• Noble Dust
    3.2k
    Drop them here for contemplation and discussion...

    [This is in the larger context of a chapter about creativity in general]: "There is something miraculous about the transformation of matter which takes place in art. This miraculous element exists also in images of beauty in nature, that nature in which the forces of enmity, ruin and chaos are at work. From a shapeless stone or lump of clay the beautiful form of a statue is given to us; out of a chaos of sounds we have one of Beethoven's symphonies; out of a chaos of words, the verses Pushkin with all their power to charm. From sensations and impressions all unaware of meaning, knowledge is derived, from elemental subconscious instincts and attractions the beauty of a moral form takes shape, out of an ugly world beauty is captured. In all this there is something miraculous from the point of view of the world, this given empirical world. This is the meaning of art, of art of any kind. And creative power has an eschatological element in it. It is an end of this world and a beginning of the new world. The world is created not by God only, but also by man. Creation is a divine-human work. And the crowning point of world creation is the end of this world. The world must be turned into an image of beauty, it must be dissolved in creative ecstasy." - The Beginning And The End Ch. 7, Nikolai Berdyaev
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    ...The world is created not by God only, but also by man. Creation is a divine-human work. And the crowning point of world creation is the end of this world."... - The Beginning And The End Ch. 7, Nikolai BerdyaevNoble Dust

    I like this. Here are some more:

    "Art is high quality endeavor" - Robert Pirsig. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I've gone back and forth, but I don't think I agree with this.

    And now for something completely different - I hope you aren't offended -

    "I don't know much about art, but I know what I hate, and I don't hate that." Charles Montgomery Burns

    Yeah a Truckload of Art
    Is burning near the highway
    Precious objects are scattered
    All over the ground
    And it's a terrible sight
    If a person were to see it
    But there weren't nobody around


    Terry Allen Truckload of Art Here's a YouTube version by the band Cracker:



    I'll see if I can think of some more.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    I don't think "that nature in which the forces of enmity, ruin and chaos are at work" works, nature is indifferent to enmity, ruin or chaos, these are very human characterizations.

    He goes on to state:
    From sensations and impressions all unaware of meaning, knowledge is derived, from elemental subconscious instincts and attractions the beauty of a moral form takes shape, out of an ugly world beauty is captured. In all this there is something miraculous from the point of view of the world, this given empirical world.

    The phenomenal world appears (to me) to be structured by rules. I doubt we can experience chaos, we are by who we are, the way we are, where are to forced to structure on what we experience in order to be able to find it meaningful at all.

    And creative power has an eschatological element in it. It is an end of this world and a beginning of the new world. The world is created not by God only, but also by man. Creation is a divine-human work. And the crowning point of world creation is the end of this world. The world must be turned into an image of beauty, it must be dissolved in creative ecstasy.

    This sounds like the romanticism that @apokrisis harps on about :razz: I think the inspiration that some artists are able to reach is based on their ability to tap into in the consciousness of the societies that nurtured them where they work. Their ability to create truth that juts out of the matter of their creation, which opens our eyes when we view, hear or touch it, is inspired. There is a destructive element essential to art, like the mythological Phoenix, it is only out of the selective destruction of the old that the new is possible.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    "Art is high quality endeavor" - Robert Pirsig. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I've gone back and forth, but I don't think I agree with this.T Clark

    Neither do I. It’s too broad. Although after fenanglng over how to define art on this forum for the past year, I’m kind of done trying to define it, for now. That’s why I started this thread, to just gather philosophical ideas about art. And that’s also why I like how Berdyaev handles it; descriptively and intuitively, and informed by his worldview.

    - I hope you aren't offended -T Clark

    Not at all, I have strong, opinionated negative views on certain art as well. That said, I think all artistic expression is connected, and “necessary”, in that sense. Nothing can be thrown out, at least from a perspective of gaining a philosophical view of art situated in culture.

