What is timeless?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by eugene_scherba, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. I have always been suspicious of vague value categories some people place certain objects into (including certain photographs).
    Very often their use is accompanied with a contemptuous attitude towards any attempt to analyze what really these value categories represent, with the analytical mode of discourse often being rejected as being a "passing" or "academic" fad, i.e. something inherently opposite to the supposedly persisting and universal character of the aforementioned categories.
    I am talking about terms like "glow" (used to characterize lenses), "soul" (used to differentiate film images from digital), "timelessness" (used to differentiate certain photographic styles from others).
    Here I would like to talk about "timelessness." What is it? Is it a conspiracy by an established circle to prevent the monetary value of their past work from diminishing? Or is it just a misconception of historical and cultural processes? I do not think that the previous thread on this topic from two years ago had fully answered these questions.
    What are these "timeless" images? Are they the same as "great" images (meaning ones that show great skill or talent of the artist)? No, it is now always so. I consistently see certain images classified as "great," other as "timeless"; the categories often overlap, but they don't seem to refer to the same formulaic construction. Do "timeless" images work by evoking nostalgia? Well, one could say so, but then I see an American referring to a picture shot in Paris in 1950's as timeless, even though that American had never been to Paris in the fifties, so I can't assume that nostalgia is what's at work here.
    Roland Barthes in his work Camera Lucida talks of "studium" and "punctum," with studium being what initially attracts a person to a photograph, and punctum being what strikes him or her emotionally. Is "timelessness" studium or punctum? If it's the former, then how could it even be considered "timeless" when it is going to vary depending on the person's cultural or historic background. If it is the latter, then how does it work? Why the emotional reaction? I have seen images with very little to no drama being described as timeless, with no specific emotions mentioned other than "this looks timeless."
    What is timeless?
  2. I always thought of timeless as being exactly as described. They are subjects or styles that do not depend on topicality to appeal or to be relevant. In general it seems to be used to describe those famous images that are continually accepted by each succeeding generation. An example would be Lange's migrant mother and children. Although it was used for a specific problem at a definite point in time, the impact is still the same regardless if the problem or idea still exists.
  3. Abstract art is the ultimate in its independence from "topicality."
    I have never seen an abstract image described as "timeless."
  4. I'd have to agree with the previous reply. I've always thought that something timeless was/is equated with classic; that is, something that has withstood the test of time.

    Glen Converse
  5. Picasso had withstood the test of time, and so had Man Ray and Hans
    Bellmer. Do you
    often see works similar to Man Ray's or Hans Bellmer's classified as
  6. So here I make a statement: When people say "this is timeless," they mean a specific style in mind. Anybody care to disprove it?
  7. One man's timeless art is another man's meaningless daub.
  8. If you're looking for a rational, mathematical definition of "timelessness"......fugeddaboudit. There is no such animal. There are, however, works of art that have a strong emotional impact on large numbers of people for great lengths of time: A Brahms symphony, a Da Vinci or Rembrandt portrait, the photography of Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams.....the examples are endless. One stunning example is Steve McCurry's shot of the Afghan girl for National Geographic. The very fact that each one of you now has that image in his or her mind, defines its timelessness.
  9. The trouble with "timelessness" is that it is usually ascribed to
    classicist works. A specific style. Most of the examples mentioned
    above are like that. I would like to hear more examples,
    to see whether I am right.
  10. Three of my examples, Lange, Adams, and McCurry, are or were 20th century photographers. I'm sure they'd be pleased to be described as "classicist" :)
  11. Timeless?

    That's just something which transends period or era and is something that would have been enjoyed a thousand years ago or a thousand years hence.

    Example, the soulfully uplifting nature of a beautiful event; flowers, sunrise, sunset, silouetted tree in the forest, waves on the ocean, young children at play, old folks in conversation, a visually delightful young couple in a loving or provocative embrace. You know, things that were valid back in the past and will hold equal significance in the future.
  12. "Picasso had withstood the test of time, and so had Man Ray and Hans Bellmer. Do you often see works similar to Man Ray's or Hans Bellmer's classified as "timeless"?"

    I'm sorry, that made me laugh. Why? Picasso and Man Ray, are but blips on the artistic radar at this time and point. Come back in thirty-five hundred years like the Great Pyrimids or Homer's Illiad or the collective works of Wm Shakespeare and then they'll have withstood the "test of time." Right now, they only qualify, at best, as contemporary. :)
  13. "The very fact that each one of you now has that image in his or her mind, defines its timelessness."

    The fact we have the image in our mind is only a case of media exposure to the image. I suppose the fairwell salute by Nixon as he climbed aboard "Helicopter One" that fateful August day in 74 could equally be considered timeless as that's an image I'm sure we all have in our heads. Again, that's just a by product of media exposure but a thousand years from now, I doubt anybody will be emotionally impacted by the sight of that image in the same way they would be by the image you mentioned.

    What will "make" the image "timeless" is that it will still have the same impact on the unsuspecting, a thousand years from now in the same manner that it would have had on similar unsuspecting if shown to those of a thousand years ago.
  14. So I don't get ripped for my radar comment.

    "...are but blips on the artistic radar at this time and point."

    For clarification purposes, that should be "...are but blips on the artistic radar of time at this time and point."

  15. Well, of course it's media exposure. How else do you suppose the image gets out there? I'm sure there are many here who have seen the original Mona Lisa. I haven't. Nor have I seen most of Ansel Adams original prints. I was exposed to them by various media. Does that make them any less timeless?

