Showing posts with label generalities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label generalities. Show all posts

Friday, June 19, 2009

Art and Science

Written in response to an email where I was asked what I thought the distinctions between Science and The Arts were. An impossibly broad question to answer succinctly, but I did have a fine time distilling my generalities into three action-packed paragraphs.-tb

The difference between science and the arts is that the sciences, the hard sciences, are predicated on facts, hard, verifiable data culled from methodical research , stated in the form of theories , ie. Scientific methodology provides as well a mechanism for verifying both the data and theory that gives them an articulate expression. If there facts are found that do not fit an proposed or an accepted theory, then the theory is changed, or junked altogether. Science, we can say, is very material, in it's subject matter. It deals with the physical world and the observed universe as it's originating source; even those speculations that suggest a metaphysical dimension, as often seems the case to layman in advanced physics, the suppositions are based on commonly vetted particulars.

The arts, as in literature, painting, sculpture, drama, film making, dance, have to do almost exclusively with the imagination; although the genres base their projects on experience and what is observed in the world around us, the emphasis isn't to add to the body of knowledge by developing explanations as to why things work the way they do, but rather to create, convey, communicate the subjective experience of the world however it might strike the individual artists. To coin a phrase, results may vary from artist to artist, but the philosophical premise of art making , in the broadest and most diffuse sense, would be to investigate the realm of appearances and what those perceptions seem to suggest on levels that, in themselves, aren't measurable. Scientific investigation , of course, requires imagination and a certain artfulness in the application of disciplines that uncover the real connections between substrates of existence, but facts and statements about facts remain the goal.

The further point is to produce advances in technology, based on more complete understandings of what wasn't as clear before; a further point is to discover things about the world that are useful. The arts, regardless of medium, cultural origin, or political-religious apologies, deal in major portion with the way the world seems, the aim , perhaps, to fulfill a human desire to feel at home in this existence. Beyond that, Oscar Wilde said better than anyone , in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Grey:

"All art is quite useless".

Monday, May 4, 2009

More random notes

That hairy and nameless monster we call"truth", large or small t, is something we arrive at after the fact, up the road, after we're over the hill. The point of personal experience is something we assign later, when memory arranges the particulars in some fine fashion that makes the data resonate like some kind of grand or sad music that needs it's expression in talk, a phone call, poem , novel, blues guitar. Truth is the plausibility of feelings toward the events that shape our conditions, not the calculations that lead us to First Causes and Final Consequences.

Since experience is the hardest thing to convey --it is not an argument I'm making, it's a tightly knotted cluster of feelings and emotions linked to a sequence of events that I have need to relate to you, to bring you into (in a manner of seduction, dropping the suspenders of disbelief)-- I generally favor any writer to use any and all materials available and appropriate.

At best, we see an outline of the truth, a blurred reconstruction, and it's here we , as readers, need to give our trust to the writer to take us through an implied but imaginatively plausible world. Mastery makes us forget the lines we're reading, the very words we're taking in. Good writing , whatever it's style, origins or intent, quite literally pulses , and is that shape, the "truth" we want to pull the veil from.

Do you think artists are creating wonderful veils, or 'pulling' at some pre-existing veils? Important distinction, wouldn't you say?

The idea of the metaphor is metaphorical, and since the 'truth' it's protecting is metaphorial , or at least figurative in some way, it seems like a dead issue. What's useful is to consider the process 'through' the veils, or the arrangement, tone, and orchestration of the narrative events that lead a reader finally to the last chapter, the last page and he last sentence, where one arrives at the author's sense of an ending, and their implications of whether the tale really does "end" there, done with, having served its purpose of illustrating a 'given' moral lesson based on a nominally 'realistic' event, or whether the lives of the characters go on, after the last page, changed after an arduous narrative, braced for an unknown future.