    Yeah a Truckload of Art
    Is burning near the highway
    Precious objects are scattered
    All over the ground
    And it's a terrible sight
    If a person were to see it
    But there weren't nobody around
    T Clark

    I love this. Who wrote it?
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    I don't think "that nature in which the forces of enmity, ruin and chaos are at work" works, nature is indifferent to enmity, ruin or chaos, these are very human characterizations.Cavacava

    True. I took the spirit of the idea to be the descriptions that follow what you quoted.

    The phenomenal world appears (to me) to be structured by rules. I doubt we can experience chaos, we are by who we are, the way we are, where are to forced to structure on what we experience in order to be able to find it meaningful at all.Cavacava

    Can you expand? I’m not sure I know what you mean, or agree, if I do get it.

    I think the inspiration that some artists are able to reach is based on their ability to tap into in the consciousness of the societies that nurtured them where they work.Cavacava

    So creative inspiration comes from/is contained within culture? How? What are the indications that this is so?
  • Buxtebuddha
    1.8k
    I'm not sure if this is the sort of response you were going for, but...

    "I watched the sea last Sunday as well. Everything was dark grey, but on the horizon the day was beginning to break. It was still very early and yet a skylark was already singing. And the nightingales in the gardens by the sea. In the distance, the light of the lighthouse, the guard-ship, &c.

    That same night I looked out of the window of my room at the roofs of the houses you can see from there, and at the tops of the elms, dark against the night sky. Above the roofs, a single star, but a beautiful, big, friendly one. And I thought of us all and I thought of my own years gone by and of our home, and these words and this sentiment sprang to my mind, 'Keep me from being a son who brings shame, give me Thy blessing, not because I deserve it but for my Mother's sake. Thou art Love, cover all things. without Thy constant blessing we shall succeed in nothing."
    Vincent van Gogh.

    The above excerpt is from Vincent's letters, written to his brother. If you've not heard of them or read them, I suggest you do. Frankly, van Gogh is one of my favorite writers and thinkers, even though he is obviously most known for his paintings.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Great quote. :up: I’m looking for philophical positions on art to potentially discuss, but these sorts of quotes also have a home here as well. Good for contemplation.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k
    The phenomenal world appears (to me) to be structured by rules. I doubt we can experience chaos, we are by who we are, the way we are, where are to forced to structure on what we experience in order to be able to find it meaningful at all.
    — Cavacava

    Can you expand? I’m not sure I know what you mean, or agree, if I do get it.

    Our experience of the world is coherent, we do not experience a buzzing mass of sense data, with little effort on our part we fit a myriad of impressions into a coherent experience. The way it is fit together suggest to me that what is manifest is structured. It is not a chaotic mass of impressions, one thing happens after another, we inductively experience and learn from cause and effect.

    There is no chaos of words or sounds, there are words and there are sounds, but these are rarely chaotic. Is the sound of a robin chaotic? Language is built on grammar.

    So creative inspiration comes from/is contained within culture? How? What are the indications that this is so?

    Think of how the Christianity of the Renaissance affected what Michelangelo and others did and achieved in their works, their sublime inspirations came from their view of man at the time, which was based on the role the church played in their society. I think this is an ongoing process though out history.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    Our experience of the world is coherent, we do not experience a buzzing mass of sense data, with little effort on our part we fit a myriad of impressions into a coherent experience. The way it is fit together suggest to me that what is manifest is structured. It is not a chaotic mass of impressions, one thing happens after another, we inductively experience and learn from cause and effect.Cavacava

    I think Berdyaev is saying our experience is coherent, but the stuff that makes up experience doesn’t have content till we experience it, and the creative act, as an experience, brings content out of the stuff of experience. That’s my interpretation.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    There is no chaos of words or sounds, there are words and there are sounds, but these are rarely chaotic. Is the sound of a robin chaotic? Language is built on grammar.Cavacava

    The idea is that words, et al, bring order from chaos.

