I only learned of the work of Vivienne Binns last year for the first time. On Wednesday we were encouraged to create automatic drawings to access those other areas of consciousness. I have been reading again of her work through the week which inevitably would have influenced my drawing and now seems to be a collection of imagery from Binns work. So, to that, a femmage to Vivienne Binns. A woman who championed women like my mother was - I am grateful for her work.
Maker or seller? Licorice all-sorts or ice cream? What do I want my paintings to do? Say something or pay the bills? At best an oddity, at worst an error.
Watched a wonderful translation of George Orwalls 1984 last night at the Canberra Theatre. (Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan). There are some clever creatives out there!
There are a group of cockatoos that have an early morning snack in the tree out the front of our house. Actually they are snacking at all different parts of the day, but the early morning is quiet except for their crackling and crunching which sounds like rain on dry leaves. I frightened her off unintentionally but she was back a short time later. Beautiful.
This I have read before but...I was either not ripe for it...or I am just reading it from a different perspective this time. One of those books that I will try to read every five to ten years I think. I am only halfway through, but it is my birthday today and so far it feels like a round up or a summary before I launch off in another direction...maybe? Who knows. Some ear tagged pages. I hope I am allowed to write big chunks of another persons words like this without getting into strife. I like the ordered references for another time and place
p. 69 referring to the word kin/kind
'Old word, so ancient it's almost drowned out. What a change through the centuries. Now anybody can be 'kind'. And everybody's supposed to be. Except that long ago it was something you were born into and couldn't help. Now its just a faked up attitude half the time, like teachers the first day of class. But what do they really know about kindness who are not kin?'
p. 77. Am I more romantic than classical, visa versa or equal parts?
'A romantic understanding sees it primarily in terms of immediate appearance. If you were to show an engine or a mechanical drawing or electronic schematic to a romantic it is unlikely he would see much of interest in it. It has no appeal because the reality he sees is its surface. Dull, complex lists of names, lines and numbers. Nothing interesting. But if you were to show the same blueprint or schematic or give the same description to a classical person he might look at it and then become fascinated by it because he sees that within the lines and shapes and symbols is a tremendous richness of underlying form'
p.104. There are good words before and after this paragraph, but
'To speak of certain government and establishment institutions as 'the system' is to speak correctly, since these organisations are founded upon the same structural conceptual relationships as a motorcycle. They are sustained by structural relationships even when they have lost all other meaning and purpose. People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There's no villain, no 'mean guy' who wants them to live meaningless lives, it's just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless. But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systemic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which is produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systemic government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in succeeding government. There's so much talk about the system and so little understanding'
p.109. Yes yes you all know that
'Two kinds of logic are used, inductive and deductive. Inductive inferences start with observations of the machine and arrive at general conclusions....reasoning from particular experiences to general truths. Deductive inferences do the reverse. They start with general knowledge and predict a specific observation.....Solution of problems too complicated for common sense to solve is achieved by long strings of mixed inductive and deductive inferences that weave back and forth between the observed machine and the mental hierarchy of the machine found in the manuals. The correct program for this interweaving is formalised as scientific method'
p 120 I think he is referring to when he was approaching from a classical standpoint that ( and remember it was written in the 1970s)
'The cause of our current social crisis...is a genetic defect within the nature of reason itself. And until this genetic defect it cleared, the crisis will continue. Our current modes of rationality are not moving society forward into a better world. They are taking it further and further from that better world. Since the Renaissance these modes have worked. As long as the need for food, clothing and shelter is dominant they will continue to work. But now that for huge masses of people these needs no longer overwhelm everything else, the whole structure of reason, handed down to us from ancient times is no longer adequate. It begins to be seen for what it actually is - emotionally hollow, esthetically meaningless and spiritually empty. That, today, is where it is at, and will continue to be for a long time to come.