    Which brings us to the Nixon image. Yes, it's timeless, too. So is the image of the space shuttle Challenger exploding, or the Zapruder film of John Kennedy's assasination. Timeless, as recorded events in the real world often are, sometimes heartbreakingly so. But those things have nothing to do with art. All they do is show that the idea of timelessness extends far beyond the world of art. And the "media", whater it may be, is what acquaints most of us with it all.
  16. "All they do is show that the idea of timelessness extends far beyond the world of art."

    You're confusing "timeless" with historical record.
  17. Timeless is a word, it is in the dictionary and no doubt you will get countless replies attempting to defined that. It is also what you believe it to be, in other words, it has no exact value. That's why people use tems like that, they can't be more specific and like vague words. Priceless, Mindless, Useless, etc....who cares.
  18. Timeless;


    1. Independent of time; eternal.
    2. Unaffected by time; ageless.

    When it comes to historical records, one needs the context of time but nobody needs any context; time, place or otherwise, in any language, culture or media saturation to understand a sunrise, sunset or the haunting nature of a young girls eyes.
  19. Ben

    The sound of a well played violin is timeless. Are violins important to you? :)
  20. Is that a direct quote T ?

    The sound of a violin depends partially on the player. Old ones sound better or different because the wood has changed over 400 years or so. New violins will never sound like old ones, vice versa.

    Last night I heard a woman playing a Chinese instrument whose heritage stretched back to 2nd century BC, that was cool but not timeless.......She had rather good rythum actually, and the instrument was new.
  21. Very good. I need to see more examples. You need to teach me all this timeless stuff, 'cause I don't get it.
    Thomas said: Example, the soulfully uplifting nature of a beautiful event; flowers, sunrise, sunset, silouetted tree in the forest, waves on the ocean, young children at play, old folks in conversation, a visually delightful young couple in a loving or provocative embrace.
    So only feel-good stuff is timeless? How come is that?
  22. Eugene, go to the Leica forum for words like 'My Leica makes images which glow in a timeless manner.......'. Just made that one up, but I guess you see what I mean.

    I guess a timeless photo might be one which has a very long exposure.
    A timeless camera might be one without any light meter.
    Whereas a person who cannot figure out the above might be clueless...

  23. Picasso had withstood the test of time, and so had Man Ray and Hans Bellmer​

    Yes, for a whole eighty years.
  24. What is timeless?

    interesting to you.

    or, what you are told is timeless.

    take your choice.
  25. "You're confusing "timeless" with historical record."

    You're suggesting that a historical record can't be timeless?
  26. Bailey said: Yes, for a whole eighty years.
    So for you Picasso is not enough. Well-well. What do you propose? That only those who had stood strong for centuries are timeless? How far do you want to go? Say, Homer. Ever read any of the papers currently being written on Homer? The controversies, the endless arguments, all about the incapability of understanding, the very limit of what we can understand. Tons and tons of stuff like that. Yes, Homer had withstood the test of time, but what remains? What do we know of Homer, of his artistic expression? We don't even know that there was a single person named Homer. We don't even know whether the Iliad is epic or a sophisticated parody of epic. We are so far removed from Homer that we can't even tell. Is that what you call timeless? We lost Homer. We lost many others, and that's natural, but we can't even understand Homer. You think you can? When you answer any of the above two questions, then I will know you can. Try it. The only timeless thing is time.
  27. "What is timeless?"

    For it's simplicity, I've enjoyed the question as the question unintentionally exposed art for the biased product that it is and how in order for "high" art or "noted" art to work, the viewer, for the most part, has to be "educated" as "how to think" in order to "get it." This has the affect of making contemporary art, finite or limited in nature (appeal), which is the anathema or antithesis of timeless. Otherwise, sans a biasing education, you have a disconnect which develops as to the part of "getting it." If you don't "get it," it ain't timeless. I love "it." :)

    Great question

    " Is that a direct quote T ?"

    Only if you're quoting me:)
    "The sound of a violin depends partially on the player."

    Now you're splitting hairs as I did write, "well played." I was thinking of Pinkus (Pinky) Zuckerman when I wrote "well played." You can fill in you fav as to the player. The assumption is that you have at minimum, a half-way decent instrument, new or old that has been properly broken in and cared for during it's life and is in good tune. Trust me, in my hands, no musical instrument is going sound good. :)


    "So only feel-good stuff is timeless? How come is that?"

    Because things of a negative nature, usually need contexturalizing to understand the negative being presented. The killing fields. A thousand years from now, a hundred similar images may have been created, similar in nature to that of the Cambodian "Killing Fields"


    and so without context, the image is just a negative image similar in nature to say the French Catacombes.


    But once you introduce context, education, then a timeline has been introduced and the image then becomes a historical document as opposed to a "timeless" image.

    The image I made yesterday, sadly I feel, lacks a timeless nature as do most of my images. Some qualify as timeless but most don't cause they're to heavily influenced by my social bias' and a thousand years from now, the question might be, "What's that?," not "Wow! Cool pic."


    Timeless pic;


    Not so timeless pic:


    Timeless pic:


    Not so timeless pic:


    The less depth to the pic, (cliche,) the more timeless the image a thousand years from now. :)

    The pic of Dick Nixon giving his famous farewell, two finger, peace salute or wave as he stood in the doorway of "Helicopter One," probably would not be understood by someone a thousand years hence unless they were educated as to the person and what was involved prior to that image being made. Same for many other iconic images that we take for granted today. Even the suggested Dorothea Lange American Depression era mother with children pic


    will have little to no meaning in a thousand years as it's understood today by anybody who knows of her today in the context in which the image were created but that context would be lacking in a thousand years and just be another (cliche) picture of a poor mother with her children. The image could have easily been from the Irish Potato Famine or any other venue for that matter.