    Think of how the Christianity of the Renaissance affected what Michelangelo and others did and achieved in their works, their sublime inspirations came from their view of man at the time, which was based on the role the church played in their society. I think this is an ongoing process though out history.Cavacava

    I agree, but I don’t see how this fact nessesitates that this is the only factor of how creativity is generated within the individual’s creative process.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    The world must be turned into an image of beauty,Noble Dust

    What do you all think of this? This idea and it’s brashness struck me the most, out of the quote.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    The point about inspiration since I think it is critical. I too am not sure that society is the sole factor, which is why I qualified my initial statement, but I suspect that inspiration cannot transcend its time. Sure flights of the imagination maybe; and I am, as I have said not totally discounting that it is possible, but maybe you have an example?
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    I think inspiration transcends its time in the sens of Kairos entering Chronos; “The stars turn, and a time presents itself”, to quote Twin Peaks. The same moment of transcendence during meditation. An explanation that involves brain chemistry is fine, but not incompatible, and ultimately insufficient, I think. The only example is experience. I’ve experienced it, for one. So it’s a philosophy of experience, hence why it doesn’t get much credence around these parts (to be fair, you and I and some others are the only ones who seem interested in aesthetics in general. I wish there was a larger constituent of aesthetics people around).
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    Neither do I. It’s too broad. Although after fenanglng over how to define art on this forum for the past year, I’m kind of done trying to define it, for now. That’s why I started this thread, to just gather philosophical ideas about art. And that’s also why I like how Berdyaev handles it; descriptively and intuitively, and informed by his worldview.Noble Dust

    Since I wrote that, I've been rethinking it and I may have swung back the other way - maybe I do agree with Pirsig. If I remember correctly, it's been more than 20 years, the context of the quote was that he needed a repair to some sheet metal on his motorcycle as he was driving cross-country. Apparently welding sheet metal can be difficult. He went to a welder in a small town along the way. The welder fixed his problem quickly and cleanly and, what impressed Pirsig, beautifully. No self-consciousness. Just good work from the heart.

    What bothered me about that is the thought that art should be communicative. There should be some education, transmission of vision and values from the artist to the viewer. Then I thought - what about houses? Are architects artists but carpenters not? Do tradesmen have vision? Do you have to have vision, self-awareness to be an artist? Am I mixing up admiration for vision with admiration for competence?

    Then I thought - maybe it doesn't have to be communicative, maybe just expressive is enough. Something which expresses important aspects of someone's identity. But then, does it have to be good? Well, beautifully expressed? So that's where I am now.
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    I love this. Who wrote it?Noble Dust

    A guy named Terry Allen. I know nothing about him except this song. Have you considered taking up country music?

    On that note, I'll put in a plug for WHRB in Cambridge MA. Saturday mornings. Hillbilly at Harvard. Everything I think a country music program should be except they won't play Lyle Lovett or Robert Earl Keen. It's been on since 1948 and it's where I came to love country. Available on the web.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    Apparently welding sheet metal can be difficult. He went to a welder in a small town along the way. The welder fixed his problem quickly and cleanly and, what impressed Pirsig, beautifully. No self-consciousness. Just good work from the heart.T Clark

    That sounds like skilled, honest labor to me. Something rare indeed. An honest mechanic is worth...no, is priceless. But art? Why call that art? If you want to call that art, can't I call a painting a good example of fixing a busted engine? No, of course not; only if the painting represents that idea. what you see in a skilled mechanic isn't the same thing you see in Picasso's sculptures.. It's categorically different. But, what you might see is effortlessness. You see someone doing something seemingly without effort (rare on the forum, for instance, but @Sam26 comes to mind as a philosopher who has approached effortlessness, just as an example), and yet, you know that supreme effort was required to arrive at the point of effortlessness. Now, that principle exists all across the grand medium of human effort. But art is that moment where that effortlessness has no utilitarian meaning, but rather, only obtains meaning through a symbolical suggestion....art is sheer childlikeness. The grandest art is the art that reminds you of the days you spent digging in the mud with your brother in the springtime.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    A guy named Terry Allen. I know nothing about him except this song. Have you considered taking up country music?T Clark

