The Basic Dilemma of the Artist

Written by Sam Vaknin

The psychophysical problem is long standing and, probably, intractable.

We have a corporeal body. It is a physical entity, subject to allrepparttar laws of physics. Yet, we experience ourselves, our internal lives, external events in a manner which provokes us to postulaterepparttar 122437 existence of a corresponding, non-physical ontos, entity. This corresponding entity ostensibly incorporates a dimension of our being which, in principle, can never be tackled withrepparttar 122438 instruments andrepparttar 122439 formal logic of science.

A compromise was proposed long ago:repparttar 122440 soul is nothing but our self awareness orrepparttar 122441 way that we experience ourselves. But this is a flawed solution. It is flawed because it assumes thatrepparttar 122442 human experience is uniform, unequivocal and identical. It might well be so - but there is no methodologically rigorous way of proving it. We have no way to objectively ascertain that all of us experience pain inrepparttar 122443 same manner or that pain that we experience isrepparttar 122444 same in all of us. This is even whenrepparttar 122445 causes ofrepparttar 122446 sensation are carefully controlled and monitored.

A scientist might say that it is only a matter of time before we findrepparttar 122447 exact part ofrepparttar 122448 brain which is responsible forrepparttar 122449 specific pain in our gedankenexperiment. Moreover, will add our gedankenscientist, in due course, science will even be able to demonstrate a monovalent relationship between a pattern of brain activity in situ andrepparttar 122450 aforementioned pain. In other words,repparttar 122451 scientific claim is thatrepparttar 122452 patterns of brain activity ARErepparttar 122453 pain itself.

Such an argument is, prima facie, inadmissible. The fact that two events coincide (even if they do so forever) does not make them identical. The serial occurrence of two events does not make one of themrepparttar 122454 cause andrepparttar 122455 otherrepparttar 122456 effect, as is well known. Similarly,repparttar 122457 contemporaneous occurrence of two events only means that they are correlated. A correlate is not an alter ego. It is not an aspect ofrepparttar 122458 same event. The brain activity is what appears WHEN pain happens - it by no means follows that it ISrepparttar 122459 pain itself.

A stronger argument would crystallize if it was convincingly and repeatedly demonstrated that playing back these patterns of brain activity inducesrepparttar 122460 same pain. Even in such a case, we would be talking about cause and effect rather than identity of pain and its correlate inrepparttar 122461 brain.

The gap is even bigger when we try to apply natural languages torepparttar 122462 description of emotions and sensations. This seems close to impossible. How can one even half accurately communicate one's anguish, love, fear, or desire? We are prisoners inrepparttar 122463 universe of our emotions, never to emerge andrepparttar 122464 weapons of language are useless. Each one of us develops his or her own, idiosyncratic, unique emotional language. It is not a jargon, or a dialect because it cannot be translated or communicated. No dictionary can ever be constructed to bridge this lingual gap. In principle, experience is incommunicable. People - inrepparttar 122465 very far future - may be able to harbourrepparttar 122466 same emotions, chemically or otherwise induced in them. One brain could directly take over another and make it feelrepparttar 122467 same. Yet, even then these experiences will not be communicable and we will have no way available to us to compare and decide whether there was an identity of sensations or of emotions.

Still, when we say "sadness", we all seem to understand what we are talking about. Inrepparttar 122468 remotest and furthest reaches ofrepparttar 122469 earth people share this feeling of being sad. The feeling might be evoked by disparate circumstances - yet, we all seem to share some basic element of "being sad". So, what is this element?

We have already said that we are confined to using idiosyncratic emotional languages and that no dictionary is possible between them.

Now we will postulaterepparttar 122470 existence of a meta language. This is a language common to all humans, indeed, it seems to berepparttar 122471 language of being human. Emotions are but phrases in this language. This language must exist - otherwise all communication between humans would have ceased to exist. It would appear thatrepparttar 122472 relationship between this universal language andrepparttar 122473 idiosyncratic, individualistic languages is a relation of correlation. Pain is correlated to brain activity, onrepparttar 122474 one hand - and to this universal language, onrepparttar 122475 other. We would, therefore, tend to parsimoniously assume thatrepparttar 122476 two correlates are but one andrepparttar 122477 same. In other words, it may well be thatrepparttar 122478 brain activity which "goes together" is butrepparttar 122479 physical manifestation ofrepparttar 122480 meta-lingual element "PAIN". We feel pain and this is our experience, unique, incommunicable, expressed solely in our idiosyncratic language.