    Another example, much of Picasso's efforts are a reflection on primitive art, so without contecturalizing or biasing via education, if presented prima-facie, without context or education as to art history and the man, the effort would have little to no meaning but a beautiful event such as a sunset, will "always" resonate with the viewer without need for context as might Vincent's "Starry Night"


    or Manet's "Olympia."


    Even Titan's efforts need translating via education to understand as his efforts smacked greatly of cultural influences and political bias'.



    Another example, In reality, Shakespeare's written efforts need context as to the author, play and time as his written words don't transend time, even when translate,


    for his efforts are culturally bound by Eurocentric standards that don't translate into Amazon, Borneo, Sub-Saharan or Tibetan standards, unless the area has been heavily "Westernized," education wise but the contents of the Great Pyramids do translate without need of education; "Ain't they cool looking?"

    Sometimes we don't realize, because we've become, one way or another, so educated, how our thinking is daily influenced or biased by this education and it's only in the simplist of forms (cliche) the meaning of timeless resides.
  28. This is technical issue..I have solved it...
  29. Eugene: you are now beginning to understand what it feels like to bang your head against a brick wall.
  30. That snapshot of Nixon isn't timeless -- show it to some teenagers now and I bet they'll have no interest in it. It's not a particularly good picture.



    The raising of the flag at Iwo Jima is a timeless photograph. People who don't know where Iwo Jima is and don't care who won that battle can appreciate the photograph because it's a great composition. A thousand years from now it'll still be just as great.

    Like Velazquez' famous painting The Surrender of Breda -- better known as "The Spears." If you don't know or care what historical event it portrays it's a great painting regardless.

  31. Cougar

    Thanks for the Nixon pic. I tried to find a link and couldn't find the words the search engine wanted. Doh!
  32. John

    Great radar graphic:)
  33. I still don't understand why that tree in the mist is timeless. A thousand years from now, mist (and probably trees) will be a scientific curiosity, not an aesthetic stimulus.
  34. Eugene, that tree is not timeless for people who see that it is just a tree. It is a matter of perception, as is time itself. Some folks will always believe that time is finite, and that trees are special, well, I think trees are finite and time is special. I agree totally that time is the only timeless thing and that we really can't understand 'Homer' because hsi mind was from a different time etc.
    I like the radar John, I guess NASA might be considering you for special programmes re-time probes etc.......makes a change from national geo.

    Thomas, Zuckerman is not timeless but he plays a mean fiddle for sure, he also plays pool well.
  35. Timeless comments Thomas.............perhaps when I have the time I will go through all your links.
  36. Me thinks that some here "don't want to" understand what the term timeless indicates.

    Timeless indicates that it will work today, yesterday and a thousand years from now despite cultural changes. To think, knowing the earth's processes as we do, after five and a half billion years of geological history that there won't be mist or trees and somehow people will stop appreciating mist and trees is pure nutty thinking. It ain't gonna happen. Roman sculpturing, pre Christ, transends time. Everybody, in all cultures, will "get it" and appreciate the skill it took to create and the visual delight will continue a thousand years from now, just as it does today. Why? Because the sculpturing effort is timeless.

    Zuckerman's efforts appeal to both the educated and the uneducated and will continue to do so a thosand years from now. Why? Prima facie; emotion. "Pinky" puts emotion ("Romance for Violin No2" I'm thinking of) into his efforts as opposed to the mechanical nature of many other violinists that I've heard. And it's this prima facie emotion that will have the timeless appeal a thousand years from now.

    Anything that needs to be translated or requires education, lacks the timeless quality. Images of tall ships; Flying Cloud, in full sail when underway are timeless, even if you don't have a clue what you're looking at.


    But most people will know that they're looking at a sailing vessel a thousand years hence.

    Timeless is an image of a castle. Timeless is an image of a canoe. Timeless is an image of a waterfall, any waterfall, anywhere, anytime as it doesn't matter as to the who, what and why's of the waterfall, all that matters is the image of the waterfall.
  37. Ah, Eugene, Eugene. A style might be claimed to be timeless, and that would indeed be fallacious, but timelessness is not a style, nor a predicate referring to a style. Regardless of the style through which one represents something seen in the world, it is the content and its emotional impact on us that makes us _perceive_ it as timeless. You must not assume that all who disagree with you are lazy.

    Many postmodern literary theorists are lazy, or else they would be in pursuit of what is timeless instead of telling us that it does not exist, or that truth does not exist. They thereby reveal their relativist predilections, which only leads to nihilism.

    The subject is interesting, but I tire of your repeated affirmation (on this thread and on Tony's latest PoW thread) that timelessness is itself a style. That assertion is what you should examine more closely, I think. I agree with much else that you say, but that one assertion sticks in my craw.

    Thanks for bringing philosophical questions to the fore, in any case. I, alas, must move on to other topics, but please do not think that I am ignoring you if I don't get back this way. I am in a new teaching job, with five preps in addition to being chair (although one course was a freebie that I offered because I wanted to), and three of the preps are new for me at the age of sixty after a lifetime spent in political philosophy proper with a couple of years in literary theory (through a graduate Spanish literature department, not English, but it does not matter: all literary theorists are reading pretty much the same people).

    So, no, lazy I definitely am not. I simply disagree with your basic premiss and thus do not find myself in agreement with your conclusions, regardless of how good your logic might or might not be.

    Please go back and check that premiss one more time, that is, that timelessness itself is a style. I respectfully continue to disagree with that assertion. Indeed, I find it virtually unintelligible.

  38. " Born in Lviv, Ukraine. Now lives in Boston, U.S. Calls himself a professional anarchist."

