“…. Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” ?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by inoneeye, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. As is the nature of one-liners, this quote attributed to Picasso only skims the service. But I like it and see some real value in it. I find that taste and creativity are often at odds even by definition.. as in personal preference vs originality. Please don’t take my taste away, I find it often is a rewarding guide. I am not saying I ignore my taste I just don’t wish to be creatively shackled by my taste.
    On a recent philosophy post the name of Leni Riefenstahl was used in a context that she and her work often inspires. But that is another story.
    What her work represents for myself is very personal. At the same time I was developing an obsession for photography Riefenstahl was publishing her work The Last of the Nuba, and then People of Kau. I was blown away by her work and found it inspirational. It was my taste at the time. Cool.
    I began to dig into her biography and other work. I was naïve and not interested in politics at the time so the political controversy surrounding her past had minimal impact on my opinion. I came across her Olympiad/Triumph film work and her Olympic photos. This work was clearly not to my taste. It was cold, formal, clinical, regimented and I thought lacked the power and nuance and engagement of her tribal work in Africa. But it was memorable, I never forgot it. Even now I can see the style and imagery in my minds eye.
    A few years past before I revisited her work. I explored the reasons that her Olympic work was haunting me. I began to discover how effective she had been in her direction and control of what was before her camera. In part, I think it was that very control that was in conflict to my taste. I set aside my taste and began to develop a respect for her ability to master her medium and convey her intent with rigid control. Such power. Once I allowed my taste to take a back seat there was an explosion of new styles and ideas for me to work with. Thanks to Riefenstahl for my discovering many new isms (constructivism, industrialism …yada), which led me to many great photographers and other artists.
    Early on, I taught myself a valuable lesson at art school. Pay attention when something implants a little voice in my head. At school I was directly exposed to many different styles and tastes. Many of those differences were not to my taste but they did speak to me and eventually opened doors. When I began to tune in to those whispers I found great rewards. I find I have to often set my taste aside and be less discriminating in what I allow in if I want to pursue ‘the flower unseen’.
    just a soapbox observation… on Picassos quote that I find value in. Do you?
     
  2. jtk

    jtk

    I admire Picasso's work greatly but we do know he played among a rich, not necessarily perceptive audience. He said all sorts of things, kept his patrons entertained. His taste in women was easily understandable, not particularly creative :)
    I don't think statements by artists are often meaningful.
    Your observations about "little voices" and "set aside my taste" are important.
     
  3. I admire Picasso's work greatly but we do know he played among a rich, not necessarily perceptive audience.​
    ? i missed the point.
    I don't think statements by artists are often meaningful.​
    i agree .... artists, politicians, carpenters, ..... but sometimes someone says something meaningful, i hope. I'll keep an open mind.
     
  4. Your observations about "little voices" and "set aside my taste" are important.​
    Thanks for the stamp of approval. Do you care to elaborate?
     
  5. I fully agree with the quote, if it is to mean that with art, it's best, more creative and more rewarding, to not only experience a work of art from just one singular viewpoint of personal taste, but to also let yourself be open to be exposed to works of art that not immediately satisfy that taste, but also challenges it. Taste is an opinion and opinions we all have. But this taste that forms our opinions always creates a conflict, it's always a reaction against something or for something, we choose to like one thing and dislike the other thing, and in this state of mind of constant conflicts, we may ask ourselfes, can we really observe anything ?
    This being said though, I do believe that the ' living up to the quote ' requires a balancing act, where one has to find the highest possible point to wich the creativeness can peak ( by broadening and letting go of the personal taste ) and stay there in harmony before it all comes falling down with the possibility of being stuck in reverse and to a point where creativeness becomes the enemy of taste.
     
  6. ...creativeness becomes the enemy of taste.​
    Interesting reversal and juxtaposition Phylo. Good thoughts. It seems that taken to an extreme a lack of input from your taste could become a case of 'art for arts sake'.
     
  7. jtk

    jtk

    Josh, I meant to point out that Picasso, because of the amount of silly adulation he welcomed as a virtual pop star, might be better seen in his work than attended to in his words :)
    As well, he got plenty of attacks, some of which related to his often-primative sexual themes...perhaps they weren't considered "tasteful" by somebody or other...maybe the taste/creativity quotation you provided was simply a casual, relatively unimportant defense. Can you provide context, a link?
    As to our "little voices" (not just yours), they do come from somewhere within us, and perhaps the source knows us better than we imagine.
     
  8. What if creativity were not the enemy of taste, but the driver of taste. Rather than allowing taste to be the motivator, which is often the case and often why creativity is stifled, perhaps we can see creativity as a molder of taste. Hasn't that often happened throughout history? The true creative genius often precedes by decades the change in taste required of an appreciative audience. Perhaps that change of taste doesn't come quite so naturally. Perhaps it is actually instigated by precisely the guy who's stuff we don't like . . . yet.
    Maybe taste is fluid and more than specific. It seems to move in time and is as cultural as it is individual.
     
  9. Josh, I meant to point out that Picasso, because of the amount of silly adulation he welcomed as a virtual pop star, might be better seen in his work than attended to in his words :)
    It is only the words that hit home for me, not his status as pop star or even a well recognized and compensated artist. I can also pay attention to his work it is not exclusive to admire a few words.
    As well, he got plenty of attacks, some of which related to his often-primative sexual themes...perhaps they weren't considered "tasteful" by somebody or other...maybe the taste/creativity quotation you provided was simply a casual, relatively unimportant defense​
    interesting theory, but the context you seek is not of concern to my post. I am using words that have meaning for me and giving credit to the author. I am indifferent to the context.
     
  10. What if creativity were not the enemy of taste, but the driver of taste.​
    solid insight! nurture it. if you practice it long enough it becomes you.
    Taste at its best does seem fluid and difficult to pigeonhole.
     
  11. As to our "little voices" (not just yours), they do come from somewhere within us, and perhaps the source knows us better than we imagine.​
    the source! that is stimulating :) I think that there are times when i am open to allow it through, that it takes hold and it is best to take the backseat to my preconceptions and enjoy the ride.
     
  12. >> creativeness becomes the enemy of taste <<
    Phylo,
    I do agree with this statement... and I think we are living in a world where this statement just applies to a vast part of what is considered "creation" or "art"...
    Though I doubt this is only the consequence of >> broadening and letting go of the personal taste << ...
    It was certainly the case for quite a number of artists up to the late 60's which sincerly tried to open new roads, new ways of seeing the things and transmitting their emotions.
    I'm far more reserved about their apparent followers of more recent times sincerity.
    I don't believe you can totally forget any kind of scale of reference to judge a piece of art (or a pîece of something pretending to be art).
    Taste is one of these evaluation scales and taste is a word which has more than one signification.
    Picasso's quotation can be interpreted at least in two ways as we don't know if the Great Pablo referred to personal taste or the more sociological approach of the term taste : the taste of the era.
    Knowing the political background of the artist, I would have probably chosen the second interpretation... Which directly refers to things like le "bon" goût bourgeois (the "good" bourgeois taste) which describes what was admitted and fashionable and acceptable in a rather conservative and traditionalist wealthy class, almost impervious to any innovation.
    According to this interpretation, Picasso's sentence is far less hermetic and far more practical. it can be translated in this form : Do not let social conventions and socially acceptable taste(s) limit you creativity... Something which is indeed a necessity when someone wants to become really creative in a personal way, as he (or she) has to impose his (her) personal way.
    The other interpretation which the original poster seems to favor seems - alas - the way many self appointed artists (or gallery owners boosted ones) seem to put forward.
    Most of these people seem to consider shocking the audience for the sake of shocking it and bad craftsmanship are the prerequisite of "modern" artistry ! ...
    Then, they (or their sponsors) try to find a way to give sense enough to what cannot be described otherwise than a scam - generally using a psychological (mostly freudian) language - to convince an audience of would be wealthy, but generally art illiterate, buyers the halphazardly composed meaningless by itself "piece of art" has an hidden (and obviously deep) sense ! ...
    And here we see the limit and the danger of the interpretation of Picasso's quotation as something regarding personal taste.
    If not for the ability of the indelicate seller to "paint" the so-called artist work as having a deep meaning with a totally hermetic argumentation most the buyers are unable to understand (fortunately for the seller as in fact this argumentation is more than often totally meaningless !), most of the would be buyers, simply using their personal taste and feelings as a guide, will never buy it... Add to this recipe a way to flatter the ego of the would be buyer as a possibility for him (her) to pass as a great connoisseur in Art if he (she) buys and a piece of salt telling him (her) how this purchase will also be a sound investment (this kind of language is this time perfectly understood by the potential buyer, it pertains to his (her) usual world) and you've got it ! ...
    This is no more Art but art market, and on the contrary to the 16th century mecenes, the new art amateur is not a connoiseur but at best an investor and at worst an illiterate snob sucker.
    With no reference system, either social or personal, the art customer becomes a manipulated puppet of the "artistic mafia" and the artist, provided he (she) is not a consicous accomplice, is likely to never produce something new or valuable. As trespassing the limits of his (her) PERSONAL taste without a sound reason cannot tell anything valuable to the audience and something resisting the assault of time and changing fashions. It is only an encouragement to fake artists and scammers.
    I doubt it was ever Picasso's intentions.
    FPW
     
  13. Thank you FPW, sincerely. Had i foreseen that the context of Picassos words would have become an issue i would have headed my post ' does your personal taste become an obstacle to creativity?' I stand admonished. But the intention of the post was clear enough it was not intended as an interpretation of Picassos words..
    as for the rest of your post FPW, wow. You are taking some giant leaps. You refer to me as the original poster...?
    The other interpretation which the original poster seems to favor seems - alas - the way many self appointed artists (or gallery owners boosted ones) seem to put forward.​
    and then you seem to lump me together with ....? ( i am not quite sure, but the message seems clear) Again it seems that preconceived notions have taken hold. What there is to learn from that, i just don't know.?
     
  14. It seems that taken to an extreme a lack of input from your taste could become a case of 'art for arts sake'.​
    Yes, and I think that's what it always comes down to again and again, but more in a way to not even consider the extreme, to find that middle ground, or better yet, to actually find the impossible solid no ground . In wich the goal may exactly be to have no goal, and at its very best not even that : to not even have the goal ' to have no goal '. Standing in front of a white canvas and just paint, but without giving up to painting. It doesn't make any practical sense, wich it shouldn't, can't, and never will if one too purposefully strives for it to make it practical. A sort of Daoism or Taoism approach.
    I do like Fred's proposition of creativeness being the driver of taste. In that way, maybe both driver and 'passenger' can travel ( or hope to aim ) towards a point or destination of common nature, to be inspired by its deceptive simplicity. And yet, being human, without closing the eyes to the passing 'unnatural' landscape, constantly being formed and reformed by the social and personal relations that FranA§ois P. Weill seems to talk about.
     
  15. Francois makes a great point about there being more than one interpretation of "taste," personal and cultural.
    He then makes a leap. One who uses Picasso's words in personal terms is now classified in the group of "self appointed artists." Francois assumes this group is into shocking for the sake of shock and he also assumes artists who recognize themselves as artists must be bad craftsmen. Throw the baby out with the bath water!? Yes, there are phonies in the art world. And there's gambling in Casablanca. It doesn't mean that everyone who personally questions the stagnating effect their own taste can have on their own creativity is some kind of exploitive-phony-artist-hack.
    The "danger" is not interpreting Picasso's quotation as something regarding personal taste. The danger is that the quote might actually pertain to exactly what Francois is doing, and on a very personal level. Allowing experiences with some self appointed artists who are bad craftsman to prejudice your opinion of those who personally discuss their own taste is very similar to what Picasso was warning against even in your own preferred interpretation of him. Because, indeed, it has become completely "conventional" to put down anyone daring to call themselves an artist or creative. It is just so very current to see anyone labeling themselves an artist or a creative person as a fraud. You are allowing that convention to cloud your judgment.
     
  16. A snippet of afterthought from my last post : Nature doesn't adhere to taste ( in the meaning of 'opinion' ), and while creative, it doesn't adhere
    to creativity either. It just is.
    Maybe for experiencing and/or making art one should just be, letting go of taste and creativity altogether, because isn't nature the highest
    art?
     
  17. Also, my ' creativeness becomes the enemy of taste ' wasn't a statement, at least not in the strict way of
    FPW's use, wich should be clear if one doesn't ignore the words I wrote above it.
     
  18. "isn't nature the highest art?"
    I don't view it that way. Art, to me, has always had a sense of the unnatural, of artifice. I like that art is man made and not necessarily trying to imitate nature.
    To "just be" seems fine to me, for those who can do it. Many people making good art think long and hard about what they're doing, consider very carefully their medium, their technique, etc. They then combine that care and craft with creative actions that are much less describable.
     
  19. Josh,
    Please, don't misunderstand my words, there is absolutely no personal attack in my message...
    I just underlined the fact your quotation of Picasso which introduced the subject (so you are the intial poster aren't you ?) was IMHO based on a misinterpretation of his words. They have actually a totally direrent meaning when considered as a statement regarding the taste of a society or part of a society and not the one of an individual. I even beleive they have sense only this way ! ...
    I have quite well understood the real meaning of your interrogation, which regards the eventual necessity for an individual to forget his own taste to become creative. I have just tried to show how dangerous and misleading such an attitude can (but not necessarily will) allow in the practical world. And I think this consequences are already pervasive in the small world of modern art.
    For me an artist cannot but express something to the others, if has nothing to express, then he is not an artist at all. The second prerequisite to be an artist, as I see the things, is to be a master craftsman in your art. And the third is you have to express what you want to express in a deeply personal way (otherwise you're a copyist).
    This third prerequisite of course void your interrogation as far as I'm concerned... Individual taste being a fundamental part of the personality.
    Even if I don't consider me as an artist, when I take a picture and the result displeases me, I dump this picture... Whatever anybody else can say about it.
    There are innumerable histories of famous painters destroying their work because they were not satisfied with it, hence it was not to their taste , even when a lot people told them it was a great creation.
    In fact I believe a true artist is a totally subjective medium between his subject and the audience. By removing this subjectivity in asking him to forget about his personal taste, such a fundamental component of his personality, you just kill both the artist and the art together.
    That's why I think Picasso's words have a totally different sense than the one you understood and are not related to personal taste in anyway, but the weight of the dominant conceptions of the era the artist lives in.
    Any human work, including the creation process (in art or in scientific discovery for example) is the result of an interaction between the innate characteristics of the individual which are of genetic origins and the environment (natural, social, political, cultural ... a.s.o.). Nothing is produced in abstracto .
    Artists cannot abstract themselves from their own personality, they cannot abdicate their personal bias and tastes. If doing so they'll never produce anything interesting as any sincere work of art is a reflection of this personality.
    I have yet to understand by the way how your longer development on Leni Riefenstahl's work versus her nazi past is related to the question you ask...
    She was without any doubt a great craftsman in photography and film making. She served a bad cause with a remarkable talent. It will be so easy and comfortable for the mind to think people serving bad causes are always stupid, lacking any talent and producing things just as ugly as the ideas they uphold. Unfortunately, this is not the case. To recognize these people may be talented and real artists is not endrosing in anyway their ideas.
    Werner Von Braun was instrumental in allowing the USA to reach the Moon... He was also a nazi and in the sombre tunnel of K.Z. Dora where the V1 and V2 were built died a lot of inmates. As a human being he was a nazi and moreover a war criminal (Leni Riefenstahl was "just" a nazi) but I'm yet to hear from the NASA any declaration about the nazi and war criminal past of Mister Von Braun. This doesn't imply he was not ALSO a great scientist.
    But I still miss the link between the personal taste of an artist and his eventual need to forget this personal taste to become creative and your perception of Riefenstahl's work ???
    Can you elaborate on this point please ?
    FPW
     
  20. Ahhh, the mystery man returns.
    Josh, Please, don't misunderstand my words, there is absolutely no personal attack in my message..​
    .i don't believe i misread the insinuations as you are suggesting.
    I have quite well understood the real meaning of your interrogation, which regards the eventual necessity for an individual to forget his own taste to become creative. I have just tried to show how dangerous and misleading such an attitude can (but not necessarily will) allow in the practical world​
    as i said in my opening 'Please don’t take my taste away, I find it often is a rewarding guide. I am not saying I ignore my taste I just don’t wish to be creatively shackled by my taste.'
    For me an artist cannot but express something to the others, if has nothing to express, then he is not an artist at all. The second prerequisite to be an artist, as I see the things, is to be a master craftsman in your art. And the third is you have to express what you want to express in a deeply personal way (otherwise you're a copyist).​
    we are on the same page here and i would add to the first line for themselves.
    This third prerequisite of course void your interrogation as far as I'm concerned... Individual taste being a fundamental part of the personality.​
    taste is a fundamental part of the personality, but how does that void my opening?
    I have yet to understand by the way how your longer development on Leni Riefenstahl's work versus her nazi past is related to the question you ask...​
    ?????
    i suggest you reread what i wrote. I am unconcerned about her politics and intentionally make that clear. I only refer to her African tribal work and her olympic images as a matter of taste, and how my taste for her african work early on obscured the other great imagery that was an acquired taste for me.
     
