in 18th & 19th century nonconformity


this blog is my notes and other scraps from and inspired by my current humanities adventure at UVU: Origins of the Avant-garde in 18th/19th century nonconformity taught by Alex Caldiero.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Enlightenments

notes from 9/2/09

taking a look around the world we inhabit

2 main types of enlightenment - existing at the same time - a dualism

1st - that communicated directly from a higher source or higher knowledge
i.e. the Illuminati, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, etc. 1690's-1700's

2nd - enlightenment from human reason
Kant's essay "What is Enlightenment?"
We suffer not from a lack of understanding, but a lack of courage to use our understanding.
Daring to have your own thoughts - sapere aude (dare to know)

these are 2 views of how to understand the world around us
both were pivotal groups (the mainstay being the Catholic church)

Mainstream mistrust of intellectuals & mystics
--> corporations, religious establishment, scientific establishment (nowadays)

Science grew into Positivism and became just as dogmatic as religion ("there is an answer to every question", etc.)
Science becoming too scientific for its own good. The idea that pure & perfect reasoning leads to all truth begins to dominate the ethics & politics of the establishment starting in the 1700's & then it is out of the pivot and dominates, which is when all the pivotal forces begin to revolt and react against it.

So -- Science, Pseudoscience, & the "Gay" Science
The language of the birds
Universal language that is not mathemtatical or symbolic.
Music comes closest to it.
Also, the Joyful Science
Dionysian Impulse
Everything is true. Nothing is true.

Hericlitian ideas of flux and change being truth
Dao - unspoken truth - once you say it or name it it becomes untrue.

"Who knows if there are as many truths as there are people."
according to the establishment:
"There's only one and we own it."

The idea of guerilla warfare against the establishment
subversive, undermining, and elusive, or you get bought.

The Renaissance Trajectory

notes for 9/31/09

~Mannerism - expression with hands
trajectory from stylized to more and more expression/expressive & more consciousness of the body that is doing the expressing.

~Media - between x and y, internal and external - through certain material methods.
the body is the ultimate media between the inner world and the outer world.
starting with Giotto
- eyes are expressive rather than placid, the body is in movement, hands extended into the viewer's space, the recognition of the world (as opposed to the otherworldy focus on the divine)

Before, everything was platonic and one dimensional. Eyes focused forward as in thought, focus was on the inner world, was more linear and emphasized a purely mental state.
This new impulse is to reach into the material realm, to look at something closer.

Leonardo da Vinci's hands - the Mona Lisa & Lady with an Ermine.
oil paints technically allowed for more 3 dimensional looking images - Chiaroscuro -
Blurring of outlines, atmospheric blending of color, less cartoonish. Rendering as much as possible realistically.
After 1443, the attempt to reproduce the real world began to take hold.

Lady with an Ermine - hand has a level of expressiveness that is all its own. Slightly distorted/elongated - the beginnings of Mannerism.

Went from symbolic gestures to expressive ones.

Everything is off. Expressive. The increase of expressive power through deformities and distortions of one form or another. i.e. The Deposition of Christ, Madonna with the Long Neck

This is done not even necessarily on purpose but due to the energy behind the incarceration, distortions and anomalies overwhelm the composition.
Before, the composition comes first, but Mannerism begins to say that you can distort.

Michaelangelo's David vs. Bernini's David.
Laoco├Ân and His Sons - passage in the Aeneid that describes the statue vs. poetry

The boundaries between form & formless, abstract & concrete, form & content - shifting with no apparent reason, exchanging information with one another. A whole new kind of consciousness.

Parallels with science
Galileo & Kepler - ellipses, anomalies, imperfections in what they observed. These were perceived as threats. Their assertions that there are other levels of organization besides the one that was known and pushed by those in the establishment.
Kepler, Galileo, Bach, Robert Flood, - all pivotal figures.

Anyone who is pursuing truth and creativity is in this realm and part of this trajectory.

Ideas of multiplicity, simultaneity, experimentation...all catchwords for this new consciousness.
The idea of measurabilily - without it we feel threatened. The immeasurable is frightening, even that which is measured in non traditional ways is threatening and subversive to the hierarchical, and/or theological order or things and structure of the system that is established.

In music we begin to see dissonance undermining the careful and measurable compositions and rules by which music is approached and executed. Experiments such as the glass harmonica.
Bach - "some of it is pure jazz"

20th century had the most destruction and most creation in all time.
The way to get through is to stay pivotal.

