Left Hand of Darkness Chapter 3

art

I just wrote this whole post out and it was lost. I am completely irritated.

Who is the I that talks? This is the first chapter without context, without framing, and it is a continuation of the story in chapter 1, a traditional tale. We have many voices in this chapter. The inner voice of the narrator, the external voice of the narrator, the voice of the broadcast system proclaiming the treason of our narrators dinner companion in chapter one, we have the voice of new shoes going eck eck eck, we have the voice of the ansible responding to the king’s question, we have the voice of the king, we have the reported voices of scientists who have tried to understand where Genry, the envoy came from and who he is. Madness is a voice.

What do all these voices do? How are all these voices used?

The king is the first person to give the envoy advice. Dont be a tool. He is a tool. Someone once asked me, who am I a tool for. Are these voices tools. In the hand of the king they are. Is information a tool? Genry’s backup plan is to collect information.

We hear about desire and motivation. The Ekumen are motivated by knowledge, trade, community, pleasure, adventure. The king is motivated by fear.

At the end of the conversation Genry realizes that his path here is blocked he must do something new, and so he decides to go elsewhere and collect information. Information In form ation.

Marx Capital Chapter 15 section 8

art

This is what I am reading for my Capital Reading Group.

Chapter 15 is about surplus value. Surplus value is a kind of value – it is the value that leads to profit.

Section 8 is on machinery. It is actually a really excellent section, I may suggest that my reading group on slavery read it.

This is a long section so I am going to summarize

First what are the social relations that are produced by machinery? This is an interesting question.

Marx talks about different forms of social relations and production

  1. cooperation (we could call this collaboration) – pre manufacturing
  2. cottage industries or some parts of constructing an item are automated (and a person, often a woman or child operates it)
  3. factory – this is the factory system

As a result of this movement from cooperation to cottage industry to factory social relations change that make it impossible for a person to live like a person – to live according to our species being. The family is disrupted, childhood is disrupted, it becomes impossible for parents to care for for their offspring, the ability to make choices is severely impaired by desperate situations.

These include being forced to work as a young child and not being able to get an education. This also involves a lack of moral education, or non existent moral education, since they are treated as adults as children and placed side by side with adults within their milieu – but these are adults that do not care about them. Also they are subject to unclean conditions and disease and in many instances unable to improve these conditions because of the amount of work and the lack of liberal education and moral education.

When I talk about moral education, I do not mean religion or ethics (I am all about the transvaluation of values), I mean the ability to cultivate any value at all the ability to cultivate an inner life and a core from which to make decisions instead of being reactive. Maybe we should call this psychological education.

There is also a discussion of domestic labor impacted by the factory system – but I did not quiet grok it – perhaps the point was that this is where the most unskilled people went.

That in a factory where machines are automated you do not need knowledgable workers, strong workers, or anything like that, you just need cheap workers that can operate the machinery.

There is a brief discussion of laws (the Factory Act), and the impact of laws on business and factory workers, and it seems that the laws do nothing to really change the situation but to perhaps limit exploitation a bit so things are slightly less miserable,

This section is 30 pages and this paragraph is like 30 sentences – But I tried to get the gist of it.

Left Hand of Darkness – Chapter 2

art

Reading Left Hand of Darkness with Aya Natalia… and this is just so much fun.

Chapter 2 is titled The Place Inside The Blizzard. It begins with an attribution that this is from a sound tape, this chapter is from a soundtape. So the anthropology continues. I imagine oral histories and collections of lost languages. The last chapter was a transcription from the ansible, perhaps “supposed” to be a log, but rendered as a story. This story is now an oral history.

It is an origin my it strikes me. It follows a character Gethen. Is this the Gethen who founds the the country Gethen in chapter 1 it is unclear.

We begin with an origin myth of two brothers like the biblical origin myth of cain and able. Except here our brothers are lovers, the twin, the gemini. I am also reading Coming Into Being and there is a curious discussion of the gemini of homosexual male love, of art and culture in opposition to procreation. However here, the twinning is disrupted by procreation. What is happening here? I wonder perhaps biology is different on this world.

Anyway we learn the laws of this culture, suicide is a greater crime than murder. Homosexuality and sex between brothers is condoned. From the creation of these rules a drama is created when the rules are transgressed. We learn the language of this place; kemmer Hearth, Domain. We have sacred numbers 3 days, two days, We also have a sort of somatic, embodied transformation. “He began to crawl forward on knees and elbows. He had no reason to do this.” We then have a mystical experience: the vision of Gethen’s dead brother who is all white (white walker like for you GOT fans). This is the journey. But it is not quite the hero’s journey. It somehow echos the journey of Christian Rosenkreutz. It is a journey of transformation. At the beginning Gethen has a name. Then he becomes nameless, he is exiled, he wanders and then finds a new home, takes a new name, and finally reclaims his old name and can finally die.