    I was beginning to wonder if my chain was being pulled. I'm relieved to learn that it wasn't. LOL
  39. Roman sculpturing, pre Christ, transends time. Everybody, in all cultures, will "get it" and appreciate the skill it took to create and the visual delight will continue a thousand years from now, just as it does today.
    Thomas, are you okay? Roman sculpting transcends time? Show any of that icky marble stuff to a Xavantes warrior, and he will stick it up your you know what.
    What kind of response do you expect a Roman sculpture, for example, to elicit? You are talking "visual delight?" So you mean an aesthetic response? Well, I am honored to be the first one to tell you that aesthetics is always learned. All of aesthetics is an acquired taste. Roman sculpting is an acquired taste. It is, for the hell's sake, culture-dependent. Take beauty of nature. What could seem to be more culture-independent than that? Afterall, all humans have some experience of nature. Well, I have first-hand knowledge of cultures that do not appreciate the beauty of nature in the way you and I do. It's not that they fail to show any aesthetic responses -- everybody has them -- but what they find beautiful in nature is very different from our expectations.
  40. Show any of that icky marble stuff to a Xavantes warrior, and he will stick it up your you know what.

    And the basis for your above claim is? You've, of course, taken time to visit and see what their reaction is so as to verify your above or are you guessing cause it serves your purpose?

    Xavantes warrior..... Hmmmmmm! Wishing you well.
  41. First you say:
    >You must not assume that all who disagree with you are lazy.
    Immediately after that, you come up with:
    >Many postmodern literary theorists are lazy...
    So tell me, Lannie, are theorists lazy because you disagree with them or because they disagree with you?
    >...or else they would be in pursuit of what is timeless instead of telling us that it does not exist, or that truth does not exist.
    Then why don't you go ahead and explain to them that timelessness is truth and that truth is timeless? Oh, wait, they've already heard that, haven't they? In the words of Lannie/Euthyphro, [piety/timelessness] is what all the gods love, and [impiety/temporality] is what they all hate (Plato, Euth. 9d).
    > They thereby reveal their relativist predilections, which only leads to nihilism.
    What nihilism? Explain it to me. But enough of this. I will do my best to help you to explain to me what [piety/timelessness] is, for I think that you are lazy. Don't give in yet, [Lannie/Euthyphro]. Tell me, do you not think that all [piety/timelessness] must be [just/true]? (Plato, Euth. 11e).
  42. Thomas, I repeat myself, I have first-hand experience with cultures
    where things are considered beautiful which you or me would never
    think of as beautiful. The opposite applies as well. No, I haven't
    visited Amazonian jungle, but I don't think I have to.
  43. I guess, the only other timeless thing than time is ignorance.
  44. Maybe "timelessness" is just something lost on modern society. It is sort of a Romantic idea after all. When I think of timeless images I think of images that have the power to transcend even the pop-culture influence of objects in the image... There is something for instance in the look of two people in love or of children playing, that no matter what the setting evokes a sense of deep understanding and empathy in me. Also still-lives and landscapes seem most timeless to me when they evoke a similar romantic feeling within me. Perhaps timelessness is a totally personal sense... for instance maybe some people dont find ANY image to be timeless... maybe that idea is just completely foreign to them. Some places seem timeless to me regardless of the image... there are some forests which feel as though you have walked into the ancient ancient past and you get overwhelmed with a sence that time does not exsist in this place.... some people seem that way to me too... as if they have always been here and been the same.
    Here for instance is a painting that is 340 years old. It is only 18x15 inches big. Johannes Vermeer was only 33 years old when he painted this masterpeice. Despite the fact that the artist and subject have been dead for over 300 years, and that they belonged to society with a fashion and style which we typically immediately recognize as foreign and strange... here is an image of complete timelessness. If it were not for her eyes and skin tone she could pass for a young woman of any time period anywhere in the world... and that look, that glance... doesnt it penetrate you and wake up part of your soul? Im sorry but I would be hard pressed to find anything painted by Picasso to strike me like that. If she is not timeless then I dont know of any image of art which is.<br>
    <img src="http://www.paintingstogo.com/vermeer/girl_with_a_pearl_earring.jpg" width=400>
  45. Patrick, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Yours is probably the first reasonable reply in the whole thread. I see that you understand the connection between romanticism and timelessness. This is exactly what I was tying to get at. Romanticism brought us the concept of timelessness. It didn't exist before, or at least as we know it.
    I like Vermeer. I also find interesting the connection you make between timelessness and emotional impact. So timelessness is "punctum," afterall. It's just that people's perception of drama is different (hence the derogatory word "melodrama").
    The only thing I would suggest to you is that you take a second look at Picasso, epsecially his "blue period," the paintings like The Tragedy (1903), La Celestina (1904). Afterall, if timelessness is supposed to be universal, why do I see more timelessness in these images than in a lot of stuff dating from Romanticism? How is then timelessness supposed to be gone in the Modern era?
    I enjoy Greek tragedy a lot, but not because of its timelessness. I just don't believe timelessness to be a self-sufficient end, a goal. It should never be a goal, a value-for-itself, otherwise art will be frozen. See Keats' Ode On a Grecian Urn to better understand what I mean by "frozen." I believe, Keats was dealing with the same thing we are discussing here: timelessness as an end-for-itself is useless. The urn as such had become a useless object, all its value is in our perception (which is temporal). Basically, the whole poem is a criticism of timelessness ( and it was written by one of the chief expounders of romanticism!
  46. Another proposition: Timeless isn't what retains its appeal/value over time. Timeless is what the viewer wishes to have retained its appeal/value over time. Wishful thinking! "Timelessness" is a container with which people envelop their otherwise fragile value systems.
  47. Eugene, you are a philosophical poseur, and you make me sick.

    I came to this forum in hopes of clarifying some of our points of disagreement about Tony's PoW.

    What a waste of time! I should have known better after the logical gaffs on the PoW page.

    I am definitely too lazy to be giving remedial lessons in logic.