"as a species we're like 16 years old and our life span is like 1000 years old"

*side note: I think science fiction is important in its attitude that we have a long way to go and should be constantly thinking about the future, about where we will be, imagining the impossible, thinking of ourselves as young

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nikola Tesla

a side note (in thinking about the avant-garde in science)

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was an inventor and a mechanical and electrical engineer. He is frequently cited as one of the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity and is best known for his many revolutionary developments in the field of electromagnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tesla's patents and theoretical work formed the basis of modern alternating current (AC) electric power systems, including the polyphase system of electrical distribution and the AC motor, with which he helped usher in the Second Industrial Revolution.

Aside from his work on electromagnetism and electromechanical engineering, Tesla contributed in varying degrees to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar and computer science, and to the expansion of ballistics, nuclear physics, and theoretical physics. In 1943, the Supreme Court of the United States credited him as being the inventor of the radio. A few of his achievements have been used, with some controversy, to support various pseudosciences, UFO theories, and early New Age occultism.

Born an ethnic Serb in the village of Smiljan, Vojna Krajina, in the territory of today's Croatia, he was a subject of the Austrian Empire by birth and later became an American citizen. After his demonstration of wireless communication through radio in 1894 and after being the victor in the "War of Currents", he was widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in America. Much of his early work pioneered modern electrical engineering and many of his discoveries were of groundbreaking importance. During this period, in the United States, Tesla's fame rivaled that of any other inventor or scientist in history or popular culture, but due to his eccentric personality and his seemingly unbelievable and sometimes bizarre claims about possible scientific and technological developments, Tesla was ultimately ostracized and regarded as a mad scientist. Tesla never put much focus on his finances. It is said he died impoverished, at the age of 86

A few non-scientific ideas of his that likely made him weird for his time:
In 1926, Tesla commented on the ills of the social subservience of women and the struggle of women toward gender equality, indicated that humanity's future would be run by "Queen Bees". He believed that women would become the dominant sex in the future.

In his later years Tesla became a vegetarian. In an article for Century Illustrated Magazine he wrote: "It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarous habit." Tesla argued that it is wrong to eat uneconomic meat when large numbers of people are starving; he also believed that plant food was "superior to [meat] in regard to both mechanical and mental performance". He also argued that animal slaughter was "wanton and cruel".

Known for:

Theoretical work
Rotating magnetic field
Space data transmission systems
Tesla principle
Weather and climate modification

Alternating current system
'Egg of Columbus' demo
Induction motor
Lightning protection system
Electro-mechanical oscillator
Tesla coil
Bifilar coil
Robotics and the electronic logic gate
Wireless technology
Radio astronomy
Teleforce particle beam weapon, a.k.a the 'death ray'
Tesla turbo-machinery

Terrestrial stationary waves

Anyway, COOL.

Monday, August 31, 2009

terms of interment

Notes for 8/28/09

many applications of the term
-writing in a romantic language

in the middle ages the romance languages started seperating themselves from Latin (around 1000-1200) and forming their own identities, becoming more gestural and emotional - outside of the traditional system of Latin.

"Language starts misbehaving"

-overtly emotional
-nature ...true to nature, recognizing our human nature

the romantic implulse - yearning - nonconformity

Nonconformity / Conformity
-pivotal relationship between the two
-the two are not in balance or ever in synthesis, always one or the other, or..the pivot
-constant state of imbalance and pivoting
-cultural dynamics - culture & counter culture

"A civilization is most creative when its pivoting" (also individuals)

-dichotomy, coexistence of different aspects of itself which are constantly at odds
-the pivot is the creative part, once you land on one side or the other you establish what you've created.

military term (french) - the soldier who's assignment was to go ahead to check out the terrain & come back with information on how and where to proceed next.

-experimental. searching, trial and error. makes you an outsider.
-the origins of this are in nonconformity
-dynamicism, the nature of the pivot. cannot define, cannot be sure where you are.

definite/indefinite universal/particular shape/shapeless
clarity/confusion madness/insanity science/pseudoscience

The &. & & & & & & & NOT either/or, but AND. Not one or the other but BOTH, but they are distinguished as contradictory forces, dichotomies (rather than dualisms). MULTIPLICITY and coexistence, not harmony.

*book: The Boundary Between Madness & Insanity

Tesla: accepted at first, but later rejected because he kept experimenting and pushing boundaries even after 'substantial' discoveries had already been made. (note to self: research Tesla)


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Student at Utah Valley University studying Humanities, Philosophy, Sociology and Anthropology.