  21. Allow me to sidetrack. It is the nature of discussions, debates to get sidetracked. It is on these sidetracks that it dawned on me that i could just as easily said do your preconceptions get in the way of your creativity. I think it is safe to say preconceptions often get in the way of learning. Creativity and learning are closely linked in my approach to making photographs.
    in hindsight 'does your personal taste become an obstacle to creativity?'
     
  22. Some very stimulating thoughts being tossed around, many warranting further discussion.
    "Artists cannot abstract themselves from their own personality, they cannot abdicate their personal bias and tastes. If doing so they'll never produce anything interesting as any sincere work of art is a reflection of this personality."
    Actually, much great art is a lie, meant not at all to reflect the artist's personality.
    Some artists simply have to create. They don't do it because they like it or because it reflects their taste. My guess is that someone like Mozart probably really hated some of the stuff he had to come up with to keep the Court happy. It is nevertheless great music. He was that good that even though he might not have done some of his work to satisfy himself or his own tastes, he was able to create things that would emotionally move others.
    Many documentarians are great artists. I'm sure many of them don't "like" what they're doing and aren't in the least trying to reflect their own personalities. They are covering and presenting stories, many of which, I'm sure, turn their stomachs. I'm sure many of their own photos are completely distasteful to them. Those photos are significant nonetheless.
    I'm sometimes not sure whether I like a photo of mine or not. It may be the beginning stage of a new process. I may destroy the photo or I may put it up for view. My putting it up for view doesn't mean it's any more to my taste than were I to destroy it. It may simply mean I want to see where it leads me or I feel compelled to have others react to something I've done, for whatever reason.
     
  23. jtk

    jtk

    "...i could just as easily said do your preconceptions get in the way of your creativity." - Josh D W
    You seem to be back-pedaling. The out-of-context Picasso quotation, which you have not yet put in context, was an attempt to add weight to a gossamer-lit notion.
    That's the usual reason we use quotations by "big names." We're ripping them off, as was done here.
    I doubt Picasso even said those words...first, because I doubt he used English for the idea. Relying on out-of-context English words, we can't know what he meant, if he did indeed say something to that effect in French or Spanish.
    When we babble ideas about "creativity," "art," and "taste," we virtually never explain our motivation for using them: Most use those terms to make their products (photos, songs, paintings etc) seem more important, thereby making themselves seem more important.
    I don't use the word "art" very often because it most commonly refers to attractive decor. There's nothing wrong with decor...it becomes amusing when we insist that it's "art."
    We all know what "taste" means: bourgeois acceptability. That's not always a bad thing...most of us enjoy bourgeois comforts. The American Revolution was driven substantially by bourgeois leaders, such as John Hancock and Samuel Adams.

    "Creative" is a word that's owned mostly by people who are referring to some sort of virtue that doesn't have to do with daily survival, making a living etc. I think they're pretty close to the mark. But we should remember that the word is used almost as sloppily as "art," which means it's becoming a filler word and soon will refer to nothing, as "art" nearly does.
    Some folks already consider Wii "sports" to be athletic, air-guitar to be music. "Art" and "creative" have long referred to comparably worthwhile silliness.
    We say virtually nothing when we label Picasso "creative," or refer to his work as "art." Our best potential entails looking at his work, looking at other work, and discussing it among friends.
     
  24. John, take a break, catch your breath we'll wait while you catch up with the rest of us.
    interesting theory, but the context you seek is not of concern to my post. I am using words that have meaning for me and giving credit to the author. I am indifferent to the context.
    in hindsight 'does your personal taste become an obstacle to creativity?'​
     
  25. jtk

    jtk

    Josh, when you switched gears, dodging my question about the validity of your Picasso quote, you drew attention to the weakness of use of "art" and "creativity." You skated lightly over "taste," while continuing to assert that yours related to some sort of way of seeing and evaluating photographs.
    I appreciate that you have learned and changed over time. We don't hear honesty like that very often here because we usually feel constrained to salute concepts we don't hold in any way that we can explain. Most of us say "I'm an artist" but can't say what that means. I'm not an artist, I'm a photographer. Photography's congruence with art has been irrelevant for a long time.
    I'd like to see your ideas expressed in terms of photography's values. I think Picasso considered his work above "art" in general, and I'm certain that photography's merits are as well.
    It was me that first mentioned the Nuba. I wonder if you appreciate that work as fully as possible, as you reduce it to your own "taste" in an "art" frame of reference. I think its merit as photography transcends "taste" and "art", as does all of the "best" photography.
     
  26. ?
    I am an artist. It has meaning to me. So what now? Do you/we ignore the spirit of this post and begin the inevitable debate? Do we begin to pull out our scales and gauges ..... I don't really care to play.
    OMG, lol. Picasso is not significant here. I used words that were attributed to him, my mistake....
    My initial reference to Leni Riefenstahl was very personal. I had a visceral response to her work. Of course i could not appreciate her work on the level of someone as informed as yourself.


    Bound by knowledge.... my words. Can our knowledge become an obstacle to learning and creativity? John, my high school education is obviously no match for your encyclopedic academic knowledge. I wonder if all that knowledge can ever be set aside to allow you to truly create. To allow you to really understand what you have said,
    As to our "little voices" (not just yours), they do come from somewhere within us, and perhaps the source knows us better than we imagine.​
    and what it means to transcend taste and art from your own experiences.
     
  27. John, I see that we have derailed this post, so have your last word and put it to rest.
     
  28. jtk

    jtk

    Josh, I'd be interested to hear what you mean by "truly create."
    Just before your papal decree, you seemed to advocate "setting aside" "knowledge" and expressed anxiety about education.
    Admittedly I got a BA in 1965, and spent two years in graduate school, but what you call my "encyclopediac academic knowledge" is typical of many in my generation, whether GED or PhD... little refers back more than twenty years because I was mostly a business/technical hippie before then.
    How does your Joe The Plumber frame of reference explain Picasso, who was a formally highly educated artist?
     
  29. jtk

    jtk

    "and what it means to transcend taste and art from your own experiences." -Josh
    To my way of thinking, developed almost entirely from self-education (I admit two two-week courses in 1968), neither "taste" nor "art" can signify nearly as much the message in a message photograph or the emotional impact of a photograph made with that expectation. My "taste" is secondary, always has been. But I do value differing evocative merits of photographs, and I apply common photographic standards to them...those are, I think, relatively easily appreciated without inventing and attributing "true creativity" etc.
    An Edward Weston pepper is somehow beautiful (whatever that means) for tonal and shape reasons (eros), and that the prints themselves are technical pinnacles (within standard photographic frame of reference). Does it add something to say "Weston was a truly creative artist?"
    Note that I'm talking photography here, not purely verbal constructions.
     
  30. Josh,
    I believe that taste is not a clear either/or demarcation. It's an ongoing sorting, choosing, evaluating on every level. From the smallest weighing of a line to the largest meaning of a picture or subject matter. We (or at least I) am continuously out ahead of my taste -- that's the nature of how I filter the world. The making of art, of creativity, is always outside of or before taste. It becomes my "taste" after I have done the sorting, the choosing.
    In other words, for me at least, taste is subsequent to creativity, so it can't be "the enemy of creativeness."
    -Julie
     
  31. jtk

    jtk

    Julie, I'm nuts about your "equilateral series." ...the birds, too.
    I think being "out ahead of your taste" suggests you, as a photographer, are not burdened by preconceptions so much as leveraging off them. I don't think the resulting images reflect your "taste" so much as your freedom and goals.
     
  32. Thanks John.
    You (John) say, "I think being "out ahead of your taste" suggests you, as a photographer, are not burdened by preconceptions so much as leveraging off them."
    No. That's not true. I have as many preconceptions (many of them cherished) as anybody. What I'm saying is that I never get pure perfection -- in anything. That I'm always having to settle, to choose, to decide if this is good enough, close enough to what I'm after. I am always limited to what I see through my camera, to what my camera and my mind are able to find, and so forth. It's always a mix of things I like (that are to my taste) and things that are not. It's a gradation and I have to choose from a multitude of attributes -- whether they add up to something that I then believe is to my taste.
    I believe that in the Riefenstahl images, Josh must have first noticed something that was possibly going to be to his taste or he would not have circled back for a second look. I think we have to have taken something up, noticed, wanted to look, taken that look -- before we sort it into what we think of as to our taste. Because it's never pure.
    -Julie
     
  33. Julie :) you are a breath of fresh air. I think you are giving a practical personal example to the point that Fred brought up.
    What if creativity were not the enemy of taste, but the driver of taste.​
    It also is how i process. It works well for me. It is the lesson I spoke of nurturing in myself. To not let it become an obstacle to creativity.
    I think we have to have taken something up, noticed, wanted to look, taken that look -- before we sort it into what we think of as to our taste. Because it's never pure.​
    I admire this thought. It makes me think and it makes me question. Just how much flexibility is required to notice. To reach far outside our personal comfort zone and open to a truly new experience. Perhaps rigidity is also a potential obstacle to creativity. I certainly am not trying to write these one liners in stone.

    We (or at least I) am continuously out ahead of my taste -- that's the nature of how I filter the world.​
    as do I. But i have found that at times when i am most congested creatively, if i step back i may find that it is my preferences that have shackled me - at least in part. It is at those moments that i find it most beneficial to make an extra effort to explore unknown territory. To go back to those little voices and expand my preferences.
    Thanks for stopping by, Julie.
     
  34. John, Ok. I’ll bite. I’ll come down from my high horse.
    Just before your papal decree, you seemed to advocate "setting aside" "knowledge" and expressed anxiety about education.​
    I disagree. I am not recommending that anyone subscribe to my notions. Anxiety is not an issue it is a projection. And papal decree, really John tit for tat.
    How does your Joe The Plumber frame of reference explain Picasso, who was a formally highly educated artist?​
    I don’t believe that I stated that formal education is a deterrent to being an artist. ? I did suggest that in your case perhaps that knowledge may be an obstacle. That was done in the same spirit as your observation was presented;
    I wonder if you appreciate that work as fully as possible, as you reduce it to your own "taste" in an "art" frame of reference​
    And Joe the plumber frame of reference …?
    I did ask, and in the face of all the highly educated artist living and dead would still ask.
    Can our knowledge become an obstacle to learning and creativity?
    I believe it might be an obstacle for some just as I believe that ‘taste’ “as in personal preference may be an obstacle for some. It is a question I would like to pose to Picasso. I am sure his answer would be entertaining at least.
    We all know what "taste" means: bourgeois acceptability​
    Among other things. As I said in my opening. I find that taste and creativity are often at odds even by definition.. as in personal preference vs originality.
    It was me that first mentioned the Nuba. I wonder if you appreciate that work as fully as possible, as you reduce it to your own "taste" in an "art" frame of reference.​
    Yes you brought up the Nuba work. Gold star John. Oooops. In your opinion I am degrading her work. ? That’s a shame that it reads that way. I intended to pay homage to it and her other superb work. In fact it was your reference to it that inspired this post. And it was also a reaction I had to your projection of your preference for her Nuba images
    Riefenstahl's brilliant work with Nuba (African) wrestlers seems (to me) substantially about masculinity.. it's more powerful than her Nazi work (IMO)​
    Taste? As in personal preferences. You then go on to say something that baffles me in the face of much of what you are saying here
    Anybody who appreciates photography and cares about the specific case knows Leni Reifenstahl's work with the Nuba is better than her work with Hitler et al​
    Papal decree indeed.
    What are common photographic standards? And yes it does have meaning for me to say that Edward Weston was a truly creative artist. I say that about few.
    Note that I'm talking photography here, not purely verbal constructions.​
    I would truly enjoy getting over these verbal obstacles and talk photography, I would welcome your ideas if we could do that.
     
  35. Julie--
    Great thoughts. I like that Josh added the word "process."
    Maybe the perfection is not in the product (photograph or painting) but in the process. And maybe part of the perfection of the process is that feeling of close enough, of settling and of choosing. Those belong to the process. The process is the drive (Eros) that is instilled by that longing to get it right. Perhaps each photo, or painting, whatever the medium of the artist, represents that Desire . . . Desire that will always reflect something missing.
    What binds creativity to Eros and Desire is passion.
     
  36. Beautifully put, Fred. And very true, for me.
    One sort of mundane detail that I want to add is that, in the long term, I may discard one preference or taste because I find another that does the same thing better. I don't think I jump from one to something totally unrelated. In other words, I'm upgrading, not switching direction. I'm honing in. The root target remains the same.
    Josh, your response to my post is very interesting. One part, "Perhaps rigidity is also a potential obstacle to creativity," I've been considering.
    I think that a case could be made in favor of ridigity in an artist -- that a very sharp, excessively, abnormally sharp, narrow, precise, rigid taste is needed in order to make art. That is precisely the origin of your talent or your artistic strength: the ability to know decisively and concretely, this is what does what I am after.
    It is natural for an artist (any good artist will do) to wish for his audience to have broad taste -- in hopes that they will be open to his narrowly focused taste which because of its narrow intensity has resulted in beautifully rendered art.
    Maybe?
    -Julie
     
  37. Julie. may be. I think so, once you have found your original voice, through exploration, or accident. You have made a good case for not putting too much store in one liners. And for original thinking.
     
  38. Balance, would seem to be the key. Rigidity, i recognize myself in the word. In my creative process i often am rigid and decisive. With my taste as a viewer i most often reject rigidity. The distinction of creator or audience, does add clarity.
     
  39. I set aside my taste and began to develop a respect for her ability to master her medium and convey her intent with rigid control. Such power.​
     
  40. If while you are working, you are thinking of "taste," be it your own or someone else's, you are restricting your creativity. That can be a good or a bad thing. Boundaries can lead to more focused work. But artificial boundaries built along the lines of what people consider tasteful (and are you going to poll everyone?) or what the market demands will only stifle you. As for Picasso, like many cutting edge artists, he made a living as a painter, but also, at being a "rebel."
     
  41. jtk

    jtk

    "I would truly enjoy getting over these verbal obstacles and talk photography, I would welcome your ideas if we could do that."
    Yes! Stepping up a level to talk about photography might reduce sqabbling of quirky definitions of words.
    IMO J Sevigny used "taste" in its standard, non-quirky sense...personally, I prefer that approach.
    Nobody is in a position here to "welcome" anybody else's ideas: Forums are open.
     
  42. J
    It seems very true that, when working, taste could be more of an obstacle than at other times.
    It occurs to me that often in these forums we don't distinguish carefully to separate out when we do things or to make clear that we're not doing one thing instead of another but alongside another.
    How often have I heard, "go out and take photographs instead of talking about them" as if doing one meant you couldn't do the other?
     
  43. jtk

    jtk

    Josh would enjoy this discussion in photographic terms. I'll give it a shot:
    Emulation of "masters" ...trying to echo the work of Ansel Adams or Cartier Bresson, for example...can serve education and personal advancement or can constipate. Armies of us photograph Half Dome with field cameras or secretly stalk our fellows on the street. Fewer may develop approaches that are substantially their own (like Julie Heyward's or Josh DW's).
     
  44. jtk

    jtk

    ..or like Fred Goldberg's or J Sevigny's....
     
  45. jtk

    jtk

    ..or like Fred Goldsmith's or J Sevigny's....
     
  46. "Fewer may develop approaches that are substantially their own"
    This seems to hit on how I use "creativity."
     
  47. John. As obvious as it is I honestly had not thought in terms of emulation of others work. For this post. I agree that it can be a great teaching tool and potentially restrictive. But like other preferences we may have enough control to regulate the influence to some degree on our own work.
    I not we - as i do not speak for the forum. welcome your comments.
    This seems to hit on how I use "creativity."​
    Fred, as do i ... sometimes with the benefit of vision.
    J Sevigny, Hi. I like the introduction of the word and implication of Boundaries.
     
  48. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, I apologize for botching your name yet again. Two of my best old time photo friends were Goldbergs (both published photo books), but I've known you online long enough that I should have learned.
    "benefit of vision"...Josh, not sure what you mean by "vision." Among possibilities you might mean 20:20 or perhaps something about deciding and acting forward, into the future....for example.
    Some of us struggle to learn and at opportune times consciously make forward decisions about our directions, goals, images. That's my take on "vision."
    My decision formed over 2-3 years while I also tried some other directions: it has to do with facing people openly, despite my awkwardness, and photographing them. Simple portraiture. This doesn't feel "creative" to me, but hopefully I'm depicting something insightful, in some way about the subject. Difficult emotionally and technically, frustrating, rewarding. Fred Goldsmith is solidly in a "vision" space something like that, as we see in his work. Decision, almost religious, is also evident in J Sevigny's work: it rises far above "street photography" because of his compassion for his subjects...they are not just anonymous photo phenomena.
    From one perspective, Leni Riefenstahl's "Nuba" are mere anthropological beauties...it'd be interesting to see how she photographs new American casual acquaintances. She reminds me of Annie Leibowitz.
     
