Thursday, December 26, 2013

Education as an Act of Self-Becoming

A Good Read
George Bernard O'Neill (1828-1917)
Private Collection


If we consider education as preparation for life, the way in which we approach transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next acquires a specific role and significance, namely belonging to the role the individual being educated will assume on the world stage. 

For example, educating an entire populous of beings to become scholars when they are destined to become painters, musicians, or entertainers, is counterproductive and diminishes the amount of time these individuals have to devote to their "craft". 

While the commitment to the future of our offspring is indeed undeniable, there are innumerable differentiations in the fundamental developmental threads we weave for ourselves and our children and should, as a matter of consequence, be reflected in our approach to education. 


Madame de Lamballe reading to Marie Antoinette and her daughter, 
Marie Thérèse Charlotte (1858)
Joseph Carauad (1821-1905)


While a good book can transform the individual reading it, the conscious act involved in choosing a book that directly speaks to a person's interests is as much a fundamental aspect of development as is the content of the book and how it affects the person's mindset or worldview. 

The Virgin teaching the infant Christ to read
Carlo Maratti (1625-1713)
Fitzwilliam Museum
Provenance: bequeathed: Mesman, Charles, Rev. 1842



Following the rudimentary experience of learning how to read, an activity associated with ascribing meaning to symbols, children should be guided -vs- directed toward subjects that interest them. While it is valuable to expose children to many subjects given that their interests are ever-becoming, requiring mastery over arbitrary subjects they may or may not pursue in life does not result in long-term mastery or even interest. 

On the contrary, requiring our progeny to memorize biology terms, for example, if they have no desire to step foot in a laboratory or hospital, is counterproductive to their growth in areas that truly interest them. It is more important to teach a child to pursue an authentic lifestyle, one marked by dedicating their life to something that 'speaks' to them, than to half-educate them in subjects that are not related to who they wish to become as individuals. 

Bored (2012)
Sam Sidders


Education is more about self-individualizing than about memorizing random pieces of information that do not relate to an individual's interests, natural talents, or opportunities afforded them by nature of their circumstances in life. 

The self-individualizing process is a complex one, which, when left to arbitrary standards of education, never fully develops. Simply put: there are only so many hours in a day to develop one's mind, talents, and skills. Wasting those precious hours memorizing random pieces of information that will not be utilized and will most certainly be forgotten within hours, days, or weeks of ingestion will not yield the type of progeny the world needs to continue the evolutive expansion we call progress

American Progress (Manifest Destiny(c. 1872)
John Gast 1842 - ?)


In order to progress as a world community, we need to make room for and recognize that artists, musicians, entertainers, and other non-18th-century-renaissance-scholars are an underrepresented populous in need of recognition. 

Education is about self-actualization and self-becoming ~ not about memorizing random facts. Random facts are useless pieces of intellectual real estate that take away from the genius of the individual. 

Prince Henry Lubomirski as the Genius of Fame (1789)
Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842)
Gemalderie, Berlin


 ڿڰۣ 













Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Probability of Santa Claus


Contrary to formal theories of beliefs, intuitive judgments of probability regarding the existence of Santa Claus are generally not extensional. People do not normally, as a result of their belief in Santa Claus, automatically believe in the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny, nor do they analyze minute signs into exhaustive lists supporting the possibility of Santa Claus or evaluate compound probabilities such as the belief in Dust Bunnies by aggregating elementary evidence for them (sparkles found in a stream of light shinning into one's bedroom). 


Instead, people commonly use a limited number of heuristics, such as popular representations of the notion of Santa Claus as well as the availability of data from Google Earth which tracks the trajectory of his sleigh as he travels around the world on Christmas Eve

Our conception of whether or not Santa Claus exists is based on assessments made during the holidays that are routinely carried out as part of The Perception of Christmas and The Comprehension of the Meaning of Christmas

Such holiday assessments include computations of new gifts -vs- "I received one of these last year", attributions of causality (Only Santa Claus knew I wanted this), and evaluations of the availability of the associations (there are hoof prints in the garden) and exemplars (Grandma got run over by a Reindeer).

 


Holiday assessments are performed even in the absence of evidence for Santa Claus' existence, although the results of these holiday assessments are used to meet the objections of non-believers when they arise. For example, the mere mention of "Santa's sleigh" activates instances of Santa Claus flying through the sky with a sack full of toys and evokes further holiday assessments of 'What's in the sack?' as well as 'What are the physics involved in operating Santa's sleigh?'

