Evolution.

Mysteries by Dubrae 2012

                                               Mysteries by DuBrae 2012 courtesy of the Bohemian Gallery Gippsland.

Evolution.

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.

The Eleusinian Mysteries: Their Origins and Implications.

 The Eleusinian Mysteries form the basis of Greek Mythology.

Overcoming the fear of death.

Initiation involves the experience of changing consciousness or a mini-death.

The Eleusinian Mysteries depict the initiation ceremonies that mark the right of passage into Greek Society.

 

Tribal Initiation.

Mircea Eliade: Wrote his thesis in Rumania on Buddhism, moved to Paris then the US and later wrote on tribal shamanism and mythologies. Best known for the Encyclopaedia of Religion he chaired Religious Studies at Chicago University. Died 1986.

[Initiation’s] function as an  entry into the culture.

It reveals a world open to the trans-human, a world that, in our philosophical terminology, we call transcendental.”

It makes [the initiand] open to spiritual values.”

The Freemasons.

Cognitive Dissonance.

•In psychology, cognitive dissonance is mental stress   or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs.  The brain strives for consistency.  [Leon Festinger].

•Cognitive dissonance causes irrationality.

•Psychology experiments have also shown that initiations increase feelings of  affiliation.

The Fox and the Grapes Aesop’s Fables. [Aesop classical Greek story teller.

Origins of Hermeticism.

Abu Mūsā Jābir ibn Hayyān
8th Century AD

     Born in Iran of Syrian parents and the Umayyad Caliphate  (Al-Ḫilāfat al-ʾumawiyya),  This was the second of the four major Islamic calipates established after the death of Muhammad. 

Umayyad Caliphate  (Al-Ḫilāfat al-ʾumawiyya)  Empire.  750  AD.

Sufism and the Whirling Dervishes.

While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and hope to become close to God in Paradise—after death and after the “Final Judgment”—Sufis also believe that it is possible to draw closer to God and to more fully embrace the  divine presence in this life.

Dervish: Proto-Iranian cognate with the Vedic Sanskrit 1500–600 BCE.

• Water that’s poured inside will sink the boat

• While water underneath keeps it afloat.
Driving wealth from his heart to keep it pure
King Solomon preferred the title ‘Poor’:
That sealed jar in the stormy sea out there
Floats on the waves because it’s full of air,
When you’ve the air of dervishood inside
You’ll float above the world and there abide…

•  Rumi writes in Book 1 of his  Masnavi.

    First Mother Goddesses.

Estimated to have been carved 24,000–22,000 BCE [Upper Paleolithic] Venus of Willenforf.

Venus of Dolní Věstonice

29,000 BCE – 25,000 BCE Found Brno Czech Republic.

Mother-Goddess: The palace of Qusay Amra Al-Walid II (743–44).

Concubine School of vocal arts and dance.

Great Mosque Cordoba. 

Berber heroes: Jabal Tariq:
(Gibr Al-Tariq)  Gibraltar and Dihya.

Berber warrior led the Visigothic Hispania  conquest  711 AD.

Daya Ult Yenfaq Tajrawt, Dihya, or Damya 7th century AD military leader. Monument in Khenchela, Algeria

Origins of the Eleusinian Mysteries In Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad.

The Mycenaean  Myth of the Trojan War.

The Trojan War was waged against the city of Troy by the Greeks after Paris  of Troy took Helen   from her husband Menelaus  king of Sparta (1600–1100 BC). Troy was located in the vicinity of the Dardanelles in what is now north-western Turkey. By modern times both the war and the city were widely believed to be mythological.

Greek version of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Persephone (sometimes described as Proserpine and as Cora or Kore), when gathering flowers, was  abducted by Pluto, the god of Hades, and carried off by him to his abode in the Underworld with Zeus, the brother of Pluto and the father of Persephone having given his consent for the abduction.

When Persephone’s mother Demeter found out she was so angry she left the heavens and came down to Earth [Eleusis] and caused the fields to be barren.   Since there were no gifts to sacrifice to the gods they got angry and demanded that Hermes command Zeus to tell  Pluto to return Persephone to her mother.

Hermeticism: Hermes Trismegistus [Thrice Great].