  49. The example of Adams works here.
    I like Half Dome more than I like pictures of it. So I don't follow Adams up the mountain but Yosemite and the Range of Light (and prints in museums and galleries when I can access them) is usually somewhere near my computer.
    His devotion is inspiring and seems to translate visually and I often look at his stuff to help fine tune my own post processing work. I've been around darkrooms but never got to work in one on my own photographs. I'm a digital baby. And I don't need to be photographing hill and dale to get something out of the way he used tonality, achieved depth, brought out detail, and nuanced light and shadow.
    I looked up "emulation" and the online dictionary emphasizes a desire to equal or surpass another, a sense of "ambition" I never gave to the word's more traditional meaning of "echoing." For sure, many seek to emulate the masters to their own detriment.
    I don't let my relative disinterest in landscape photography and a coldness or distance I sense on the part of Adams become an obstacle to my appreciation of his photographs. I can appreciate what I do not like, I guess.
    I wonder if those photographing Half Dome are thinking literally, emulating rather than learning, attending exclusively to tried and true subject matter instead of to the manner in which using tools can affect any subject, especially one that might be unique or individuating.
     
  50. My decision formed over 2-3 years while I also tried some other directions: it has to do with facing people openly, despite my awkwardness, and photographing them. Simple portraiture. This doesn't feel "creative" to me,...​
    sounds like you are being creative to me, for one reason it is outside your comfort zone. It's a personal stretch so in context of JK is sounds like you are challenging yourself. That's creative as much as challenging or offering to expand the vocabulary of your other audience.
    Yes, your take on the word vision was my intent.
    equal or surpass​
    practical clarity. When i emulate it is often with the motivation to take further.
     
  51. I looked up "emulation" and the online dictionary emphasizes a desire to equal or surpass another, a sense of "ambition"​
    sorry, don't know how i chopped it. ....'typically by imitation' was the usual meaning for me. I see much more potential in equal or surpass. Thanks Fred.
     
  52. I can appreciate what I do not like, I guess.​
    An admirable trait. I think it is reflected in your imagery and posts. So your personal preference is probably not often an obstacle. I purchased an Ansel Adams print soon after starting in the Darkroom. It is still in the darkroom. I have never liked, appreciated his work beyond his technical prowess. It only speaks to me as a craftsman. Landscape as a genre has always eluded my attempts to either capture what I feel in real time or as a vehicle to express my vision. I continue to take a stab at it occasionally. I quess it remains outside my comfort zone and I remain thoroughly challenged by it creatively.
    The idea of a unique image of Half Dome rings my bell. It would be an exciting accomplishment for someone to achieve. Of course opinions/responses would vary as to what constitutes unique, but I am talking on a personal level …when it appears original to my experience.

    it rises far above "street photography". John why rises far above?
    why not just good or some other adj.. Are we seeing an example of accrued baggage for the genre of “street photography” – I am sure we have all seen our share of anonymous, or stolen street shots. If something rises far above then perhaps it shouldn’t be thought of with a label. Or even make a comparison. But I have certainly encountered compassionate street work before. Maybe cream of the crop, was your intent?
    And J I also find your work to be very good. I'll stop by when i can take more time to look it over.
    oh yeah, Fred your work is ok to.
    John, still waiting for all those new images you've mentioned....?
     
  53. "So your personal preference is probably not often an obstacle."
    And sometimes it is downright magnetic.
     
  54. jtk

    jtk

    "John, still waiting for all those new images you've mentioned....?" - Josh
    Me too.
    "If something rises far above then perhaps it shouldn’t be thought of with a label." - Josh
    "shouldn't be thought of" ... hm.
    In any case, I didn't label anything as "street photography," I pointed out superiority to the pop genre to which a fine photographer's work appears superficially related... some were shot on a street, after all. But what you see is photojournalism, the product of a higher calling. I'm just sharing a perspective. Relax.
    "...shouldn’t be thought of with a label. Or even make a comparison" - Josh
    Comparisons are primary modes of thought and expression (as is labeling, incidentally). Remember?
    Josh, I pointed to an example of humane photojournalism, calling it superior to "street photography." You seem to be arguing for "IMO," token self-censorship.
    Any fool can take a snap of Half Dome, and I guess that makes him a "nature photographer." Take that Holga downtown and suddenly he's a "street photographer." Understand? Call that "taste" if it makes you happy, but I think there are issues of personal skills, values, goals, dedication, heart...stuff like that.
     
  55. no John just seeking clarification on your intention. I was reading that in your opinion "street photography" is something to rise above.
    And the holga reference i do not understand...?
     
  56. "You seem to be arguing for "IMO," token self-censorship."JK - no
    relax.Remember?Understand?JK - since you feel you need to talk this way to get your message through to me and we seem to rub each other the wrong way, maybe we could agree to not address one another.? or each others ideas. If you find that disagreeable, fair enough, i'll bow out.
     
  57. From all of what's already been said it seems that ' taste ' can indeed best be understood as having many different levels from wich it is being formed and reformed. Moral and other social values are being weighed against pure aesthetic values. But someone's appreciation of a work of art doesn't necessarily has to be judged either from a percieved moral value given to it or either from a percieved aesthetic value given to it. In any case, giving to much weight on ones moral / social taste can endanger ones perception and experience of the aesthetic value inherent in any work of art. Moral taste and aesthetic taste shouldn't outweigh each other.
    From the point of view of the artist, I can agree with some of what ( if I remember correctly ) FPW has said, that great artists almost necessarily and by default have a very strong personal taste as the driving force behind what makes their work recognizable as their own. In this view it doesn't make it very practical to say that taste is the enemy of creativeness. The artist can always have taste, be it aesthetical or moral, but it has to be formed and reformed constantly to work in conjunction with a vision that keeps it's focus not too broadly and not too narrowly defined. The artist ( of life ) becomes Wu-Wei.

    For making it more agreeable in practice maybe the quote could be changed a bit by adding one word : " Fixed taste is the enemy of creativeness."
     
  58. jtk

    jtk

    Phylo, interesting points, especially "Moral taste and aesthetic taste shouldn't outweigh each other."
    ...I'll only quibble about that "shouldn't" ...why "shouldn't" aesthetics outweigh morals, or the other way around?...but you're right to differentiate the two types of value and presumably it's most effective to balance the two values...
    Some say Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi work makes it hard to accept her African work. Similarly, I have a hard time appreciating Annie L's photography (beyond its technical merits) because of its pop-culture limitations (and the personal baggage I bring).
    Personal baggage seems important to the discussion. Some folks love..or hate... Mapplethorpe, for their own reasons. Others go nuts for duck snaps, wide angle distortion, or wizened sea captains with pipes, rendered with HDR :)
     
  59. I think Phylo's distinction is key as well, and I join John's quibble about the weighing of the two . . . don't even agree it's most effective to balance the two. The holocaust survivor who needs to reject any sense of esthetics in Riefenstahl is entitled to that. The staunchly political guy who couldn't stomach Charlton Heston's views is entitled to be nauseated even when he's doing a decent job of playing Moses.
    Baggage does seem important to the discussion. But I'd go further than John:
    "because of its pop-culture limitations (and the personal baggage I bring)."
    The "personal baggage I bring" is the easy part of the statement . . . knowledge of her from your days in San Francisco, familiarity with the politics of the times, the Art Institute, Rolling Stone, etc. The more significant baggage is what seems to be more taken for granted: "pop-culture limitations" (and the baggage, as if "pop-culture limitations" isn't, itself, baggage). In the phrase "pop-culture limitations" is to be found the opinion or baggage you instead seem to take as a given or for granted. First, you see it as "pop." Second, you see "pop" as limitation.
    We all have baggage that we don't necessarily recognize as such. It's part of the reason Truth is so difficult.
    Taste and baggage probably have a lot of overlap but may aim differently. Phylo has addressed the driving force behind taste. Developed taste seems to have a lot of potential where too fixed taste could be a problem. Baggage can drive us, but its potential seems more destructive or at least restrictive, especially when it goes unnoticed.
     
  60. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, you're right on. I don't defend my baggage, but since it's there it's most proper ("moral") to be open about it, and there's rarely any reason to say "IMO."
    "Taste" has a primary meaning, having to do with vestiges of a stuffy, vestigial class system. This thread has invented three new meanings for the word. That's "not to my taste." Pinkie held high, snif snif. :)
     
  61. For making it more agreeable in practice maybe the quote could be changed a bit by adding one word : " Fixed taste is the enemy of creativeness."​
    I disagree strenuously with that statement.
    I think the best artists are consumed by (and sometimes destroyed by) the certainty of their own (fixed) vision; the struggle is to get it down. To get it to fit onto a piece of paper or canvas or into a block of stone. Think of Van Gogh. Think of Michelangelo (his incomplete works) and on and on through the ages.
    -Julie
     
  62. John--
    In this case, I think you are citing a "quirky," even if historically primary, usage of "taste." In conversations and most discussions I've been involved with, "taste" is used in precisely the casual way we have been using it in this thread. Most people in most discussions would have no idea or interest in the relationship between taste and a stuffy, vestigial class system. We're talking about what we like. It would be unusual, outside of a specific discussion of stuffy, vestigial class systems, to use "taste" in the manner you are suggesting. Believe me, and you've seen it, I can dwell on a word or term with the best of 'em, but sometimes I just gotta get with the program and keep moving along. The philosopher in me makes that hard to do, but the more practice I get at being quick on the shutter, the more I keep moving along, with my eyes as open as I can keep them.
     
  63. "I think the best artists are consumed by (and sometimes destroyed by) the certainty of their own (fixed) vision; the struggle is to get it down"
    On getting it down I think Julie sheds a light on a potentially significant distinction. Van Gogh, i believe found himself stifled in the beginning when he was emulating a Dutch School of art approach. Darker more realisitic (pardon me for my very loose interpretation). It was only after he moved beyond/aside that did he begin to establish his style. inner voices.? As time past and he became more decisive and confident that his vision had validity he came into full blossom. Perhaps it is worth considering our creative endeavors on a career(?) curve and weigh the benefits and downfalls of our flexibility in that context.
    I sat up and took attention to; "..... the best artists are consumed by (and sometimes destroyed by) the certainty of their own (fixed) vision" This would have made a better original question for this thread.
     
  64. But, Julie, isn't there a difference between a fixed/focused/determined/certain vision and being consumed by one's taste. I don't think those you mention fall into the latter category. I think there's a sense in which vision transcends taste (even though vision may sometimes, though not always, use taste to get its footing).
     
  65. Fred, your further refinement in segregating taste from vision, though not always is also very helpful.
     
  66. Fred, your further refinement in segregating taste from vision, though not always is also very helpful.
     
  67. Fred,
    Yes, there is a difference. However, to get from taste to creativity -- making, doing, acting -- we have to go through vision. All other senses of taste don't seem to me to have anything to do with creativity, either good or bad.
    You could consider taste to be (part of) the 'how' and vision to be the 'what' -- or (flexible) taste to be a part of the 'means' where vision is the (fixed) end, but I don't think that's very ... important.
    If you think of taste as strictly 'means', who cares what 'taste' Cezanne or Weston uses or refers to in his relentless pursuit of his own vision? Is the 'means' of particular relevance to his creativity?
    -Julie
     
  68. John--
    Something just struck me. Here we are in a forum talking about taste, baggage, Annie Leibovitz, and your own decisions and experiences regarding portraiture:
    "it has to do with facing people openly, despite my awkwardness, and photographing them. Simple portraiture. This doesn't feel "creative" to me, but hopefully I'm depicting something insightful, in some way about the subject. Difficult emotionally and technically, frustrating, rewarding. ?"
    What better place to turn than Leibovitz, baggage aside? What if there were something significant in her work, beyond the technical which you've mentioned, that could push your vision forward? Even something significant that you don't like. That would be what I was referring to as appreciation trumping taste. If you could just get past the "popness" of it, I wonder if something there couldn't actually strike you . . . and not because you'd like it. That voice, as referenced by you and Josh, sometimes comes from the most unlikely of places.
    It just all of a sudden seemed so obvious a place to go here . . . for what it's worth.
     
  69. "Is the 'means' of particular relevance to his creativity?"
    To me, yes. As I mentioned above, a lot is about the process to me . . . it's the journey, with the goal beckoning. I don't believe creativity is simply an end. It is very much the means. I care plenty about what Cezanne uses or refers to in his pursuit, as I do about my own means.
    I may be missing your point or misinterpreting you, though, because it seems a curious point.
     
  70. As one who relies very much on instinct to create, how i developed that instinct i often consider. And what means i have to refine or embellish (not as in decorate - more as in expand on) my vision and communication of that vision, is of importance. In viewing others work I also most often rely on instinct but find it can be useful to bolster my reaction with knowledge, insights. I also find it simply helps me to learn more.
     
  71. a further thought on my comment "In viewing others work I also most often rely on instinct but find it can be useful to bolster my reaction with knowledge, insights."
    not just support my reaction but sometimes it can cause me to reconsider my first impression. I like that experience. It can be like a breath of fresh air. exhilarating.
     
  72. For making it more agreeable in practice maybe the quote could be changed a bit by adding one word : " Fixed taste is the enemy of creativeness."
    I disagree strenuously with that statement.
    I think the best artists are consumed by (and sometimes destroyed by) the certainty of their own (fixed) vision; the struggle is to get it down. To get it to fit onto a piece of paper or canvas or into a block of stone. Think of Van Gogh. Think of Michelangelo (his incomplete works) and on and on through the ages.​
    Julie,
    A fixed taste ( not vision ) in my used context, doesn't NOT undermine the presence of a strong conceptual continuity in the paintings of Van Gogh. This conceptual continuity ( borrowing from Zappa ) is put forward by the artists vision. You could say that the vision is fixed, but more like a strong beam of light that takes notice of all of it's surroundings, or maybe forget that one, not the greatest of examples...But I do feel that it's a vision that's not so much fixed as it can take notice of one thing but without completely ignoring the other. I think this feature is what makes the vision of any great artist precisely so perceptive, to have insights that for others go unnoticed. And for this vision to stay perceptive, the artist needs a flexible enough taste, or matter of opinions, through wich the perceptivity can truly flourish.
    Also, I would argue that there's only one thing that Van Gogh and Michaelangelo where completely certain about, and that's the materials that they used for making their art, but from the first brushstroke on and the first hitting away of marble, nothing was a certainty apart from the paint and marble itself. Maybe what's being mistaken for a ' laserbeam fixed vision ' is the single endresult that doesn't show all that went before it.
     
  73. Phylo,
    I understand what you're saying. And I agree in the sense that art is hard -- very hard, even for the very best. (My way of describing it is trying to see around corners. You know it's there but you can't quite see it...)
    Fred,
    It's hard to sort means from ends (as you know, and I think maybe that's your point). But try this: if someone could have gone to Edward Weston and said, "Mr. Weston, I'm sorry but you will not be allowed to photograph peppers, nautilus shells, nudes, or toilets ever again" do you think he would have been unable to continue to work? Or if they had told Cezanne to just quit with the same darn mountain, go to the beach for Pete's sake, would he have given up painting?
    It's my feeling that the artist will find a means from whatever is at hand, and therefore what form that means takes is not of profound importance to that artist's creativity. In fact, the means is necessarily accidental, serendipitous; the vision, the drive, the motivation, is not.
    Means is, of course, of practical interest to the artist and to the art that gets made; and having the good fortune to happen on a pepper #30 is always nice, but it's not what determines creativity.
    -Julie
     
  74. Julie--
    I wasn't thinking of means in the same way you have just elaborated. I agree that they likely would have pursued their creative energy even with different subject matter . . . peppers or no peppers. I was thinking of means as all of the tools we use . . . the medium, the methods, the way we get our inspiration, our work habits, how we approach what we paint or photograph, how, for example, we get comfortable or else get excited about working with our discomfort. All those are what I was thinking of as means. I live with these and am often very curious to hear about such things in relation to others and how they do what they do.
     
  75. Josh--
    It's interesting to think about developing an instinct, which seems like a contradiction, since the very nature of an instinct is to be inborn and automatic as opposed to something that develops, like learned behavior. Nevertheless, such contradictions, while stumbling blocks of logicians and some philosophers, are actually the secrets of the universe for others.
    The vast reach of our understanding and imagination often comes up against the limits of empirical knowledge and experience. Somewhere in there is inspiration.
     
  76. Fred. I am with you on the apparent contradiction. But sometimes i relate to my instinct in terms of latency and maturity, growth. It may be innate but sleeping, untapped. When little voices begin telling me to sit up and take notice it is my job to recognize it and put it (whatever)to use. An inspiration! Then it only appears that i have allowed my instinct to develop when all that i have done is tap into it for the first time in that manner.
     
