Mysteries by Dubrae 2012

                                               Mysteries by DuBrae 2012 courtesy of the Bohemian Gallery Gippsland.


The evolution of human creativity is complex nothing can truly explain the sudden development of human ingenuity of the last 45,000 years until now.    The succession of discoveries has produced the good and the bad.   Beside these discoveries is the acquisition of language giving rise to the growth in brain capacity.  Over time life becomes more rewarding, but also more intricate, more competitive and more conflicting.  Modern life has given us labour saving devices and fewer challenges, but it has come at a cost.  The need for resources has created ongoing regional wars and  the quest for rewards which is juxtaposed to punishments for non-achievement.  There are winners and losers. No one wants  to be a loser. The competition for success intensifies as time passes, so does the stress.  Complexity puts stress on the systems as well as on individuals.

Opposing tribes fought hard for wealth and supremacy, but the same drives that created progress also led to defeat and chaos.  Thus we live in on a planet  of extremities.  Scientists now agree that the collective intelligence of our predecessors gave the world the cultural evolution which we enjoy today.   According to current scientific findings development lies in collective bargaining.   What appears to determine innovation and the rate of cultural change in nations and communities is the amount of creative communicative interaction, such as that advocated by the German philosopher Habermas, but if language and rational have cause the problems is this the way to resolve them.  Anti-rationalists suggest there needs to be another way;  which brings me to the story of art.

As we see from history some of the earliest communications between humans took place through collective artistic expression. Examples of these works exist across the world to remind us of the power of symbolism and metonymy. It should not surprise us then that any attempts at political dictatorship will lead to an attack on the arts and demands of absolute obedience.  A picture paints much more than words, it creates imagination, vision and change.  Art speaks to the notion of liberation.

However, understanding the ancient symbolic messages left by our ancestors has posed a riddle. How much of the past do we remember?  Moreover, how do we explain the incongruity of the evolutionary findings? Science now suggests that  tool-making began at least two million years before we imagined.  Conversely, Neanderthals are now known to have had brains that were bigger than ours also to have the same genetic mutations for voice.  Yet,not experience cultural and economic progress.

As Brian Arthur argues in his book The Nature of Technology, nearly all technologies are combinations of other technologies and new ideas come from swapping things and thoughts.   That said, the historian Christopher Lasch has noted our dependence on what went before has reached a point where there is a sense of everything coming to an end. “The sense of ending” states Lasch has given shape to much of the twentieth century literature and feelings of a dystopia.   Progress in the modern world is a well thought out systematic process that depends of positive, visionary creation that is the outward expression of internalised feelings and emotions.  However, progress may be an illusion or two steps forward and one back.  these stepping actions can be incremental and interchangeable.

The gulf between the need to create and the perceived lack of creative progress presents a conundrum for the human mind.   Scientists, especially those working in the fields of economics, have constantly sought to explain cultural stagnation and the answer lies in a lack of collective creative enterprise.  There is no individual neurological fix to this kind of stagnation.  Nor is there any evidence of causation that can be linked to brain dysfunctions or mutations.  Everyone can create.  Further, there is no clear definition of what creativity is.  Neanderthals arrived in a state of shock to greet an abyss.  Artist enterprise requires a beforehand.

There are obvious social rules about what governs artistic enterprise some set by historical example and others by current fashion.   Art is often created by people who are said to produce outside the social conventions.   Most artists are dreamers not evolutionists.  Artists live out their dreams beyond the boundaries of the prescribed socio-economic order. The work of  artists is instinctual; it throws off the shackles of civilisation and taps into the archaic primal world to reveal another level of existence that most humans prefer to ignore.  Primal equates with animals.  All humans are struggling against their animal instincts.    Art extends the human vision by crossing the boundaries between ‘originality and creativity,’  but it happens within constraints.

The relationship between creativity and general intelligence replicates the relationship between personality type and creative ability and between creativity and mental well being.  Humans foster the potential for creativity through education and training, which in the infant years draws heavily on the arts;  drawing and painting as well as play and acting. Creativity comes in many forms and it is innate in the human psyche. The lexeme in the English word creativity comes from the Latin   term creô ‘to create, make’.    The word ‘create’ appeared in English as early as the 14th century, notably in Chaucer’s The Parson’s Tale, where it described divine creation.

