherweights yakking it up in pop science. That's weak and you should be embarassed for your own self.

The quote ("Of Mere Being") was from Wallace Stevens, one of the greatest poets of the 1900s. Of course he dealt in metaphors and symbols and was always probing the undercurrents of being, the kind of dood a stolid, fossilized ol' punter like you would find a "waste of time," as John S. would surely say, for the lack of verifiable facts and figures. Not much poetry was inspired by electronics and engineering, but it didn't seem to tank the product none.

Break it down for us Fruity - what the poet really meant.

http://ofmerebeing.com/the-poem/


JL

Sketch

Trad climber
Langley, VA
Dec 9, 2013 - 03:06pm PT
Protesters knocked down a statue of Vladimir Lenin in Kiev.

Does this signify a major shift on the geopolitical landscape?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 9, 2013 - 04:53pm PT
Ultra-abstract esoteric languaging of the sort that has characterized academic philosophy, academic "sophisticated" theology and humanities papers, etc. in history and recent decades is completely unnecessary. Dozens of modern writers whose subjects are as deep and nuanced as any attest to this fact.
-------

This is nothing but scientism pushed into the humanities, an area in which Fruity is made anxious by all the abstract, esoteric lingo. The implication is that there are no abstract or esoteric topics, and even if there were, "plain language" remains the mark of the true master when specking about such things. One wonders what "humanities papers" Fruity is speaking of.

Another instance of the poor duffer considering anything he does not know of understand as being a "waste of time." I suppose when you see all of creation as a machine or an engineering grid, you wonder what the hell folks like Wallace Stevens is up to with all that rare and abstract language.

The question is: Should we just abolish philosophy, literature, music, art, and so forth and limit school to the measuring arts? After all, according to Fruity, there would be nothing lost that could not be stated in terms any simpleton could understand, all else being a "waste of time."

Mercy . . .

JL
FortMentäl

Social climber
Albuquerque, NM
Dec 9, 2013 - 04:55pm PT


Part 2: The above (Korean-produced) video is a worthwhile overview of basic differences between Eastern and Western thought processes, never emphasizing the superiority of one over another. It may a little simplistic and the baud rate is ridiculously low, but, it might be nice to learn a few important things.

FF to 3:00 for East vs. West in seeing "perspective" and the reason why "retro-perspective" developed in the East.
jstan

climber
Dec 9, 2013 - 05:29pm PT
Ultra-abstract esoteric languaging of the sort that has characterized academic philosophy, academic "sophisticated" theology and humanities papers, etc. in history and recent decades is completely unnecessary. Dozens of modern writers whose subjects are as deep and nuanced as any attest to this fact.

^^^^^Word

What one writes depends critically upon the audience toward which it is directed. ST is not a peer reviewed journal directed at experts in the art. The question is not whether lingo can be used. The question is does the author want to be effective.

Indeed Feynman was superbly effective at giving clear explanations for very complex subjects. He was widely revered for this talent through several generations of students. Years after his death people are still reading him - gratefully.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 9, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
Using Feynman as an example of someone who spoke clearly on complex topics can be misleading. Most all of his examples concerned measurable things for which numerical representation was achieved with a high degree of precision. Move outside of that realm and you will have to start using other symbols (beyond numbers) that are not so easily quantifiable, if they are at all. However, given an audience who is just as focused on internal adventures as the normal crowd of science types who listened to Feynman, there are many people who can make perfect sense to this crowd while absolutely vexing everyone else lacking the experiential reference points from years of practice. Apparently slippery terms like "no-mind" and "emptiness" are immediately known to long time students. The problem is that folks outside the esoteric community opine that the material cannot be portrayed in the same language and manner that Feynman spoke about physics. And then ripping the other camp for "wasting my time" with obscure and obfuscated definitions. That's a little like complaining to Feynman that he couldn't posit QM in poetic terms. Hell, maybe he could. The way the guy used to get round the strip clubs was a testament to his agility.

That much said, all of the experiential stuff can be approached in a strictly technical perceptual way using terms everyone understands (focus, attention, etc), but there is no interest in exploring that terrain, no matter how plainly or simply I might frame it. And I can frame it in simple English. Without a captive audience, as opposed to those feeling such topics are a "waste of their time," no explanation is good enough - and that had nothing whatsoever to do with the delivery.

A larger question is: While Feynman used a certain language and logic, poetry uses a totally different set of values. Why do poets not use a more straighforward delivery in terms of language, so everyone can immediately understand. Are they trying to obfuscate simple subjects better left to science? What is the poet trying to do, IYO??

JL
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