  77. Josh,
    This quote from a review of a book by Richard Sennett may be close to what you are talking about:
    “Every good craftsman conducts a dialogue between concrete practices and thinking,” he writes; “this dialogue evolves into sustaining habits, and these habits establish a rhythm between problem solving and problem finding.”
    The ability to enter this dialogue, to find the rhythm of involvement with the materials, is slow to develop.​
    (I used that recently in a post on my blog, if you want more from the Sennett book review.)
    But this leads to questions of the relation or importance of craftsmanship to creativity (I think it's generally underrated), and whether habits, necessary as they are to the development of good craftsmanship, are a hindrance to creativity (I'll leave that one untouched ... ).
    -Julie
     
  78. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, "instinct" for most folks means "firing from the hip," or responding quickly and without thought to circumstances. You're right, obviously, that the word's been misused here.... "instinct" is literally inborn, genetic. It can't be "developed."
    Nonetheless, we do make instant decisions, without knowing why. I submit that's a matter of disciplined accident (eg pressing that shutter button NOW, not a moment earlier or later) or that it's a psychological matter, having to do with the subconscious.
    Whatever it is, it could be an interesting topic...I've seen it asserted and defended, but I've never seen anyone (P.N) talk about thoughtfully.
    As for those crucial "little voices," they're coming from a source that's obvious but usually ignored for our minds' practical reasons: it's subconscious. Our minds function simultaneously at many levels, usually without our awareness. We would be terminally confused if we were aware (conscious) of most of the workings of our minds in any given moment....like the caterpillar that had to think about ever move of every leg.
     
  79. Julie, I think habit is an insightful addition and distinction in this discussion. "... and whether habits, necessary as they are to the development of good craftsmanship, are a hindrance to creativity (I'll leave that one untouched ... )." I think i understand your reluctance to address this comment but i would have been very interested in your take.
    The importance of craftsmanship to creativity for me is in the mastery of the tools to build my vision. It is one aspect that i have nearly complete control. I can choose to develop my skills to whatever degree i wish. For me creativity starts and ends/continues before and after craftsmanship.
    I will check out the blog, thanks.
     
  80. Josh,
    Do you think that craftsmanship can be expanded to encompass instinct ("problem finding")?
    Do you think 'instinct', as you are using it here, refers to finding what you want to do/make (originating creativity), or does it apply to finding the means to what you already know/feel (amorphously). If means, then is it part of craftsmanship?
    -Julie
     
  81. in the spirit of the literal misuse. if a caterpillar did 'think' about every move of every leg he might learn to tango. he might even find that he had a latent talent for it. a star is born.
     
  82. He might be able to tap dance, but not tango. You need arms to tango.
     
  83. Julie, i think that craftsmanship is A means to express creatively (important to me). I would not deny that creativity could be practiced without a high or minimal level of skill at your craft. I personally find good craftsmanship very beneficial to my expressions. Can craftsmanship be expanded to encompass instinct? I think i need some time to get my head around that. My First reaction is yes, but not in the habits we learn/form as craftsman. I'll try to get back to you on this one.
    Instinct as i am loosely using for my agenda is indeed innate but something i perceive as having potential. I was stimulated when i saw you use the word 'habit' before. As i was to read 'inspiration' from Fred. Both words introduced further clarity and begin to offer a more profound understanding for me. But neither word encapsulates my intent in selectively choosing the word instinct.
    "If means, then is it part of craftsmanship?" If so? .... I never thought of it that way but when i see the word means, i think it does imply to me that there is a tool and if there is a tool (even a non solid tool, such as thought), then yes i believe craftsmanship is present.
     
  84. Julie - lol ... shows what a klutz like me knows.
     
  85. The instinctual response to danger may be overwritten with practice to be replaced with the first thought being to run to the danger (the instinct is not removed). I realize that is not to say that your instinct is now to run into danger. It has simply been overwritten with a learned automatic response. Some have an easier time, ability to accomplish an override of this instinct. You did not develop a new instinct. I am not referring to this right way of looking at instinct.
    I am referring to my personal way of looking at it; Talent, abilities, even creativity may be natural for some (as in inherited or nature) and they may be learned or of course a combination. I think they can be nurtured in either case. . (But are they equal for all? I think not. Perhaps another question for another time...)
    But my take on these natural abilities is that they may be latent waiting to be awakened and/or encouraged to develop, as in grow in our awareness or even i suppose encourage diminishment. I am not trying to say that instinct is not set, it is. My observation/question is in context of our awareness of and the untapped potential of instinct.
     
  86. jtk

    jtk

    "But my take on these natural abilities is that they may be latent waiting to be awakened and/or encouraged to develop, as in grow in our awareness or even i suppose encourage diminishment. I am not trying to say that instinct is not set, it is. My observation/question is in context of our awareness of and the untapped potential of instinct."
    That would be closer to reasonable if "instinct" wasn't used. We don't have any "instinct" to run from danger, for starters. That's a learned response.
    Your accumulated experiences have led you to where you are today, as with all of us. The work you're doing is the result of choices and accidents (instinct doesn't allow for choices, ever). That some are biologically inclined (instinctively) to make our images would be comforting if we needed excuses.
    It's identical to saying that Jews are money grubbers. Think about it. Leni Riefenstahl may have.
    Here's the most amazing animation I've ever seen...it centers on a mouse who learned that fear had to be taught, wasn't inborn. If you have kids, you owe it to them IMO http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2115250/full_movie_the_tale_of_despereaux_2008/
    I practice "instinctive archery." It's mis-named: everybody who flings wooden arrows knows the joke. Accuracy is a hard-won skill.
    No aiming ...just shooting with accuracy learned the way a basketball player develops his. We commonly get good enough to keep a handful of wooden arrows in a fist-sized target at 25 yards without aiming. Far from "instinctive," and just as exalted as photography. Perhaps your photos hit or miss your own targets with your own learned accuracy.
    Take credit for what you've learned, because that, not instinct or anything else biological, is the source of your photographs. If you're not satisfied, as many of us never are, you also get to take the blame.
     
  87. Uncle!
    I did not realize that fear was not instinctive I was thinking flight or fight was also a human trait. My Bad example. I stand corrected. I am attempting to supply needed clarification. I am finding some tangible and useful information in this discussion. If my clarification of my ideas helps move us forward I am happy to provide it.
    “Your accumulated experiences have led you to where you are today, as with all of us. The work you're doing is the result of choices and accidents (instinct doesn't allow for choices, ever).”
    “I am not trying to say that instinct is not set, it is. My observation/question is in context of our awareness of and the untapped potential of instinct.”
    “Take credit for what you've learned, because that, not instinct or anything else biological, is the source of your photographs”
    "Take credit for what you've learned..." - not a problem. But the rest, I simply disagree. I consider all of what makes me me is the source of my photographs, as well as what I introduce. And if it is part of the equation I want to acknowledge and consider it.
    I am not looking for affirmation to support my personal views. I am stimulated by challenge to those views but there comes a point at which I agree to accept our differences as what makes us unique.
     
  88. Once again : Wu Wei. Look it up. Study it, or actually don't.. Be it. And nothing else mathers.
     
  89. "Be it. And nothing else matters."
    I don't know. Sometimes a good chat with cigarettes and coffee late into the night is worth all the Wu Wei in the world.
     
  90. Phylo, i did look it up and over the course of 1 hour found several interpretations, the further i dug the more i collected. I am assuming that your reference is in this context...? "Wu-wei refers to behavior that arises from a sense of oneself as connected to others and to one's environment. It is not motivated by a sense of separateness. It is action that is spontaneous and effortless. At the same time it is not to be considered inertia, laziness, or mere passivity." As I read the different interpretations i saw much that relates to this discussion. But would love to hear your take on the connection. Does that conflict with your (sense of Wu Wei) motivation in bringing this to the table? Thanks for the ref.


    Fred, I hope you are not smoking!!!
     
  91. Nah. I hate smoking. But I love the idea of coffee and cigarettes.
     
  92. Wu Wei is equilibrium. Wu Wei is comfort.
    Josh is not looking for comfort. He wants to learn to do the tango with sixteen legs and no arms. Josh is on the high-bar, wanting to do a quadruple-back salto. Josh is an astronaut, a gymnast, the first [whatever] heading up the Congo or Amazon. He's not sitting in the lotus position settling into himself -- he's not interested in riding his Wu Wei bicycle down the beaten track; he's on foot and he's in the dark, but he's going, anyway. [right about here, I can hear Josh muttering, WTF??]
    As John Kelly said, earlier in this thread, "[this is] Difficult emotionally and technically, frustrating, rewarding."
    If you feel or sense a new, an unfamiliar and different joy, a different pain, a different poignancy; feelings that are unfamiliar and yet more ... more ... you know not what, how do you make them familiar?
    I think what Josh wants is to go out, to leave 'home', to break the bonds of the familiar, the comfortable, the automatic. He has the explorer instincts of a good artist -- to get out of his Wu Wei and risk doing something that on many other (comfort) levels he probably doesn't want to do at all -- that is painful, difficult, and emotionally dangerous. The kind of conversation we are having here, in this forum, is a sort of mutual spotting on the high-beam; advice, encouragement, a push if necessary. What would you say to Columbus or Lewis and Clark before they left on their journeys? 'Be careful,' yes. But also, 'can I come too?' Certainly not, 'Don't go; there's nothing out there.'
    -Julie
     
  93. Josh,
    Yes, that's the meaning of the word I was referencing to, as finding it relevant as a connection to the content of this thread. But also more broadly, I find that Eastern Asian philosophy is very applicable in a way to discussions about the philosophy of photography / art. This is of course not a strict philosophy forum but a ' philosophy of... ' forum, so direct connections to any thoughts of philosophy, be them Western or Eastern, isn't needed per se for discussions here but can work illuminating. An 'enlightening' that I find more in some Asian philosophy's than in most Western philosophy's ( wich propably I just haven't read enough of ). And I do like the idea that in Eastern philosophy so much can be said with the least of words, sometimes just one or two. Like just one photograph is needed sometimes to say it all.
    For what's being said about instincts, lets consider the act of dancing more seriously. To dance is something I think everyone has a certain instinct for, in a lesser or fuller degree. But it's an instinct that's being led by intuition through space and time, it is adaptable but steady, pulsating. Pure spontaneous dancing is a very honest and direct form of communication, it just is, without anything else but the dance to communicate with. And taken to it's full potential it's maybe the most liberating form of all expressions. The artist being most liberated through his / her art is maybe the artist who's not afraid of being fully exposed, not self-censoring ones work one bit, not one single moment, like in a dance. But unlike in a dance, I don't think this comes very easily or naturally.
    Sometimes a good chat with cigarettes and coffee late into the night is worth all the Wu Wei in the world​
    I agree sometimes that's all what's needed, nothing more and nothing less. The 'cigarettes and coffee' ofcourse can be filled in to whatever one pleases. But the funny thing is, that in that proposition, there's a very sense of Wu Wei.
     
  94. I admit a bias for Western Philosophy and haven't read enough Eastern Philosophy to claim genuine understanding. When concepts like Wu Wei are presented, they generally seem so all-encompassing that they lose meaning. Wu Wei is everything and nothing, doing and not doing, it's right there, nothing more and nothing less, even includes coffee and cigarettes. That starts to become meaningless to me. The contradiction and the oneness make a point, but often the presentation lacks flesh and bones that I appreciate.
    Yes, the coffee and cigarettes was meant simply to add atmosphere to the boring white screen I'm typing on. They're just symbols.
    And speaking of symbols . . . I wonder if there isn't something instinctual in the way we react to them and use them. They've become such a part of us and they work so universally. Who knows, maybe there's even a biological or genetic aspect to them. Something that reminds us, for example, of the womb.
    And speaking of the significance of biology, I am 6'5". That affects my perspective. It affects the way I shoot. It affects the way I learn. One of the first things said to me in a critique was that I might consider kneeling more or holding the camera lower because I'm so tall. I do make that adjustment sometimes. But sometimes I use the perspective to advantage. It's great in a crowd. Teachers in school noticed me more because I was tall (and such a handsome devil)! Biology and genetics is where it all starts and, as I think of it, where it pretty much all ends. Learn though we may, we're born with "baggage" and our bodies will give up on us some day.
     
  95. Well, yes maybe the presentation in Eastern philosophy lacks ' flesh and bones ' because of it's abstract, vague and paradoxical approach of
    things. In comparison with Eastern philosophy I always thought about most Western philosophy to be mostly about books, books...and more
    books ( the flesh and bones maybe ) and the very need from their authors / philosophers to fill them no matter what, whereas Eastern
    philosophy writings are more about life directly and the need from their authors to fullfill it, life that is. In any case, I'd rather live philosophy
    than read it.
     
  96. "I'd rather live philosophy than read it.'
    I don't get the dichotomy, a dichotomy which actually feels more of the typical Western trap than an Eastern approach. Eastern or Western, one lives life and one thinks about, writes about, or reads philosophy. Whether you read about Wu Wei or about Kant's transcendental meditations, you are reading. You may incoporate that into your life, Wu Wei or Kant. Philosophy is a description, sometimes a prescription. It is not a substitute. I often hear it said that we should be out living instead of in here philosophizing or we should be out there shooting instead of talking about it. I don't see each activity I participate in as the exclusion of other activities I could be participating in. And I'd drive myself crazy if I saw various activities as not living. Doing philosophy doesn't mean I am not "living it" or I am not living life. I would think Wu Wei would allow for the notion that reading philosophy is, in fact, living it.
     
  97. Good morning all. You make me smile.
    Julie, you really know how to wake a guy up. me. I'm pumped, I am ready to go out and shoot, blindly, instinctively, taste be damned or not. Not muttering, yelling WTF YEAH. But first before i return to my journey i am enjoying this discussion. I should hang your comment next to the email that calls me a pompous ass.
    'Don't go; there's nothing out there.' is a very special observation.
    Phylo, you put my attraction and hesitation for Eastern philosophy into a simple comment "And I do like the idea that in Eastern philosophy so much can be said with the least of words, sometimes just one or two. Like just one photograph is needed sometimes to say it all. " Like quotes, one liners, an image.... the value for me comes from our willingness to respond and explore.
    Fred you have touched upon something that i use often yet do not claim to understand. "Who knows, maybe there's even a biological or genetic aspect to them. Something that reminds us, for example, of the womb." Many years ago when i grew tired of eating macaroni and cheese and no longer enjoyed playing the starving artist, I got a 'real' job. (that may bring in some more emails - those are borrowed words). I began doing architectural design. Part of the means i and others have to practice the trade/medium is an awareness of lighting, (incl. shadow and lack of light) shape, texture, ....etc. And how these elements relate to impact others. So also being considerate of others having an inherent(yet flexible) awareness is at play.
    Case in point if i may. Fred is tall. (it has an impact on me when i have to look up into his eyes) When he wants a space designed for his needs I have to consider that height factor obviously. But when he tells me he wants to wake up and enter his bathroom and feel energized by the space. I keep this in mind every step and detail along the way. Scale, lighting, color palette, tone, shapes, reflection in the mirror....yada. If he were to ask for a womb like space, all of these elements would be changed. But significantly i would know what he was asking for. And when it was finished, if successful others are likely to feel it to. And it is far more nuanced than an oval room with plush walls. Much of that is learned of course. The required hard work was done. But i think there is even more than hard work. Something that reminds us of the womb ...
     
  98. jtk

    jtk

    Regarding "Asian philosophy." There ain't no such sweeping thing. The only free-standing, non-religious Eastern philosophy I've heard of is Confuscianism, and I think that has mostly to do with formalized approaches to rule, business, and work. Anybody know of other "Asian philosophies?"
    Buddhism? The dragons and funny roof lines kind or Guatama's Deer Park version? In San Francisco's "J-Town" I heard a Buddhist Sunday School class singing "Yes, Buddha loves me..."
    Token pseudo Zen practice (zen isn't philosophy or religion) has helped me on occasion, but I'm not good at it because I don't do it daily. It's a skill, after all. "Just letting go" isn't always easy, so skills help. The "help" part for me may simply be the brief stepping away from ordinary concerns and ways of looking at things.
    " But i think there is even more than hard work. Something that reminds us of the womb ..."
    OK. Personal, I doubt the "us" part. Gaudi might have agreed ( just guessing... http://images.google.com/images?oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial&client=firefox-a&q=gaudi&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=Kz6PSYTGFZSaNcfWlJkL&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&resnum=4&ct=title). Perhaps if one learned that one's mother smoked and drank coffee prior to delivery, that'd clear a few things up :)
    Speaking of wombs: Just today we saw a beautiful pinata...full sized pink blonde in-blue-and-gold dress...where would the candy fall from after that blonde was beaten sufficiently by the happy children? Tradition, burdens, instinct, racism, sexism? Learned in the womb...?
     
  99. Gaudi, taste aside, in my book was creativity personified. I have acquired a taste for Jujol his student but still have reservation to quantify his creativity (not to say it is needed to appreciate his work). I can learn the characteristics that set his work apart from Gaudi but i cannot avoid Gaudi in his work. Who am i to say? just me having an opinion on originalities role in creativity.
    "OK. Personal, I doubt the "us" part." - it feels right to me to have that doubt. and to want to see it with your own eyes. and question how it succeeded or failed and by what means was it done.
     
