Two lovers were
cursed, he to be a wolf at night and she to be a hawk during
day. They could not be human together.
Humans view, interpret and mentally explore their world on
many levels. Humans experience things rationally, irrationally,
consciously, subconsciously, emotionally, intuitively, directly,
indirectly, aesthetically-- in a varying combination of these
and more all at once. A human can think logically one moment
and be emotionally swept up by a song the next. Math professors
fall head over heals in love and abstract painters calculate
A human's best possible exploration, understanding and expression
of the universe uses all the levels. An expression of the universe
through only mathematics or only music is inherently limited.
Many things in the world can't be explained with mathematics,
love and beauty for examples, just as mathematics can't be explained
with love and beauty. An explanation using just one level is
* * * *
This brief essay looks at the nature of two standard and distinct
methods for making profound explorations and representations
of the complex world: the logical philosophical essay and art.
One is based on reason (logical essay). The other has its meaning
in the irrational (art). Each is
a legitimate method of communication yet limited in what it can
* * * *
A logical philosophical essay uses reason and logic. It intentionally
tries to remove emotion, whims, logical fallacies, subjectivity
and, except when clearly identified as such, the author's opinions.
The language itself of the logical essay is expected to be free
of logical fallacies and similar linguistic muddiness.
* * * *
In proofing the logical essay, the writer and reader makes
sure that statements are consistent. As statements are built
upon statements, even small logical fallacies can undercut the
The following are elemental examples of checking the logic
of statements that might be found in an essay.
Statement #1: "Jenny has only one brother. Thus,
her brother has only one sibling."
Analysis of statement #1: Uses false logic and should
be rewritten. If Jenny has a sister, then the second statement
would be untrue, as John would then have more than one sibling.
While John may indeed only have one sibling, the first sentence
does not prove the second.
Statement #2: "Jenny's favorite type of fruit
over all other fruit is the orange. Thus, the banana is not her
Analysis: The statement is logically correct.
Writers of logical essays will have others read the drafts
to check for logical accuracy.
* * * *
Opposed to the logical essay, the essential meaning of art
is based in irrationality. While a work of art has an underlying
and often even logic-related structure, the essential meaning
is irrational (sublimeness, profound beauty). Art produces a
profound emotional and psychological effect on the audience and
it is here where the meaning exists.
This irrational meaning is illustrated by the wordless music
you love. There is nothing logical or rational in the sounds
or the emotional reaction you get from them. Art's meaning exists
beyond logic and reason.
* * * *
Artists intentionally subvert logic, reason and reality to
produce the desired psychological effect in the audience.
Many paintings intentionally distort reality. Look at paintings
by Picasso, Dali, Cezanne, Jackson Pollock or Renoir. Even the
'realistic' paintings of the 1400s have strange dimensions, characters
and visual stories.
Painting by Paul Cezanne
Classic movies and novels have unrealistic plots, characters,
timing and effects. Some are fairy tales or science fiction.
Action space and sound.
2001: A Space Oddysey
To produce the desired emotions in the audience most movies
have music sound tracks. In real life many of the scenes portrayed
would have no full symphonic accompaniment. Washington crossing
the Delaware, man lost alone in the middle of the desert, Humphrey
Bogart walking a deserted street, Rocky Balboa running up the
Philadelphia steps. Most movie music is an intentional distortion
of reality for artistic purposes.
Even a literal-minded scientist will complain that a documentary
about physicist Werner Heisenberg didn't have a music soundtrack,
or that the music wasn't what he would have chosen. If asked,
he might tell the director he would have preferred Beethoven
over the used Bach, perhaps mixed with some Mozart.
Fiction and non-fiction distorts time. A person's or a country's
life will be shrunk into two hours. To compensate for the time
limit, the movie or book will focus on certain areas, omit others,
often altering facts.
2001: A Space Oddysey : distorting
time and space
* * * *
Art is so different than the 'real world' that its meaning,
its truth some will say, is derived from lies. Shakespeare's
Hamlet is fiction. Of Mice and Men is a figment
of John Steinbeck's imagination.
* * * *
An inherent conflict exists between art and logic. One requires
rational thinking and the other requires irrationality. Each
subverts the the other.
* * * *
An inherent problem with the logical essay is that, despite
the author's intentions, it can never be entirely free of the
things it wishes to be free of-- bias, irrationalness and arbitrariness.
The author has personal and aesthetic views about writing
style, structure and overall presentation. A writer can't write
or think without using a plethora of conceits, some chosen, some
subconscious, some inborn. A writer can't visualize things in
his mind without biases. Writers take into consideration the
biases and conceits of the audience, as point of the essay is
to communicate to others. Logical essays distort time as much
as novels, spending more pages on one decade than another, writing
about an earlier historical period before a later historical
period, cutting up history and reassembling it into a collage.
This distorted representation is often in part due to aesthetic
If the writer and audience have a bias about the color and
shape of paper the essay is to be written on, they should not
assume that they are free of bias and artificial thinking elsewhere.
Small biases are indication of the presence of larger biases.
Human logic has its own fiction.
* * * *
Facts versus art in the biography
The subject of the biographical movie or book is or was flesh
and blood, a life filled with measurable facts: dates, times,
durations, heights, geography, quotes, tests, employment records,
hair color, postal addresses. Yet a simple recitation of external
facts will not accurately represent the person and her life.
The recitation will be dry bones. A person is much more than
facts and dates. Character, complex personality, aesthetic vision
(perhaps the subject was a great artist or actor), beliefs, faiths,
conflicts, contradictions, urges, dreams, fears, subjective experiences.
A famous composer might say, "If you want to know who
I am, listen to my music. That's all you need."
A woman might say, "If you want to know about me, forget
about my high school transcript and the conversations I have
with my boss. Watch my favorite movie. If you don't get the movie,
you'll never understand me." Her favorite movie probably
was made by someone she never met, perhaps who died before she
was born, isn't about her, perhaps takes place in a country or
a planet she's never been too and may not have a single character
that resembles or acts like her or even speaks her language.
Even when distorting facts and logic and time, a biography
that is a work of art, can be a better representation of the
subject, his deeper personality and vision. This type of biography
is a figurative representation of the person, as the above Cezanne
painting is a representation of a landscape.
The obvious problem is that to create this figurative truth,
one must distort the factual truth. And to tell the factual truth,
one destroys this figurative truth. One should want the two to
exist together, but they cannot.
(c) david rudd cycleback, cyclback.com
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