Working under the aesthetic premise that it is the context of some physical thing that charges it with meaning, I would like to say a few words about music.  It’s actually quite simple and not that profound at all, but frequently looked over by musicians and other artists.  Music is simply a way for cultures to communicate with one another.  Any other discussion about music is merely talking about taste in some ungrounded theoretical way.  The context of a song at a particular venue is what charges the tune with cultural power, similarly to the way the context of a symbol can charge it with meaning, like in natural languages.  It is the language of inter-cultural discourse.  In a phrase, tone or rhythm, musical histories that extend into socio-political histories are summoned to the venue.  It doesn’t matter if you’re playing Metal or Punk-Classical.  You are inevitably continuing the historical inter-cultural dialectic, either through an embrace or rejection of musical sensibilities throughout history.  If you accept the premise and follow it through, as a musician, you are the voice of a people in a vast history of cultural dialectics.  Musical traditionalists that adhere to strict tonal, rhythmic and emotional limitations are as mute to cultural discourse as a Cubist painting hanging on a white wall in a museum. Image

Some new music

June 27, 2011

These tunes were professionally recorded by a good friend of mine…

Enjoy!

My music

June 20, 2011

Here’s a link to some music I make with a trio in my apartment.  I’m on piano.

http://www.myspace.com/saltwaterandthefunky24bits

My Paintings

October 21, 2010

www.workingpaint.wordpress.com

Dialectics-As-Process

February 3, 2009

dinosaur-fossil-scelidotherium_leptocephalum_side

The context that postmodern aesthetics takes into account, traced back to Frederick Law Olmsted’s creation of parks in New York City in the 19’th Century, developed into a massive dialectical relationship of the landscape to human activities, be it social, political, and natural. The vastness of the context, for some post modernists, spans all the way back to the paleolithic era encased in permeable glass in museums – the bones of a triceratops still undergoing the culturally emergent notion of entropy – to the extrapolated second law of thermodynamics, that says, in the future, the universe will become an all-encompassing sameness, all the way to the irreversability of eternity. The context encompasses our (biased) epistemic evolution along with the actual landscape in a dialectic-as-process that is never finished.

mayan-ruins1

I think dialectical relationships need to be specific. For instace, a dialectic between a landscape and a map must consider a broad contextual range, meaning that the physical sciences must be employed to establish the “side” of the landscape in the dialectic and its relation to the “side” of the map. Physical history, like geological time, of a particular landscape (site) is in a continual relationship with the human activities (social, political and natural). The primordial eras are entombed in permeable glass cases, where heat can escape the fossils of dinosaurs. We have a relationship with the primordial era through the archeological digs that brought up the fossils from rock layers in the earth. They are now entombed in museums. The entropic geological time, then, might be said to be in a relationship with the social, political and natural human (cultural) activites manifested in the “landscape” of the architecture, and design of a history museum. The preserved history is what some postmodern artists were interested in, as they could use a physical landscape of a museum to establish a dialectic with the maps. The social, political, and natural (i.e. biological evolution) histories are found in ruins like pompey, cathedrals in europe, Mayan Pyramids, and even the deteriorating archtecture of today. History proper, is a fiction to some. The people that hold this view become interested in the ruined landscapes of past civilizations, fossils found in the rocks, hieroglyphs, language entombed in books – all real stuff – even the buildings erected today that “rise into ruin, rather than erected for the future.” (paraphrasing Smithson) The future becomes forgotten in the past – meaning in the instant a brick is layed, it is already in ruin. The future is remembered through the past.  The history museums are an actual landscape undergoing physical processes alongside cultural processes. This way, a map of the past can be developed from a transitory landscape evolving along with human cultural activities.

In simpler terms, All of the physical Sciences, aesthetics, semiology, architecture, and art are employed on actual landscapes to make maps of history. It is a deconstruction of Idealistic historical dialectics, through the belief in material reality. Alot of artists were reading Borges, Merleau Ponty, Levi-Strauss, Olmsted, physicists, biologists, chemists, geologists, etc., which reconstructed this deconstruction of history-as-an-idea.

All of these sciences are themselves an historically contingent cultural emergence that change alongside with the landscape. The landscape is no longer a “thing-in-itself” but a “thing-for-us”.

