21 January 2008

A Rambling Might Pass For An Idea

A few days ago I was going through some notes/writings from a while back and came across some prescient lines that were almost two years old. I don't normally get overly excited about a lot of my past jotted-down mental notes, but in this case I had just been reading Jonah Lehrer's latest piece in Seed Magazine, "The Future of Science...Is...Art?" I highly, highly recommend reading the whole piece and now I'd really like to read his new(ish) book, Proust Was A Neuroscientist. Now Lehrer himself is a neuroscientist and the premise of his piece in Seed (where he is also an editor) was that there are many places in the scientific world where reductionism is reaching it's limits of comprehension and understanding. Foremost in the author's...um...mind, is his own field of neuroscience, but his ideas certainly translate to the worlds of string theory (see my previous post) and cosmology to name but a couple.

After finishing The Elegant Universe last week I decided to cool it on science books and read some fiction. In the ensuing mental vacuum I picked up J-K Huysmans' The Damned and Zola's Germinal. Now I'll be posting more on those in a few days, but I'd like to note that fin-de-si├Ęcle France was a fantastic period for me to jump into. Romanticism was being overtaken by naturalism (in literature anyway), yet there was still the obvious tension between the medieval/pre-Enlightenment mindsets and the positivist, urban, scientific worldview. Without going too far into (what would at this point be) an incoherent discourse on art and science, I'd just like to address Lehrer's ultimate point that in order for science to maybe move to a higher level of understanding, it needs to take a few cues from artists. Really what would be incredible is for more artists and scientists to learn from each other (Lehrer suggests keeping artists-in-residence at science institutions for one) and to push each other deeper into their respective fields. Really it would be great for the lines between these disciplines to become much more blurred.

Anyone who follows what I write about here will notice a mix of science and literature that informs and inspires my writings and music. So I decided I'll post, at the risk of maybe a little embarrassment, the original, unedited notes, "On the Apocalypse," I made on an inspired day in April of 2006:

the apocalypse can be interpreted as the time when the reign of illusion over peoples' lives comes to an end.
it is considered a horrific event in the minds of those who desire/prefer to live under such illusions and would like such perspectives to continue on earth.
conversely, it is not seen as a horrific event by those with a more rational and scientific outlook. in fact, it is not seen as something that is even necessarily "real" and could possibly be considered as another illusion in a world teeming with them.
if it is the time that Lucifer comes, then it will be the time that brings light to humanity. Lucifer is the "bringer of light" which can be associated with knowledge and learning. The "darkness," the time ruled by magic and illusion is defeated by the bringing of light and knowledge to the world.

another, less black-and-white, way to look at this is that light and dark must coexist, lest they lose their meaning in reference to one another. since the world will possibly never be fully understood (since science only looks to cancel out falsities and doesn't concentrate on certain, final "answers") there will always be a sense of mystery and darkness about things.
those who favor the mysterious will fear the bringing of light, lest it destroy the illusions that govern their lives. those who favor science will always distrust those who base their worldview on illusion and magic because of their irrational aspects.
ultimately, art is based on a combination of the two; a realization that it is the coexistence of these elements that give the universe its beauty and that also drives us to further understanding lest we become complacent and lazy in our mystical thinking.


I hope any of that made any sense at all to somebody outside my brain and if it starts some kind of discussion or conversation, awesome. In the meantime go read Lehrer's piece in Seed.

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