  48. I am making you sick Lannie? But why? Because I am disagreeing with you?.
    Still, calling theorists (that you've never read) lazy is... Priceless
  49. We need more images in this thread. Some people here say that timeless is whatever strikes them emotionally. Picasso strikes me emotionally. So Picasso must be timeless. [​IMG]
  50. You haven't cited anyone that I haven't read, Eugene. Why on earth are you attributing views and characteristics to me that I do not have?

    I have been studying philosophy since before you were born. You gave up on argumentation from your first line on Tony's POW.

    I do philosophy. I am teaching this very semester three upper division preps in social and political theory and finishing another book manuscript. I don't need this nonsense.

    Seek professional help.
  51. "The opposite applies as well. No, I haven't visited Amazonian jungle, but I don't think I have to."

    Then don't make pronouncements on that what you don't know. Makes for a more rational conversation.

    One thing you haven't gotten a grip on yet, cultural appreciation is a two way street in that "all" cultures appreciate similarities and differences.

    What you did was go back to a very restricted and cloistered culture, stone age in nature and then tried to apply this unique Amazonian situation across the board as being a generalized fact for all earthly humanity and then apply it to humanity a thousand years in the future. Your theory/premise falls flat on it's face from the beginning because it's human nature to be interested in new things and considering the statuary that I speak of, BC Roman stone work, is high stone age art, I think your buddies in the Amazon might appreciate it more then you're willing to give them credit for. Why? Because dollar to doughnuts, they ain't stupid and only stupid people would try to do what you suggested they would do.
  52. As my previous post on this topic suggests, I more or less agree with Eugene. As a professional historian, the word 'timeless' always makes me froth at the mouth, though I don't think it is accurate to refer to alleged 'timelessness' as a 'style': rather the term tends to be triggered by certain positive features (mist, fog, 'emotive' facial expressions or postures that are emphatic and easy to decipher, decontextualised and deeroticised nudes, nature w/out any obvious signs of human intervention) and certain absences (anything that is too obviously culturally specific or obsolete). The notion is definitely connected to Romanticism. Might be interesting to consider the relation between 'timelessness' and 'progress' (as applied to art rather than science), since the two are presumably antithetical. Also worth noting that photographic technology is not 'timeless'. To use black and white chemical photography now (as I do) is to be consciously obsolete, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Depends what you do with that knowledge.
  53. Lannie, there is reading, and then there is reading. I pity whoever you teach.
    And what the ***, Lannie, does my age have to do with this? It does not have to do with this anymore than your mother. I am sick of people even mentioning this. I do not know who your mother is or was, and I do not talk about your mother on this forum, okay?
    Thomas, what you are doing is you are interpreting humoristic statements literally. I was not making literal claims about amazonian indians. I have seen, however, many cases of people failing to understand why I considered this or that aspect of nature beautiful, and, on the other hand, I failed many times to appreciate other people's ideals of beauty. I have seen, for example, people completely failing to understand why I considered storm clouds majestic. To them, they were just clouds. I bet there is something else important to some person that I will fail to understand. I am completely jaded to sunsets, for one thing. It often has something to do with culture. For example, in agricultural regions of Ukraine, birds of prey for a long time were considered as pests, and I remember hearing a honest reaction of a person upon seeing a hawk "how ugly it is," while I thought that the hawk was actually beautiful. This is just one example of many.
    Being an immigrant myself, Thomas, I am rejecting any of your claims that I do not have a grip on cross-cultural appreciation as absurd. I am willing to take issue with this and prove it if you want to, with references if you would like to.
    Jonathan, yes, absolutely, my calling "timelessness" a style is a huge stretch. This was intended to demonstrate that there are patterns that evoke it, nothing more.
  54. "" Being an immigrant myself, Thomas, I am rejecting any of your claims that I do not have a grip on cross-cultural appreciation as absurd. I am willing to take issue with this and prove it if you want to, with references if you would like to."

    I'd like that as that's not what I said. Let's see what I said. Hmmmmm! Nothing about immigration. Nope. Didn't say that "you" didn't have a grip on "cross-cultural appreciation." You might want to read my quote below and make note of the comma between "...yet..." and "...cultural..."

    Context is the first thing to go online:) Nothing that I wrote in my below, after "yet" had anything to do with "you" as I was making a pronouncement that you aren't showing an awareness of. It would help if you addressed that what was written unless your intent is polemic.

    " One thing you haven't gotten a grip on yet, cultural appreciation is a two way street in that "all" cultures appreciate similarities and differences."

    Clouds are good as are sunsets.

  55. Thomas, you are right on this one; I misread what you said (what was
    that again?), and I was overly defensive after Lannie's ad hominem
    attacks. Thanks for correcting me. You still
    haven't proven that "timeless" things are appreciated across all
    cultures (and I know they are, only, I believe, same ones aren't and
    can't be).
  56. [​IMG]
    Japanese tourists visiting Musee Picasso in Paris
  57. aaah, so this is what it takes on PN to get some real answers. I
    will ponder more closely on your post tomorrow, Ben. I believe there
    is a good reason the Encyclopedia you mentioned doesn't list
    timelessness. I repeat myself again, my calling timelessness a
    'style' was purely demonstrative. But I am going to bed now.
  58. "You still haven't proven that "timeless" things are appreciated across all cultures (and I know they are, only, I believe, same ones aren't and can't be)."

    Question. Do we live in a multi-cultural world? Yes or no?

    If yes, my case is made.

    The world isn't an enigma. Some enjoy making it as such as if it's enigmatic then they can wallow in their prejudices.

    There is good and bad everywhere and it will follow, unrequested into the future as it's part of the human condition. The human condition is predictable, it's not enigmatic. But if it's made conveniently enigmatic, then one has built in excuses.