Some Material on Dialectics

February 2, 2009

Some material on Dialectics:

Robert Smithson, nonsite
nonsitecontained
“The side of a smooth green hill, torn by floods, may at first be properly called deformed, and on the same principle, though not with the same impression, as a gash on a living animal. When a rawness of such a gash in the ground is softened, and in part concealed and ornamented by the effects of time, and the progress of vegitation, deformity, by this usual process, is converted into picturesqueness; and this is the case with quarries, gravel pits, etc., which at first are deformities, and which in their most picturesque state, are often considered as such by a levelling improver.”

– Uvedale Price, Three Essays on the Picturesque, (1810)

“Burkes notion of “beautiful” and “sublime” functions as a thesis of smoothness, gentle curves, and delicacy of nature, and as an antithesis of terror, solitude, and vastness of nature, both of which are rooted in the real world, rather than a Hegelian Ideal… We cannot take a one-sided view of the landscape within this dialectic. A park can no longer be seen as a “thing-in-itself”, but rather as a process of ongoing relationships existing in a physical region – the park becomes a “thing-for-us”… dialectics of this type are a way of seeing things as a manifold of relations, not as isolated objects. Nature, for the dialectician is indifferent to any formal ideal… Olmsted’s parks exist before they are finished, which means in fact they are never finished; they remain carriers of the unexpected and of contradictions on all levels of human activity, be it social, political, or natural.”

– Robert Smithson, “Frederick Law Olmsted and the Dialectical Landscape”, (1973)

“Both sides [of the dialectic] are present and absent at the same time. The land, or ground is placed in the art, rather than the art placed on the ground… Large scale becomes small. Small scale becomes large. A point on a map extends to the size of a landmass. A landmass contracts to a point… The rules of this network of signs are discovered as you go along uncertain trails both mental and physical.

– Robert Smithson, “The Spiral Jetty”, (1972)

If cultural means, “social, political, or natural human activity” then I would say dialectics are the result of cultural relations with the landscape. The material landscape becomes mapped my the mental, as the landscapes shift from entropy to different mapped “states” (mobility) of Picturesque to deformed. The material shits in relation to the mental interpretative evaluations of it. The landscape is never finished, and our maps are never finished. The maps are continually revised in a dialectical relationship with the entropic lanscape. Human activity (culture) effects our evaluative and interpretive maps of the landscape. The development of the dialectic is an entropic phenomenon, both in the material and in our maps. They do converge as “a point on a map extends to the size of a landmass [, and] a landmass contracts to a point [on a map].”

untitled-1

A bit about determinacy:

It is only certain because we cannot determine it conceptually. What is it to type on a computer? What scale are we talking about here? Quantum? Relativity? The categorical containment of whatever aspect of typing on the computer you wish to determine – the confines of your determinacy – makes it uncertain because of the historically contingent, intersubjective way in which you constructed those confines. Determining something creates uncertainty, while indetermination without categorical containment creates certainty. Some might call the latter “absurd”, and the former “rational”. However, the latter (indeterminate certainty) is a feeling of the body of experience. It is not proof, becuase it is not a conceptual, categorically contained determinacy. It is a belief, not from concepts, but of feeling. In this “absurd” body of experience, evidential “proof” (or persuasion) flattens into the grid of our epistemic (contained) maps – our table of categories, distinctions, determinations etc. There is no proof of typing on the computer. But because we all feel the keys under our fingertips and see the dynamics of the process of writing etc., it is a belief that I have because of the way such a bodily interaction with the world feels. Call it absurd if you wish, but I think its a very practical and generative belief to have.