I remember from the wizard of earthsea something about names, so this is a LeGuinism.

Some phrases I love

The names are curious Ennoch, reminds me of Enoch (from the Bible and the first occultist), Erhenrang reminds me of the myth of Er that I wrote about yesterday, Gethen remends me of Geth which is the go version of ethereum.

The Myth of Er

art

I re-read the myth of er this morning- it is how Plato ends his opus – The Republic.. 100 years ago when I was a student at university I studied Plato. One of the things that surprised me was how every platonic dialogue would end with a myth. I interpreted this to mean that all reason has to be taken on faith, resides in a story, in a dogma – its turtles all the way down – or perhaps the real source of truth/knowledge/meaning is the realm of myth, the unconscious.

The story of Er… Er dies experiences the afterlife and comes back to tell everyone about it. He is in the bardo (that is what we would say in Tibet). This has happened over and over in myth and literature. It is called katabasis – a descent – there are a bunch through out world literature.

So let tell you my experience about reading this story. I was able to focus easily on the how there are judges and how individuals suffer or are rewarded in proportion to their deeds in heaven or hell… and then once they leave heaven or hell they are reunited with old friends and share experiences. They do this in a beautiful meadow – this sounds lovely. I followed all that easily.

What came after I had difficulty following. I don’t know if the translation was clunky, or if the metaphors just made no sense to me, but it was hard to keep focused. There was sort of a description of the architecture of the universe. It involved spindles and whorls and Iwas sort of hoping that someone had made an animation of the myth of er. If someone has can you please let me know. Anyway here are spindles and whorls from the bronze age.

http://www.antiques.com/vendor_item_images/ori_6203_747901732_1139843_bronze_spindle_and_whorls.jpg

Weaving – looms were the first computer – so I imagine that if we were to write an updated myth of Er it would be a computer not a bunch of whorls and things.

Anyway first we learn about the structure of the universe. There is some sort of rope of light that holds the whole damn thing together. There are 8 spheres – corresponding to the plants and the stars and they spin controlled by these spindles and whorls. They have different speeds and colors and they have an associate siren the sings.

Ok so lets just notice the foundational attributes of the universe … speed, color, and music. It is interesting to note that it is not the speed that generates the color or the music that these are all independent. And that the speed is controlled by the spindles with occasional manual intervention (we will get to that). The color comes from ?? and the music is from the sirens – how they end up there what they do etc also big question…. ok so then we have 3 fates – past present future – they manually manipulate different spindles/whorls in different directions. It is interesting how on earth we have four directions, but in the metaverse we have 3.

Then there is a long and involved discussion of how we select our next lives. This is a story of metempsychosis (mispelled). lots are cast to decide who goes first, and then people pick the life they want. There are so many lives, more lives than people who need to choose lives, that I sort of feel even if you are last you may be able to get the kind of life you want. People appear very reactive, picking their next life based on their last life and their reward or punishment. They are not picking according to which life will allow them to be the most just. I mean even if they thought this way this would be a hard question to answer.

It is interesting what this story focuses on versus say the divine comedy, which is about what happens in the afterlife, not what happens after after the afterlife. And I wonder what a katabasis for our contemporary society would look like.

Faust vs Gilgamesh

art

I am reading Coming into Being by William Irwin Thompson. It is really fantastic. There are gems everywhere. It is exactly the kind of book I love to read.

I was reading a section on the story of Faust retold from Marlow to Mann, and the tale of Gilgamesh. For Thompson these two stories represent two different epochs or world views. Man selling his soul to the devil for worldly success and man going on a journey to create an ego against nature, the goddess/god and death/time. This is a paraphrase.

This I found quite profound. Ancient man was creating a self, differentiating herself from the natural cycle and from fate. Natural man creating her own destiny. It is really about the creation of destiny apart from fate. Then modern person was about crafting the self, presenting the self, valuing the self. It was an ethical turn. We could say the first movement was ontological and the second turn was ethic. What is success? It is a value. I almost called this aesthetic. But I do believe that beautify / aesthetics is eternal. It is the harmony. Ethics is always changing, it is balancing the harmony, it is brining the aesthetics into being. This makes me think that our current age is about the aesthetic turn. It is about beauty about deep somatic resonance with a creation. It is about pleasure, about feeling good. But it is not a narcissism. It is communal. We will be in true bliss when everyone is in true bliss – and this is why the bodisattvas keep reincarnating.