Similarly, the statement that Santa Claus' wife had hoped that he would get some rest before leaving to deliver toys around the world on Christmas Eve elicits a comparison of Santa Claus diligently working side-by-side with his elves, barely taking time out to enjoy a nice cup of hot chocolate, while Mrs. Claus gently reproaches him with a disruptive kiss rather than a traditional scolding (she is Mrs. Claus, after all). 




Although these holiday assessments are not tied to the probability of Santa Claus existing, they are likely to play a dominant role when determining whether or not Santa Claus truly exists. 



The availability of toys this holiday season may be used to answer the question, "What proportion of the toys produced last year were made by elves in the North Pole?", and representativeness may explain how one child is more likely to be on the "Nice" list than to be on the "Naughty" list. 




Wishing all who celebrate Christmas... 
a very Merry Christmas Eve, 
a Happy Christmas Day, 
and a Joyous and Prosperous New Year! 


Happy Holidays!

(¯`’•.¸*♫♪()♫♪*¸.•’´¯)
()_____......Soph....._____()











Monday, December 23, 2013

Unification of Parallel (Dual) Processing


The difficulties associated with negotiating the complexities of everyday social, professional, or personal life could be optimized by devising modern-day tools that allow us to logically and rationally analyze judgments and decisions of both a heuristic as well as a rational nature. 



Examining our forecasts, any overconfidences we might have, as well as our optimism regarding the results of any given decision, are important steps in exhibiting coherent thinking ~ an activity not always best left to initial, at first blush or surface-level natural assessments. 

We can anchor and then adjust our thoughts and therefore augment the strategies we employ in making complex decisions. The questions we ask ourselves provide us with a methodology whereby our thinking becomes more transparent, allowing for easier adjustments rather than the irrationalities that sometimes accompany common compensation coping techniques such as second guessing, jumping in too quickly, or abandoning a specific trajectory all together rather than just analyzing and adjusting the original strategy based on relevant inputs. 


Successful ideas and decisions need not always be "timely" or even "lucky" but rather worked and reworked until they work. Insights are often "sparked" by seeing our ideas outside of our minds in the battlefield of existence, so to speak. 

Taking our subroutines into consideration allows us to more fully analyze and associate values to actions, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that may or may not be in our best interest, with our "best interest" being that which each individual determines essential to their survival, well-being, optimal health, optimal performance, overall satisfaction with life, happiness, and enthusiasm, drive, or passion for any given subject or sensory experience. 


The thoughts and feelings that often times persuade us to act or think otherwise are those that arise from our ascribing more importance to the rationalizations or biases of others than to our own natural or heuristically-experienced feelings on the matter. 

While the combination of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination can benefit our ability to quickly and more effectively anchor our thoughts and thus decisions in an efficient and often times prognostic way, limiting authenticity to sheer numbers or statistics limits our understanding as well as future opportunities for growth that arise from collaborative understanding and shared effort. 


Non-optimal reasoning can affect our lives in a variety of adverse ways; from not getting the education we need to pursue our dreams to getting the wrong type of early childhood message that can delay or cause us to forgo our dreams in lieu of something "more important". 

'Missing out' on lost opportunities can haunt the human mind for years, to the point that confidence suffers, doubt and concern set in, overcompensations occur, and/or stagnation ensues as a result of feeling paralyzed or 'stuck in a rut'. 



Modern-day human beings are the living embodiment of our thoughts on living. These thoughts become the narratives we tell ourselves and that define our lifestyles, well-being, and ultimately our success and level of happiness. 

In some cases, these non-optimal thoughts and their resulting decisions can lead to mental health disorders, financial difficulties and social instability, or even death. 



Thus, the urgency and necessity in devising a system by which we might optimize our decisions. 

Happy Holidays and happy thinking...

ڿڰۣ







Excerpt from my notebook: Le Livre d'Amour de l'Orient (Quatrième Partie)














Thursday, December 12, 2013

California Girls and Metaphors



In California Girl parlance the word "like" is about metaphor, which is to say, about nothing, but nothing which is like something, or rather is something, "like" signaling a simile. Metaphor is the evocation of something, a step which makes us stumble toward something else, something which has not previously existed. A figure of speech, science fiction that eventually leads to understanding the California Girl impulse. But as we do not necessarily know what the California Girl, or even metaphor, is, let us begin with neither, in a poem by Wallace Stevens called 

Disillusionment of Ten O'clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
None of them are strange, 
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.