On Dialectical dynamics:

I’d say discourse (dialectic) disintegrates authority (or traditional hierarchies) through a process of resonance and dissonance, where the resonanating (agreeing) ideas find themselves in a context of dissonance (disagreement). The resonances dissolve into a sameness – a singularity like a harmonic soundwave in the air, almost to the point of disapearance. They become like a mute note, amongst the power of the dissonant notes (the disagreements). The disagreements become more powerful during discourse, and they are extended to encompass a larger foundation on both sides of the argument, I’d say. As discourse tends to sway to the side of strengthening the oppositions, the new, now stronger opposing structures, now undermine the similarities. Certain discourses might cause the supporting dissonant structure to creep into the agreements and transform them. While other discourses might completely annhilate these resonances through the same dynamic. If the resonances (agreements) are considered traditional hierarchies, which, I think they are, the discourse would then be corrosive, transformative, or utterly destructive to the authoritative traditions because of this dynamic of expanding opposition. The process then repeats, where the dissonances become the new resonances and so forth.

deconstruction —> reconstruction —> deconstruction —> reconstruction etc.

It seems like the disagreements in discourse are so subtle, how even a mere re-definition of a term, like “mind”, can throw the whole process of apparant agreement into a vast disagreement. However, in some cases, the “vastness” of the disagreement is not as vast as black and white. For example, if you take the color black – the material pigment of it – and begin to seperate it into points, expanding to an infinite end, the black block becomes a series of points that eventually begin to grey against the white, each time a point multiplies and becomes more disparate. Soon enough, you’ll need a high powered microscope to even see black at all. Likewise, with white on black. If extrapolated with this logic, they will reverse roles – where black becomes white, and white becomes black. If you keep them seperate, they will remain reversed, while if you transpose them upon one another, there will be a middle-grey. In the grey, the initial black and white, as well as the logically reversed black and white, become lost in grey. They integrate into sameness. The power of it becomes completely lost in it’s sameness.

Consider this as an analogy to argumentation, how one takes a position, and what occurs during agreements.

Initially there is grey – agreement. In the agreement, which is a culturally confined emergence, there is no power in the agreement. It’s neutral. However, because of the fallabile pre-suppositional “grounds” of belief, as the white is pulled away from the black, the neutral gray shows signals around its edges of opposition. The power of the neutral grey is realized as black and white grow along the edges of expansion. The pre-suppositions have allowed for rational disagreements. The cultural agreement becomes a powerful disagreement. They are now in a converging dialectic with one another – a dialogue. They tug away at each others arguments, finding more to disagree with, until they have disagreed with everything. The nuetral grey is now in complete opposition as black and white. The positions have gained thier full potential power as non-converging oppositions – a disparate dialectic. One says “It’s all mind”. Another says “It’s all matter”. It is a strong opposition, yet very subtle in its opposition, I think. The former, has noticed a categorical distinction in the neutral grey of the cultural paradigm, namely that of mind and matter. The latter sees the same distinction, but under the same categories, expands upon the matter. He defends it. The evaluative, interpretive categories of the normative (rule-following) mind have somehow evaluated the categorical containment differently, than the former. The thing is, I think, because of the variance in evaluation, new categories are formed within the black and white sides. Black has different aesthetic properties than white, like mind has different properties than matter. They begin analysing two different beasts. The language used might be a product of frustration of non-communicability. How is one to explain the aesthetic properties of white unless it is in relation to its opposite, black? White is only bright next to black, and visa versa. Likewise, “mind” as a concept is only mind in relation to matter. They grow from one another. An understanding of matter is necessary for an understanding of mind.

So, what’s going on here?

They are entirely distinct and powerful (mind / matter, black / white) because of thier violent opposition. The categories developed within mind are developed in a dialogue with matter. Mind is meta-physical. Matter is physical. It is all developed through relations. The fiber of the canvas, or the language of the discourse, is what holds the dialectics together.

Are dialectics only possible because they converge through similar media? (Canvas fibers, or language structure) Is it only a dialogue because of the necessary underlying structure?

Can the dialectic of mind / matter remain disparate, on top of a canvas of similarity?

Anonymous wroteSeriously, it seems like its overall thrust is geared toward the search for enhanced modeling power of reality, toward trying to better define and attain epistemic virtue, toward a reconsideration of the “best practices” to be employed in our normative sciences of logic, aesthetics and ethics. The way you framed the question in the O.P. seems, too, like a search for a Goldilocks epistemology, which is to say, one that has neither too much hubris nor an excessive humility.

I Wrote:   Yes.