We know that we are feeling pain and we communicate it to others. As we do so, we userepparttar 122481 meta, universal language. The very use (or evenrepparttar 122482 thought of using) this language provokesrepparttar 122483 brain activity which is so closely correlated with pain.

It is important to clarify thatrepparttar 122484 universal language could well be a physical one. Possibly, even genetic. Nature might have endowed us with this universal language to improve our chances to survive. The communication of emotions is of an unparalleled evolutionary importance and a species devoid ofrepparttar 122485 ability to communicaterepparttar 122486 existence of pain - would perish. Pain is our guardian againstrepparttar 122487 perils of our surroundings.

To summarize: we manage our inter-human emotional communication using a universal language which is either physical or, at least, has strong physical correlates.

Dreams of Reality - The View, and the Point of View

Written by Sam Vaknin

A Dialogue about Art - Excerpts Between: Roberto Calvo Macias and Sam Vaknin


What'srepparttar meaning of it? Its sense? Why did that Altamira Cave man paint those animals, Why? For magical purposes? as a religious act? What was his proposition? To communicate his personal views? Was he mad, as Vincent, did he see something different, that others didn't? Did he see animals inrepparttar 122436 abstract? was herepparttar 122437 first person to think inrepparttar 122438 abstract, was herepparttar 122439 first man? Was it a kind of pastime, a diversion, a game? Moreover, can we measure it? are there good and bad artists? What defines a great work of art? The recognition ofrepparttar 122440 public? In which way, its quantity or its quality?

I have always been a bit of a dreamer, with a facility to imagine inrepparttar 122441 abstract, but years ago, when I began to read some poets, and other writers like Borges, Jünger, Neil Gaiman, something strange changed my view. What happened to my eyes? Why did my sight get so clear? Was it something mystical,repparttar 122442 beginning of madness? What isrepparttar 122443 dividing line?

I don’t know if it is schizophrenia, god’s gift or some other matter. Probably I am mad, but what does it matter with ART? Where isrepparttar 122444 relationship between order, hard work, etc. andrepparttar 122445 Quality of ART? Was Vincent a calvinist man?

Sam: Absolutely. Read his letters to Theo. Also studyrepparttar 122446 last two years – especiallyrepparttar 122447 last two months of his life. The “madder” he got –repparttar 122448 more diligent, industrious, hard working and disciplined he became.

Roberto: Which ones of this list, all of them manifestly anarchs, unstable and inconsistent, do you consider not to be great artists?

Thomas de Quincey, Baudelaire, Theophile Gautier, Byron, Orson Welles, Ernest Hemingway, Ken Kesey, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Mozart, Isaac Albeniz, Vincent Van Gogh, Edvard Munch, John Lenon, Camarin, Michaelangelo, Rimbaud, Gaudi, Dali, Jimi Hendrix, Federico Garcia Lorca, Holderlin, Woody Allen.

Sam: This is quite a list. Still I think that it missesrepparttar 122449 point. Art, by definition, isrepparttar 122450 surrender ofrepparttar 122451 anarchical spirit torepparttar 122452 dictatorship ofrepparttar 122453 format. A painter is limited to his rectangular piece of cloth or cardboard, to his paints, torepparttar 122454 maxims of his language, however private. Art isrepparttar 122455 sad documentation ofrepparttar 122456 capitulation of form to matter, ofrepparttar 122457 subordination ofrepparttar 122458 ethereal torepparttar 122459 material. It is a white flag inrepparttar 122460 ever raging war betweenrepparttar 122461 eye ofrepparttar 122462 spirit andrepparttar 122463 eye ofrepparttar 122464 flesh. Evenrepparttar 122465 most prodigious and insane of writers must sit down, facerepparttar 122466 sharply limited piece of paper, write in reasonably straight lines and succumb torepparttar 122467 most basic rules of grammar, of syntax, of meaning, of alliterative or other resonance. Evenrepparttar 122468 most deranged and non-calvinistic composer can use, as a maximum,repparttar 122469 dodecaphonic scale. This is what I meant by order and discipline. They are imposed, inherently, inrepparttar 122470 very choice to engage in a work of art. Working habits are a natural extension of these spatial and temporal constraints.