Like California Girls, this poem appears (to the extent that it does appear) as a model of absence, the very mirror of meaning without means. Repeatedly the language defies its worth, unmakes itself at the point of poetry - while poetry, being a metaphor for creation, dissolves in our eyes, an unshed tear. 



Its absence is complete, and eloquent, if overstated; but the form is there like the grin on a California Girl's face while out shopping or getting a mani-pedi with friends. What might at first blush seem shallow and empty is indeed the presence of something ...for absence is poetry.


A poem, however, is not a metaphor, altogether the title in conjunction with the poem suggests an ambience of melancholy, a not unmetaphorical condition experienced by many during the holiday season which leads to the writing of a poem rather than a blog post like this one. 

The author explores this mood at some time other than ten o'clock, perhaps during the writing of the poem. Time is a metaphor, both in the poem's writing and in its reading; 



it is not a ten o'clock poem but a poem about Time, specifically ten o'clock (or rather, ten p.m. - although it feels like three a.m., or even three-thirty). 

This shows the difficulty in assigning a time to anything - significant, because Time metaphorically bespeaks the inexorable beating of the heart and lungs, consumption (i.e., shopping) and desire (enjoying life), or the arterial flow of rolling with one's hommies.



We save time, keep time, make time, lose time, and invent time, but it is something we have (once we've discovered we have it) in diminishing quantity. The poet's title is a ruse, just as is the notion of Clueless as a metaphor for California Girls... the poem is entirely too carefree, too fanciful, for disillusionment. Not the poet, but Time herself, is disillusion, the pretence of its own existence. Or in the case on onlookers, the pretense of thinking one knows the extent of an individual by how they are portrayed (or even at the surface level, behave) publicly. 

As with California Girls, there is metaphor in it. The phrase "California Girl," which recalls us to our days spent in high school, means more than words alone can connote. Is this "California Girl" nothing more than an empty-minded-party-going-shop-a-holic-in-high-heels or is she something more? 

The poem's purpose here, in the wake of metaphor, is not what it is and says but what it does not say, or says not. Which it does. For instance, it is, but is not, about night-gowns ... just as being a California Girl is and is not about shopping for them. 








Monday, December 9, 2013

On Happiness


The central philosophical point to these posts is that the logic of happiness is such that the illusions of difference between mind and matter, self and other, appearance and reality, essence and existence ~ all the strain of dichotomized faculties and the angst of alienation and estrangement ~ simply collapse under their own weight. 

The reflex of turning toward the sensation of happiness is a reflex of a certain standpoint adopted by one's own mind. The choice to 'be' rather than 'become' shatters our ego's thoughts on nature where only existence is left, a spirit rejoicing in a moment of self-affirmation that excludes nothing. 



I am aware that these posts are not as "funny" as some of my readers might prefer, but during the holidays one is almost always a bit more reflective than blatantly humorous. Of course the self-designated title of Philosophical Humorist is one that insists upon philosophical rumination weaved throughout all one's thoughts, jokes, and humorous musings. In my mind of minds, everything I write has a humorous tint, a pinkish hue that resonates and bubbles up to the top. My words mirror the sentiments I choose to experience as I skip and pirouette my way through life. 

Whether or not there is something one can do to change the world with a piece of insightful blogging is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, one could come across a blog like this and actually find themselves drawn toward the ease and simpleness presented in each post ~ finding a shared understanding many matters simply by resonating with my initial intention for starting this blog in the first place: the desire to be true to my own self and the willingness to explore rather than define or label.

For me, happiness arises whenever I am thoroughly present in a given moment, which feels like an honoring of myself, another, and the moment itself. 



Under the purview of laughter my sense about the philosophical placement of happiness is more on the order of an obverse to the "sensible" responses associated with living in the "real" world than it is on defining those responses. 

The words: "real", "true", "right", "wrong", "me", "you", "them", and the like are words that instantly produce a smile on my face and within my being. They are hilarious declarations of insanity in that one can never know and can thus only be "okay" with not knowing, contending oneself instead with hoping, if one wishes to do so, or with exploring, if one is so inclined. 