Anonymous wrote:  When it comes to humankind’s descriptive enterprises, which are inherently normative, when we encounter paradox, we sort through different scenarios and try our best to determine its origins. To the extent we cannot determine whether any given knowledge advance is being thwarted by, on one hand, methodological constraints, or on the other, some type of in-principle occulting, the proper bias is to assume the former and eschew the latter.

I Wrote:  Yeah. I agree. Ultimately, for now at least, aesthetic paradoxes are my interest. When our rule-following (normative) methodologies fail to resolve a paradoxical conflict, another approah is necessary, I think. Where I’ve found it, is in revising the constraints of a logical containment, by either adding or subtracting something within the category, (say optics and perspective for instance) where upon extraction or immersion (subtraction/addition) the bounds of the containment shifts. This is a normative approach to a problematic paradox. But, interestingly, aesthetically, after the act of manifesting an extrapolated re-arranged logical containment – bringing it to it’s manifested end as a sculpture, painting drawing film, mixed media etc. – it becomes a metaphor that temporarily lifts, if only to a degree, the normative (rule-following) mind, and allows the senses to enhance to a new degree of feeling alive. It is an unconventional language (the art I’m speaking of) that is expressive rather than normative. It is a way of manipulating matter into an expressive entity that surges into the glass body of experience, where the normative is undermined by the power of its expression. To percieve a paradox, or paradoxes is to feel them with the body.

Anonymous wrote:  This is simply a pragmatic approach wherein methods will generally precede systems. Our methods will necessarily assume such things as common sense notions of causation, reality’s intelligibility, certain first principles like identity, noncontradiction and excluded middle, such principles alternately holding or folding in a semantical vagueness that flows naturally from the ontological and epistemic vagueness we ordinarily encounter in reality. Ontological vagueness means we change our modal ontology from the possible, actual and necessary to the possible, actual and probable. Epistemic vagueness is when we don’t know if we are constrained methodologically or ontologically (the in-principle occulting I mentioned above).

I Wrote:  I think we might be in disagreement here. It may just be a misunderstanding of your termonology, or rather a disagreement with it. I don’t think ontology is a logical approach to reality, but rather ontology might be called an “enantientology”, or an “alogos of the experiencing body”. Now, I say this from a very scientifically uninformed perspective. Maybe I’m valueing the arts too much. It is because of these paradoxes found through normative approaches, that give merit to a revision of the means of the approach and the end…

Anonymous wrote:  Even if reality writ large remains incomprehensible, it is also still apprehensible, which is to say intelligible, lending itself to varying degrees of modeling power. Anyone who wants to enhance this modeling power must accept the onus of cashing out their novel methods in practical value-realizations.

I Wrote:  Yes. It lends itself to varying degrees of modeling power. The practical value-realizations need to be re-valued. Is this just another way of saying, “methodological constraints need to be changed”? Or am I missing something here?

Anonymous wrote:  All things being equal, once we’ve exhausted our best descriptive and normative approaches to reality, we remain immersed in paradox vis a vis reality’s intial conditions, boundaries and limits, or with what might be called its primal origin, primal support, primal being, primal goal and primal axioms. This gives rise to different sets of paradoxes, beyond mere godelian-like constraints, that we sometimes try to resolve through a coincidentia oppositorum, sometimes by nurturing tensions creatively, sometimes resolving them dialectically in syntheses, sometimes dissolving them through paradigm shifts, sometimes side-stepping them due to our lack of interest or due to their triviality, or what have you.

I Wrote:  I agree with my emboldenments of your words here. However, I think the dialectical doesn’t always resolve itself into a synthesis. Sure, there are convergences in a dialectic, but I think leaving (some) dialectics as disparate entities that are opposed to each other, might benefit the advancement of sensationally experiencing the complex texture (to use your own eloquent description) of reality. For instance, a dialectic between experience and a logically exptrapolated field (like optics), while remaining (for the most part) disparate, incompatable entities, inform one another. The thrusting spirit of the logical extrapolations, and manifestations is , I think, to progress experience away from our tentative normative, biased (evaluative) appraoches to reality.

Anonymous wrote:  Still, this immersion in paradox has deep significance for certain of our evaluative concerns, such ultimate concerns having profound existential import for very urgent and most insistent human yearnings and longings. The interpretive stances that then result from this dance between our descriptive, normative and evaluative approaches, for many people, take on the attributes so well described by William James as representing options that are vital, forced and live.

