Unreal Nature

December 10, 2016

The Key that He Has Given Us

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:44 am

… The child calls the typewriter a “woodpecker,” and we are delighted, delighted not only with the aptness of the image but with the key that he has given us to the emerging pattern within himself.

Continuing through The New Landscape in Art and Science by Gyorgy Kepes (1956; 1967):

… Transformation implies continuity as well as change, a persistence of the pas tin the present, a webbing of events as they unfold. The link between pattern and pattern, between pattern and process, between pattern and beholder, is the analog, the factor of invariance, of similarity in the midst of difference. We may compare it with the joint with which mechanical connections are made, combining parts by giving them a common boundary.

[line break added] Analogs are common boundaries of outside and inside, known and unknown, old and new. They connect group and individual, and within each of us: one level with another, physical with psychological, physiological with symbolic. Our experience attunes us to these correspondences. Finding them, we find the world in order. We are puzzled and ill at ease when they are not there.

… Through recognizing the continuity of inner and outer processes, men push the boundaries of their knowledge forward. Our inner world grows through the discovery of analogs in the world outside. Words convey little when like infants, we use them merely as pointers. To communicate feelings and ideas — in short, to express ourselves — we use linguistic analogs, metaphors.

The child calls the typewriter a “woodpecker,” and we are delighted, delighted not only with the aptness of the image but with the key that he has given us to the emerging pattern within himself. We sense the establishment of pathways along which he is making the world his own; there is an echo in ourselves of the patterns he has grasped in nature.

Every modern language, we are told, is a dictionary of faded metaphors. We say “manage,” now thinking of a group of men who direct some enterprise, now of executive skill, now of muscular control, now of any means of achieving any end. When the word came into the English language it meant the training of a horse; its derivation is from Latin words for “hand” and “act.”

[line break added] We use the word today abstractly, divorced from the concrete image that originally gave it the power to mean something. Primitives and poets feel their metaphors very literally. We respond to poets because, through metaphor, they make words concrete once more, linking our inner being with the great world outside.

… The obvious world that we know on the gross levels of sight, sound, taste and touch, can be connected with the subtle world revealed by our scientific instruments and devices. Seen together, aerial maps of river estuaries and road systems, feathers, fern leaves, branching blood vessels, nerve ganglia, electron micrographs of crystals, and the tree-like patterns of electrical discharge-figures are connected, although they are vastly different in place, origin and scale. Their similarity of form is by no means accidental. As patterns of energy-gathering and energy-distribution, they are similar graphs generated by similar processes.

My  most recent previous post from Kepes’s book is here.

-Julie

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