Alchemy, Astronomy and Ritual.

•  Persephone, having eaten the pips of the pomegranate  was forced to return to Hades during the months of winter when the fields were dormant.

•  Demeter renewed the fields in the summer months and all who witnessed the rebirth were warned against upsetting the gods.

 

 

 

 

 

Fun and philosophy: Community education.

Ancient Greece was a civilization belonging to a period of  the 450s and 420s BC, it reached its height in the 5th Century BC.

Ancient Greece was a  period that lasted from the Archaic period  of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity ( AD 600) and the Early Middle Ages.   Classical Greece flourished during the 5th to 4th centuries BC .   Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great the  Hellenistic civilisation stretched from Central Asia to the Western end of the Mediterranean Sea. 

The story of philosophy and geometry.

The story of philosophy has close links with ancient geometry, its axioms and theorems.  The word geometry means “measurement” and it comes from the Ancient Greek and arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers; arithmetic, both of which are rooted in Egyptian, Babylonian and Indo-Grecian migratory civilisations.  The earliest recorded beginnings of geometry can be traced to ancient communities of the Indus Valley [see map above] and ancient Babylonia from around 3000 BC.   These people discovered the obtuse triangle about 1500 years before Pythagoras expounded his theorem; that is if he did expound Pythagoras theorem?

Egyptian Rope Stretchers and the beginning of Geometry.

Geometry spread in Egypt when rope stretchers were sent out to put back the boundary markers washed away by the Nile. Today we call it surveying. [Tompkins, Peter. Secrets of the Great Pyramid. NY: Harper, 1971. p. 22].

 The introduction of the Egyptian triangle and the squaring of the circle.

      The pyramids are believed to be to models of the earth and its relationship to the cosmos.  Pyramids form part of an enormous star chart, whereby their shafts are aligned with certain stars. Further, pyramids are said to be part of a navigational system to help travellers in the desert to find their way.  They also represented the tombs that would help the occupants find their way to the afterlife.  Importantly, in Egyptian myth the square represented humans and the circle represented the sun.  The squaring of the circle was aimed at blending both entities.

 Meaning of the Square and circle.

‘A tower of strength that stood. Four square to all the winds that blow.’ TENNYSON.

The Papyrus of Ani is a  manuscript with hieroglyphs  and colour illustrations created  1250 BC and housed in the British Museum.

Interestingly, the world in ancient Egypt was perceived as a square or a cube. “When the world has become circular and spherical, the squareness is retained almost universally as a characteristic of the celestial earth. Holy temples faced east to the sunrise”.  The sun sustained life even after death according to the Ancient Egyptians. Nowhere in antiquity are the dead facing the west or the setting sun, they remain in the sunlight for reincarnation.  [Architecture, Mysticism and Myth, by W.R. Lethaby, 1892].

Buddhist and Christian Antecedents.

In the Egyptian burial chamber the guardians of the corners of the world stand at the four angles of the Egyptian sepulchral chamber . This idea was adopted by other religions.

                                                             Mandala

 Edward II

British nursery rhyme.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,
Bless the bed that I lie on,
Two to foot, and two to head,
Four to carry me when I’m dead.’

The square and the circle thus formed an important basis for spiritual belief.

The Golden Ratio: Euclid and Sacred Geometry.   [The Hellenistic Age  323-31BC.]

     The number π [pi] is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.  Also called the Golden Ratio or Mean Ratio. A ratio is the quotient of two quantities.  A proportion results when two ratios are set equal to each other .

Example of proportions:

1. The musical intervals

2. The Human Body

3. The Golden Ratio.

“Pi” lies at the heart of Sacred Geometry.

In numerical terms, the Golden Ratio was first popularised by Leonardo Bigollo Fibonacci, the founder of the  Fibonacci sequence, a numerical series which simply follows the rule that the next number is the sum of the previous two numbers.. as follows:

•1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 etc…

Leonardo da Vinci illustrated both the mathematical proportions of the human body  and the concept of squaring the circle with his famous drawing Vitruvian Man.

Mathematics and Euclid’s paradox [235-265 BC]: Squaring the Circle.