  100. Fred, yes I understand what you are saying, can't really argue against that, wouldn't want to. I like Western philosophy as much as anything else philosophically,
    as there's obviously only stuff to gain in it, you can't lose with it, if one indeed is interested.
    From the admittedly little actual books I have from western philosophers ( Sartre's Being and Nothingness and Kierkegaard's Either/Or ) I
    have been stuck with the feeling of ' okay, and now what ? how can I put all of this to practice ? ' after reading them ( and of course some
    carefull rereading was also needed ). I know that's not what philosophy is really about or for, putting things to ' actual practice ', but I would sure like it
    to be
    so.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    John, in a way, I fully agree with you that there's indeed no such thing as ' Eastern Philosophy ' or ' Western Philosophy ' for that matter. There is
    and only need to be Philosophy. But the dividing of all things is well, human I guess. Maybe, for a photographer, it should also be
    Photography without the dividing of all the genres in it. Maybe it should only be about Love, and not ' True Love ' or ' Unconditional Love ' or ' Eternal Love ', but where
    further descriptions can be made, they will be made, for everything and anything, wich isn't bad or good per se but just the way things are. In your question ' does anyone know of any other Eastern ( Asian )
    philosophy's ? ' your forgot Taoism or Daoism, which is the ' genre ' I was specifically referencing to.
     
  101. Phylo--
    In browsing around (superficially) about Wu Wei, I came across this: "'Wu Wei' means natural action - as planets revolve around the sun, they 'do' this revolving, but without 'doing' it; or as trees grow, they 'do', but without 'doing'. That actually seems to be my answer for your doubts about putting Sartre or Kierkegaard into practice. It gets done. I don't actually find there's much to "put into practice" but it seems to infiltrate and have its effects.
    John--
    "There ain't no such sweeping thing."
    Generalization. "Impressionism" does not get as specific as "Monet," which in turn doesn't get as specific as "Haystacks On A Foggy Morning." There's no such thing as Impressionism in the same way as there is such a thing as "Haystacks On A Foggy Morning." (Depends a little on one's definition of "is," of course.) Generalizations or categories help tie together loose ends and can apply in an edifying way characteristics to a context or within a milieu. "Eastern Philosophy" is a convenience, as is "Sartre," short of reading or referencing every multi-syllabic word of Being and Nothingness or every nauseating novel or play, which could be cumbersome.
     
  102. "In browsing around (superficially) about Wu Wei..."
    Fred, you might find Philip K Dick's Man in the High Castle an interesting read, whether you enjoy sf or not. This link has a quotation regarding wabi and wu from it:
    http://mairangibay.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html
    "By contemplating it, we gain more wu ourselves. We experience the tranquillity associated not with art but with holy things."
     
  103. jtk

    jtk

    hot off the Internet re "instinct" and "memory"...Yahoo reported it, so must be true :)http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20090209/sc_livescience/studysuggestswhygutinstinctswork
    As for Tao, I'm not sure we're referring to a "philosophy" so much as a Western summary of results of quiet meditation/observation...maybe more observational science than philosophy (like Freud's work)...but I'll yeild the point because I'm not a scholar...more a drive-by recollectionist
    Fred, I'm not sure how Sartre's philosophically more "Western," less "Eastern" than, say, the Dalai Lama...
    ...except that the DL seems more emotionally complex, more stable, and less narcissistic...plus, the DL's a handsome dude and Sartre was a gargoyle, so personal aesthetics might be one difference (prefer bonsai to topiary?)...
    Don't know them boys, but I suspect the DL would be happier with a pipe wrench than would Sartre or Joe-the-P...maybe happiness/narcissistic dimensions are the playing fields of East vs West.
     
  104. John--
    Talk more about the awkwardness you feel in doing portraits. Do you accept it, try to get over it, work with it, sometimes want to make it even more awkward as a challenge? How does that awkwardness affect what you shoot and how you shoot? Does the genuine awkwardness you feel conflict with what you mean by "simple" portrait?
     
  105. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, I'm drawn to the awkward, feel guilty about the easy. As you mentioned, I'm trying to make emotionally loaded semi-formal (mostly unlit) portraits. Until I actually complete a body of what I claim to want, it's bullshit.
    I was thinking yesterday about "the other," having failed to stop and meet three people in wheelchairs, one at my gym and two wheeling in back streets ...my alibi for not doing that was that they were "human interest" stories, not my thing, not to my "taste" la-de-da.
    A broken-down community just 5 miles south of me is full of poor, tattooed, and troublesome hispanics, many who somehow love chihuahuas...I imagine getting it together to photograph them, giving them prints. It'd challenge me seriously and would contribute in some cultural way if I actually got it together. If wishes were horses..
    I started last year to photograph a small-time livestock auction. I do sympathize with them politically/ethically, made the connections, built the trust, started...but then animal rights politics caused all photographers to be totally excluded and most of the auctions to collapse ..need to respond faster to those little voices (thanks Josh :)
     
  106. "Until I actually complete a body of what I claim to want, it's bullshit."

    Have you read ' Art & Fear ' ? It might proof helpfull in turning the bullshit into a bull and grab it by the horns, although those
    horns can and will be very sharp.
     
  107. John--
    "my alibi for not doing that was that they were 'human interest' stories"

    My dad's in a wheelchair due to M.S. His best friend is often in the position of wheeling him into restaurants. To address all the curious and/or sympathetic stares they get when wheeling him down the aisle, Mel will often loudly say "too much sex." My dad knows he's a human interest story and keeps a sense of humor about it.
    Honestly, I'm not quite sure why I relay this story, but it seems relevant to what you're going through. Thinking more about why, maybe it's "significance." Somehow, with (a transformative way of) photographing, one can try to create (or at least guide oneself and one's viewers toward) what's significant.
     
  108. Hey Josh, I agree with your original post in that I usually say to myself, "I'm not sure I like it but it is interesting enough to keep looking." So, maybe it is creative enough that I'll learn to like it. Sort of like asparagus. Grin.
     
  109. Taste can be the enemy of creativeness, if the taste is but a child of convention.
    Worse, in my opinion are the absences of commitment, curiosity and application (perspitation versus inspiration)
     
  110. Hiya Cyr. For me it was Riefenstahl's early film work and broccoli. Don't even cook brussels sprout in my presence, i have limits. But i did do a self portrait trying to down one.
    Arthur, i am with you up to versus. I like to take it from anywhere it comes, and i don't mind the hard work.
     
  111. ALL,
    Well, i would like to let you all know that your comments and time spent here was genuinely appreciated by me. So thank you for your insights, contributions. Normally i would not be writing a thank you note for having a discussion. But this one has been especially beneficial to me.It gave me a needed boost. And i was rewarded with a minor epiphany during the course of this one. You gave clarity wings to a little voice i was hearing. It has been an interesting room. I didn't have much of a taste for philosophy forums before this. See you all. around. take care, josh
     
  112. "This is no more Art but art market, and on the contrary to the 16th century mecenes, the new art amateur is not a connoiseur but at best an investor and at worst an illiterate snob sucker."
    Hmm...
    http://www.masterworksfineart.com/inventory/2227
     
  113. I find 'taste' to be bound by social norms, historical influences, legal implications and to a lesser extent a combination of 'nature and nurture'. On the other hand I find 'creativity' to have no bounds but the ones we apply to it. Taste may very well be the enemy of creativity but only if we allow it to be, so to some extent I agree with the statement
     
  114. "I find 'taste' to be bound by social norms, historical influences, legal implications and to a lesser extent a combination of 'nature and nurture'. On the other hand I find 'creativity' to have no bounds but the ones we apply to it."
    I disagree with that division. I do not think we are autonomous individuals distinct from our milieu, or capable of becoming so. It may be 'magical thinking', the inner two-year old, we each still are, speaking when we think that.
    We, each of us, are "bound".
     
  115. jtk

    jtk

    I think both Art X and Don E are dead right.
    If we conclude otherwise, we step on a banana peel, embrace folly, are blessed with The Big Kahuna's custard pie.
    We are simultaneously individual and bound....and we know it. Yang & yin. Truth in paradox. It's entertaining to think about truth, but of little other utility. Claim a non-paradoxical truth, listen for the cosmic laughter.
     
  116. "We are simultaneously individual and bound"
    Yes, but we are not autonomous individuals. We want individuality to imply, at least, autonomy; we desire it to be so, but it doesn't follow.
     
  117. jtk

    jtk

    "We want individuality to imply, at least, autonomy; we desire it to be so, but it doesn't follow." - Don E
    Don, that's a popular "modern" idea , not a truth ...it may even be a pathology, like Sartre's on the one hand (autonomy) or the traditional Army's on the other (soldier's just cannon fodder...unlike today's bogus "army of one" fantasy).
    You may desire autonomy, I may desire it, but the idea doesn't even occur to tribal people, even today in some places. We all did spring from tribes...and we may even be hardwired that way, accounting for alienation and other stress.
    Seems true of traditional Navajo people, for example, I've seen strong evidence. Some say that when ill, they don't even pray for anything individual, just to come back into balance with the tribe's/clan's system (eg taboos and practices). It's pretty obvious that their most important identity has, until recently, been clan: "Towering House" (watchtower) or "Standing By Water" people, for example. When a young man meets a young woman, their first concern is the clan lineage of all sides of their family...that's true even today. It's compulsive.
    For a long time, humans virtually never existed beyond their group identity. In the British Isles, for example, people had no names beyond their jobs until relatively recent centuries. "Cooper," "Chandler," Smith," "Potter" etc.
     
  118. This is EXACTLY why I quit grad school...
     
  119. John, it was not a "Truth" even in our own society prior to sometime in the 18th century. The idea that the individual could create autonomously seems to be a development in Romanticism, a part of a reaction to the collapse of 'universal truths' in religion and the hierarchic concept of society and nature, and in tune with the rise of democracy, the republic, the appearance of the bourgeoisie, and the 'rights of man'.
    So, the individual, and especally the creative individual took this turn into the notion of autonomy, as someone who could create de novo from something within them (their "passion") that was unrelated to the verities of the ancien regieme now vanished and therefore society as such. Of course, society as such continued on so the artist took on the job of social critic; the artist, being autonomous and a creator having a special insight, standing aloof from society, could see the hypocrisy and philistinism of "the masses", the bourgeois, and joe and jane sixpack. No surprise, though, that these special people were always "bourgeois" themselves. The avoidance of the modern from the Impressionists until finally Photorealism is interesting, too. The romantics seemed to find Nature a suitable substitute for old religion.
    I don't know when or where such romanticism came into photography. I don't recall it from the 60s and 70s. Maybe it is taught that way in art schools or maybe it is memetically transmitted on the internet, but it seems charmingly old fashioned to me.
     
  120. jtk

    jtk

    Don, good insights.
    I think printing technology, specifically Gutenberg (consequentially Bible and Shakespeare specifically), was the source of "individualism" more fundamentally than Romanticism. Catholic theology relies on top-down authority of Church. As with Islam, the game is obedience and practice rather than "belief". "Mainstream" Protestant theology ( vs anti-gospel evangelical/pentacostal type) puts the weight entirely on individual internal experience and individual public expression of belief, relies on individual Bible-reading (ie literacy) and individual "born again" experience (ergo belief).
     
  121. jtk

    jtk

    "I don't know when or where such romanticism came into photography. I don't recall it from the 60s and 70s." - Don E
    I recall three 60s/70s engines of "romantic" photography...
    #1 discovery that money really could be made while having fun ("Blow Up")
    #2 idealism (photojournalism, eg Civil Rights and Vietnam).
    #3 enthusiasm for Weston's life (Daybooks), zen (eg around Minor White), and nature photography (notably Sierra Club publishing, emerging environmental movement..such as around Glen Canyon's flooding).
    " ... it seems charmingly old fashioned to me." - Don E
    Sometimes to me, too. However www.lightstalkers.com and many other websites/books perpetuate (nourish, didn't recently invent) "old fashioned" photojournalistic romanticism...www.strobist.com and Nikon (and B&H and Adorama) promote visions of romantic professional fun.
    Unfortunately (IMO), arch (and "art") posturing, cynicism, and a certain hackneyed type of B&W photography (won't name it) have eroded much of the romanticism in #3, above.
     
  122. "The romantics seemed to find Nature a suitable substitute for old religion."
    I wonder if that has to do with the fact that you can see and touch nature . . . well . . . actually . . . you can't see and touch Nature . . . just like you can't see and touch God, Sin, or Heaven . . . but you can see and touch flowers, streams, and bridges.
    I appreciate Don's point about the artist not creating de novo. It often comes up in these forums when people (mistakenly) compare painting to photography as if the former gets created ex nihilo and the latter is dependent on the "real" world. We've had some good discussions on influence, history, culture, etc. all setting the table for the artist even before his own passion and creativity takes over.
    I think a discussion of substance could take place on the difference between creating something ex nihilo and maintaining individuality. Individuality, of course, gets some of its sense in relation to community and does not have to be absolute to be meaningful. While we are all "bound," we are also all able to assert individuality to different degrees. Except for identical twins, we all have different genotypes (and even twins have different phenotypes), which provides all the tension needed for any debate on nature vs. nurture, individuality vs. the herd.
     
  123. jtk

    jtk

    The "old religion" usage forgets the individual-centric American religion (equivalent to Baptist) already dominant in here the 17th and 18th centuries..."old religion" seems an European academic construct that assumes Catholic or Church of England.
    When I was a kid in Newfoundland, Canadian CID (FBI) required me to fill out a form that specified "CofE" or "RC." I was nominally Presbyterian at the time, not Church of England or Catholic, but didn't have that option, so specified CofE....allowing me to legally shoot my .22 at seagulls and beer cans. A little earlier, and leading up to the First Continental Congress, noisy agitators like Samuel Adams used denunciation of both Pope's and England's churches to underscore the noxious nature of "old religion." They didn't much like Presbyterians either, were more comfortable with Quakers. They didn't seem to be tree-huggers, were romantics and did create something new.
     
  124. Only from the outsider's perspective, the one who's trying to look in, things can and will have a flavor of romanticism in them while the insider's experiences and perspectives are only drenched in realism, be it cold or warm, hard or soft, but ultimately just plain and sober realism. Both perspectives are ' real ' in a way. After viewing a very recent documentary I couldn't help but sense a sort of romanticism ( as an outsider looking in ) in the cat and mouse game between the palermo maffia and the carabinieri, and the ' normal people ' being stuck in the middle, but by once being afraid of the maffia some of them where speaking back, a trend was being formed. The heroïcness of it all, the exoticness also, or so it seemed for me. Because for them it was the realness. Realism, no romanticism.
    Like mobgangsters, Big Name Artists are also just plain human, as vulnerable and penetrable to outside circumstances as any other. We can see them as being creatively or destructively ' obsessed ' with something, yes. But ultimitaly we must see them as nothing else than what they truly are : human like us. It's that what makes their ' obsession ' more approachable, more understandable, and in this ' common light ' even more victorious if you will, but not anything less. Possibility's can and will emerge when one becomes ' both insider and outsider '. But in most cases we can only chose either one.


    Beasts Bounding Through Time(1986)
    Van Gogh writing his brother for paints
    Hemingway testing his shotgun
    Celine going broke as a doctor of medicine
    the impossibility of being human
    Villon expelled from Paris for being a thief
    Faulkner drunk in the gutters of his town
    the impossibility of being human
    Burroughs killing his wife with a gun
    Mailer stabbing his
    the impossibility of being human
    Maupassant going mad in a rowboat
    Dostoyevsky lined up against a wall to be shot
    Crane off the back of a boat into the propeller
    the impossibility
    Sylvia with her head in the oven like a baked potato
    Harry Crosby leaping into that Black Sun
    Lorca murdered in the road by Spanish troops
    the impossibility
    Artaud sitting on a madhouse bench
    Chatterton drinking rat poison
    Shakespeare a plagiarist
    Beethoven with a horn stuck into his head against deafness
    the impossibility the impossibility
    Nietzsche gone totally mad
    the impossibility of being human
    all too human
    this breathing
    in and out
    out and in
    these punks
    these cowards
    these champions
    these mad dogs of glory
    moving this little bit of light toward us
    impossibly.
    • Charles Bukowki, Beasts Bounding Through Time, 1986
     
  125. jtk

    jtk

    Phylo, thanks for Bukowski. See "The Wrestler."
     
  126. "While we are all "bound," we are also all able to assert individuality to different degrees. Except for identical twins, we all have different genotypes (and even twins have different phenotypes), which provides all the tension needed for any debate on nature vs. nurture, individuality vs. the herd."
    Aspects of individuality (including "taste") can sometimes be traced to the physical. My individuality in photography is conditioned by neurological or biochemical factors: an inherited reduced sensitivity in the hands and fingers is a determining factor in the cameras I use, for example. My aesthetic sensibility is likely conditioned by how my eyes focus, which, according to the doctors is slower than normal. That may influence my taste, my preference for stillness (I wouldn't make a good sports photographer), and as discussed in the movie and photo thread that got moved to the casual forum, a preference for films that do not employ a lot of jump cuts and the like.
    Have you read Dawkin's Extended Phenotype?
     