I fall into the latter of those examples. Everything I do in life, which reflects in my writing, is from a standpoint of knowing that I do not know and enjoying thoroughly the experience of exploring and ruminating on all the many thoughts and sentiments available to me. 

Hence my drive toward new and heightened experiences... but not in a way that is vexing. Instead, I prefer the scenic route. The fastest route anywhere, theoretically, is a straight line, but I am not wired to follow a rigid path. This means that I do not enjoy focusing on one path, diligently seeing it through, working my way through, or any word denoting the exercise of effort associated with arriving or "getting there".  

Instead, I incline toward effortlessness and thus naturally gravitate toward those thoughts and experiences that arise from a state of effortless communication, effortless thinking, and effortless being. 


I do not need to bear witness to any fact, acknowledge any primal reality or command another's respect. I do not seek affirmation from other scholars or theorists on the matters discussed, shared or implied in this blog. I write from the other side of the conceptual coin: joyfully celebrating and participating in the reality of each moment, and that is the end of it. 

All the wisdom fashioned in life, literature, and philosophy can awaken us, if we're lucky, to such moments, where we realize, in the wake of history and against the accumulated weight of the world, that these moments in which we are moved to tears and laughter are precious. 

Being happy is about not allowing other thoughts to hold life in bondage. Allowing moments to come as they will, and not as we will, gives us in return a sort of freedom over how we feel inside. When one cannot feel true joy without the internal dialogue directing it so, the reduction of situations aimed at justifying existence emerges from the mind and the moment is lost. It is then a matter of choice; the argument for this is in the result of those choices. 



Happiness occurs at the interstices between freedom and compulsion. Like freedom, happiness loses its life in possession. Like love, happiness can only exist in the exercise of it; also like love, it has a compelling nature of its own, and like loving, happiness can only exist in its own freedom. 

The parity of happiness is fragile in a similar way: the intrigue of intention, however well meant, will destroy it. Happiness is lightness and light carried on the air; it cannot be bottled or boxed. One can adorn a smile, but that does not denote a smile of the mind. 

It is difficult to say which restraints hinder and which ones free us. As for me, I have found that these are one and the same, with choice being the only differentiating factor. 



I can say that it is possible to release oneself from the ancient demons of the human condition of contingency: from time, troubles, plurality, scarcity, from the consciousness of pain, from the responsibilities of promises and obligations, from the authority of truth and reason ... 

...and, yet, still be on time, have the ability to dissolve troubles as they arise and find unity in every crevice of plurality or abundance where none was previously considered...

...and, yet, be able to remove oneself from the intensity of pain to a place where relaxation flows is also an experience of our choosing, a childlike, opportunistic cheerfulness or "pick me" attitude while following through on the promises we make,

and finally, one can arrive to a state of perceived recognition where no single truth is true and no single falsehood is false, but is, instead, both depending on the view one takes and the perspective one holds. Because it can be, it is, or isn't. The truth of the matter is not necessarily the highest order.

The side of the coin we see is entirely our choosing. If we encounter heads where we wish to experience tails, all we have to do is turn the coin over and return to the point in which we made ourselves ready to experience tails... or if the mood strikes, go for it and instead choose to experience heads. Freedom arises from accepting our choices, irrespective of the support the world provides. 


It is pointless to try to determine from whence happiness arises when we can simply release ourselves into it through reflection, desire, and earnestness. Happiness is not the result of any traditional, religious path ~ it is the fullness of time held in a single moment. These moments are available to all who choose them. 

The feeling of happiness, the fullness felt in any given moment arises out of that passion of faith and release of belief that we can affect the world. If we consider eternity to be the absolute fullness of any given moment, then happiness is simply a faith that embraces the whole of existence. 

I have not come quite full circle in this post to give anyone a clearer idea of where it began, but exploring happiness, even in the brief time it took for me to write this post, is an experience from which I derived a sense of happiness. The reality of existing in a given space one wishes to experience is perhaps key to unlocking its potential within it. 

The reality of life is measured in many moments; any one person's exploration of these moments has less to do with the teaching others and more to do with the individual learning that takes place when one considers them. 


























Sunday, December 8, 2013

On Balloons



What is this miraculously connected attunement I feel toward my balloon? What does this affinity reveal about the essence of my own nature? What does that shiny, vibrant sphere bring into my modus of understanding and how can or will it remain in that status? 