Squaring the circle  is the challenge of constructing a square  with the same ratio as a given circle  by using only a finite number of steps with  compass and straightedge.  More  precisely, it was aimed at proving the existence of such a square. [Euclid’s Elements].

Examples of the constant.

Pi appears regularly in the realms of nature and things that grow generally unfold in steps such as the Nautilus shell which grows larger on each spiral by pi.

The Flower of life and the Platonic Solids.

The Greeks believed that distinct repetitive patterns were behind the four primary elements, earth, air, fire and water the fifth was the life force itself. These shapes are now known to be related to the arrangement of protons and neutrons in the elements of the periodic table.  In Thus Aristotle gave us the concept of a scientific method for examining phenomena.  Kepler would later attempt to calculate the distance between planets using the harmonic ratios.

The galaxy in an expanding box.

The ration of the expanding galaxy parallels the expansion of the cube.

The sun at the centre of the galaxy.

Who was Pythagoras?

Pythagoras is familiar to us via the mathematical Pythagorean theorem he is said to have invented. However, there is much more to Pythagoras.

        Evidence shows, that while Pythagoras was famous in his own day and even 150 years later in the time of Plato and Aristotle, it was not mathematics or science upon which his fame rested.  Pythagoras was  an exponent of the Orphic mysteries or Orphism, which had a very large following.

        Pythagoras was concerned with the fate of the soul after death, he believed that the soul was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations often involving rebirth in the form of animals. The ultimate aim for Pythagoras was to defeat reincarnation, in much the same way as Buddhism advocates the pure spirit beyond form.

       Pythagoras was also the founder of dietary restrictions, religious ritual and rigorous self-discipline all of which were required to fulfil the spiritual life.   [plato.stanford.edu/entries/Pythagoras]

Pythagoras and the transmigrating souls.

It is likely that Pythagoras  used the Greek word psychê to refer to the transmigrating soul as the word psychê  in Greek means breath and it is the loss of breath that marks death.   The psychê is explicitly said by Philolaus to be shared with animals. Herodotus uses psychê in a similar way to refer to the seat of emotions. Thus it seems likely that Pythagoras too thought of the transmigrating psychê in this way as a Metempsychosis.

Pythagoras was interested in all forms of transmigration and especially in music.   He created the music-number scale which in turn could be translated into colour and vibrations.

 

 

Art and Creativity.

Picture: The Thinker by DuBrae. 

      Kay Redfield Jamison is an American clinical psychologist and writer who suffers bipolar disorder and as a Professor of Psychiatry at the John Hopkins University she has written extensively on her mental health experience. She ends her book  An Unquiet Mind  with the following notation: 

I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to exert too much control over essentially uncontrollable forces. There will always be propelling, disturbing elements, and they will be there until, as Lowell put it, the watch is taken from the wrist. It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms, that inform one’s life, change the nature and direction of one’s work, and give final meaning and colour to one’s loves and friendships.[i]  

      Darold Treffert  is a world expert on autism and savant syndrome who believes the main quality that holds Outsider artists together is love and support.  Yet, it is something of an irony that so many who have been diagnosed with a mental difference and who have also contributed greatly to the culture and are responsible for some of the world greatest works of art still face the stigma and discrimination on associated with terms like, madness, insanity, idiocy or lunacy.  This happens because there are two main fears afflicting the human psyche, death and madness and they seem to be conjoined in a delusion because neither are truly what they appear to be.  The only real basis for any of these fears is a fantasy.

‘Mental Illness’ and Evolution.

    There is a strong school of thought that mental illness, or madness has an evolutionary basis and it could actually be good for you.  Evolutionary theory views modern human behaviours as fundamental traits of natural selection that stem from our ancestors. Of particular interest to evolutionary psychiatry is the modern prevalence of depression.  Estimates of depression in Western nations are put in the range between 5% and 20%.  This prevalence appears to be partly associated with genes, which suggests a possible adaptive trend might be already present in our genome put there by natural selection.   One version of this idea is the adaptive rumination hypothesis [ARH] which posits that depression helps to solve difficult inter-subjective problems.   Instead of being pathological, depression could be a useful tool that allows people to withdraw from the world when such a separation is needed. [ii]  

     The above idea does not go uncontested.  Depression and anxiety are closely linked and we know that many people still die in a state of depression or from its long term consequences.  Also,  there is no way of truly describing the pain people suffer from depression.