  127. jtk

    jtk

    Don...please provide a link or reference for Dawkins. Is he the famed athiest? If so, I should say here that I think the existence or non-existence of deities (other than you and me) is mainly of significance because of the disasters those memes have proven inherently to deliver.
    Few would completely reject your physical inheritance line of thinking, but it seems constricted to linear logic, whereas "mind" (call that physical brain function if you wish), seems better understood in highly complex, non-linear terms (more like holography, though that metaphor's dated now).
    I think you're laboring to pretend your behavior (photography) is driven more by genetics than by learning, and more by those two factors than by the accumulation/reorganization/exploration/memory-modification/loss that constitutes much of who you "are" in both conscious and less conscious "reality". I don't think that if/when you "let go" you respond merely genetically, but rather from a biological/mind totality, much of which you seem to deny.
     
  128. jtk

    jtk

    ...was that perfectly obscure? :)
     
  129. "Is he the famed athiest?"
    Yep, but this was before his obsession with God, back when he wrote about things he actually had a clue about.
    "Few would completely reject your physical inheritance line of thinking, but it seems constricted to linear logic, whereas "mind" (call that physical brain function if you wish), seems better understood in highly complex, non-linear terms (more like holography, though that metaphor's dated now)."
    I understand "mind" (thinking space, internal world stage, daydream zone) to be simply language (and by "language" I mean stuff like this that you are reading now). Language is not linear, or, I should say, it builds itself up by metaphor, analogy, similarity, juxtaposition and so on, in a way that is dynamic or organic, not linearly. The aptitude of language to form perfectly constructed sentences and thoughts that are perfectly meaningless in themselves, for example -- how long is a rope? what is the sound of one hand clapping? how high is up? -- is worth keeping in "mind". 'Perfectly meaningless' can extend beyond a simple sentence. It might describe 20 volumes of a lifetime's work, including the correspondence and drafts in the file cabinets of the Uni archive.
    "I think you're laboring to pretend your behavior (photography) is driven more by genetics than by learning"
    No. It comes quite easily. Learning is all to the good, but it is limited by our individual aptitudes. Give me hyperquick twitch muscles and hand/eye coordination and with practice I'll play baseball like Ruth or draw like Ingres, but without it my practice might yield decent results, but nothing that'll make the record books or the walls of museums. Understanding ourselves includes -- may be mostly -- understanding our selves as physical, mortal, material animals.
    What emotions do we write about here that are not descriptions of physical states? What's your gut feeling?
    "...was that perfectly obscure? :)"
    Not quite, but a good try :cool:
     
  130. jtk

    jtk

    Don, I don't accept "language" as the essence of mind. This becomes excessively complicated for P.N...William Kittredge explores it in "The Nature of Generosity" (in which he discusses Noam Chomsky's 1956 thesis about hard-wired language). He also discusses your Dawkins' "memes."
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=2&q=http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Generosity-William-Kittredge/dp/0679437525&ei=xx-XSdyXMpGksQO93IR1&usg=AFQjCNFa0bU-Mv8PxhkgUEuXF6roHqxIlQ
    More importantly, Kittredge puts these matters in a larger context...something about the mind of the human animal that probably existed before writing codified language...he uses Lascaux in a context ...Kittredge is a high desert Westerner, knows about the important things...hunting, women, agriculture, "civilization," anthropology, alcohol, literature...
    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/lascaux/en/
    This relates to photography in a personal way for me...I first heard of Kittredge because wrote the introduction to one of Tupper Ansel Blake's photo books (his mother knew Ansel Adams...I was invited to hunt ducks on his Klamath Basin marsh cc 1996...the only time I ever shot a duck)
    http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Tupper%20Ansel%20Blake&page=1
     
  131. "More importantly, Kittredge puts these matters in a larger context...something about the mind of the human animal that probably existed before writing codified language...he uses Lascaux in a context ..."
    There are unsupported assumptions that language evolved, that once upon a time the species did not have language, but it evolved and one day we had language and began to speak it. The base-assumption is that language is in the main line of our evolution, but evidence about language acquisition does not support that. Instead it seems to be a side-consequence of other developments. No one, not Kittredge, nor you, nor Chomsky, nor Pinker, nor I can say at such a time we were without language and thereafter had it. I may be in a minority of one for thinking language is inconsequential for communication, socialization, or survival.
    Set aside speculations about "Lascaux", we can bring it up to today: what do you think is the experience of "mind" of each of us in those several years before we acquire language? And how do you know?
     
  132. "whereas "mind" (call that physical brain function if you wish)"
    The association of "the mind" with the brain is recent, and I'd guess it becomes a commonplace with the development of medical science and technology. But before then, the brain was not thought of (if it was thought of at all) as being associated with "the mind" (if it was thought of at all). It was common, though, to 'place' "the mind" (or something equivalent) in the heart. I think it was Aristotle who described the brain as an organ to cool the blood; he may have spoken for the opinion of literate Greeks or maybe the commonplace understanding of the times. It is rather odd, though, that the brain was ignored that way throughout history until the past few centuries, considering the complex of sense organs arranged closely around the brain. But there it is. And it is Valentine's Day, when the old understanding of the heart is expressed.
    The mind, then, seems to be a movable thing from this or that physical organ. If it is movable then it could be moved outside the body and experienced as external to us as a force and presence emanating from the animate world in a complex of spirits and ghosts.
     
  133. jtk

    jtk

    Don, you asked what I think, and then you asked how I know...probably a conceptual slip....
    ....I don't claim to "know" anything in the sense that you seem to mean nor (I'll hypothesize). Do you?
    Rather than "knowing," I rely on working hypotheses, few of which are conscious : eg gravity is a hypothetical construct based on experience, I respond to "it" in a neuro-muscular way that is often non-conscious. Throw me the ball, I may catch it, but probably not through conscious effort.
    My version of Kitteridge's dramatic hypothesis about the earliest Lascaux experience: Powerful (tough, skilled, loud, maybe weird) older men initiated boys into mysteries of hunting, crucial mysteries of life after all, via an genuine "art" display. Art on the cave walls shared experiences of events, dynamics, beast and human behavior, but didn't deliver a word experience (nor does any art, IMO, though "art" tries).
    I imagine the Lascaux folks communicated about as effectively as chimpanzees do, more elaborately but not nearly as fluently as a 2 year old modern human...an attenuated language of grunts, yowls, and gestures. Arguably a language, it grew, accumulating "words" to make finer distinctions between grunt experiences, perhaps for the same reason "sportscasters" add words to football. Over millenia it grew into today's human language.
    As you may be thinking "Aha, John admits they had language at Lascaux," I'll make one more point: quantity and quality are inter-related, they're not entirely distinct. "More" can be absolutely different than "less," is not always just another point on the same continuum. That physics and quantification describe truth is an amusing, unreliable hypothesis...nobody "knows" more in those disciplines than Paris Hilton knows in hers.
     
  134. Correct me if I misunderstand, John; you are disagreeing with me that "the mind" is a construct of language. If it is not, then what is it? Maybe you have made that point, and if so, I have not got it yet. The mind has something to do with creativity and the individual, but for some reason, it doesn't seem sufficient, or accurate, to you, to describe it as a language construct. Why not?
    I think the people of the Dordogne, the people who made the art of the caves had language. The bones say they had the anatomy and a brain capable of language. That's not enough, though. It seems likely they had the necessary social requirements, if the experts' dating is near accurate, because of the long time they were in existence -- both the people and the art -- possibly three or four times as long as human history (which began about 3100bc). Considering the inaccessibility of many of the caves and their chambers, the knowledge of them had to be passed on to the next generation. They seem to have had a social continuity far longer than anything we might hope for today, and can hardly imagine. The Dordogne at that time was a confluence of rivers and lakes south of the ice. It was the focal point of the migration of herds, probably mating or birthing grounds...a rich, well watered, and protected territory until the ice returned about 10000bc. Against this is the continuing low population, and probably very high infant mortality (something of a constant of human society until recently).
    "Don, you asked what I think, and then you asked how I know...probably a conceptual slip...."
    I asked you "what do you think is the experience of "mind" of each of us in those several years before we acquire language? And how do you know?"
     
  135. “…. Taste is the enemy of creativeness.” ?
    No, I think it would be better that people realized that “taste” is subjective and that conformity is the true enemy of creativeness!
    This subject seems a little strange to debate here on PN anyway. After all, don’t [we] rate originality as well as aesthetics 1 through 7?
    How is it even possible to produce an image that is less than average (4) in originality?
    Most people have a hard time accepting the fact that aesthetics and originality are not somehow conjoined together? Don’t follow my meaning? Ask yourself this… When was the last time you rated an image 4 for originality and 7 for aesthetics? Very few people here (PN) are able to move much further than one numerical place apart on two very separate subjects.
    Just so you know I have given 3’s for originality. Why…? I suppose because “my hypocrisy knows no bounds”! Or maybe I’m just a conformist like the rest.
     
  136. One of the reasons I don't participate more in this forum is because every conversation turns entirely semantic. It becomes a self-perpetuating conversation about what words mean and ceases to have anything to do with photography or philosophy. Some of these purely semantic debates are longer than works by some classic philosophers.
    @Don E -- The idea that the individual could create autonomously seems to be a development in Romanticism, a part of a reaction to the collapse of 'universal truths' in religion and the hierarchic concept of society and nature, and in tune with the rise of democracy, the republic, the appearance of the bourgeoisie, and the 'rights of man'.
    There is absolutely NO evidence for this in art history and it sounds like BS dogma created by Jeffersonians or Blake poetry fanatics. People have been making art for a damned long time and for a far more vast range of motivations than anyone here can imagine. People's motivations for making art have not changed a lot in 10,000 years. If you limit yourself to what you find in your Jansen text, you will inevitable have a warped idea about the history of creation by members of the human race, which extends far beyond publically sponsored work. There is also plenty to suggest that all of our own "autonomous" work will disappear over the years and people will make the same judgement about our own times.
    Returning to the matter of taste, the best thing is to take pictures that correspond to your own. Then you'll feel better about yourself and be in a position to defend them. In my case, I like heavy, direct flash. I get hammered over it all the time. I don't care because I like the look of my work.
     
  137. wrote j Sevigny: "One of the reasons I don't participate more in this forum is because every conversation turns entirely semantic."
    And what is the appropriate kind of conversation in this forum?
    wrote j Sevigny: "There is absolutely NO evidence for this in art history and it sounds like BS dogma created by Jeffersonians or Blake poetry fanatics."
    "If you limit yourself to what you find in your Jansen text, you will inevitable have a warped idea about the history of creation by members of the human race"
    Ah, flaming other participants. Thank you for your contribution. I hope you feel better now and can move on to other forums, one where "semantics" do not toy with your patience and repose.
     
  138. - ' See "The Wrestler." ' - I've just seen it in the theater. An overwhelmingly and crazy mixture of raw and tender emotions. Beautiful. And
    very Bukowski-esque indeed. Even though I feel words can't really describe or pin down the emotions that where being displayed, strangely as
    that may be, as it's mostly through the actual use of words that the emotions are being translated.
     
  139. ....as it's mostly through the actual use of words > ( in speech and in thought )....
     
  140. Where would art be or anything else in the world for that matter? If not for the pseudo intellectual blathering of the critic. Someone who would guide us in all things and could even determine the worthiness of our very thoughts.
     
  141. An observation . . .
    Back on February 9th, I thought we were approaching something very important. It tied much of the abstract thinking going on with John's very personal experience as a photographer (a place seemingly where these forums could be of most benefit).
    "I'm drawn to the awkward, feel guilty about the easy . . . having failed to stop and meet three people in wheelchairs . . . my alibi for not doing that was that they were "human interest" stories, not my thing, not to my 'taste' la-de-da."
    The reason I brought up my father with multiple sclerosis and his sense of humor about it was to suggest that John could change the paradigm (creativity?) by his approach to the photographs. Can we resignify a subject matter we have baggage about?
    Yes, people in wheelchairs are too often dismissed as "human interest" stories and often exploited by snappers looking for quick and cheap pathos. But, we can also get lost in judging and seeking justification for our photos that will cripple us (pun intended). Did John let this "taste la-de-da" thing get in the way of his attraction to these people and some good photographs?
    Anyway, John never responded about my dad, significance, etc. and instead since then the discussion has moved pretty completely into theory. Lascaux and the history of communication has replaced John's personal struggle with taste and baggage, with judgment and justification, and the practical applications these have to our photography. That is causing some of the frustration among people reading here.
    Several months ago, my dad and I went to visit one of his oldest best friends and I didn't want to "intrude" on their very personal and extraordinarily moving time together with my camera. I blew it. I have great memories of the scene and the day . . . and no photos. The irony is, they both would have been so proud of those photos!
     
  142. I agree, Fred, there has been a digression -- or "a move to theory", however it begins strongly on-topic with my questioning Art X on his distinction that "taste" is socially determined or "bound", but creativity is qualitatively different being unbound or autonomous. It seems at least as on-topic, or moreso, than your discussion with John about his "very personal experience as a photographer".
    It is possible for a forum thread to have multiple discussions within it that are diverse, yet on-topic; they are not all digressions. I'm in no hurry. We aren't attempting to reach a conclusion and an answer regarding the Subject. At least I am not. The streams of discourse can converge, given interest and effort.
    I understand you are interested in your stream-of-discourse with John, and I'll step aside from John's and mine to free him up to concentrate on a response to you, if he chooses.
     
  143. I was making an observation, not an admonition.
    I certainly don't mind going off topic. I do it often enough. For me, there are rarely off topics.
    Some forums have more background noise than others, which is different from going off topic. I think this forum has been particularly productive, in many ways.
    By asserting my hope that John continues the discussion I referenced, I was not suggesting that you discontinue yours. Most of us can concentrate on 3 or 4 strands at a time, if we so choose.
     
  144. jtk

    jtk

    Fred, you aske about my experience, then added something about yours. I didn't respond. Later, you elaborated on yours and, I think, came to the same disjoint that I came to...but from a different angle.
    Don, I don't think mind implies language, which is an organized construct of words and symbols. The evidence at Lascaux suggess capability for language, as you pointed out, and it shows moving (to me) images that seem wordless. I don't doubt that there were a few words, perhaps dozens, but depictions of animals don't constitute words or language...IMO.
    Further, for the same reason Shakespeare is said to have invented English (by being so widely published and performed in the merged dialect he selected), I think quantity of words and word concepts constitute language, not the mere existence of a few words and concepts. Words alone don't do it and a few crude assemblies don't: "dead buffalo with spear" is not the seed of a language IMO (but it might become a pictogram in a few hundred centuries)...and it's clear that language structure isn't genetic, despite the preferences of an arguably-fascistic scholar in 1952.
     
  145. "Fred, you aske about my experience, then added something about yours. I didn't respond. Later, you elaborated on yours and, I think, came to the same disjoint that I came to...but from a different angle."
    Yes. That must be it.
     
  146. John, I haven't been very clear, it is obvious. I'll try to clear up a few things, then move on.
    I don't think the cave paintings mean the creators of them had language. I think they had language because 1) the bones say they had dropped larynxes and that their brains had the same language and speech centers as do we, but this is not enough evidence for language, 2) is needed: social organization and continuity over time. Language acquisition is not something that happens to an individual infant like growning teeth does. Language acquisition occurs in a specific social matrix or it does not happen. Language is socially bound. Also, language is not vocabulary or words, even things like "dead buffalo with spear" (although, the "with" implies language, but anyway...). Language is not words or assemblies of words, but grammar and syntax. Words are just sounds, whatever referents may be associated to them
    You often refer to Zen; iirc, Zen meditation focuses on quieting the mind. I haven't read Suzuki or Watts in ages, but I think that is referred to as stopping the chatter, the internal dialogue of the mind by not becoming attached to the mind's discoursing, just noting its occurence, but letting it go, being unattached. If there is such a thing as creativity unbounded by the social, it cannot come from this mind becuase that mind is a construct of language which is totally a social construct and totally bound. Perhaps "construct of language" is too odd. You might prefer the mind is the container of language or the content of the mind is language. Not the same, but close enough for horseshoes.
    "...an arguably-fascistic scholar in 1952."
    I'll add that to J's "Jensen text" on my "I don't know what that means (and probably don't want to know about)" list.
     
  147. jtk

    jtk

    Don, the 1952 comment was a throw-away, dumb...sorry.
    Your zen depiction is standard and OK, but it describes a second-hand goal rather than the practice, which is central and by definition doesn't entail striving. My understanding is that a practitioner abandons the goal and just walks the walk (so to speak..although some zen poet monks are more walkers than sitters :)
    I stumbled across Alan Watts on TV (KQED, the nation's first PBS station) as a kid, late fifties, suffering acne and chattering mind. I was taken by his humor and seriousness...simply hearing how others suffered chatter was curative. Later I saw a great Suzuki Roshi moment... a weather balloon that was being bounced around, came down on top of him at a Quicksilver Messenger Service performance (dual fund raiser for Tassajara Zen Center and Sonny Barger: California Hall, lights by Bill Hamm). He grinned and leaped up at it.
    "Dead buffalo with spear" was meant to limn an image. The image is on the wall, the words, which fall short (are not the art), are here, not on the wall.
    Yes, language is inherently social. Baboons and Canadians both have societies, but the latter have more hockey announcers: Perhaps from that we can infer something about Canadian larynxes. Eh?
     