Knowing one's own balloon is not the same thing as simply acquiring new knowledge in a new landscape with a new animal to guide the way. Knowing one's own balloon requires full existential involvement.



To keep your balloon inflated throughout your many dreams and with your many guides and companions, you must adopt a kind of Heideggean philosophy, you must not take seriously the possibility of total reduction of spirit to plain intelligence. 


For Heidegger, preservation of spirit as a wholeness of being became the central theme of his philosophy. Thinking is authentic, constitutive only if it is an existential outcry, if it is the voice of being. 



But what about my balloon? Can I truly sense it in its silenced presence of being? If my vision of a balloon, my understanding of my balloon is misguided, do I then stop seeing the balloon?  

Directing our focus back onto ourselves, beyond the place of doubt and straight and shallow superficiality, we uproot our self from consciousness with liberating thoughts... 

thoughts that eventually lead to the oblivion of being, to the popping of our own balloon. 



Heidegger calls this the emasculation of the spirit...

As Heidegger puts it "the spirit falsified into intelligence thus falls to the level of a tool in the service of others, a tool the manipulation of which can be taught and learned" (Heidegger, p. 248). 



~ surrounded by a sort of spiritual gravity, the closer we are to the center of ourselves, the higher our balloons rise and the more clearly our essence of being can perceive the world. 

In honor of keeping a healthy, constitutive tension between spiritual awareness of being and intellectual reflection ...







Friday, December 6, 2013

On Bees

am I me or a tree
am I he or a bee
she asks the question
gleefully 


it is me you silly bee
just wait and see
looking at your self
you'll only find me


What is Momentum?



All that moves in the body of a dancer is momentum. But where does this impetus come from? From where does it arise? Does it have mass and velocity or does it merely act upon those things that do? Is it a desire, a way in search of a rhythm? 



A reading of Le Clézio's first works in which the characters have already discovered that rhythm is a mathematical binary palpitation tied to the heart beat will arise within you a consciousness about the origin of this life-giving linear momentum or force. 

In Le Clézio's short story entitled L'homme que marche, his protagonist Paoli has found the mechanical rhythm he had been looking for since the morning. 

Tout à coup, il lui sembla entendre les détonations, quel que part au fond de sa tête; cela sortait lentement, et cela tombait régulièrement, avec une alternance de graves et d'aigus. La joie envahit alors Paoli, et avec un enthousiasme fébrile, il se mit à crier, pour lui tout sel, pour personne d'autre que lui: "C'est le rythme! c'est le rythme! j'ai retrouvé le rythme!"  C'était le rythme du début de la journée, en effet, le bruit mathématique des percussions de l'eau sur la bassine renversée, là-bas, au fond de son studio, et qu'il retrouvait maintenant, sur la route (F. 131). 



After having discovered rhythm deep in the experiments performed in his studio, Paoli discovers its identicalness on the street. Was he consciously in search of this quest, for a knowledge that would bring about the accomplishment of intention? 

Consider music...


From where do Handel's notes arise? Are these sounds found in nature, somewhere along our everyday routes? Is the music lover's quest to find their identicalness along the street? Are musical experiences made out of everyday nature before being crafted into their designed logic? 

I have yet to hear the clouds or trees playing any portion of Handel's Concerti. Maybe I just don't hear their broken-up notes in the world in order to return home to my studio and put them back together again.

Consider art...

The Mirror of Venus (1877)
Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1883 - 1898)
Provenance: Frederick R. Leyland Collection. Bought from Arthur Ruck, London, on September 29th, 1924. Calouste Gulbenkain Museum, Portugal



Where can momentum be found? In this pre-Raphaelite Movement, formed in England in 1848, which fostered a cult for medieval mysticism, Gothic art and 15th century paintings, the aesthetic principles on which it was based sprang mainly from the new Aestheticism trend that emerged in the 1860s. The subject of this composition, sometimes called the exaltation of ideal beauty, the unreal atmosphere of the scene depicted fits into an aesthetic perspective on the search for momentum. 

With minimal narrative discourse, and dream-like figures wearing Greek-inspired pseudo-classical clothes in a linear frieze-like fashion, we adorn ourselves with thoughts and ideas pertaining to our intentions and head out into the world in search of their aesthetic likeness. 