A Meredith Analysis of Pat Lipsky’s Paintings

art

So I have been taking a bunch of classes with Pat Lipsky. I was looking for a painting class like my poetry writing groups where we share work and get feedback – and I manifested it – just like I manifested this delicious cup of coffee next to me as I write this.

For me learning from Pat encapsulates everything that is unquantifiable about education (or learning), what it means to be a student or a teacher, the notion of linages, and I even think a little about tantra and the importance of a guru – that you make a decision as to the path you are going to follow, who is going to be your teacher, who are you going to be influenced by. I think that Pat is quoting someone when she says the most important thing you decide is who you will be influenced by – or maybe she said it herself or maybe I just made that up. What I have learned I cannot record in a blog post, but the records are in my body, my body as expressed in my work, my body as expressed in my decision making on what to be influenced by, my saturday mornings in bed with artist monographs and journals (Paul Klee or Van Gogh) – although I do have a ginormous tomb of Duchamp’s that I keep on my desk. Maybe I am not fully ready to give myself over to a guru.

Anyway lets talk about Pat’s paintings. I took an art history class with Pat and the last class was discussing her work. And now I have opinions. I am not going to display the paintings here. Instead I will put the link and then go to Pat’s site.

And this is going to be very fast and loose – because that is the way I roll

Wavy Lines

Pat says here that some of these paintings represent lines that are related logarithmically … or are the results of logarithmic calculations. I am not sure. In any case some lines go off the page, some end in splatters, some seem influenced by Rothko.

What I see is a perception of the world. The world is continuous. What does it mean to be continuous – it means one thing flows into another, there may be boundaries but there are no ruptures, there are no gaps. And of course I would see this because this is one of my questions is… is the world continuous or discrete.. and I direct you to the paradox of zeno’s arrow. So in Pat’s work are color worlds and lines and composition and I am moved and I can look at these pictures for hours. BUT there is the metacontext – the mind of Pat and in this mind perhaps the world is continuous. The world here also has directionality but I would not say orientation. Again this is another meredith-ism. But I will save this for later

Squares

Keep clicking on next and eventually you come to the squares. I did ask Pat why she did the squares, but I am not going to write it down, because it does not feel right. How ever her answer was about what doing squares did materially, how it alllowed her to paint differently (it was not a conceptual answer). So what is the square/ the grid…

This my friends is discrete. The world is discrete. It is filled with quantum jumps and holes in the number line. It is the why the arrow never reaches the destination. It is the world of the analog computer, of quantification of Descartes. So the world Pat is now painting is descrete.

It also has all four directions. It has microworlds that one can control. The squares sometimes contain little triangles, they have different colors, they need more attention, the paint handling is different. Each square could be its own world. This is a lot of work, a different kind of work than the continuous flow of log I mean doing quantitative analysis is a lot of work. But yes, here directionality has expanded, perhaps we can even say dimensionality. We have four directions. The line has become the square.

Also there is something about the prints that remind me of pixels. The paintings dont, but the prints do. Prints are mediated by technology, the print making device, and this is a further reduction of resolution – so the pixel vision makes sense to me. Just throwing that out there. Pixels are how images are made with discrete math (versus the continuous math of me moving a paint brush).

Up and down squares

So we are going to skip decades and move to the up and down horizontal bar paintings. So these have directionality and orientation. I have no idea why these have orientation but the earlier ones do not. I have to meditate on that. But it is true. What is direction via orientation. Direction is the way something goes, orientation is something that is relation to bodies. So maybe these paintings are embodied in a way the earlier ones were not – I dont know.

So yes color line composition – these are all different. But here there are long rectangles not curves and they have distinct edges for the most part and they go up and down at different rates within the paintings. Why are they embodied in a different way? It could be the color, it could be the way they are distinguished from one another, it could even be their inter-relation on the canvas in that some rectangles start at different points than others.

So this is still a discrete world. It is a world with boxes, but it is a discrete world with orientation. A piece of information has signal and noise. This is how you measure it. It does not have orientation, it does not have a body. Maybe it has direction in that you read it in a certain way for the bits to make sense. And here is a link to Shannon and information theory so you know how smart I am.

So this is beyond information there, the information theory of discrete math. But it is still discrete.