    No; it would be disingenuous :lol: Old School Country And Western is great, though.
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    ...The world is created not by God only, but also by man. Creation is a divine-human work. And the crowning point of world creation is the end of this world."... - The Beginning And The End Ch. 7, Nikolai Berdyaev
    — Noble Dust

    I like this. Here are some more:
    T Clark

    Actually, I was curious, why do you like this? Does it have to do with being an engineer? I like it too, but that's because I'm a songwriter/composer/music maker. I don't know you as a theist; what do you like about this? I'm genuinely interested, and I didn't notice the potential interest until just now, as I was re-reading the thread. How do you interpret Berdyaev there, for instance?
  • StreetlightX
    3.8k
    I posted part of this in the Quote Cabinet the other day, but since you asked!:

    "Art is the opening up of the universe to becoming-other ... [It] is the way that the universe most directly intensifies life, enervates organs, mobilizes forces. ... What philosophy can offer art is not a theory of art, an elaboration of its silent or undeveloped concepts, but what philosophy and art share in common — their rootedness in chaos, their capacity to ride the waves of a vibratory universe without direction or purpose, in short, their capacity to enlarge the universe by enabling its potential to be otherwise, to be framed through concepts and affects. They are among the most forceful ways in which culture generates a small space of chaos within chaos where chaos can be elaborated, felt, thought".

    Elizabeth Grosz, Chaos, Territory, Art
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Thanks! I considered posting the initial Berdyaev quote in the quote cabinet, but then I visited that thread and noticed that the most recent post was from me, from about 20 days ago, and it was about Christian mysticism; and so, instead, I figured this would be a decent time to open a thread where we can share quotes specifically about art, aesthetics, and the philosophy of art. We can marvel at them, barf at them, question them, criticize them, etc.

    (Sorry for the ensuing skiffing...is that what it's called these days? skilfing? Shiffing? I'm not that good at it, whatever it is)

    Art is the opening up of the universe to becoming-otherStreetlightX

    Yeah! But what other?

    [It] is the way that the universe most directly intensifies life, enervates organs, mobilizes forces.StreetlightX

    Does the universe do that, or do people do that?

    What philosophy can offer art is not a theory of art, an elaboration of its silent or undeveloped concepts, but what philosophy and art share in common — their rootedness in chaos, their capacity to ride the waves of a vibratory universe without direction or purpose, in short, their capacity to enlarge the universe by enabling its potential to be otherwise, to be framed through concepts and affects.StreetlightX

    Saying philosophy can, at it's best, only offer art what philosophy and art have in common sounds pretty disingenuous to me. It sounds like a mild concession to the creative act to "have it's way"; essentially the weird kid in the corner who somehow always get's the A's. Now, are philosophy and art rooted in "chaos"? It sounds pretty!; maybe. Who knows? You can't know, when you're dealing with chaos...

    Now, if both philosophy and art have an ability to "enlarge the universe by enabling its potential to be otherwise, to be framed through concepts and affects", then what exactly is this concept framed against?
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k
    Also, because aesthetics is such an underrepresented branch on the forum (and historically, this also seems to be true, philosophically), I wanted to extend the invitation to @Baden @Πετροκότσυφας, @Bitter Crank, @Janus, @Terrapin Station, and anyone else interested in aesthetics to jump in. If this counts as boosting my own thread, then... :100:
  • Noble Dust
    3.2k


    Also, what do you think about Grosz's concept of chaos, against Berdyaev's, found in my OP quote?
  • StreetlightX
    3.8k
    Heh, the quote caps off a chapter where alot of it is explained - hence why it seems so condensed - but the gist of it is setting itself against representational accounts of art in which art is said to represent or redouble the world as if in just another form. The argument is that art is the world itself becoming-other, elaborating and extending itself: other than what is. Think of it as a way of short-circuiting and undermining, in the realm of aesthetics, the tired distinction between subject and object, with world-as-object on the one hand and artpiece-as-subject on the other. Grosz is also attempting to attend to what she sometimes calls the 'inhuman' in art, art in the animal world, or in the life-world more broadly:

    "Art enables matter to become expressive, to not just satisfy but also to intensify—to resonate and become more than itself. This is not to say that art is without concepts; simply that concepts are by-products or effects rather than the very material of art. Art is the regulation and organization of its materials—paint, canvas, concrete, steel, marble, words, sounds, bodily movements, indeed any materials — according to self-imposed constraints, the creation of forms through which these materials come to generate and intensify sensation and thus directly impact living bodies, organs, nervous systems.