Lady and Child Asleep in a Punt under the Willows (1887)
John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925)
Provenance: Mrs. Seymour Tower. Bought through Colnaghi, Sotheby's Sale, London, July 20th, 1921, no. 223.
Calouste Gulbenkain Museum, Portugal



Perhaps it is that our heart behaves like a sort of metronome, regulating our breathing, as we learn to pause until we find the rhythm that allows us to forget ourselves. This forgetting of self is a component part of an initiatory journey where we learn how to walk, run, march, and then softly tiptoe through the world in search of our own rhythm. 

Motivated by our own sense of momentum, we each seek that ethereal or delicate balance between walking and flying, breathing and dyspnea, that teaches us to listen to ourselves so that we might find an aspect of ourselves mirrored in the world. This finding of oneself outside oneself is akin the realization of a quest, a journey toward self-discovery that has nothing to do with "truth" and everything to do with "being". 

Boy playing the Flute (1660)
Judith Leyster
Provenance: Queen Louisa Ulrike (of Sweden) (as attributed to Frans Hals); Duke Frederick Adolf; Count Brahe; Queen Desideria; King Oscar II; given by him to the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm


In Le livre des fruites the initiatory part of music is clearly put to advantage. It is a matter of listening to a child playing a tune on a flute of symbolic values:

Devenir pur. Dépouillé de tous ses bourdonnements, devenir le simple souffle de l'homme, que ne veut pas décrire le monde, qui ne veut pas imiter le vent ou la pluie, qui n'a plus rien à voir avec le réel. La vraie respiration (...) que est elle, magnifique elle, elle pour elle, elle d'elle (LF, 261). 

Atlantic Storm (1876)
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Painted on the return voyage of Sargent's first visit to the United States in 1876 on board the S.S. Algeria; Provenance: Auguste Hirsch, Paris; Mrs. Hirsch M. Knoedler & Co., Paris, 1914; P.J. Gentner Frank Smith, Worchester, Massachusetts (sale: American Art Association-Anderson Galleries, New York, December 3, 1936, lot 60 Acquired by the present owner's father at the above sale $100,000-150,000




This impetus that we find, often evoked, touches then a link to the immortal cosmos and to its elements where we must "percevoir le rythme de la mer et du vent" "lentement, sûrement respirer avec eux" "respirer avec le reste du monde. Respirer dans la mer, au coeur des rochers, dans les nimbes des nuages, au milieu du vide noir" (D, 173). 

The elements we find, be them music in water or waves, or momentum found in the natural falling and rising of things, have their origin in that impetus that gets the entire world and everything in it going. 

The Birth of Venus (c.1484-85)
Alessandro Filipepi, known as Sandro Botticelli (1445 - 1510)
Provenance: Villa di Castell0 (at least from 1550, up to at least 1761); Palazzo Vecchio, Guardaroba (1815); Uffizi (1815)


What we find along our route is as unique as where we exist; the thread that leads us from the sea to the wind is as fragile as the language these links symbolize. Seduced by the anachronism of the moment, belonging to an antenatal rhythm so reassuring; the music, gestures, wishes and imaginings suggest a crescendo, a musical momentum found in a cloudburst, animated by a rapid movement of rotation, and represented in almost every metronomical way possible.

Forgetting the truth found in the 'real' context, rushing over ourselves to decipher why anything in the world moves, we find the dream vanish within the fall only to be revived in the "à-coup" of life we serve ourselves.


A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882)
Édouard Manet
Institute of Art Gallery, London












Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Natural Beauty of Naïvety

Boy Blowing Bubbles (1867)
Édouard Manet (1832 - 1883)
Provenance: Albert and Henri Heicht, Paris; Emmanuel Pontremoli, Paris, 1916; Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1916-1918; Durand-Ruel, Paris, New York, 1918-1919; Adolf Lewisohn, New York, 1919; Bought through André Weil, New York, November 1943. 
Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Portugal



There is an immortality in naïvety. For a child, this naïvety is a natural occurrence, but for an adult to perform the spontaneous reduction, hopelessly entangled in a similarly felt aesthetic consciousness where the mind disconnects and the corporeal realm of existence experiences the world from a sense of pure desire, the a priori of the experience is a kind of mechanism that one must put to work within oneself while simultaneously suspending volition, disconnecting the continuous, direct acts of one's own will. 

