2013/07/22

Art and science

In my last post I concluded that we observe the following, today, in Late-Modernity:
1. Artists have reached a plateau of confusion and absurdity. Henceforth most everyone thinks that art is "whatever" one decides it to be.
2. Scientific "sight and hearing visualizations", as representations of the knowledge of one section of our contemporary "men of knowledge", fulfil what, along 99% of the span of humanity's story, was considered to be art.
3. Being one of the engines of modernity science bears a great deal of responsibility for the dire straits that the principle of life awakens to in Late-Modernity.


In "Beyond belief" Michael Hanlon notes that "Scientists are distrusted in a way they were not 100 years ago. The whole scientific enterprise looks to many like some sort of sinister conspiracy, created by the industrial establishment to make money at the expense of our health and our planet. ‘Science’ (rather than greed, incompetence, laziness or simple expediency) gets blamed for the degradation of our environment, pollution and threats to species."


In the West 100 years ago, the public mood was buoyant and there was not the slicest doubt that modernity had put humanity on the road of a never-ending "ever more". Things look rather different nowadays. The nature of our modern reality is simply becoming inescapable but for many the reality of nature is nevertheless unfathomable and as a consequence they blindfold themselves and put their faith in a religious kind of hope in miracles. Religiosity rises as does scientism.
The fact is that over the last 5-600 years the mechanical logic of the "reason of capital" was so successful at enriching the merchants that it unleashed envy from all quarters. 2-300 years ago the philosophers deduced human reason out of that mechanical logic and greed pushed many of them to further try their fortune through the use of their minds and hands at mechanical innovations. It's in the philosophers' successes at mechanical innovations that the scientific method emerged, that rationality triumphed, and that science found the substance to displace alchemy. But capital accumulation soon relegated the scientists in salarization leaving them captives of the reason of capital. Once at the mercy of a salary scientists lost any say in the financial decision making about their future researches and science ended up being muzzled in a reductionist "1 degree, 1 dimension" approach amid the "359 degrees, 4 or more dimensions" that constitute the entire swath of our observation possibilities. What I mean to say is that becoming captive of capital science was gradually made to think exclusively in terms of the interests of capital. Being so utterly successful in the realm of materialism the couple capital-science relegated any of the "359 degrees, 4 or more dimensions" alternatives to the margins of societal action where, if they emerged at all in human consciousness, at best they languished.


That's where we are today in Late-Modernity. Capital and science triumph but from whatever angle you look you observe side-effects that are acting like a cancer eating away the body of life. Societies fragment, atomize, and then collapse. Individuals suffer in isolation and, to the dam of some scientists and other rationalists, to quieten their minds they flock anew to religions and sects. The 6th mass extinction, in the known story of the earth, is eliminating the bulk of living species in the blink of an eye on the span of Gaia's time. The oceans are acidifying and all marine life is threatened. And the individuals living in those "industrially advanced" countries swell by the day in an absurd spectacle of obesity, diabetes and allergies.
Is that the picture that modernity made us all dream about? No that's surely not the picture of the dream that modernity promised to gratify us with. That's the picture of a dream badly turning sour. That's the picture of a "1 degree, 1 dimension" reductionist approach to reality that, unaware of the systemic complexity of the principle of life on earth, is slaughtering life.


The mechanical logic of the "reason of capital" that parasited and overtook the working of the minds of modern men is the driving force behind this cancer that slaughters the principle of life and, force is to recognize that, science is one of its more potent metastasizing instruments.
Intellectual sanity, human empathy and more generally the emotional sensitivity at the heart of the principle of life will invariably awaken us from our state of catatonia and impose us to take a stand against this insanity.


Both the "reason of capital" and science have been such ultra successful instruments that they have gone completely out of human control. But notwithstanding the misery they inflicted to the principle of life simply rejecting those instruments would nevertheless be a great loss for humanity. What we need is to impose the human primacy over their working. By this I mean that capital and science have to be folded within a globally encompassing framework of reference that includes "the systemic dance of the polarities of humanity" (interrelations between societal-individual, the ecological, and the philosophical). In other words capital and science are instruments that have to serve the societal, the individual, the ecological, and the philosophical. Seen from this perspective scientific "sight and hearing visualizations", while not losing their artistic role and function, appear very likely destined to play the role of second fiddle in the worldview and wisdom of the men of knowledge who, in the near future, are necessarily going to shape a shared understanding of reality in the minds of all citizens of the world along the soon to be emerging "long history period" of After-Modernity; a new worldview that eventually will shape the content of all art in "After-Modernity".


This is where thinking and painting (or whatever the representation technique for that matter) find a common ground. Thinking and dreaming about the content of the future worldview that will be shared by humanity in "After-Modernity" lets artists discover the meaning of what to represent in their present creations. That's how art can link anew with its historical societal function. That's how art again can be recognized a place in societies and how it could inspire the devotion of all their citizens. By that time. I hope, the "art meme", "without technical mastery what we express seems unfinished and without meaning it is as if what we express were shallow", will have spread to all corners of the earth...

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