'It's a problem of our time. The range of human knowledge today is so great that we're all specialists and the distance between specialisations has become so great that anyone who seeks to wander freely among them almost has to forego closeness with the people around him. The lunchtime here-and-now stuff is a specialty too'
'He became aware that the doctrinal differences among Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism are not anywhere near as important as doctrinal differences among Christianity and Islam and Judaism. Holy wars are not fought over them because verbalised statements about reality are never presumed to be reality itself. In all the Oriental religions great value is placed on the Sanskrit doctrine of Tat team asi, 'Thou art that', which asserts that everything you think you are and everything you think you perceive are undivided. To fully realise this lack of division is to become enlightened. Logic presumes a separation of subject and object; therefore logic is not final wisdom.
''Peace of mind isn't all that superficial, really...it's the whole thing. That which produces it is good maintenance; that which disturbs it is porr maintenance. What we call workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate test's always your own serenity. If you don't have this when you start and maintain it while you're working you're likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.''
'But if you have to choose among an infinite number of ways to put it together then the relation of the machine to you, and the relation of the machine and you to the rest of the world, has to be considered, because the selection from among many choices, the art of the work is just as dependant upon your own mind and spirit as it is upon the material of the machine. That's why you need the peace of mind.
'The craftsman isn't ever following a single line of instruction. He's making decisions as he goes along. For that reason he'll be absorbed and attentive to what he's doing even though he doesn't deliberately contrive this. His motions and the machine are in a kind of harmony. He isn't following any set of written instructions because the nature of the material at hand determines his thoughts and motions, which simultaneously change the nature of the material at hand. The material and his thoughts are changing together in a progression of changes until his mind's at rest at the same time the material's right...sounds like art...well it is art...this divorce of art from technology is completely unnatural.'
'It isn't just art and technology/. It's a kind of a noncoalescence between reason and feeling. What's wrong with technology is that it's not connected in any real way with matters of the spirit and of the heart. And so it does blind, ugly things quite by accident and gets hated for that. People haven't paid much attention to this before because the big concern has been with food, clothing and shelter for everyone and technology has provided these. But now where these are assured, the ugliness is being noticed more and more and people are asking if we must always suffer spiritually and esthetically in order to satisfy material needs. Lately its become almost a national crisis - anti pollution drives, anti technological communes and styles of life, and all that.
'The only ones who are solving it are solving it at a personal level by abandoning "square" rationality altogether and going by feelings alone [like the romantics]. And that seems like a wrong direction too. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that the solution to the problem isn't that you abandon rationality but that you expand the nature of rationality so that its capable of coming up with a solution'
'Like the realms beyond reason. I think present-day reason is an analogue of the flat earth of the medieval period. If you go too far beyond it you're presumed to fall off, into insanity. And people are very much afraid of that. I think fear of insanity is comparable to the fear people once had of falling off the edge of the world...our old flat earth of conventional reason becomes less and less adequate to handle the experiences we have...real experiences'
Anyway this is only halfway through the book and we take all this information for granted until the apple cart is overturned and we feel a little unbalanced. Continual learning and maintenance easier said than done.
I have said to my husband many times over the last few years. I want to live somewhere beautiful. I don't think I mind the discomfort of a house so much as the discomfort of looking at unattractive surroundings. I was happy with the large windows of our Brisbane home looking up the tree filled street that could be seen from the kitchen and sitting area. I am happy with the bike rides and walks around Canberra with the gorgeous grasses and winds that puts the stalks through all its paces.
I think back to a conversation with someone who studied architecture and her referral to the new housing areas as suffering from brick-venereal disease. I am not sure I would choose to suffer a brick venereal disease but you have to have a certain income level to make those kinds of choices. Reading about the importance of providing as many people as possible with beauty outlined by Dennis Glover and again today reading from William Morris's 1894 (18th November) 'Makeshift' https://www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/1894/make.htm. It is clearly an ongoing human endeavour to make our surroundings as easy on the senses as possible and good things follow. To be honest I love the water, growing up on the Clarence river (northern NSW), I always thought I would return to the beauty of a river or ocean. I wonder if that is wishful thinking now? I am enjoying my surroundings right now more than I had expected I would. I wonder if you can make anything beautiful if you put your mind to it. I am pretty sure you can so long as time and a little bit of cash can afford you this. I will go get a dose of overindulgent beauty from the National Art Gallery here shortly with the Versailles exhibition (another big tick for Canberran life). Now it seems those French people did not forego beauty and art but at whose expense? Did it provide improved conditions for more people than it didn't? I don't know. Just as Morris asks, What is the cure?