  148. I remember Watts from the radio back then -- Sunday mornings, I recall; maybe it was on KQED, or KMPX. Did you see the Ice Age Art exhibit in 1979 at the California Academy of Sciences? I still have the booklet.
    What about the creativity of the individual that is not socially conditioned? Does it exist? If it does, the possibility I can come up with is that it is nurtured by the first, pre-language, years of life and perhaps also inter-uterine life. During that timeframe we are exposed to the world without the mediation of the experience, language, and recollected memory of the conscious mind, and are helpless to manage our own survival. We are laid bare, a bundle of responses to incomprehensible stimuli. Each of us, as we were then, is not available to our conscious recall; it lives on, though, in dreams and nightmares. We can approach that time only obliquely through language, by metaphor and analogy -- to that time when we lived in both Heaven and Hell.
     
  149. jtk

    jtk

    I think you heard KPFA, Berkeley... he's still broadcast on a station in Santa Fe (I think). His son's selling the old tapes, thousands of talks. Watts is perfect for the right person at the right time, was for me in high school. He was said to die happily in Marin County somewhere...smoking, drinking and womanizing. What could be better? (not fully rhetorical)
    Don, I think some of your words overpower your poetry...and you're closer to poet than I am. "Creativity," for example. To me it's a nearly worthless bleat, to you it seems a phenomenon. Earlier I mentioned art, as I understand it, speculating that its power in those French caves came before language (unlike "art"). I think it still exists here and there, not necessarily among "artists," perhaps more among photographers.
     
  150. "Creativity," for example. To me it's a nearly worthless bleat, to you it seems a phenomenon."
    To me it seems the subject of the thread: taste is the enemy of creativeness? So, to say creativity is nearly worthless implies there is no issue to discuss here.
    And you are having this conversation with me following on my response to Art X about socially unbounded creativity. You should not conclude anything about what I think about it because this is still in progress. For me, it is an exploration. I think originally Fred introduced the idea of "taste" in this forum to distinguish art criticism from taste or preference in art, and now we have taste and creativity. There may not be any distinction between taste and creativity if there is no "unbound" creativity.
    Art X wrote: "I find 'taste' to be bound by social norms, historical influences, legal implications and to a lesser extent a combination of 'nature and nurture'. On the other hand I find 'creativity' to have no bounds but the ones we apply to it"
    There is the distinction: taste is socially constructed, but creativity is not; it has "no bounds" except those the individual chooses, if any (autonomy).


     
  151. Here's an article of interest, I think, to this discussion:
    http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/03/babies-see-pure.html#previouspost
     
  152. jtk

    jtk

    "You should not conclude anything about what I think about it because this is still in progress. For me, it is an exploration." ...
    Fair enough...to "conclude" is both unfair and it jumps the gun (since we all change over time)...but I think others may draw usefully accurate inferences about your thinking and mine more perceptively than we do ourselves.
    "There is the distinction: taste is socially constructed, but creativity is not.."
    I think that's a mistake. "Creativity" refers to a non-norm quality (do you agree?) : both its validity/utility as a quality and the non-norm aspect are by definition social constructs.
    In other words, "creativity" has no existence or meaning whatsoever except as evaluated (even "concuded") socially. "Creativity" is like "cute" or "daring," not like "green" or "100db."
     
  153. ""Creativity" refers to a non-norm quality (do you agree?)"
    I don't know. That's what is in progress for me. I don't use the word, myself, preferring, I guess, 'imaginative' or something that calls up 'the imagination'. 'Creativity' is often used like it is a force or power (trieb, for the Freudian in you), an urgency. It is something I've not felt, so I transpose what people write about creativity (of the sturm und drang sort) into what I do know, which is the imagination. Imagination is not a force; it implies consideration (or perhaps musing and lingering) and thus, language, so it is not quite the same.
    I think the way it is often used in this forum more than suggests the "non-norm", it is explicit.
    "In other words, "creativity" has no existence or meaning whatsoever except as evaluated (even "concuded") socially."
    That is what I'm attempting to discover or not. If there is an origin, source, or matrix for creativity that is "unbound" then, I think, it has to be sought in the non-social and non-language experience of each of us, which means in the first several years of our life. That is a supercharged time for us (consider the "terrible twos"). Nothing like it will happen again to us, afaik. It has to have left its traces, even if we can't access that time except crabwise, so to speak, indirectly. One trace might be 'creativity'.
     
  154. jtk

    jtk

    I like that "supercharged time" idea. (last paragraph). It may echo my speculation about the perhaps-pre-language rendition of dead-buffalo-with-spear in the cave.
    I also like your creativity "trace" image. Artists ("creative people" perhaps) are not always thought fully adult...maybe traces of terrible twos surface.
    I'm inclined to cherish some mysteries, not insisting on their solution...mysteries may signal some those "traces" you mentioned. The trick seems to know which mysteries to cherish and which to harass.
    Sometimes mysteries constitute "paradox," and paradox expresses or stimulates tension, which in turn is the engine of at least some art. That dead-buffalo-with-spear was once a powerful, admired animal, yet he was killed by a little man who was evidently inclined to erections when hunting...might be a paradox in there somewhere.
     
  155. >>> " That is what I'm attempting to discover or not. If there is an origin, source, or matrix for creativity that is "unbound"
    then, I think, it has to be sought in the non-social and non-language experience of each of us, which means in the first
    several years of our life." <<<
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Interesting idea for exploration, although I think that in those first several years of our life there's an ultra-language experience in each of us,
    because if there wasn't, how could we possibly end up learning to speak and understand in those first several years ? If you
    meant non-spoken language experience then I might follow more, but simply because one doesn't speak doesn't imply that
    one isn't using or experiencing language. I also ' believe ' / ' feel ' that creativity = action, and action, fruitfull action ( =
    creative ), is only to be found in the present, in the here and now, not in the past and not in the future. The field of the
    imagination and it's link to creativity ( with it's very presence in the present ) is an interesting one, even if one can argue that
    ' the imagination ', or to ' imagine something ' takes place mostly in a past and future plane of thought ( to imagine for
    something to have happened otherwise or to imagine for something to happen in the future, for something to come to
    existence, a work of art ). Imagination is very past / future related I believe, while creativity is very present, in the here and now. To
    ' imagine ' , and / or look for a source of unbound creativity maybe we must only enter the realm of dreams, and experience
    lucid dreaming and with it the possibility of controlling our dreams. By controlling our dreams we can become more aware of our
    present. This higher awareness of the present, this being totally in it, might also proof productive in eliminating too constrictive notions of ' taste ' ( if it is indeed the enemy of creativeness ), wich can be a ' holding on to it taste ' from the past or an ' already made my mind up about it taste and it's not gonna change taste ' into the future, both are socially constructed.
     
  156. "I think that in those first several years of our life there's an ultra-language experience in each of us, because if there wasn't, how could we possibly end up learning to speak and understand in those first several years ? If you meant non-spoken language experience then I might follow more, but simply because one doesn't speak doesn't imply that one isn't using or experiencing language."
    By "ultra language" you might mean something similar to Chomsky's thesis. I haven't read him (I've tried. He's a horrible writer, though) , but it is referred to a lot in various forums and mailinglists I read. There was also a fairly popular book a few years ago with a similar idea Pinker's The Language Instinct. Chomsky called his thesis "generative grammar". I see there's a Wikipedia article on that. You might want to browse it. Quoting from it:
    "Chomsky has argued that many of the properties of a generative grammar arise from an "innate" universal grammar . Proponents of generative grammar have argued that most grammar is not the result of communicative function and is not simply learned from the environment (see poverty of stimulus argument). In this respect, generative grammar takes a point of view different from Cognitive grammar , functional and behaviourist theories."
    I have no idea whether Chomsky is on the right track. It is not my field, but I would agree that the aptitude for language is "innate" in us. No developmental-style psychologist or linguist to my knowledge has an good explanation why language seems to bootstrap itself around a certain age, under fairly specific conditions. Imo, it is way too easy to adopt the notion that given enough time anything can occur along the timeline of gradual, incremental evolution or development. There is just not enough time for a tot to learn by imitation or habit recognizable meaningful language. In fact, experience tells me that babies are rarely spoken to in the standard language of the adults around them. Mostly they are acquainted with baby talk. Gradualism or Uniformitarianism is often intellectual laziness or academic opportunism when it shows up in disciplines where experience and common sense contradicts it.
    Derek Bickerton's (is there a Wikipedia article on *everybody*?) linguistic thesis offers evidence that a child's environment doesn't have to include language speakers. What is required is baby talk (or in his case a pidgin). Given those conditions the children will develop a creole which is to say a real language, rather than a system of representation, as is a pidgin.
    So, it is actually not a rare thing, Phylo, ideas like your ultra-language. It is out there.
    Also, language is not only a speech phenomenon; there is sign language which is true language as is the spoken kind.
    "Imagination is very past / future related I believe, while creativity is very present, in the here and now"
    I recall a quotation, but have forgotten the source: The past is present memory; the future is present expectation.
    Time to wrap it up for the night, Phylo, but I want to reread your post tomorrow. There may be more to say.
     
  157. jtk

    jtk

    "No developmental-style psychologist or linguist to my knowledge has an good explanation why language seems to bootstrap itself around a certain age, under fairly specific conditions."
    I don't believe "specific conditions" are identified in this context, though it's reasonable to assume that parental models are important.
    I don't think language "bootstraps" itself, rather the child literally wants to acquire the power of the bigger people (same reason kids drive themselves to learn reading if they're not guided toward TV by non-reading parents).
    There is reportedly a close association between identifiable (via dissection, scan etc) physical brain development (approximate stage) and language readiness. Developmental psychologists are likely to be more exposed to physiological psychology research than are linguists, who are more commonly word-count-oriented, but developmental psychologists come from behavior-observing roots more commonly than from biology. All of these fields are worthwhile, come to language from different angles, but being academic they tend to be ignorant of each other.
    Pidgen and creole are both "real languages" ...the nominal distinction has only to do with their presumed or documented utility across time.
     
  158. "I don't believe "specific conditions" are identified in this context"
    Besides attentive parenting? A stable and gregarious social environment at that age. It likely helps if the child has peers. Or, if you like, the opposite circumstances of a "wild child".
    "I don't think language "bootstraps" itself, rather the child literally wants to acquire the power of the bigger people I don't think language "bootstraps" itself, rather the child literally wants to acquire the power of the bigger people"
    Those concepts are not available to the child before language is acquired. Prior to then, adults are mostly a pair of eyes to infants (and infants are mostly mouth), they begin to distinguish individuals as persons a bit later.
    "Developmental psychologists are likely to be more exposed to physiological psychology research than are linguists..."
    Maybe, maybe not. Doesn't matter if they have an explanation that doesn't explain. If you know of one who does, I'd appreicate the cite. Also, which of the linguists I've referred to are "word-count-oriented"?
    "Pidgen and creole are both "real languages" ...the nominal distinction has only to do with their presumed or documented utility across time."
    Nope. It is the distinction that one has its own grammar and syntax and the other doesn't. If a pidgin develops those, it is no longer a pidgin, but a creole.
    A lot depends on how one means 'language'. I always prefer hard rather than soft definitions because distinctions are critical for analyses. Soft definitions utilize analogy, by which one can say 'visual language' in reference to photos or paintings, for example.
     
  159. d'oh! Double post.
     
  160. The distinction between "language" and real language might be more easily understood by looking at signing.
    Signed English is not a real language but a system of representation, but American Sign Language is a real language having an inherent grammar and syntax. My guess is that prior to our species universal development of language, a gestural (including mouth gestures, ie vocalizations or "words") system of representation was common, and from which real language developed when the anantomical, neurological, and "specific condtions" came together.
     
  161. jtk

    jtk

    In no particular order, save for #1:
    #1 Don, it appears that you are unaware that an infant is a willful, highly demanding individual who doesn't yet have a language. If you've met infants you know they want things: because it's more highly leveraged than howling, one of the things they obviously want (watch them) is to communicate accurately...accuracy is the main power language brings. Older children want the mysterious power that reading parents obviously have.. reading becomes unimportant if mom and dad watch a lot of TV, just as language becomes unimportant if all the parents do is grunt demands). .
    Many linguists are word-count-oriented, have been for decades. Word count is of practical linguistic utility in surprising areas, such as spotting incipient alzheimers disease, distinguishing between ethnic lineage of same-language speakers, and determining probable authors of texts (used exhaustively related Shakespeare for example).
    Don, you've elected a particularly arguable and narrow definition of Creole vs Pidgen....the purported distinction is far from universally agreed upon, even on the sites you've linked. Both consist of grammer, syntax, and vocabulary and express ideas. How do you find the distinction useful?
    You seem to think a stage of neurological development is not critical to language readiness. Why? Do I misunderstand you?
    I think the "real language" vs "language" distnction is bogus ... you're trying to make a point that's important to you, but I'm missing it.
    I mentioned earlier that parental presence influences language development. You missed that. I don't think there's evidence that other "specific conditions" (save physiological development and wellbeing) contribute.
    Kids learn languages from language bearers, and they work hard to do it.
     
  162. My wife and I come from large families. I count 5 newborns this century so far. One more is due this Spring, and my wife's younger sister married this year, so there'll be more. I spend more time than most in this thread with infants, I'd guess.
    "You seem to think a stage of neurological development is not critical to language readiness. Why? Do I misunderstand you?"
    Use the search function of your browser on this thread for 'neuro' and see.
     
  163. Phylo wrote: "To ' imagine ' , and / or look for a source of unbound creativity maybe we must only enter the realm of dreams"
    I've heard of lucid dreaming, but haven't looked into it. When you recall your dreams do you recall them as having your pov or do you see yourself in your dreams as if you were watching a movie or a play, with you as an 'actor' in them?
    I wonder what the connection between dreaming and creativity might be. Do creative people have good dream recall or are they among the "I don't dream" people (meaning, of course, they don't recall dreaming). I don't know if anyone has ever done such a study. If someone knows of one, I'd like a cite to it.
     
  164. jtk

    jtk

    Don, you evaded my question.
    Without being able to "cite" anything from Wikipedia :), let me report that semi-controlled experiment (by one of my students) demonstrated that dreams are easily caused and even suggested or inspired in others: One doesn't necessarly dream one's own dreams and they may take directions suggested by others. I think they may relate to hypnosis, but I've never read that idea anywhere. Sometimes dreams are powerfully satisfying or otherwise effective, feeling like dreamwork, but the same may be true of accidental conversations with strangers.
     
  165. "Don, you evaded my question."
    You were replying to a post of mine that answered the question. It is the sentence above your "In no particular order, save for #1:" Also, the answer was in a post earlier than that one. How many times have I posted to you in this forum that I don't repeat things for you. Please read what I've written before you reply. Also, I have not tasked you for answering none of my questions or answering them with the same that caused me to ask in the first place.
    This reply assumes I know what question of yours you say I've evaded. You are back to not quoting what you disagree with. I won't guess.
    Thus, I am done with this conversation with you.
     
  166. Don,

    I suspect there's a strong connection between dreaming and creativity. It's no coincidence I think that it is by the very act of
    dreaming ( wich in a way is our brain trying to make sense out of all the data that we gathered during the time when we
    where awake ) that problems are being solved, day to day problems or questions from the day before can seem suddenly
    more clear the day after, or after a couple of nights of dreaming, whether we remember those dreams or not. I don't know if
    there's any difference between the level of creativity of people who more easily recall their dreams and those that don't
    recall their dreams very often. But I do know that good dream recall is the first step in lucid dreaming and after lucid
    dreaming the next step up would be controlled dreaming. It is with the help of controlled dreaming that ' unbound creativity '
    or a heightened state of awareness can be found I think, if this unbound creativity is to be found somewhere ( or needs to be searched for ) in the first
    place.
     
  167. jtk

    jtk

    Phylo, if we met I could cause you to have specific types of dreams. Anybody could if they tried.
     
  168. "Don, I suspect there's a strong connection between dreaming and creativity. It's no coincidence I think that it is by the very act of dreaming ( wich in a way is our brain trying to make sense out of all the data that we gathered during the time when we where awake ) that problems are being solved,"
    Phylo, there is more than one plausible theory as to the what and why of dreams and dreaming. I can't subscribe to any of ones I know, although a few seem plausible. Here are the questions I have about it:
    Does what we recall of a dream map one-to-one to the dream, or is the recall an interpretation? Is it possible that, though we dream (or enter REM sleep), the recall is the dreaming, which would mean it may not map to the dream at all. Perhaps then we should write it as the "dream", and "dream" becomes just a way of saying REM sleep?
    If either is true, then would lucid dreaming be just another interpretation -- another way of recalling the dream?
    To recall a dream is to tell a story, to create narrative. That is a creative act, and an activity of the imagination. It is also a language act. If this is so, then it takes me to bound taste, not unbounded creativity. Fred's taste/criticism makes sense to me, but taste/creativeness no longer has odds of making sense. The bound/unbound pair still is not supported. They both seem "bound" to me.
    The dream or "dream", the neurological, biochemical activity, I think is some way associated with creativity, and, as above, I think the recall, narrative, or interpretation demonstrates creativeness and imagination.
     