    ...There is much "art" in the natural world, from the moment there is sexual selection, from the moment there are two sexes that attract each other's interest and taste through visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory sensations. The haunting beauty of birdsong, the provocative performance of erotic display in primates, the attraction of insects to the perfume of plants are all in excess of mere survival, which Darwin understands in terms of natural selection: these forms of sexual selection, sexual attraction, affirm the excessiveness of the body and the natural order, their capacity to bring out in each other what surprises, what is of no use but nevertheless attracts and appeals. Each affirms an overabundance of resources beyond the need for mere survival, which is to say, to the capacity of both matter and life to exchange with each other, to enter into becomings that transform each". (Chaos, Territory, Art)

    Don't have much to say about Berdyaev other than that the quote sounds much too hylomorphic, much too Platonic - art arriving from on high to transform formless, base matter - for my liking.
  • charleton
    1.2k
    Art without Craft is like Sex without Love.
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    That sounds like skilled, honest labor to me. Something rare indeed. An honest mechanic is worth...no, is priceless. But art? Why call that art? If you want to call that art, can't I call a painting a good example of fixing a busted engine? No, of course not; only if the painting represents that idea.Noble Dust

    A painting could be considered an example of skilled, honest labor, although some art doesn't seem to care much about skill - technique. Is that a related question - does good art require technical skill?

    No, of course not; only if the painting represents that idea. what you see in a skilled mechanic isn't the same thing you see in Picasso's sculptures.Noble Dust

    In what way is Picasso different from a mechanic? That's the question Pirsig raises for me.

    But, what you might see is effortlessness. You see someone doing something seemingly without effort (rare on the forum, for instance, but Sam26 comes to mind as a philosopher who has approached effortlessness, just as an example), and yet, you know that supreme effort was required to arrive at the point of effortlessness.Noble Dust

    Effortlessness in that if flows directly from the heart onto the canvas? Effortless technical skill?

    But art is that moment where that effortlessness has no utilitarian meaning, but rather, only obtains meaning through a symbolical suggestion....art is sheer childlikeness.Noble Dust

    I'm not sure about the whole "no utilitarian meaning," thing. Are self-expression and communication utilitarian? Is displaying the majesty of God utilitarian?
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    Actually, I was curious, why do you like this? Does it have to do with being an engineer?Noble Dust

    I like it because it says the world is created not by God only, but also by man, which is the deepest foundation of my understanding of the world.
  • Janus
    7.9k
    Art without Craft is like Sex without Love.charleton

    I guess that makes some kind of sense. I think it makes more sense the other way around:

    Craft without Art is like Sex without Love.
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    Craft without Art is like Sex without Love.Janus

    1) Craft without sex is like love without art. 2) Art without love is like sex without craft. 3) Sex without craft is like love without sex.

    I go with 2, although I kind of like 3 also.
  • Janus
    7.9k


    I don't think 2 is right because the "craft" of sex, as I see it, is not love. Porn stars could be the greatest craftspeople of sex, but no need for love there. I would say instead that love provides the art of sex.

    So: Craft without Love is like Sex without Art (which is the most direct converse of my original rearrangement of terms).

    3 (eponymously) only mentions three of the four elements, so I can't go with that permutation.
  • T Clark
    3.7k
    I don't think 2 is right because the "craft" of sex, as I see it, is not love. Porn stars could be the greatest craftspeople of sex, but no need for love there. I would say instead that love provides the art of sex.Janus

    I was being a bit tongue in cheek about all of this, but then I found I believed what I had written.
  • Janus
    7.9k


    Even after my criticism? :joke:
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