    I commented on the emotional nature of timeless and it seems to have gotten lost. Shrug. What again?

    Is "timelessness" studium or punctum?

    It's both as you have to be attracted in a visceral way in order to be affected emotionally.

    The universiality (timelessness) of Shakespeare is that with little amending, he could be writing about any time, place or society as he nailed the human condition as his efforts are as valid today as they were then and his writings on society will be as valid in a thousand years as they were when he put quill to paper.

    Humanity has what I term common threads. Threads that are common for all people, in all societies, through out time; clothing, food, language and emotions. Even your buddies in the Amazon jungles suffer undeniably from these basal human conditions. How these conditions are played out vary but the differences aren't important. What's important is the point that communication of want's and needs are universal and this universiality is the basis of timelessness.

    I don't want to know where a person is from or what their origin is as these are only superficial social trappings in nature. Take away the superficiality of society and you're left with the primitive and this primitive is the basis of timeless as in the end it's what we all are.

    Remember, there is no such thing as time as time is a creation of mankind to define their existence in the continuum.
  59. Thomas, let me see if I understand you

    You say, "The world isn't an enigma... The human condition is predictable, it's not enigmatic."

    So if an "enigma" is something that is mysterious, perplexing, or difficult to understand, and
    you don't find the world or the human condition to be that way, are you suggesting that you
    actually believe that you understand and know it all?

    Surely I misunderstood your comments.
  60. "...are you suggesting that you actually believe that you understand and know it all?"

    Not at all but people "are" predictable and are not enigmatic. The only thing about people that I find amazing is their ability to shovel it and pretend they aren't.

    Leaving crazy people; medical conditions out of my above.
  61. "The world isn't an enigma."

    A clarification of my above.

    It should read, The world of humanity isn't an enigma." I don't try and lay claim to being omniscent. Sorry for the omission.
  62. I just dont buy this Picasso thing... if Picasso is timeless then I think I must be in the wrong dimension or something.
  63. Patrick, I can definitely relate. Because my parents weren't into formal abstract art for me
    to grow up with a supportive exposure to it, it wasn't until my final semester in painting
    that I finally "got" Picasso. Thank God. Prior to that his work only appeared to me (I'm
    embarrassed to say) like a complete crock (excepting his bull's head made from a bicycle
    seat and handlebars, which I found easily accessible). I honestly believed he was all flash,
    no substance, so if I got past that, I feel pretty much anybody can get there if they're
    genuinely open to it. Just be very patient. I don't recall exactly what it was, probably
    some sort of cumulative exposure I suppose, but after hours and hours of looking, over
    several years, his work finally came into perspective for me.

    I feel like it was more of a gift, because my conscious effort wasn't getting me very far into
    his work, I was being too prejudicial. For myself, I really just had to expose my eyes and
    heart to the truth of his work and accept and trust that it was beyond my ability to
    comprehend at the time, which it certainly was. Most of his work is, and remains, very
    advanced because he was advancing the world of art in so many ways. The above painting
    hangs in the museum where I went to school, so I had the luxury of being able to go and
    stand in front of this small masterpiece to reflect undisturbed for long periods of time.

    After graduating, I was fortunate enough to eventually travel to to Paris where I saw "Le
    Dernier", a show of his last great canvases at the Pompidou Center, where something else
    struck me - the best canvases in the show were owned by his family. It's like he
    recognized and reserved most of his very best work for his own family. And like with any
    painting, the real thing is as different from a color reproduction in a book, as a color
    reproduction is from a black and white. Seeing them in the flesh is essential. I suppose I
    place Picasso in the came category as Jimi Hendrix - so searingly ahead of his time, and in
    a revolutionary way, that it's initially difficult to comprehend. But once you develop a
    taste, the work is there before you to enjoy and marvel at.
  64. In my first post, I said that there is no rational definition of timelessness. This thread has certainly ratified that observation, to my (gratification? Dismay?).

    Art that is timeless to me will remain so until I die. After that, the next generation will decide what is, and what is not. And the next, and the next, ad infinitum or destructum. Some of what I hold as timeless may or may not still be around then. But, after my ashes have settled into the soil of my favorite canyon wilderness, I really won't give a damn.

    And that, my friends, is the bottom line for each of us.....
  65. Thomas, a lot of what you say is right. However, to me at least, it seems that you are missing some key points.
    You say: The universiality (timelessness) of Shakespeare is that with little amending, he could be writing about any time, place or society as he nailed the human condition as his efforts are as valid today as they were then and his writings on society will be as valid in a thousand years as they were when he put quill to paper.
    I am sure it would be fun for you to read this: Shakespeare in the Bush.
  66. You might find this comment/response of mine interesting; from another thread which I'm currently participating in.


    "My nature, (your work is excellent) rigid upsets my stomach considerably as if I had been put in a condemned man's room and the key thrown away. I see WA cause that's how I see in real life. My images, iconoclastic as that's my conservative nature; go figure, an anarchist in conservative's clothing:)

    I made an image on Friday, nothing like your efforts, but reflective of my efforts and while doing so, I didn't make an image that I saw while on site. The image that I didn't make and may go back and create would have been a stitched hundred and eighty degree pano of wide open nothingness; only sand, sea and foggy sky. No people, birds, buildings or anything, just sand, sea and foggy sky; the ultimate in anarchy:)"

    I'll check the link out later today as the day job is calling. Thanks for the thought.
  67. "Shakespeare in the Bush"

    That was funny. Thanks!

    Doesn't change my pronouncement, only encourages it as Shakespeare would only need to ammend to accomodate cultural differences but with relatively little modification they go it and it worked for them..... according to their culture.