    Notwithstanding, terms like madness imply that human consciousness is always stationary or stable.  Consciousness is never stable and even a slight mental instability can be either a devastating or an enriching experience.  In fact the term mental illness is as misplaced as  the term madness and what we should be calling these conditions is a “mental shift”. 

Schizotypy

      In psychiatry schizotypy is a theory that sees personality characteristics ranging from normal dissociative, imaginative states to more extreme states related in the range of psychosis including schizophrenia. The Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler [1857-1939] did not believe in a clear separation between sanity and madness, rather that psychosis was an extreme expression of thoughts and behaviours that could be present to varying degrees throughout the population. Bleuler is believed to be responsible for the early use of the term “autism” [1910] at the time he was describing the symptoms of schizophrenia. Bleuler is also known for having a neurological disorder called Synaesthesia whereby the main senses [touch, taste, smell, sight, become confused and overlap with each other.  [iii]

       Prior to Bleuler the first recorded reference was in fact that of French physician Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard [1775-1838].  He reported the case of a ‘wild boy’ named Victor, otherwise called ‘Wild Boy of Avalon.’  Victor displayed several signs of autism and in 1797 is thought to have lived his entire childhood alone in the woods near Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance.  Itard treated him with a behavioural program designed to help him form social attachments and to induce speech via imitation. Victor’s life was dramatized in François Truffaut’s 1970 film l’Enfant Sauvage. [iv]

      Bleuler’s ideas were picked up by many psychologists such as  Hans Eysenck and Gordon Claridge  who sought to understand this extreme differences in unusual thought and behaviour patterns and devised a  personality theory.  Claridge named his concept schizotypy and by examining unusual experiences in the general population and the clustering of symptoms  in diagnosed schizophrenia, Claridge’s work suggested that this personality trait was much more complex, and could break down into four factors.

     Unusual experiences: The disposition to have unusual perceptual  and other cognitive experiences, such as hallucinations, magical or superstitious belief and interpretation of events. 

  1.       Cognitive disorganization: A tendency for thoughts to become derailed, disorganised or tangential.
  2.      Introverted anhedonia: A tendency to introverted, emotionally flat and asocial behaviour, associated with a deficiency in the ability to feel pleasure from social and physical stimulation.
  3.       Impulsive nonconformity: The disposition to unstable mood and behaviour particularly with regard to rules and social conventions. [v]  

     What Claridge describes of course are the many different behavioural traits of the Outsider artist.   A study looking at 300,000 persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or uni-polar depression, and their relatives, found a distinct overrepresentation in the creative professions with the greatest overrepresentation for artistic occupations among people diagnosed with schizophrenia. [vi]     Another study involving more than one million people, conducted by Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute, reported a number of correlations between creative occupations and mental illnesses. Writers had a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, uni-polar depression, and substance abuse, and were almost twice as likely as the general population to kill themselves. Dancers and photographers were also more likely to have bipolar disorder. The question raised then, is should we regard the arts as a form of natural prevention for these kinds of mental illnesses? [vi]

Drug Abuse.

      Mental difference can include a high propensity for alcohol and drug abuse.  In the case of alcohol Western societies still do not see excessive use/abuse as a mental social problem.  A book of literary biography called The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink, by Olivia Laing describes six famous drunken writers and comes to the conclusion that writers drink for the same reasons everyone else drinks: to offset anxieties     The  Karolinska Institute found that  ‘creative’ people have more ‘cognitive disinhibition’ than most people; that is, that their brains are less adept at filtering out extraneous details. This is a trait shared by people with schizotypal differences. If the sufferer is of high intelligence, this mess of perceptions can lead to great insights and/or what is known as savant syndrome. [vii] 

