Written Words Won't

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Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 02:18 am
Music critics are screwed. Sure, they will come up with something, but if music could be translated into tropes, we might not bother making it.

The spoken word is a form a music, just as the accompanying facial expressions and hand gestures can be described as dance. Live conversation offers us the trinity of sound image and words. Is this why Socrates wrote no books, because books couldn't offer the fullness of his meaning?

Painting is another medium that does what the written word cannot. I love when a painter gives us a human face with that peculiar expression one might call stasis or serenity. It's as if the painter is giving us Wisdom through our eyes. We see serenity /transcendence frozen on a painted character.

Before photography, paintings offered us life paused. Sculpture. If serenity is a feeling of eternity, than the static plastic arts can manage to hint at it, I think.

If life is justified by a feeling, then what the written word cannot say is quite important. For me, wisdom is certainly not a body of propositions. I will grant that idea is organically connected to feeling, and that ideas are important. Else I wouldn't think or write.

I can't help but think the Cynics and Stoics were chasing a feeling, a sublime ease. Their arguments were just a ladder to this feeling.

As always, opinions.
 
Quinn phil
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 02:30 am
@Reconstructo,
Written words can bring out a world of imagination. "Mike sat there in his seat, enjoying the morning air. His face was overcome with serenity, (blah blah blah)."

However, paintings are the only sure-fire way to express an image to a universal audience. Reading even a detailed paragraph of a man with a mad expression on his face, I probably wouldn't get the image of what the author was trying to express. It's different with painters, I guess.

Welcome back, dude!
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 02:37 am
@Quinn phil,
Thanks for the welcome, man!

Yessir, an image surpasses the written word in one way and the musician in another. Yet philosophy tends toward a certain arrogance. It's god is densensualized. Too many of its metaphors are polished until transparent, until one forgets that they are just that, metaphors. Man still "thinks" by pointing to objects outside him. He just points with hieroglyphs these days, and not even pictograms but phonetic alphabets.

I would bet you that Socrates had a magnetism (erotic? serene?) that was as important as his questioning. I don't think his questioning would have impressed anyone were it not for that presumable twinkle in his eye. I don't think you can win minds without winning hearts. The heart-mind distinction is questionable in the first place.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 02:39 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;125033 wrote:


I can't help but think the Cynics and Stoics were chasing a feeling, a sublime ease. Their arguments were just a ladder to this feeling.

As always, opinions.


Quote:
My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it.) (6.54) L. Wittgenstein


I happen to have just started reading Literature of Silence: Henry Miller and Samuel Becket Ihab Hassan. You may remember I was playing with the idea of Silence as an alternative to "Yes" or "No". Hassan may help me articulate the idea which turns out not to be terribly original not that I ever really thought it was. Interestingly, Hassan equates Miller's obscenity with silence. This is just one of several types of literary silence as it turns out. Anyway, I think it's relevant to your post. Even when "written words won't" they sometimes still do. Here's a clip:

Quote:
...the conceptions of literature as game and as action merge in another form of metaphoric silence: literary obscenity. The term is notoriously difficult to define except by court action; I use it here to refer mainly to works that connect obscenity with protest. It is easy to understand that culture is given to sexual repression, protest may take the form , echo the ring, of obscenity. Obscenity however is cruely reductive; its terms counters, and cliches are sharply limited. When the anger behind it is chilled obscenity appears as a game of permutations, relying on few words and fewer actions...(and so on...)
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 02:53 am
@Deckard,
Yes, obscenity can serve as a sort of silence I think. Strange enough the creator of Deadwood mentioned that, obscenity used as a sort of ritual silence. It's a salute of some kind.

Miller is a good name to conjure by. I wonder what Nietzsche would have made of Tropic of Cancer. For me, Miller is the total man who is also, among other things, a philosopher. I'm not saying he's the ideal man, but that his mind got around, that the man could laugh.

You also mentioned Beckett. Worstward Ho strongly fascinated me many years ago. Before that Endgame and Godot but WW is beyond either as far as reduction goes. How does Beckett connect to Yves Klein or Richard Serra? I like to find parallels between the media.

Yes, words still sometimes do. I can't help but spend more time writing than painting or composing, which is probably why I feel the limitations of words. Didn't Wittgenstein say something about the urge to grunt?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 10:47 am
@Reconstructo,
Music, paintings, and literature (the arts in general) create a feeling in a person that can't be adequately described in words. Philosophy tells us whether that feeling is BS or not; whether the injustice we feel so strongly is actually injustice.

They are very complementary.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 03:05 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;125090 wrote:
Music, paintings, and literature (the arts in general) create a feeling in a person that can't be adequately described in words. Philosophy tells us whether that feeling is BS or not; whether the injustice we feel so strongly is actually injustice.

They are very complementary.


I agree that they are complementary, but not that philosophy can declare an emotional response BS. For me, philosophy is itself largely mythological. It's name refers to the wife of God.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 03:21 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;125185 wrote:
I agree that they are complementary, but not that philosophy can declare an emotional response BS. For me, philosophy is itself largely mythological. It's name refers to the wife of God.


It's not so much declaring the response BS. The response is obviously genuine. But you might have a "that's unjust" response to something that actually is justified, based on the way it is presented (the music, camera angle, lighting, words used, etc). Similar to how a lawyer's rhetoric, a politicians speech, and a advertisements tone. Although, art is usually not intended to deceive. But the very fact that it expresses something that can't be described in words makes it difficult to assess it's implications with reason. This is what some people use to downplay the importance of reason. I think it works both ways though.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 03:27 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;125194 wrote:
It's not so much declaring the response BS. The response is obviously genuine. But you might have a "that's unjust" response to something that actually is justified, based on the way it is presented (the music, camera angle, lighting, words used, etc). Similar to how a lawyer's rhetoric, a politicians speech, and a advertisements tone. Although, art is usually not intended to deceive. But the very fact that it expresses something that can't be described in words makes it difficult to assess it's implications with reason. This is what some people use to downplay the importance of reason. I think it works both ways though.


I feel you. I don't want to downplay the importance of reason. I suppose I just want reason to be aware of its unreasonable shadow, in order to become more reasonable.
What is reason if not a systematic mental model of the whole, by which I mean the world and the self. Of course "world" and "self" are just two of the many useful distinctions that reason offers us.
I agree that feeling alone leads only to chaos. I aim at the development of both, which is of course a common enough goal. Didn't Plato stress the importance of music in the Republic?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 03:34 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;125196 wrote:
I feel you. I don't want to downplay the importance of reason. I suppose I just want reason to be aware of its unreasonable shadow, in order to become more reasonable.
What is reason if not a systematic mental model of the whole, by which I mean the world and the self. Of course "world" and "self" are just two of the many useful distinctions that reason offers us.
I agree that feeling alone leads only to chaos. I aim at the development of both, which is of course a common enough goal. Didn't Plato stress the importance of music in the Republic?


I agree. We have to remember that reasoning to yourself, and expecting the result to be completely reasonable, isn't reasonable. Yessss, that was perfectly clear.

Reason suffers from the same problem I described in my last post, but in reverse. Art, and the feelings you get from it, is necessary to guide reason and show where it is going off track. You have to see the problem to be able to work out the solution, or to say whether the problem is not a problem at all.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Fri 5 Feb, 2010 03:44 pm
@Reconstructo,
Perhaps art is especially adept at presenting man with plastic and sonic non-verbal representations of his goal, of the state of mind his behavior does/could/should tend toward. I view reason as a tool, but then "tool" is just one possible metaphor here.

For me, reason's investigation of itself is one of its more impressive and fascinating accomplishments-in-progress.
 
 

 
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