Lastly on the plane trip to New York last year I watched a documentary about an entrepreneur that had a gift to make money, he took home a pay packet not much more than that of his employees and the profits were dispersed out into the community. Now this just seems too good hearted and practical. He was using his skill which gave him power to employ other peoples skills which he couldn't do without, which in turn gave them power. Could it be as simple as this? Can't be otherwise wouldn't more people do it. Unless, that person with the gift of making money truely believes that they worked harder than the other people around them. That they worked harder than my friend who walked for weeks and weeks carrying a child to escape civil war and lived in a refugee camp for ten years to save her children's lives and only dreams that she will get to see her brother again in this lifetime. She feels tired now but she has not worked hard or has she? Should we be inspiring each other to use the gifts we are given or suffer through something in order to make loads of cash. We have to save it all for ourselves for that rainy day hey. Words of an artist are rich. I don't make money so it easy for me to say, but I have the luxury to do this. What do I provide then, and does that have any value? Take my words with a grain of salt or there is the possibility to be offended. I like to think that I might make something beautiful for someone else. What will this look like? I want it to be practical.
This was written in 2015. Just finished reading it and I want everyone to read it. I have decided to go back to school next year. I have found this text very inspiring. I will do both painting to inform me what is happening in my surroundings and design to hopefully make a difference somewhere, somehow. What will this look like? Reading this book makes me want to start now.
The world turns over and cracks down the seam, the Faustian dream far from a deal clean,
To commit to one faith is to break with the oath.
To adore, to suffer and to break. To rebuild and then retake. To try again and again with no guarantee.
I have met a beautiful Sudanese/Australian/Canberran woman who invites me into her home regularly and says in a voice that makes me smile "Welcome". The sound of her voice and accent I cannot convey, but it is lovely.
We decided to go to old Parliament House last Election Day and have a look around the building while we were there. In the House of Representatives our son commented on the Greek pattern in the plastering on the ceiling. We assume that the representation was from Greek culture that had the earliest forms of democracy at work?? For average Joe's like us I found this writing interesting - A short course in Political Logic (conceptualguerilla.com) - which begins with this Greek democracy explanation.
After reading this I question the reason why I do anything. The reason why any of us do anything. When we stay true to our reasons I guess everything else just follows. If our reasons are good then good follows regardless of the hurdles. Bad reasons...bad follows. This is just common sense or logic. Even logic is loaded with so many different interpretations.
Then there is this from Leonardo's Notebooks ((Edited by H. Anna Suh. Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers New York, 2005). Part I Beauty, Reason and Art. 1. On Painting, p.12)).
Painting surpasses all human works by the subtle considerations belonging to it. The eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the principal means by which the central sense can most completely and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature; and the ear is the second, which aquires dignity by hearing of the things the eye has seen. If you, historians, or poets, or mathematicians had not seen things with your eyes you could not report of them in writing.
And if you, O poet, tell a story with your pen, the painter with his brush can tell it more easily, with simpler completeness and less tedious to be understood. And if you call painting dumb poetry, the painter may call poetry blind painting. Now which is the worst defect? To be blind or dumb?
We are all of the above at different points in our lives. Just try to keep returning to our true reasoning?
Lastly, lining up to place our vote at Old parliament house, there was a sculpture gifted to Australia in 1927 (again I didn't take a photo of the sculpture but I did of the description...I am getting slack in this department). It was called The Greek Mother (formerly incorrectly titled The Spartan Mother) 1904-06 by George Tinworth. The description goes
The Greek Mother was given to Australia in 1927, the year Old Parliament House opened. The inspiration for the work was taken from the 1882 Edmund Gosse poem The Sons of Cydippe,and it shows a Greek mother farewelling her son as he leaves to go to battle.
Many women of ancient Greece played an important role in their communities, but did not have an official voice in the running of their society. They could not vote as only free men were considered citizens.
A person's ability to have a say in the affairs of their country has changed dramatically over the past 2000 years. So too has what is expected of them as citizens - for example, the responsibility of voting or defending the state.
My ability to look and hear is as important as an actual voice, maybe?
Brisbane visual artist