  •     Repetition compulsion includes re-enacting the event or putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again. This might not be clear in the artistic creation, but it drives the process to manifest shapes and symbols that fill the perceived empty space.   This kind of extended reality can also take the form of dreams, hallucinations and visions in which memories and feelings of what happened are repeated and distorted.  Often patterns of repartition rely on distressing events that have taken place early in the person’s life. It can also happen after a crisis, an illness, a loss, a fear and/or anxiety.    Art offers two avenues for the expression of traumatic experiences, acceptance or regression. From the observers point of view both are equally intriguing and both make good and bad art.  Notwithstanding, several questions arise, who is to be the judge of artistic value?  Further, who can truly know what is hidden in the deep unconscious; we can only hypothesize.[viii]  

 


[i] An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness Paperback by Kay Redfield Jamison Publisher: Vintage (January 14, 1997)

[ii]  Is depression an adaptation? « Why Evolution Is True whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/05/…/is-depression-an-adaptati… 

[iii]E. Bleuler, (1911). Dementia Praecox or the Group of Schizophrenias. Translated by J. Zinkin. New York: International Universities Press, Inc. (1950)   

[iv] E. Bleuler, (1911). Dementia Praecox or the Group of Schizophrenias. Translated by J. Zinkin. New York: International Universities Press, Inc. (1950)

[v]   UK Independent.   www.autismuk.com/?page_id=1043  Uk Independent. 

 [vi]  R.P. Claridge, G.,McCreery, C., Mason, O., Bentall, R.,Boyle, G., Slade, P., & Popplewell, D. (1996). The factor structure of ‘schizotypal’ traits: A large replication study. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, 103-115. 

 [vii] Bentall, R.P., Claridge, G. and Slade, P.D. (1989). The multi dimensional nature of schizotypal traits: a factor analytic study with normal subjects. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 28, 363-375. 

[viii] Kyaga, S.; Lichtenstein, P.; Boman, M.; Hultman, C.; Långström, N.; Landén, M. (2011). “Creativity and mental disorder: Family study of 300 000 people with severe mental disorder”. The British Journal of Psychiatry 199 (5): 373–379. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.085316. PMID 21653945.  And  Roberts, Michelle. Creativity ‘closely entwined with mental illness’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19959565. 16 October 2012. And The Mad Artist’s Brain – Scientific American www.scientificamerican.com  Nov 22, 2010  See also. The Trip to Echo Spring: Why Writers Drink, by Olivia Laing.  Why artists are not actually mad but just artistic. Russell Smith, The Globe and Mail. Published Wednesday, Jul. 31 2013, 4:22 PM EDT Last updated Wednesday, Jul. 31 2013, 7:00 PM EDT www.theglobeandmail.com › Arts

Fun and Philosophy: Community Education.

[1] Philosophy means the Love of Wisdom.

In the West Philosophy has three major sub-categories that relate to human ideas.

[2]  Epistemology  which is concerned with the relationships between truth, belief, perceptions and how we justify things. 

[3]  Metaphysics which is concerned with being, time, reality, objects, causes, the mind body relationship, and cosmology.     

[4] Aesthetics which is concerned with art, beauty, taste and creativity. [The term aesthetics is post-eighteenth century; all forms of aestheticism were previously relegated to the realms of the Divine].

[5] Why is philosophy important?

Philosophy provides abstract ways of thinking about the world, it raises existential and “qualitative” questions and provides deeper insights and debates. In particular it seeks solutions for unintended consequences.

[6] What is meant by abstract?

Thoughts are subject to primary and secondary processes.

•The primary processes are abstract concepts that may or may not produce a conscious  thought. 

•Primary thoughts become secondary thoughts.

[7] Conscious thoughts are only the tip of the iceberg, they are not the whole story.

    [See Freud’s 1929 Iceberg metaphor].

[8]    Primary and secondary thoughts and concepts.

•Consciousness includes everything that we are aware of and that which can be argued rationally. 

Pre-consciousness represents ordinary memories which we often lose track of, but which can be retrieved and brought to consciousness .

The unconscious mind contains all feelings and emotions, thoughts, desires, urges, and memories that reside beyond our conscious awareness. 

[9]  Slips of the Tongue [parapraxis].

Sigmund Freud believed that all human behaviour and personality derive from constant contests between the governing psychological forces that operate at three different levels of awareness.  For example; a person might make a statement intending to convey one meaning, but the words are incoherent to the intention and mean something unintended.   Freud also argued that this is not an accident. Rather, it is the unconscious material [primary abstract concepts] that are being revealed to the external world.