    People have been zooming people for thousands of years and will continue to the end of humanity's existance in the continuum cause people zooming people, is a timeless action:) LOL
  68. Maybe some of us dont consider the modern movement to exactly be an "advancement" ;) I think modernism is something you really have to be conditioned to appreciate... and god forbid I ever start thinking I should paint a room all white, or that coffee makes a good breakfast, or that somehow paintings of nothing show more than paintings of something... Wow I hope I never "grow up"... how boring!
  69. Maybe some of us don't consider the modern movement to exactly be an "advancement"
    You sound like a postmodernist, Patrick. Seriously. And not in a bad light.
  70. Yeah, Thomas, someone scored, I guess. Thanks for contributing.
    Let's close this thread.
  71. If this thread is 'timeless' then it has no end.........

    In other words, there is no answer to an open ended question, and philosophy is by all means an open ended question. Many questions in philosophy are considered 'timeless' because they continue to emerge out of basic curiosity. Labeling something 'timeless' may simply be a way of refering to that simple and curious quality which seems to remain open to question. It has no answer and yet it has a value, if you let it. That value may be abstract. You think Einstein's amazing ideas were timeless? me neither, but I think his imagination may have been.

  72. I dont know... some people who have studied mysticism may totally agree that Einstein was timeless... I mean, matter is energy... wow, I think thats a timeless concept that we are just too culturally blinded to see... it exsists as not only a concept, but a basic tenant in the ancient Hindu beleif system. Perhaps the expression of Einstiens ideas into complex equations isnt timeles... but hey, he didnt invent math, he just used it to illustrate his concept. I dont really think Einsteins medium was math anyway, I think his imagination WAS his medium, and math was the only way he could communicate his medium. E=MC^2 is not only timeless in what it implies in terms of advanced physics but also in what it implies in esoteric terms, and at the same time is so simple that a child could understand it. To say that Energy, Matter and Light; the Soul, Body and Spirit of the universe, have such a simple and straight-forward way of interacting as a Trinity, is not just great science but an absolutley penetrating transcendental concept... and one which has had precursers in countless mystical spiritual systems the world over.
    And no i dont think that things are only "timeless" in regard to cultural significance... if that was really the case then we would have absolutely no sense of "timelessness" in great architecture and art of asia and ancient america... and yet its there. And because we have defined it as a feeling and not an intellectual property of art, I have a feeling that "timelessness" is probably a MORE universal concept than alot of the pompous intellectualism, self-reference and culture-centricism which so many people consider to be the "valid" points of great art today.
    P.S. I spent 4 years in art school and I still dont get "post modernism"... its not even really a movement, unless you can call consumerism and nihilism a "movement" in art. Call me a dirty hippie, call me a flakey weirdo if you like, but please dont call me a post modern! Im self-labelled a 21st-Century Spiritual Symbolist and this is the kind of thing I do:
    <img src="http://artdorks.com/gallery/albums/userpics/10170/Emc2.jpg">
  73. Patrick, I must agree that imagination can cetianly be a very powerful tool. However, I feel that you are confusing Einstein's genius of simplicity, with spiritual belief systems. Ok, so maths is a system of sorts, but not one of beliefs, just logic and imagination. Perhaps 'timeless' came from an age of 'beliefs' we are now beginning to question, or forget.
  74. I make no distinction between science and spirituality... except that bullheaded people who claim to be representatives of both are too power-hungery to realize what its all really about.... what could be more spiritual than Energy = Matter x Light?
  75. Patrick, I see you got time on your hands. What do you score on this quiz? (You can paste your result into this page on my site.)
  76. Looks like I'm a postmodern existentialist. Well, duh.
  77. The important thing, Colm, is that you scored ;)
  78. The important thing, Colm, is that you scored ;)
    Frequently, my good man...
  79. Cool,

    I did the test twice and scored 100% Existentialist / 100% Materialist first time, and 100% Existentialist / 100% Modernist the second time.
  80. 100% idealist... and yet somehow regularily grumpy... then again i guess idealists have more to get grumpy over. ;)
  81. Grumpy is a normal part of the human condition.

    For what ever it's worth:

    Cultural Creative 100%
    Romanticist....... 75%
    Existentialist.... 75%
    Fundamentalist.... 69%
    Idealist.......... 50%
    Postmodernist..... 44%
    Materialist....... 25%
    Modernist......... 19%
  82. I enjoy your way of thinking, Peter. Although I wanted the thread to die at one point, I would still love a little elaboration on what you mean by "collective perspective" and how it relates to time. Your comment makes visceral sense to me, don't know why, probably because of your, 'hem, original style of writing.
    And after I make that clear to myself: DIE, this thread, DIE!
  83. If you want a thread to die, then stop coming back to it.
  84. Back again, the only thing that is timeless is time, because we don't know how long it may last, so must assume it is infinite.

  85. Now really Eugene, how can a thread on timelessness ever... REALLY die??? ;)

    Ben, many ancient cultures had a much more "timeless" concept of time itself than we do. We tend to think of time as this line that extends from point A (creation/bigbang) to point B (the end of the universe, death, whatever). The ancient mayan shamanitc tradition... (and likely others) looked at time as being a sort of amalgam of this linear idea and a more "timeless" (possibly much much older) version in which the cycle of each year represents a microcosm of the full cycle of the linear scale. Throughout the year they celebrated ceremonies which recounted specific events in the story of creation. So before the new-years they celebrated the end of the world and the forces of chaos descending upon the earth to destroy it followed by the birth of a new order. Shaman priests had a duty to preform the ceremonies to assure that the following year would indeed happen at all.