Roberto: What aboutrepparttar 122471 work of art? for example, what about Dr. Jekill and Mrs. Hide? Is it a masterpiece, though it was written in just one weekend underrepparttar 122472 influence of great amounts of cocaine? Arerepparttar 122473 images of E. A. Poe, mercurial, abysmal, mathematical as they are, unfit to describerepparttar 122474 century? Doesn't his Maelström mean anything to you, apart from a horrific picture?

Is it that my satanic images are just that? Were Michelangelo’s later sculptures worse than his first ones, unfinished as they are? Mention to me, if you please, great works of art fromrepparttar 122475 Calvinistic land: Le Confederation Helvetique. I love this country, my aunt is Swiss, but what great art works have come from Switzerland?

Sam: Art isrepparttar 122476 picture ofrepparttar 122477 spirit shackled, furiously battling, striving to unchain itself, rebelling againstrepparttar 122478 form imposed on it, mutinously attempting to reflectrepparttar 122479 world – no, to BErepparttar 122480 world – with all its chaotic pain, convulsive features, horrific beauty. It isrepparttar 122481 spirit of God floating aboverepparttar 122482 abyss, an act of creation, as detailed in Genesis. It is precisely this unnerving, unsettling, terrifying, melancholy, raging contrast that a great work of art makes. Order and discipline applied to order and discipline yield government regulations and other gobbledegook. Order and discipline applied to tumult, chaos, havoc, disorder, anarchy, decadence (ultimately to death) – yield art. You must not confuserepparttar 122483 method withrepparttar 122484 content,repparttar 122485 reagent withrepparttar 122486 substrate. For where do we find greater order and discipline than inrepparttar 122487 martial arts (they earned their title – “arts” – not in vain)? And where do we find more devastation, maelstrom, turbulence and disintegration of form than in war, their subject matter?

Roberto: If Art came from childhood, why must it require order, discipline... Is it not that every child is a little anarchist? Is that not true, that a child is like a terra incognita, plenty of anarchy, great views ofrepparttar 122488 upper lands? Why should wild horses be less beautiful than domestic ones? Are we not talking about Beauty?

Sam: I am evidently less a romantic than you, Roberto, for I see no art in children as I see no art in primitive people (inrepparttar 122489 psychological sense, not inrepparttar 122490 historical or anthropological meanings ofrepparttar 122491 word “primitive”). I see none in childhood but fear and anxiety, egotism andrepparttar 122492 curiosity to serve it, cruelty and malignancy. Indeed, we grow out of itrepparttar 122493 same as we pull ourselves out of quicksands. Children are incapable of being artists. They are manipulative Narcissists. Forever inrepparttar 122494 throes ofrepparttar 122495 Big Bang of their personalities, embroiled in searing heat, unable to see a thing forrepparttar 122496 brightness of their own formation. To be an artist, one needs to die a little, to experience entropy, to be as barren as those rocks of our moon. One needs to combine that primordial fire withrepparttar 122497 cold formalisms of death. After all, our works of art are dead: letters are dead on dead, acidifying paper, paints decay, cloth frays andrepparttar 122498 greatest sculptures turn back to stone. The mystical tradition ofrepparttar 122499 Jews (the Cabbala) says thatrepparttar 122500 first, most comprehensive and hitherto best, act of creation involved divine light which was poured into vessels (again,repparttar 122501 incoherent intorepparttar 122502 orderly). These vessels – owing to a cosmic accident – broke.

The light dispersed, attached torepparttar 122503 splinters ofrepparttar 122504 shattered vessels. These are our souls: a measure light, a measurerepparttar 122505 mundane, a piece of broken vessel. No, beauty has nothing to do with it. Anyhow it is inrepparttar 122506 eye ofrepparttar 122507 beholder, a matter of judgement, of epoch, of cultural context, of tastes, too relative for art. We are not talking about beauty – but aboutrepparttar 122508 law. Creation isrepparttar 122509 law – art one of its manifestations. In its cold indifference liesrepparttar 122510 beauty that you are seeking. This isrepparttar 122511 maddening thing, this apathy towards our individual fates, as though we were its slaves, not its creators. This is what makes us children once more, awed by omnipotence and omniscience. This awe lasts until we overcome this sensation, dare to be Gods again and to create, dare to engage in art. Read Kafka,repparttar 122512 most sublime and perfect of all writers.

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