[10] Abstract concepts need abstract theories for effective analysis.

• “Experience” is derived through abstract concepts, therefore we need abstract theories to comprehend the concepts.

•Hence, philosophy has more in common with the arts than the sciences, albeit  Modern Philosophy of the Mind  has links to the cognitive sciences.

[11] Abstract concepts in Ancient Greek philosophy.

Everything in Ancient Greek philosophy has a Divine origin.  Nothing is considered new or innovative.

[12] The Philosopher’s Maxims.

The Ancient philosopher spoke in Maxims [a kind of poetry]  For example  the stone mason Socrates, wrote the Hermaic maxim “Know Thyself” at the opening of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi.

[13] The  Gymnasium.

•The gymnasium [gymnos means naked]. Athletes competed nude supposedly to encourage aesthetic appreciation of the male body and as tribute to the gods, in particular the Olympian God Hermes. [Pausanias [geographer] Guide to Greece, 4.32.1].

[14] Hermes.

•Hermes is a God who can travel freely between the mortal world and the Divine. 

•Hermes gathers together the souls.

[15]  Myths are philosophical metaphors.

•In Hindu mythology Hermes is represented by Sarama who is also referred to as  the bitch  of the gods, or Deva-shuni.   She first  appears in the Rig Veda in which she helps the god-king Indra   to recover divine cows stolen by the demon Panis .

[16] Goddess of Nature.

•The  Mahabharata   makes brief reference to Sarama. One scripture  describes Sarama as the mother of all wild animals who was Artemis in Greek mythology and Diana in Roman myths.

[17] Ancient Greek philosophy was predicated on closing the gap between the human and the Divine.

Philosophy  aimed at closing the gap between reality and the Divine and was  expressed in mythological creatures called  hybrids. 

[18] The known and the unknowable in the symbolic hybrid.

The two headed monster and Medusa.

[19] Human – animal wholeness in the hybrid creature.

Minotaur and Phoenix.

[20] Mythological Wholeness in Janus.

     According to Plato’s “Symposium”  Greek Mythology tells how humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.

[21] Unity of souls in homosexuality.

      Same-sex unions were a common feature in Ancient Greek and Roman societies as well as in Ancient Mesopotamia and regions of China such as the Fujian province and at certain times in European history.  They continued until the birth of Christianity.  The Christian emperors Constantius II  prohibited same sex marriage and ordered that those who were so married were to be executed.

[22]  Examples of same sex marriage in Ancient Greece.

     Emperor Nero married at least two males and the 4th Century Christian Martyrs Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus were united in ritual.

[23] As Above so Below.

    Plato for example believed there was nothing original about the world or life everything was copied from nature.  Hence, there was no word for “creativity”.  There was one exception poetry, which was linked with strange behaviour [madness] and a direct connection to primary causes or principles.

[24]  The story of nature was also the story of the conscious and the unconscious.

    Persephone was the goddess queen  abducted by the god Haides.  After eating the seeds of the pomegranate she travelled to and from the underworld in winter. 

[25] The greatest influences on Western society have come from the Ancient Greek philosophers.

Pythagoras:              Socrates:                      Plato:                           Aristotle

Astronomy               Democracy                Structure                        Science

              

If you are in South Gippsland, Victoria come and join us!

FUN AND PHILOSOPHY

At

The Foster Manna Gum Shop and Lounge.

Wednesdays: Starting  October 8th 12.30-2pm.

[Bring your lunch and/or refreshments available.]

 

Philosophy dominates every aspect of our lives, but we rarely think about it! Come and share your ideas about life in a friendly and informal group conversation.  

 Gain some insights on what makes us sensitive, complacent, inquisitive, creative and human. 

Topics Covered:

Health, happiness, love, beauty, relationships, sex, consumption, environment, anger, violence, hope, peace, what makes us successful and how we can create a better world. What does philosophy have to teach us?

Be Surprised:

Test your perceptions:  Find out what influences your decisions. Learn about being mindful.

 

Venue: Manner Gum Community Shop and Lounge. Foster and District Community House, corner of Court Street and Station Road. Inquiries: 035682 1101 or 0411 797396.