Unreal Nature

December 17, 2016

Matrices Which Mold into Significance

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… But when we cannot fit them into an inherited set of rules we have an experience of displacement and uncertainty; we are compelled to open ourselves to movement and change.

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

… All images, all feelings, all thoughts, have a common basic model, a fundamental analog. These models are frames of reference by which we try to comprehend the life around us as a unity. We see, feel and think only to the extent that our basic models allow us. Our intellectual and social evolution is based upon a gradual connecting together of narrow similarities, that is, transformation of models with limited meaning into models which are more comprehensive.

[line break added] The primitive magic which assumed that “like produces like,” using the superficial resemblance between causes and effects, was the first crude approximation of “model” as we know it. Other models have replaced primitive magic; and these, too, have had their life and then changed.

… Chains of analogs unite physical patterns, sense patterns, feelings and thoughts when we experience works of art. In all these patterns we read the processes they trace and through them we find expressive meanings. We read men’s inner psychic life from their outer appearance and behavior. We perceive inner realities as metaphors of outer realities, outer realities as qualities of inner processes.

[line break added] But the inseparable reports about and responses to the outside world that we have in individual perception are not available on the level of collective perception. Art and science are still divided, although both have brought the same new world within our grasp through the resources of creative image making. Corrective measures are necessary to bridge the gap between the two.

[line break added] A consistent vision of a single natural order can only be reestablished through conscious efforts toward rediscovering common models for these temporarily separated areas. If we read with the eyes of artists the vistas of nature that scientists record, we may find fundamental, central models with which to orient ourselves in the world and respond emotionally to it. We shall then have basic expressions for delivering our messages and making them common property.

What are these common expressions? In what way can we find concrete correspondences between the forms of our understanding and the forms and patterns of our sensations and emotional responses? What are the aspects common to scientific and artistic vision?

… There are two basic morphological archetypes among these meanings: expression of order, coherence, discipline, stability on the one hand; expression of chaos, movement, vitality, change on the other. Common to the morphology of outer and inner processes, these are basic polarities recurring in physical phenomena, in the organic world and in human experience. As Emerson has put it, they are “the dynamic substance of our universe, written in every corner of nature.”

[line break added] Felt in artistic forms, they can be discerned in the processes of creative scientific thought. They are basic phases of our physiology as well as of our feelings. They are keys to the understanding of social phenomena. They constitute the pulsations of the history of our culture. They are matrices which mold into significance and direction the new impacts which our nervous systems receive from the outside.

… We respond to their expression in nature’s configurations and in human utterances, gestures and acts. Cosmos and chaos, as the ancients called them, the Apollonian spirit of measure and the Dionysian principle of chaotic life, organization and randomness, stasis and kinesis, conscious and unconscious, inhibition and excitation, association and dissociation, integration and disintegration, convention and revolt — all these are different aspects of the same polarity of configuration.

… But when we cannot fit them into an inherited set of rules we have an experience of displacement and uncertainty; we are compelled to open ourselves to movement and change. If we are confident, we face issues squarely and, with the realism born of confidence, broaden our world. If we are timid, we mask the issues in a mystical garb and, retiring from the challenge, shrink from our world. One day we need symmetry, certainty, coherence, discipline; another day asymmetry, freedom and adventure.

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




Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: