Unreal Nature

November 6, 2015

They Don’t Produce Milk or Meat

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:29 am

… “Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.”

This is from Bowstring: On the Dissimilarity of the Similar by Viktor Shklovsky; translated by Shushan Avagyan (1970; 2011):

… There are small fruit flies called Drosophila.

They are remarkable because they have a very short lifespan.

It is possible to follow the crossbreeding between these minute species in an extremely precise and short period of time.

There was a time when we were told: “You study the crossbreeding of Drosophila flies, but they are good for nothing, they don’t produce milk or meat.”

But behind the experiment lie attempts to study the laws of genetics. Here, as Vladimir Mayakovsky once said, “life arises in a completely different context, and you begin to understand the most important things through nonsense.”

If in art we are comparing a cat to another cat, or a flower with another flower, the artistic form as such is not constructed solely in the moment of such crossbreeding; those are merely detonators for triggering much larger explosions, entryways into knowledge, explorations of the new.

[ … ]

Albert Einstein wrote in his Autobiographical Notes:

I have no doubt but that our thinking goes on for the most part without use of signs (words) and beyond that to a considerable degree unconsciously. For how, otherwise, should it happen that sometimes we “wonder” quite spontaneously about some experience? This “wondering” appears to occur when an experience comes into conflict with a world of concepts already sufficiently fixed within us. Whenever such a conflict is experienced sharply and intensively it reacts back upon our world of thought in a decisive way. The development of this world of thought is in a certain sense a continuous flight from “wonder.”

So the ordinary, real, existing world that gives birth to all our experiences and knowledge simultaneously, in the process of cognition, creates something else — the fact of surprise, the fact of some superiority of essence over our knowledge.

The primary motive or one of the primary motives for scientific thought, according to Einstein, is this sensation of surprise.

In his essay ‘Principles of Research’ (1918), Einstein uses artistic terms:

Man tries to make for himself, in the fashion that suits him best, a simplified and intelligible picture of the world; he then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it. This is what the painter, the poet, the speculative philosopher, and the natural scientist do, each in his own fashion. Each makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life, in order to find in this way the peace and security which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience.

-Julie

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