  169. Does what we recall of a dream map one-to-one to the dream, or is the recall an interpretation? Is it possible that, though we dream (or enter REM sleep), the recall is the dreaming, which would mean it may not map to the dream at all. Perhaps then we should write it as the "dream", and "dream" becomes just a way of saying REM sleep?
    If either is true, then would lucid dreaming be just another interpretation -- another way of recalling the dream?​
    When one recalls ones dream it's usually right after waking up and after having the dream. In those very first moments it's important to write everything down that is being remembered, otherwise it will soon enough be forgotten. In this ' grey zone ' between one moment being asleep and the very next being awake, it would be perfectly possible indeed that when you think that you are recalling a dream you just had, and thus thinking that you are being awake, you are actually still dreaming, if that is what you meant.
    But the very act of lucid dreaming or realizing that you are dreaming comes through the use of checklists and methods that are being applied during the time of being awake, and later in dreams, all this to determine with a good enough certainty when one is actually dreaming and when one is being awake. Recalling ones dreams on a frequent basis, not just every now and then, is the step in becoming a lucid dreamer.
    Lucid dreaming does not necessarily mean controlled dreaming, but for a controlled dream to happen, it's got to be lucid. It is within this controlled dreaming, where one can completely change their dream-environment and experience at will, that I thought of ' unbound creativity '. Not so much in the dream itself but more in the absolute realisation of having this total control over ones ' dream-mind ' and thus also realizing as having total control over ones ' awake-mind ', as they are one and the same mind ofcourse.
    Our perception of the world goes through the mind by the interpretation that it forms through the use of a series of electrical impulses sent to the brain. Being awake is, on this scale of electrical impulses, not any different then being asleep. The phrase ' it is just a dream ' suggests that when we are awake our perception of the world for sure must be real ( without any ' just ' ) and undisputable with it's completeness in description and that what we don't see there simply isn't. I would say that there's a lot more to be described by the brain, and capable for a new understanding by the mind beyond the physical world.It is in dreams, where we are not bound by this physical world, that this new understanding can become fruitfull, ' unbound creativity ' even way beyond our dreams.
    I've tried this controlled dreaming for a while after reading about it ( and it's connection with meditation ) in a book about Buddhism but I didn't get through with it, might some day. But I got lazy..., funny how all things involved with the mind seem to take so much actual physical effort. Guess I'm a creature of ' the West ' and at the end of days that are possibly / mostly fueled with ' noise ' what else is there to do than just go to sleep before waking up and do it all over again. What else ?
     
  170. Phylo, if we met I could cause you to have specific types of dreams. Anybody could if they tried.​
    I would certainly like to experience that. But the one that I was going to meet and give me this specific type of dream preferably being an undisputable beautiful woman ofcourse. A brunette to make the dream more dreamlike, but not a blonde.
     
  171. "it would be perfectly possible indeed that when you think that you are recalling a dream you just had, and thus thinking that you are being awake, you are actually still dreaming, if that is what you meant."
    Phylo, it is my fault that the meaning is unclear. My excuse for it is that I never thought about it until I was replying to you. That is one question I had, but there were others.
    Does the recall of the dream map 1:1 to the dream? I'll refer to what our recall is of a dream, the content of the dreamstate. But what if the dreamstate (REM sleep) has no such content? What if it is the physical activity, neurological, biochemical, motor only, and the recalled dream content -- the recalling itself, the only dreamcontent?
    I'll return to the rest of your post later.
     
  172. Do these last questions differ from Descartes's "How do I know I'm not dreaming?"
    "How do I know whether I dreamt it or just think I dreamt it?"
    Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and his approach to such metaphysical conundrums can be helpful here.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_Investigations
    See particularly the section on Private Languages. It's only Wikipedia. It's better, of course, to go to the source.
     
  173. Does the recall of the dream map 1:1 to the dream?​
    I don't think so, although at first glance it may seem so. The recall of the dream is not any different I think than the recalling of an event or remembering the things you did and the people you talked to yesterday, or the week before. Both ' events ' are understood by the recaller to have actually taken place ( in the dream / actual world ) but looking back at them, will always be an interpretation of the events and not the events themselfes, so they clearly won't map 1 : 1 to each other. So I think the recall of the dream is not the content of the dream but an interpretation of the dreams content.
    But what if the dreamstate (REM sleep) has no such content? What if it is the physical activity, neurological, biochemical, motor only, and the recalled dream content -- the recalling itself, the only dreamcontent?​
    I'm not sure if I follow 100% but if it indeed proofs to be that there is no such content, than what's being proofed is not per se the absence of content but more likely I feel the absence of a recall of the content. Just like someone with a loss of memory might have taken part in an event and afterwards doesn't remember a thing about it. For the one with the memoryloss, there is no event, there is no content, but not by definition of the absence of an event but by definition of the absence of recalling that event.
    Ofcourse, in a way you could indeed say that the recalling / not recalling = the event / no event. But this stays within the confines of one single viewpoint, whereas there might have also been others ( without any memory loss ) at the event to proof it's existence in the past, to remember it, to recall it.
    To take this to the dream subject and the particular question this means for the dream-recaller to not operate within the bounderies of one single viewpoint but to consider oneself as possibly being ' the one with the memoryloss ', but for whom no recalling wouldn't automatically mean that no dream or content has taken place. Given that we can be fairly certain in knowing that when we are awake we are not actually dreaming is what makes this considiration acceptable, because for us to be certain about this, we must first give credit to the dream, the possibility of it's every existence when we are asleep, almost by definition of it's every absence when we are awake.
     
  174. Fred, yes...Brains In A Vat ? We might very well be all just brains in a vat, but I doubt it. A brain in a vat wouldn't have the concept of ' a brain in a vat ' or the ' richness in signs ' to think about itself as possibly being fooled in not being a brain in a vat while at the same time being it, a brain in a vat that is.
     
  175. Phylo. I'm with you. I doubt it, too.
    I actually do not assume that my dreams are events that have taken place. I "know" I'm awake. And I "have" dreams. There's a difference.
    "The recall of the dream is not any different I think than the recalling of an event or remembering the things you did and the people you talked to yesterday, or the week before. "
    I don't agree. You can't verify the content of a dream in the same way you can verify the event that took place yesterday. Your memory of yesterday can be tested. Not your memory of your dream.
    I think "knowledge" is a key here and I figure knowledge is a point of relevance regarding creativity as well, perhaps more likely a point of departure. I wonder about the veracity of looking for knowledge of unbound creativity, just as I wonder about the veracity of looking for knowledge of dreams.
     
  176. jtk

    jtk

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/7124613/volume3-part2 : see especially 13.7.3 - 13.8.
    Re Neanderthal (eg Lascaux) ... evidence re language, pro and con.
    And this, suggesting loss of language:
    "A brain in a vat wouldn't have the concept of ' a brain in a vat ' or the ' richness in signs ' to think about itself as possibly being fooled in not being a brain in a vat while at the same time being it, a brain in a vat that is."
    How about humming a few bars?
    "Given that we can be fairly certain in knowing that when we are awake we are not actually dreaming..."
    All the most popular fantasies are "given" and "certain."
    "It is in dreams, where we are not bound by this physical world, that this new understanding can become fruitfull, ' unbound creativity ' even way beyond our dreams."
    That's pretty much what Carlos Castaneda said. Peyote? :)
     
  177. "peyote"
    Mind alteration is relevant.
     
  178. According to some, it is entirely possible to learn to dream with the same amount of lucidity and "control" over the dream content and "plot" as we have in what we call our waking state.
    At that point, of course, whether you are awake or dreaming becomes irrelevant.
     
  179. Brains In a Vat ( like Descartes dream ), and how this ' thought-experiment ', and arguments against or for it, brings up philosophical questions / answers about the mind <> world relationship, with language being stuck in there somewhere in the middle.
     
  180. jtk

    jtk

    This exchange has drifted back to 1968, Mexico, peyote, Carlos Castaneda etc.
    http://books.google.com/books?id=mQdBescQULoC&dq=Carlos+Castaneda&printsec=frontcover&source=an&hl=en&ei=kVSfSZxggoSwA6DAgMcJ&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPP1,M1
    There was evidently greater lucidity and respect for language back then :)
     
  181. I personally think what Picasso was saying with that quote is more about breaking new ground, going beyond the usual and mundane. If he was anchored by the good taste of his day there wouldn't have been cubism. Duchamp was the same way. Following good taste leads to a lack of vision. Lack of vision is the enemy of creativity.
     
  182. Phyllis states the ideology of the unique creative individual and its nemesis "good taste" and is accurate to the meaning and intention of the quotation attributed to Picasso. I don't think it existed prior to the 19th century. Although individual artists must have felt that way, it was not a social phenomenon until the 19th. I use the exhibit of Manet's Olympia as a marker for it. Personally, I find the ideology juvenile.
    The quest for creativeness outside the bounds of one's social matrix can take many forms, and I think we see several here including special dreaming facility, injesting hallucinogens, and sitting at the feet of magicians and gurus -- things whose major value to the individual is to mark them as special, certainly not "mundane", and probably as "creative"...and likely a nostalgia for past times, a special past time in a special place.
     
  183. jtk

    jtk

    Manet's Olympia is, more than anything else, a superbly rendered erotic painting... paint! ... sex!...It's a "marker" only to a brain that's been defensively reduced to handy-dandy analytic tool status.
    Eros and outright sexuality has always occupied, even driven many or most artists (nor just the "artistes"): Such an artist depicted hunters with erections, whether or not that artist had a "language."
    Many or most artists have enjoyed, or even relied upon, psychotropic substances...such as tobacco, coffee, alcohol, absinthe, the drugs of the sixties...or they've been priapic (eg Picasso, Lascaux, unknown Anazasi)...
    The Popes and painters of the great cathedrals were evidently far from celibate, keeping boys if not wives and mistresses...and they all imbibed.
    Even Goethe dabbled in human nature: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE7DD1439F936A15755C0A967958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all
    I think it'd be good if we could cut mankind a little slack.
     
  184. "It's a "marker" only to a brain that's been defensively reduced to handy-dandy analytic tool status."
    Too many adjectives. A common flaw mean people display when calculating an insult. There's just too much venom in them for words to contain and so they pile it on. But I do like "defensively reduced". It's a lot better than your usual 'fearful of anything new' tropes.
    Keep us informed of your rhetorical adventures.
     
  185. Its funny because we are talking about a time that paitings and new styles did cause riots in the street. Photography helped in making painting move as fast as it did in the early 20th centuary. The artist was more free to create and experiment. The controversial becomes mundane to future generations, but the works still maintians greatness. Think about it, Nude Desending a Staircase by Duchamp caused an uproar now its a fine example of a cubist style painting.
     
  186. "Its funny because we are talking about a time that paitings and new styles did cause riots in the street."
    And is today the perfect postcard/calendar art.
    "The controversial becomes mundane to future generations, but the works still maintians greatness."
    Not all, perhaps. It might be worth looking into that. What remains controversial and why, if anything.
    "Photography helped in making painting move as fast as it did in the early 20th centuary. The artist was more free to create and experiment."
    Perhaps, but from my perspective and needs, I would prefer they had chosen a different path. If photography (both moving and still) had not existed we would hardly have a clue, based on the painters' work, what the world looked like in those times. Confronted with new forms, textures, surfaces, lighting, the painters decided "Gone up the country, got to get away" or became cafe and studio nerds scribbling their manifestos. It wasn't until Photorealism in the postwar period that one sees our world in paintings. Photography might be blamed. Perhaps photography freed painters -- post-impressionists of all varieties -- to create and experiment. But it also doomed them to irrelevance. Or sometmes photography gets the blame. The freedom they attained was the freedom not to paint electric lighting, the forms, textures and surfaces of the industrialized world and so on. They were freed to paint what they saw in their mind's eye. And so made the postcards and drapery patterns of the future.
     
  187. jtk

    jtk

    Calling Olympia a "marker" without explaining the rationale seems just one more reduction of a superb painting to academic phenomenon.
    Many of us know what scholars tell each other about that painting, but I don't know how that hints that Manet painted in relationship to "creativity" vs "taste."
    Scholars rephrase rephrasings of other rephrasings of writers, some of whom actually saw the painting, who called Manet's Olympia "untasteful." Somehow I doubt they mattered to the artist.
    Manet directly appealed to the taste of his viewers and market...how was that different from the motivations of painters in any previous period?
    Manet painted Olympia for the same sort of market as Ingres and Matisse..for the eternal continuum of human "taste" for sensuality.
     
  188. "Calling Olympia a "marker" without explaining the rationale seems just one more reduction of a superb painting to academic phenomenon."
    Maybe, assuming I wrote that. Go on, John, quote me. Actually read what I've written before insulting me. Give it a shot.
    We've done this dance for years now, and you always get it screwed up. You are always wrong.
     
  189. jtk

    jtk

    " It wasn't until Photorealism in the postwar period that one sees our world in paintings."
    Manet showed many bourgeois young Parisians their world in paintings. That's precisely what upset some of the official taste-makers in 1863.... surely irrelevant to Manet's creativity, judging by his subsequent work.
    The "worlds" of people like Manet travel across time amazingly well. Their worlds become our worlds, if we're willing to step up to the plate and participate with the artist in the image.
    Olympia looks partially ring-lit...very trendy in 2009.
    If we accept for a moment that we may respond to an image, rather than passively allowing it to slip in (greased by photorealism), we may even find that "exotics" like Katsushika Hokusai show us "their world" (in his case 160 years ago), making it "our world".
     
  190. So. Nothing to say about what you think I wrote re "marker" and what I really wrote?
    "That's precisely what upset some of the official taste-makers in 1863"
    1863? You're just making it up as you go along, aren't you?
     
  191. jtk

    jtk

    Here's some typical sixth-hand art history ( "scholarship")... this is what we're supposed to believe : Parisian mobs hated Olympia in 1863... hated erotic paintings...no whores in the City of Lights (not until Henry Miller anyway). Sounds like "urban legend" to me.
    http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/courtesans/Manet-olympia.htm
    I think art history needs "stress testing."
     
  192. "Parisian mobs hated Olympia in 1863..."
    Your linked source is incorrect.
    Still nothing about "marker", eh?
     
  193. jtk

    jtk

    Don, you're right ! Olympia dates from 1863... the famous mob tale is usually dated 1865 !
    Happily the two year error was the historian's, not mine...but I do apologize for citing something with such a grossly mistaken date.
    More to the point...did you mean those alleged events were a "marker," rather than the painting itself? I'm not sure what the difference is, given the Olympia's exposure before 1865..
    The mob story (the 1865 story) is passed from lazy scholar to lazy scholar to fill pages. Looking beyond Cliff's Notes they'd understand Olympia as an inherent part of Manet's body of work...the whole of which does carry life in the 19th century nicely into the 21st, WWI and WWII and photography's emergence not withstanding.
    IMO: That Manet's Olympia is alive among us in 2009 disproves this: "It wasn't until Photorealism in the postwar period that one sees our world in paintings. "
     
  194. I wrote: "I use the exhibit of Manet's Olympia as a marker for it.
    Which exhibit is the marker? The one that exhibited Manet's Olympia, ie, the Paris Salon of 1865.
    What is "it"? The sentence prior to that one.
    " Although individual artists must have felt that way, it was not a social phenomenon until the 19th."
    And what is the issue with the word "marker"? I'm marking or flagging or noting a point in a chronology.
    "I'm not sure what the difference is, given the Olympia's exposure before 1865."
    What exposure? Manet exhibited Le déjeuner sur l'herbe at the Salon of the Refused in 1863. There was a fuss. You, or your sources, are conflating two different salons and two different paintings and two different years, to first my confusion, and then annoyance.
    Ok. Everything is cleared up. I'm out of the thread.
     
  195. Not done. I see the problem (or one of them) after browsing images. The painting is usually captioned "Olympia (1863)" "1863" refers to the year it was painted, not the year it was exhibited.
     
  196. Sometimes artists of his caliber, especially those that reached fame when still alive, used phrases to justify and promote their work. There are aesthetic values that have formed and consolidated over centuries and they fit the social profile of each specific society. Picasso and others were aware that doing figurative painting was tougher because of the work already done by gentlemen like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raffaello etc. He has early figurative work but it is not even comparable to the work of the great masters of the Renaissance. Then he became one of the founders of the Cubist movement, a new thing, a new unexplored world...
     
  197. Early on, I taught myself a valuable lesson at art school. Pay attention when something implants a little voice in my head. At school I was directly exposed to many different styles and tastes. Many of those differences were not to my taste but they did speak to me and eventually opened doors. When I began to tune in to those whispers I found great rewards. I find I have to often set my taste aside and be less discriminating in what I allow in​
    Acquired Taste - One that is unpleasant on immediate experience or is likeable only after being experienced repeatedly.
    after substantial exposure to something new, you may grow to like it.
    In other words, taste and creativity may go hand in hand.
     

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