Re: [-empyre-] multi-perspectival / cultural hegemony of space

simon +,

Simon Biggs wrote:
> Difficult to conceive of Bosch as Medieval. He is really early Rennaisance.
> As you say elsehwere, a transitional figure. I was thinking more of things
> like 10th or 11th C. illuminated manuscripts. Of course we could also
> discuss Byzantine art...a transitional form in the other direction, away
> from the "pseudo-democratic" envelope of perspectival space towards the
> Medieval notion of a space of subjective culturally determined value.

i often look to the transitional figures as they tend to explain alot
about both sides of thing they are transitioning (cezzane is another
favorite of mine). i always felt bosch to be more on the medieval side,
particularly the garden and its blatant, practically porno content.
perhaps it was easier to get over on the medieval censors because, after
all, it is a religious painting. to my knowledge, no other renaissance
artists were quite so "graphic" in their representations of heaven and
hell, what with all manner of things coming out of and going into all
manner of orifices.

> > i feel, arguably of course, that the compositional traits of medieval
> > painting have less to do with cultural signifigance and more to do with
> > a naivet of spatial understanding (naturally the individual viewer
> > brings to the apprehension of the work their own bias - you tend to
> > place more emphasis on the cultural reading of a work, and i the
> > formal).
> -----
> There is nothing naïve in Medieval thinking, least of all about space. They
> had a very sophisticated take on things with fractional shadings of value
> that we today, in our blunt and materialist world, find hard to appreciate.
> It is we that is naïve in believing that an empirically arrived at
> perception of the world might even begin to approach what it is to be. It is
> this that so many Islamists, and many others on this planet, find so
> disturbing about Western culture...and one can only have but a lot of
> sympathy for them.

well, islamists aside, the physical action of light passing through a
little hole and cast onto a screen produces a 2d image of the world that
generally behaves by the same rules as renaissance perspective. this odd
little phenomenon may well have produced renaissance perspective in the
first place. i have a really, really hard time accepting that this
physical behavior of light is a manifestation of a materialistic world
view rather than an actual property of light. just as i have a hard time
accepting that cartesian space is a manifestation of materialism rather
than materialism being a "symptom," one of the many outcomes both good
and bad, of an empirical approach. light and little holes exist outside
of us, we don't invent them as a means of reinforcing our world views,
we stumble upon them and then they shape our world views. do you suggest
that our world view exists fully formed, and then we mold the world to
conform to it? then we are truly the masters of the universe, whatever
we imagine comes into being (i'm imagining my bank account). certainly
there is some back and forth, but there is a cart, and there is a horse,
and its not hard to imagine that an accidental camera obscura came into
being long before a human walked the earth to observe the phenomena. and
yes, if a tree falls in a forest it makes a sound whether i'm there or
not (and if a man says something and a woman is not there to hear it, he
*is* still wrong :).

> I would argue that the manner in which Medieval people represented the world
> was actually a model of how they "physically" saw it, just as is the case
> for us today. 

holy cow! so important things are actually bigger? reminds me of monty
python and the "weighing" of the witch.

> If you are going to argue that there is such a thing as
> progress (that is, trot out the Modernist line that we approach truth
> through an iterative process of improvement) then you will have lost me
> right from the beginning. I am an arch-relativist. For me there is no
> "truth", of any kind, nor any progress...just difference of arbitrary value.
> There is a chasm between our world-views.

i have mixed feelings about progress. i think it is progress to
understand that the earth revolves around the sun and not otherwise. i
think it is progress not to force women to wear veils or stone them in
the town square if they get caught with their neighbor. i don't think
its progress to dress little girls in skimpy outfits and enter them into
kiddie beauty pageants, nor do i think its progress that we can
prosecute a near "bloodless" war from outer space (i'm quite fond of
wars most bloody).

> One has to ask whether putting somebody on the Moon is necessarily of
> import. 

well, we have got to get off this doomed rock sooner or later if the
species is to survive. whether or not this species deserves survival is

> Your acceptance that there is "prolly" something called reality, to me,
> tends to suggest an easy going approach to life that will likely keep your
> blood pressure low but will pay few dividends when it comes to seeking a
> plurality of perception.

the times i've experienced a "plurality of perception" were when i was
on drugs. convincing though these experiences may be, they can't be
trusted.  what i know is that i can't fly, regardless how much i would
like to. i know that water is wet and rocks are hard. i know that on an
atomic and sub-atomic level, wet and hard lose all meaning, but i don't
live on a sub-atomic level, as much as i have fantasies about it. you
and i may have very different world views, but water makes you as wet as
me, and a rock prolly hurts just as much when its thrown at you as when
its thrown at me. unless of course you have some spock-like mastery of
pain. but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, it means you have the
ability to ignore it.

i don't have alot of that fancy book learnin' - most of what i know i
picked up by accident. that is to say, my world view is being formed by
observation. my brother on the other hand holds a Ph.D. from princeton
and is a devout buddhist. he doesn't believe in reality and blames
certain physical problems he has on one of his past lives as a warrior
or samurai or something (why is it that past lives are always so
exciting?). after one of his frequent two year stays in a monastery in
thailand, we were sitting at the 'rents house watching a program on the
tele about steven hawking. he proclaimed: "poor man, he is so confused." 

hmmm. hegemony, me thinks, is not an exclusively western phenomenon.


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