Touching Base


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Artificial                 -                  Real
Simulacrum            -                 Original
Concept                  -                  Percept
Abstract                  -                  Concrete
Observe                  -                  Participate
Distanced               -                  Close
Detached                -                  Attached
Horizontal               -                 Vertical
Playful                    -                  Serious
Ironic                      -                  Earnest
Empty                     -                  Full
Light                       -                  Heavy
Conscious               -                  Unconscious
Unlimited               -                   Limited
Infinite                    -                  Finite


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[...] the celebrant's or devotee's intention is not that of understanding, and, in the ordinary routine of the cult of the work of art, the play of the academic or urbane references has no other function than to bring the work into an interminable circuit of inter-legitimation,

so that a reference to Jan Breughel's Bouquet of Flowers lends dignity to Jean-Michel Picart's Bouquet of Flowers with Parrot, just as, in another context, reference to the latter can, being less common, serve to enhance the former.

This play of cultured allusions and analogies endlessly pointing to other analogies, which, like the cardinal oppositions in mythical or ritual systems, never have to justify themselves by stating the basis of the relating which they perform, weaves around the works a complex web of factitious experiences, each answering and reinforcing all the others, which creates the enchantment of artistic contemplation.

It is the source of the 'idolatry' to which Proust refers, which leads one to find 'an actress's robe or a society woman's dress beautiful ... not because the cloth is beautiful but because it is the cloth painted by Moreau or described by Balzac.

Analogy, functioning as a circular mode of thought, makes it possible to tour the whole area of art and luxury without ever leaving it

Thus Chateau Margaux wine can be described with the same words as are used to describe the chateau, just as others will evoke Proust apropos of Monet or C├ęsar Franck, which is a good way of talking about neither [...]

[Pierre Bourdieu]
Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, p.53


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Since the "world of origins" is closed to us, we must accept the fact that we are dependent -- doomed, if you like, to being forever meta. There is no shame in this. We are all contingent, all referring to things which, themselves, refer to other things (parents descended from parents, phrases from phrases).

Humperson did, however, see the possibility of originality via errors, mishearings and misunderstandings. He enjoyed playing Chinese Whispers, especially in later life, when he grew rather deaf.

[Momus]
'Proposal for a Wikipedia page about Humperson, father of the "laws of meta"'


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Philosopher Jacques Derrida played on Saussure’s idea that meaning lies in difference, by adding the idea that meaning is also defered endlessly down [a] chain.

Language never points to a concrete signified outside the chain, that would anchor it in an external reality. Instead, language only ever points at additional layers of language further down the chain.

Derrida famously declared that, “There is nothing outside of the text.” […] Realising that there is nothing outside of the text means recognising that […] we can never get to the end of [the] chain - because there is no meaning or referent that cannot, in turn, be reinterpreted to mean something else.

'Animating Poststructuralism'


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It is necessary, [Derrida] says, to interrogate those various naive or pre-critical ideas of reference that envisage a straightforward matching-up between language and the world 'outside'.

Deconstruction must work to problematize such habits of thought by showing how strictly impossible it is to draw a firm line between reality and representation.

[Christopher Norris]
Derrida, p. 142




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In the West, we tend to live our lives at one remove from reality, relying on images and concepts.

As Tashi Rabgyas said after spending a few months in England,

"It's amazing how indirect everything is here. They write about the beauty of nature, they talk about it, and everywhere there are potted plants and plastic plants, and pictures of trees on the wall.

And all the time television programs about nature. But they don't ever seem to have contact with the real thing."

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.190


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In the eyes of Indians, white Americans became interested only in the shadows of things and strove to ignore and even deny the realities behind them.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.59


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Debord traces the development of a modern society in which authentic social life has been replaced with its representation

"All that was once directly lived has become mere representation."

Debord argues that the history of social life can be understood as "the decline of being into having, and having into merely appearing."

This condition, according to Debord, is the "historical moment at which the commodity completes its colonization of social life."

With the term spectacle, Debord defines the system that is a confluence of advanced capitalism, the mass media, and the types of governments who favor those phenomena.

The spectacle is the inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people, in which "passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity". "

The spectacle is not a collection of images," Debord writes. "rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images."

Wikipedia
Society of the Spectacle


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It has been shown that concepts borrow their material from knowledge of perception, and that therefore the whole structure of our world of thought rests on the world of perceptions.