2020-21

So we are back here at the wavy lines. But notice! they are different! The have spaces between them. They are distinct. Continuous yet discrete. The wavy lines are very constant in color, except for one painting that has obvious paint handling and seems a bit Rothko inspired. What sort of world is this now, the discrete continuous… the biological.. the organic. Logs are a way to measure biological phenomenal. Sound volume exists for us to hear on a logarithmic scale. The rectangles and squares are a-personal. The wavy lines with spaces between the lines give me orientation in a way that the ones without do not. For there to be a body there needs to be space within which the body exists. it needs to perhaps be a space that I can imagine my body … my body is perhaps what gives the painting orientation. Or maybe the painting itself has a body, and maybe some paintings have bodies and some dont. Anyway I really loved looking at this paintings and the history of art, and this body of work. For myself I would love to have a body of work, and I suppose I do, but it is not really painting.

Coda

Originally I was going to write about the waves as FFT, fast fourier transforms, and how this describes Pat’s wave paintings. They are like sound waves, or harmonics, and then I was going to talk about the squares as pulses or individual notes 440Hz for A yada yaa. Then I was going to talk about K-space and gaussian distributions as a way to explore painting and visual language. But I am not I am just going to put it here – so I sort of did talk about it.

The Left Hand of Darkness- Chapter 1

art

I am reading Left Hand of Darkness with Aya. We are both blogging. Something will come of it, I am not sure what.

How do I write this post? Do I write it for people who have read this book? Do I just write what I feel? Of course I write what is in my spleen.

This book is a book by an anthropologist. We get a structure of society, of kinship, kingship, friendship, we get a discussion of protocol for interaction, we get a notions of gender and sexuality. Sometimes these are introduced via exposition, like that story of the border skirmish. Sometimes these are introduced via the inner ruminations of the narrator, talking about pronouns or referring to certain actions as effeminate or masculine. Sometimes these are introduced via description of events, like the cornerstone made of human blood and bones, and then made from animal blood.

What does it mean to tell a story anthropologically? what other modes are there? This book begins with a framing device. It does not frame the context, like in the arabian nights, these tales are being told one night after another to forestall death. But it frames the story – this is going to be a story, not a regular report, or a log (like in star trek -the captains log). This is interesting – what is this ansible report – it is a story. Stories, as the narrator says has perspective. But this does not make it any less true.

Some quotes and rememberings:

The first investigators called the planet winter

bill dull rufous moon

mindspeech

a man must cast his own shadow

when I say patriotism I mean fear, fear of the other

hire services not people (no slaves)

gongs (instruments, musical)

Orgoreyn

his was the darkest

self-alienation (capitalism is not the only cause of alienation or is it)

The Ekumen doesn’t rule, it co-ordinates (ecumenical and consensus algorithms blockchain)

insane vs sanity (various people are described as insane or sane, the king, the orgoreyn, mr ai)

an integral man

patronage

the common utensil to break ice off beer

Hainish grain

more teeth

gratitude

report

parade

sweat

musical instruments

32 different meanings

Here is a link to Aya’s chapter 1 post.

Events and Being in Painting

art

So this week I learned about Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg, 20th century art critics. I already knew about Clement Greenberg and had read his work but I really did not understand. Someone said that an art movement needs three things an artist, a poet and a critic. I am just throwing that out there.

So Greenberg and Rosenberg were writing about the abstract expressionists, or that is what I am writing about what they are writing about. Rosenberg called it action painting. What the heck is an abstract painting?

For Rosenberg the painting is a record, it is the record of an event or a process. We can see how this leads to all sorts of things such as conceptual art, or happenings, or the archive as art, or even curator as artist. With this POV an abstract expressionist painting is different from say a Titian portrait. The Titian portrait is obviously in service of the final object, we look at the final object and it succeeds and fails based on the final object. An abstract expressionist painting, although can be visually successful or unsuccessful is a result of a process, that what is comprehensible.

You can see that perhaps Rosenberg is approaching art from an intellectual perspective, or a rational perpsective, rather than an aesthetic perspective. He is trying to understand the work rather than perceive the work. When I look at a titian painting I can understand it. I can engage in a sort of literary hermeneutics. It is a story in pictorial form. When I look at an abstract painting, it has meaning, but I cannot tell a a story about it. It is not narrative.

The only way to understand an abstract painting in this way is to create narrative, and the narrative becomes the result of a process. So the making of the art becomes the story and the end result is the record. Rosenberg was a marxist. Marx is all about other ways of understanding beyond reason – understanding via praxis – understanding via action. (also you can see what I have written about the hermeneutics of suspicion).