    And ancient Europeans probably beleived in a similar concept... or else we wouldnt have the figure of the reaper (Saturn) and the baby to this day on new-years decorations. In fact its not too hard to imagine a world without the long term linear scale of time.... a world where every spring is the beginning of a new year... where the same souls come back to earth to repopulate the planet after their death. Where little seems to change year after year. I think that is probably an essence of timelessness. That a moment could encapsulate all of time as a microcosm reflecting all of history. And that is not a new idea, but a very very very old one.
  86. So for you Picasso is not enough​

    For me, eighty years says nothing about 'timeless.' That it does to some is timelessly amusing.
  87. No, Bailey, "timelessness" is not about time. Time is just another dimension as far as art goes. There is also the cultural dimension, the social dimension, the psychological dimension, the semantic dimension. What works a long way across one of these dimensions will (usually) work across other dimensions as well.
    Timelessness is just one of those spiritually-charged values that people like to assign, but which, in reality, has nothing to do with time. It is related to the concept of "perfection." Usually, people only name "perfect" things timeless -- things that appear "perfect" to them. By naming "perfect" things timeless, people even further hide the effects of the subjective variable on their definitions, but, in reality, the variable remains a variable. I couldn't have said it better than Nietzsche:
    Perfection said not to have evolved. When something is perfect, we tend to neglect to ask about its evolution, delighting rather in what is present, as if it had risen from the ground by magic. In this regard we are probably still under the influence of an ancient mythological sentiment. We still feel (in a Greek temple like the one at Paestum, for example) almost as if a god, playing one morning, had built his residence out of these enormous masses; at other times as if a soul had all of a sudden magically entered into a stone and now wished to use it to speak. The artist knows that his work has its full effect only when it arouses belief in an improvisation, in a wondrous instantaneousness of origin; and so he encourages this illusion and introduces into art elements of inspired unrest, of blindly groping disorder, of expectantly attentive dreaming when creation begins, as deceptions that dispose the soul of the viewer or listener to believe in the sudden emergence of perfection.
    As is self-evident, the science of art must oppose this illusion most firmly, and point out the false conclusions and self-indulgences of the intellect that drive it into the artist's trap.
    (Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human. IV, 145)​
    That's exactly the trap whoever believes there is anything more timeless than, say, a language falls into.
  88. "It is related to the concept of "perfection.""

    Sorry, the act of being timeless, has nothing to do with "perfection."

    Try again. :)
  89. I'll give you a clue why it has nothing to do with perfection......

    All things are perfect, anything perceived as otherwise is nothing more then a reflection of our insecurities.
  90. Hello again, Thomas.
    > All things are perfect, anything perceived as otherwise is nothing more then a reflection of our insecurities.
    This is correct.
    I rephrase: All things are imperfect, anything perceived as otherwise is nothing more then a reflection of our insecurities.
    This is also correct (and don't you dare to say it is not ;) Well, you can say it is not correct, but please support it.
    Obviously, the concept of perfection is not useful in defining anything objectively as your statement "all things are perfect" suggests. Perfection is defined and redefined in a context, always by a mind's eye -- your eye, my eye, somebody else's eye. Every signification, every operation of anyone's exclamation "this is perfect" is an operation of redefinition. In other words, the concept of perfection is not stable on the level of an individual, which means that such a concept is not stable on any given superindividual level.
    Of course, semantically, "timeless" is not "perfect." I was not talking about semantics when I said timelessness is related to perfection. I offer you an example at what level I am treating perfection as a concept: Descartes' second proof for the existence of God (it's [in]validity is not important here): God is perfect; existence is a perfection; therefore God exists.
    Following the very same argument (still invalid, but that's not the point): Timelessness is a perfection because perfection is timeless.
    Now comes the hard stuff: whether you agree with me or not, timelessness is an idealistic concept because it relies on a value proposition. Same applies to perfection. This is the way in which timelessness and perfection are related. It is a family-based relation, a hierarchical relation, not a semantic relation.
  91. The rub, both time and perfection are constructs of humanity:)
  92. Patrick, interesting about ancient civilizations and how close those old values of time and timelessness still are to our minds, or genes.

    Eugene, cool idea to reverse the perfect imperfect concept.
  93. > The rub, both time and perfection are constructs of humanity:)
    I told you they are related!
  94. "I told you they are related!"

    As a tree is to an ocean liner. When I write that there's a rub, it means the same as saying there's a flaw.

    Being contructs of humanity, doesn't make them related as it only makes them, along with many other ideas, in simplist terms, strictly a human construct to help define (time) and give meaning to our pitiful egocentric existance (perfection.)


    Get a bit of soul and neither have matter or meaning to one other than being used as a tool in which to help arrive at the dentist on time and be able to tell if the job on their teeth, was done right:)

    Thoreau, where for art thou as I wish an Amish farm without the Amish politics:)
  95. At this time, I'll encourage you to have the last word as I don't wish this to become a timeless exercise.

    Wishing you well.
  96. Thomas, a honest question: Do you think I am crazy enough not to see a difference between a tree and an ocean liner?
  97. Not crazy enough for that, but....
  98. Photographic Timelessness...
    devoid of fashion that dates the photo. i.e. clothing, shoes, accessories
    something that could have been appreciated in 1920 the same way it is appreciated in

    Madonna dates herself in the 1980's. When you look at photographs of her then you know
    that you are looking at the 80's.

    Nagel (omg i spoke this name) is dated. therefore not timeless.

    The Mona Lisa is timeless. Although in my opinion, ugly. Sorry da Vinci.

    Janice Joplin is dated, you know you are looking at the 1960's. Hendrix... etc.

    A lot of portraits of people are timeless, depending on the clothing they are wearing. A lot
    of nudes are timeless, unless they are wearing shoes that put a date stamp on the image.

    I guess you would have to know your fashion.

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