I Wrote:  That’s a great way to put it. I particularly like “vital, forced, and live”. What would happen if we ended this (maybe futile) attempt at synthesizing these dialectical relationships, in a practical way… and left the descriptive, normative, and evaluative approaches seperate from the “side” of the body of experience – the alogos of experience?

Anonymous wrote:  It is in the going beyond our descriptive and normative value-realizations to a more robust interpretive approach, then, that I can affirm at least some of what I think you are recommending, Rise, as best I can understand your thrust… We can also recall Whitehead saying that creative advance, in fact, takes place only along the borders of chaos.

I Wrote: You understand it very well, and you articulated it nicely. Creative advancement, I would say, is beyond the borders of rationallity.

Anonymous wrote:  Not all of our interactions with reality are formal and can be rendered through formal construction.

I Wrote:  There we have it, folks. This is the value of my current project. Right here, in this succinct sentence contains a bounty of reasons to do what I’m doing, which is to create, beyond our normative biases.

Anonymous wrote:  To be more explicit, I was pretty much implicitly rejecting any application of your critique to humankind’s normative and descriptive endeavors. To be more plain, I have no serious quarrels with the disciplines of philosophy and science vis a vis how far they have come and where they now stand, here, on the threshold of a new millennium. At the same time, I do see value in your approach for aesthetics, as a normative science, and also for humankind’s interpretive endeavors, broadly conceived, to include all the great traditions, both religious and ideological, as we all attempt to tie our normative, descriptive and evaluative stances together, somehow.

I Wrote:  Ok. I understand your position. I also agree with you that Scientific and philosophical endeavors are of great merit. In the OP, this didn’t seem like the case, but now (about a month later) I have come to some vast changes in thought…

Anonymous wrote:  Let me issue a cautionary note here. When we say beyond rationality and speak of the transrational, we are recognizing that, in addition to the empirical, logical, practical and prudential, there are also nonrational and relational aspects to human value-realizations; and it is only because we are finite and fallible that we must necessarily fallback on what are weaker truth-indicative signs (like symmetry, parsimony and usefulness, for example) and cannot otherwise rely solely on the more robustly truth-conducive operations like empirical observation and logical demonstration. We must first exhaust our best truth-conducive efforts before relying on truth-indicative signs (as fallible tie-breakers); and we must keep all of these modeling power attempts very integrally related even as we respect the autonomy of their different methodologies.

I Wrote:   I think you’re misunderstanding me, about my views on art and aesthetics. The arational is only used as a method to manipulate matter into an expressive entity. The arational is a pre-sculptural (pre-material) generator for the artist. These generators may come from epistemic notions, fields such as linguistics, semiotics, optics, perspective, history, Physics etc., and then they are either added to, or subtracted from, making thier rationality, arational. This, however, is only a generative method to make an expressive physical entity. The result of this expressive entity, in some art, is an experience where one loses thier interpretive mind briefly, and to a degree. Now, this is most certainly not all art. For instance, an irrational addition or subtraction of a field in physics might not lend itself to an expressive piece that allows the senses to undermine the mind.

Anonymous wrote:  What I am describing as different aspects of a singular mode and/or act of knowing, he seems to describe as different modes of knowing. He seems to affirm, then, different epistemologies as equally efficacious routes to engaging reality. In my view, epistemology is epistemology is epistemology and we do not approach reality by filling our epistemic platters from a smorgasboard of autonomous modes of engagement. That is not transrational. It is, rather, an arational, gnosticism.

I Wrote:   I’m not sure if I understand you here. I cannot decipher the difference in your post between “transrational” and “arational”. Maybe you can explain, if you have the time. Also, take into consideration the “additive” or “subtractive” (whatever term you want to denote to it) in reference to the generation of expressive physical entities, which are then manifested and susceptible to the “entropies” of normative evaluation. Just look at all the “untitled pieces” of post-modern art…

Anonymous wrote:  Like I said, I’m actually good with your approach as an aesthetic methodology and even to broaden our interpretive horizons. I am saying that it otherwise lacks the same normative impetus for other types of value-realizations, like science, for example