It must therefore be possible for us to go back from every concept, even if through intermediate stages, to the perceptions from which it has itself been directly drawn, or from which have been drawn the concepts of which it is in turn an abstraction.

In other words, it must be possible for us to verify the concept with perceptions that stand to abstractions in the relation of examples.  

Therefore these perceptions furnish us with the real content of all our thinking, and wherever they are missing we have had in our heads not concepts but mere words.

[...] Actually all truth and all wisdom ultimately lie in perception; but unfortunately perception cannot be either retained or communicated.

[...] Therefore, as a rule, the man of the world cannot impart his accumulated truth and wisdom, but only practice it.

That books do not take the place of experience, and that learning is no substitute for genius, are two kindred phenomena; their common ground is that the abstract can never take the place of the perceptive. Therefore books do not take the place of experience, because concepts always remain universal, and so do not reach down to the particular; yet it is precisely the particular that has to be dealt with in life.

In addition to this is the fact that all concepts are abstracted from the particular and perceptive of experience [...]

Wisdom proper is something intuitive, not something abstract. It does not consist in principles and ideas which a person carries round ready in his head, as results of his own or others' investigation; it is the whole way in which the world presents itself in his head.

[Arthur Schopenhauer]
The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, p.71, 74-5


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Rolling Thunder had explained at Council Grove that his training was experiential.

In his first conversation with me he said that truth cannot be expressed verbally, that it can only be experienced [...]

"[...] You can't just sit down and talk about the truth. It doesn't work that way. You have to live it and be part of it and you might get to know it. I say you might. And it's slow and gradual and it don't come easy [...]"

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.37, 71



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Wow, so interesting to read this about Lady Gaga.

I see her as the exact opposite of Ammachi, as the epitome of Kali Yuga, the dark mother, a post-modern Madonna accelerating Time Wave Zero with her cut up pastiche videos that flash image, image, image towards the breaking point of narrative and meaning.

I see her as the goddess of Hubbert’s Peak, epitomizing pop culture morphed into its final-last-gasp-stage attempt at meaning making before the entire material culture we live in collapses. I see an emaciated woman that mistakes fashion for femininity as she dwindles away.

I see spectacle without substance, a consumable product of the Kali Yuga age.

[Poeting]
Comment on article 'Lada Gaga: The Visionary Rebirth of the Divine Mother Monster'


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Perhaps we don't know what's real any more.

Consumerism, after all, specialises in creating a fake world, in which new 'needs' are created every day by fashionistas and marketing gurus, who will then meet them - at a price.

In this fake world, age, pain, misery, insecurity, loneliness - all can be fended off or overcome with purchases. Animals die out of sight, and their meat comes to us shrink-wrapped and washed clean of blood. Apples fall from the trees twelve months of the year. Plastic landscapes, designed in distant office suites, come between us and the reality of place.

We are cut off from the land, from seasons, from geography, from the dirt and hard work and complications of the world outside the bubble. Enough of this, and the bubble itself becomes the reality.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
Real England, p.272


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For the primitive, thought is visionary and auditory, hence it also has the character of revelation. Thus the sorcerer, the visionary, is always the thinker of the tribe, who brings about the manifestation of the spirits or gods.

This also explains the magical effect of thought; it is as good as the deed, just because it is real. In the same way the word, the outer covering of thought, has a "real" effect because it calls up "real" memory-images.

Primitive superstition surprises us only because we have largely succeeded in de-sensualizing the psychic image; we have learnt to think abstractly [...]

[C. G. Jung]
Psychological Types, p. 30


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Metaphoric thinking is fundamental to our understanding of the world, because it is the only way in which understanding can reach outside the system of signs to life itself.

It is what links language to life.

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 115



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In the opening of Book VIII of his long autobiographical poem The Prelude, Wordsworth depicts a country fair taking place in the valley below him as he sits on the side of Helvellyn, the voices of the country folk, laughing and talking, coming up to him in snatches.

Again his elevated view is an image of self-consciousness, a level of self-awareness that he cannot now lose, forever separated from the simple pleasures of rusticity by his awareness that true pleasure belongs only to those who are not self-aware.

The evocation of their voices carrying echoingly up to his seat above conveys perfectly the combination of closeness and distance, of something recaptured, but also forever lost.

How to be unself-reflectingly simple down there, and yet in a position to appreciate the simplicity at the same time?

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 362


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