For every word another is needed?
A diversion on literature inspired by the work of the art around in the present day compelling us to look to the future and not back.
Nobel Lecture by Olga Tokarczuk
Nobel Laureate in Literature 2018
…. this is halfway through ….
A dream fulfilled is often disappointing. It has turned out that we are not capable of bearing this enormity of information, which instead of uniting, generalizing and freeing, has differentiated, divided, enclosed in individual little bubbles, creating a multitude of stories that are incompatible with one another or even openly hostile toward each other, mutually antagonizing.
Furthermore, the Internet, completely and unreflectively subject to market processes and dedicated to monopolists, controls gigantic quantities of data used not at all pansophically, for the broader access to information, but on the contrary, serving above all to program the behavior of users, as we learned after the Cambridge Analytica affair. Instead of hearing the harmony of the world, we have heard a cacophony of sounds, an unbearable static in which we try, in despair, to pick up on some quieter melody, even the weakest beat. The famous Shakespeare quote has never been a better fit than it is for this cacophonous new reality: more and more often, the Internet is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.
Research by political scientists unfortunately also contradicts John Amos Comenius’* intuitions, which were based on the conviction that the more universally available was information about the world, the more politicians would avail themselves of reason and make considered decisions.** But it would appear that the matter is not at all so simple as that. Information can be overwhelming, and its complexity and ambiguity give rise to all sorts of defense mechanisms—from denial to repression, even to escape into the simple principles of simplifying, ideological, party-line thinking.
The category of fake news raises new questions about what fiction is. Readers who have been repeatedly deceived, misinformed or misled have begun to slowly acquire a specific neurotic idiosyncrasy. The reaction to such exhaustion with fiction could be the enormous success of non-fiction, which in this great informational chaos screams over our heads: “I will tell you the truth, nothing but the truth,” and “My story is based on facts!”
*John Amos Comenius, the great seventeenth-century pedagogue, coined the term “pansophism,” by which he meant the idea of potential omniscience, universal knowledge that would contain within it all possible cognition.
**The House of Intellect is a book, not being referred to here, that offers an alternative view. Firstly that the academics have their agenda and secondly that the politicians employ intellect then suppress its ability to make radical change as a means to govern.
…. here is an extract of her work ….
The Tender Narrator
by a woman known as Olga Tokarczuk
“How can you miss me when I’m not there yet?” I would ask.
I knew that you miss someone you’ve lost, that longing is an effect of loss.
“But it can also work the other way around,” she answered. “Missing a person means they’re there.”
This brief exchange, someplace in the countryside in western Poland in the late sixties, an exchange between my mother and me, her small child, has always remained in my memory and given me a store of strength that has lasted me my whole life. For it elevated my existence beyond the ordinary materiality of the world, beyond chance, beyond cause and effect and the laws of probability. She placed my existence out of time, in the sweet vicinity of eternity. In my child’s mind, I understood then that there was more to me than I had ever imagined before. And that even if I were to say, “I’m lost,” then I’d still be starting out with the words “I am”—the most important and the strangest set of words in the world.
It’s about contrary response (it can work the other way around) and as self reflection seen through the help of others. The message ‘to be’.
Singularly a confirmation bias and disconfirmation bias depending who you are. Amassed is all information and it is conflicting while at once being false and fact.
14 – before Covid (was found – not) in a beer ‘garden’
You could call it omnipotent cruelty as machines will range forth and consume the complacent.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
In his book on The Art of writing there are theories explored on how learning took root in the works of Universities with particular reference to Oxford and Cambridge.
After a few earlier excursions into why drama was despised by the authorities and Churches it explains they actually allowed the illicit writing within their walls of a documentary we access today. He quotes also an even earlier important fact, that the Pope, Gregory, Roman forbade the Latin hexameter to be taught. It was sufficient to retain the inheritance of words well formed and not distribute them. That can be traced up until Elizabeth I who understood their power. When Wellington fought Napoleon the European schools of learning were destroyed to provide materials while England had the luxury of being able to retain its University dominion.
‘Quonion non cognovi literaturam.’ in the 70th psalm ‘introibo in potentias Domini.’ ‘The praises of Christ cannot be uttered in the same tongue as those of Jove.’ Still the hierarchy of words is misappropriated for reasons to divide and the Church’s part in this is still clear whatever form religion takes. In historical Rome Alcuin forbade the reading of Virgil in the monastery over which he presided. ‘it would sully his disciples’ imagination. The point is it took the almost hidden act of monasteries and scholars within them to see that past theology and literature was retained. The theatres were outside and evolving. The Churches in reforming their scope sought to close these as the Puritans did in 1682. The great poems and much more survived.
Although a prolific novelist, he is remembered mainly for the monumental publication The Oxford Book Of English Verse 1250–1900 and for his literary criticism.
So the exploitation of words is not new, – see the writing above of Olga Tokarczuk which looks at the currency of fake news and other means words are used to construct narratives fact or fiction.
The school of thought around the 1650’s even sought Oxford and Cambridge to be challenged and were it not for its setting and the understanding of its importance might not have survived.
‘Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.’
Isaak Walton is also quoted. The milkmaid we will not ‘load our minds with any fears of many things that will never be.’
This is a firehose and ‘not in use’
Now I return to the thing words are held on.
The Word of Wood
Each person has a mask. (written pre-Covid) The speakers words are hailed in constructed certitude sent through a foghorn of metal gripped against a hidden face. People are like trees whose hidden worth and value is shielded by its bark. The best mask, the Stoffwechseltheorie composed by Gottfried Semper, thought of buildings and architecture; we can see it extends therefore to nature protecting itself from nature, ‘architecture is essentially a mask, and the best mask is one that hides its materiality. To each mask it’s protection and it’s living order are harmonised and as Alvar Alto, whose appreciation of nature fed into his work said of art, and it probably can be said if other forms than the one he practiced, it is the continual process of allowing materials to express themselves.
The Redwood tree developed its protection from the inferno of forest fires by creating for itself a sacrificial bark, soft and slow to burn, that would take the heat and under its own protocol die and form a crust knowing its skin was protection to the life of the tree living and behaving static and growing on the floor of the earth.
The process is silent and as the tree provides I even it probably does in the inferno create a reverse and emit carbon dioxide and shutting down the oxygen ignition needs.
The transmission of this thought into our lives is one of belonging somewhat in the James Lovelock Gia theory as part of a whole. It is called in Finland, Sachlichkeit. Things honestly present themselves in their own skin and what they are in reality and practice.
There is film on release showing the mask identity part false anthropology and native art. This is creating a lineage to the slave trade and Liverpool. The Amalgam at Tate Modern tentatively produces for a discerning but not to be too disturbing viewer a glance backwards to the black history GB advanced on. There is even a tree. For hanging people from.
Artists remove that mask and create an alternative view. The materiality is seen through contrasts. Colour and utility are questioned to discover the essence of reality. As words are not enough the artist using materials and combinations that – assault-reconfigure-upset the accord we are familiar with or strengthen our perceptions in seeing the crossover messages averse meanings reveal shed through the dying mask of a veneer revealed by the artist the hidden truth within us. Only then can we realise the power outside is beyond a short life’s discovery and contentment is to realise how essential it is to know our own Sachlichkeit.
Only my own views are expressed.
3 January 2020 (updated 4/1/21)
For encouragement or not!
This got missed in its publishing part and sat a year as a draft! – it’s interesting! (Or not)