There is something very appealing about this. Praxis has meaning. Process has meaning. The narrative is action. But really conceptual art and process art -although it is clever and interesting and I do like it – is actually not revolutionary. It is still narrative. I see now what some of these writers were trying to do, Stein and Joyce, to break out of narrative with words… but we still try and find the hidden story.

But we have an opportunity to go beyond this with abstract art. What if art has no story. If the picture has no story.

It is what it is – the paint on the canvas. This is radical. This is radical presence. It is the result of a process as everything is, but it is not there to educate you on process on the narrative. We have already been through that. Instead it is to bring you into the present.

It is easy to dismiss this as product over process, ends justify the means, and we can reduce this to all sorts of commercialism and capitalism and corner cutting. But that is not what I mean. The question is what does abstract art do that other art does not do.

To say that it makes us think about process is to say that what is on the canvas is meaningless, it is so bad that we can only think about the process. This is a sort of nihilism.

To take the painting as it is, without a story… as perhaps source or “being” as Jean Gebser talks about is a more radical interpretation. An abstract painting in its true materiality shows us something about our source from which process flows not the end of process.

For Greenberg the painting is about the painting, it is about the paint, the canvas, the thing you see, not the thing you interpret or project or narrate.

EPO – the ever present origin – the first paragraph

art

At the beginning of covid I read the book The Listening Society by Hanzi Freinacht. I really loved it. There were other people I had read that were referenced in this book, Ken Wilbur, Claire Graves, but I started reaching out… on the net to learn more about the author and these ideas… I came upon the world of integral. Which is really not considered serious for serious philosophers. And I am a serious person, but I am also frivolous and I enjoy these works.

Anway in my wanderings along the Integral dark web – I mean the integral left – I mean – you get the picture -maybe … I read Jean Gebser’s The Ever Present Origin (EPO). I liked it fine. But it was not my favorite, it did not impact me like some of the other books I had read, like perhaps the listening society, or other works – like this great small book I read on Cezanne by Roger Fry. So I am taking Jeremy Johnson’s class doing deep reading of EPO. What am I missing.

Today we did a deep reading of the first paragraph. The prompt was sort of how does the the passage make you feel. It reminded me of a philosophical discussion I participated in (during covid) where we all ready a line from some philosopher and talked about how it made us feel – It was a john Verbaeke exercise.

Cultivating Wisdom with John Vervaeke #6
Cultivating Wisdom with John Vervaeke #7

I was trying to be present with the paragraph but I am going to now tell you what my mind.

origin – donna haraway, here now – hegel, concretizing – simondon, continuous vs discrete, eternal, why the word origin, outside of time, bergson is inside time, what does it mean to be outside time – what does it mean to be a container that is not a container

system in g

art

How does Meredith work? I make decisions from my body which means I move very fast, since the body moves faster than the mind.

When I am painting it comes from my spleen, how does my spleen feel – maybe a touch of purple. When I write poetry it comes from my spleen. When I code it comes from my spleen. If it comes from my mind, if any of it comes from my mind it is garbage.

This is just my process.

If something feels right in my body then I do it. I cannot always explain it. I think of myself as a massive neural net of all my organs and my hormones and my dendrites and all that biology. I read a book, practice tai chi, watch a movie, play with my kids, whatever I do – it all is processed and digested in my body. Then the outcome is the decision of the body – like use the word willow in this poem. What is the causal line from the input to the output? I have no idea! Can we even do that? Does causality work that way? This is the question with AI neural nets as well. How can we understand the architecture of the net.

I am not recommending this as a practice for you dear reader, unless you think it is your process or a process that works for you. Everyone needs to find their own process.

So I move fast. For many people this is disconcerting. For many people it brings up concerns, is what I am doing really thought out. But most of all for many people it does not make sense. Hell most of the time it does not make sense to me. But since I have started doing this, my life has fallen into place, my decisions feel good. Again this is my process, and the thing about the world today is everyone has to find their own process or system.

Lets call this a system not a process… because a system works in a particular way this is how my system works. I mean I do have a website systempoetics.com. I am experimenting with a concept – systeming or system in g (I have a domain). This was a happy accident since I was looking for systeming.

The G string on a 6 string guitar, of all the strings, is the most difficult to keep in tune. There are all these hacks to keep this string in tune. Why is this the case? There are many reasons.. but this is the edge of the system or the poetics of the system (or as rudy rucker would say the gnarl). The G note! So system in g… this is the beginning of something.