The fact is everyone has a degree of creativity just as everyone has some traits that sit outside social conformity, albeit often covert in character. This raises the question, are art and creativity the same thing?  Jose Guimon raised this issue in his book Art and Madness [2006] noting that R. Wollheim [1987] made the distinction between the artist, the artistic work and the creative process.  How the artist lives his or her life is also important to the artistic   creative style and production which can often reflect social, political, economic and cultural differences.  Also important is the dedication the artist has to the task as well as the levels of productivity.   To this end artists are of necessity self-motivated, egocentric and often narcissistic.  The personality of the artist is something that has to be exonerated, at least up to a point. Wollheim [1987] believes art should have a psychological significance: what a painting means, he says, depends on the experience induced on a completely sensitive and informed spectator when they look at a painting with the intentions of the artist that led him to paint it.

In the psychological context, it could be said that training poses significant problems to the notion of spontaneity.   The trained eye sees only what the eye is trained to see, whereas the spontaneous artist paints from the deeper levels of the human psyche.  The originator of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud explored the world of art in the belief that, like dreams, the artist’s works tap into the unconscious material offering another perspective on the character of humanity. Freud believed that true genius emanated from the unconscious mind.












The Problem of Knowledge: The Sacred Versus the Physical.

    The Delphic oracle, already was the site of an important oracle in the pre-classical Neolithic Mycenaean period (1600–1100 BCE).  It was rededicated and served as the major site during classical times for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew Python  “a dragon” who lived there and protected the navel of the Earth. 

The Oracle Versus Reality?

Pythagoras:  All life could be reduced to numbers [perceived as divine] and their relationships [equations].

Protagoras [Sophist]: What is truth versus perception? Protagoras was credited with the philosophy of relativism. “Man is the measure of all things” […]  Result: Instability.

Homer?  The Trojan War: The manifestation of an oral tradition that posits the absurdity of the human condition.

The Problem of Knowledge.

Heraclitus by Johannes Moreelse . The image depicts him as “the weeping philosopher” 535 BCE.

535 BCE., Greece in Turmoil: The harmony, pleasure and beauty attributed to gods are viewed defective.  

     Heraclitus [535 – c. 475 BCE] introduces Scepticism as does Protagoras [the Sophist] who notes that experience equals thoughts, not the gods.

Democritus c. 460 – c. 370 BC) and the Atomists.

Democritus and Leucippus held that everything is composed of “atoms”.

•The relation between atoms constitutes life, soul and mind all else is space.  Nothing transcends materialism.

•This does not explain the quality of life [qualia]. The difference between right and wrong.

•Beauty, honour, pleasure.

Atomism and Class Relations: The life of a honey bee.

• The honey bee whose ontology is in a different 3D realm to humans.

•In ancient Hindu philosophy the honey bee was exemplified as a creature that could control the senses and therefore had access to a high knowledge. This view legitimised the life world of the drone [or the oppressed] in constant service to the Queen.

Method to Truth: Abstract to Rationalistic.

•The true answer to any question depends on the method we use. 

•Example: What is there?

•Answer: Look Around.

•Conclusion:  Can we trust what we see?

•Is what we see real?

Reality is bound up with questioning.

     Knowledge or wisdom [Sophia] is the result of relationships, the question and the answer, like the chemicals in the periodic table; or math.

The Trojan War and the Bicameral Brain.

The psychologist Julian Jaynes uses Homer’s Trojan War to exemplify what he believes is a different level of brain capacity experienced by our ancestors around 3,000 years ago called bicameralism.  Rather than conscious awareness the bicameral brain lacks meta-consciousness,  autobiographical memory and the capacity for executive “ego functions” such as deliberate mind-wandering and conscious introspection of mental content, instead it generates hallucinations and schizophrenic episodes.

Neurobiological Conflict.

•Herodotus’s problem of knowledge.

•The causes of War.

•Why are we like this?

•Freudian view: Wars are an outgrowths of our animalistic heritance. Blind self-protecting, self gratifying impulses.

•Aggression does not move armies, it is devotion, allegiance and irreconcilable values and perceptions that cause wars. Legions of words and symbols result in armed conflict.  How do we fix it?  This is a philosophical task.

the Sand Mandala.

The sand mandala created by Buddhist monks has been reinvented in a modern form of sand play used in meditation and therapy.