The moments that arise are authentic and adequate, and sufficient enough to neutralize the absolute observer in oneself. Thereafter, a projectional balance in understanding becomes the authentic adult being. Naïvety updates the mental facility according to the understanding of what being actually means and what has to be done to keep being in its existential status. 


Soap Bubbles (1859)
Thomas Couture (1815 - 1879)
Provenance: John Wolfe, New York (until 1863; sale, Leed's, Old Düsseldorf Gallery, New York, December 22–23, 1863, no. 129, as "Day-Dreams" or "The Indolent Scholar," for $4,750 to Hoey); J. Hoey, New York (from 1863; sold for $5,000 to Sanford); James T. Sanford, New York (by 1864–at least 1867); Catharine Lorillard Wolfe, New York (by 1876–d. 1887)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York




There is an immortality in naïvety, a kind of play between acquiring knowledge and understanding. The feeling of flexibility and an image of flickering possibilities instead of solid pictures which transform those faithful renderings of the visible world into a playful domain that ousts the absolute observer in oneself in order to protect the genuine thinking involved in formalizing a thought.

The rational tools are set aside to keep oneself existentially awake and alert. The mind reflects upon itself constantly, entering back into self-consciousness, but for a few moments there is a balance between existential awareness and intellectual reflection.

From this point of view the existential status of being casts one away from the formal knowledge held in self-consciousness, toward a delightfully enchanting game of bubble blowing.


Soap Bubbles (ca.1733-34)
Jean Siméon Chardin (1699 - 1779)
Provenance: Louis-François Trouard, Paris (until 1779; his anonymous sale, Paris, February 22, 1779, no. 44, as "Deux tableaux pendans; ils représentent chacun un jeune garçon vu à mi-corps; l'un s'amuse à faire des boules de savon, & l'autre un château de cartes," canvas, 23 x 24 pouces, for Fr 95 to Dulac); ?Antoine Charles Dulac, Paris (1779–1801; his sale, Paillet and Delaroche, Paris, April 6, 1801, no. 19, as "Deux Tableaux . . . l'un représente un écolier qui fait des bules de savon; l'autre, une jeune fille qui fait lire enfant"); Jacques Doucet, Paris (by 1899–1912; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 6, 1912, no. 136, as "Les Bouteilles de savon," for Fr 300,500 [with no. 135, "Le Faiseur de châteaux de cartes," for Fr 190,000]); David David-Weill, Paris (1912–at least 1933; cat., 1926, I, pp. 25–26, ill.); Fritz Mannheimer, Amsterdam (until d. 1939); his widow, Jane Mannheimer, Amsterdam, and later New York (1939–49; held in Paris for Mrs. Mannheimer at Chenue; seized by the Nazis and "bought" May 12, 1944 through Posse and Mühlmann for Fr 800,000 for the Führer Museum, Linz; held at Alt Aussee [1387] and at Munich collecting point [1588]; returned to France, January 30, 1946, by the Service Français de la Récupération and restituted following agreement with SNK [Netherlands Art Property Foundation] in or after 1948; sold to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, 1949; sold to MMA]




There is an immortality in naïvety. Blindfolding oneself from the faculty of judgment, an irony arises, that highest and most advanced form of existential self-awareness. Receptive minds perceive the experience from a natural standpoint, reflective minds perceive the experience from the other side of the painting. 

One's experience of these boys blowing bubbles is orbited into two halves ~ a being in the center of experience, a being serving as an absolute observer. The irony is the ability to choose, to change one's focus of observation, to extend a possible horizon of experience or even blow one's own bubble past it. 

Soap Bubbles (c.1784)
Johann Melchior Wyrsch (1732 - 1798)
Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'Archélogie (Besançon)


There is an immortality in naïvety. A mental journey between "yes" and "no", between extremes of spatio-temporal simplicity and existential multiplicity, between "doubt" and "certainty", "desire" and "fear".  

The techniques one acquires and then reduces give rise to a sensory perception of one's own subjectivity.  Enhanced by the notion of "light" and "dark", the contrasts clearly defined in these experiences are mirrored in these works of art, both represent a simple musing on the ephemeral nature of life. 

Symbolized by simplicity, naïvety becomes the most singularly sought after experience for one wishing to rediscover the feelings held in delight. 

The thoughts considered under the spell of enchantment are what make these paintings timeless. The experiences felt under the spell of enchantment are what make naïvety an immortal occurrence.