VALUE FOR MONEY

Idries Shah, Thinkers of the East, Idries Shah, 1971.

p 84 “Awad Afifi had a book in which he had written the accounts of a conversation with sages and philosophers during twenty years of travel and studies.

One day a scholar called to see him and asked if he could make a copy of the book.

‘Yes,’ said Awad, ‘you may certainly do so. I will charge you however, a thousand gold pieces for the service.’

‘That is a tremendous sum to pay for something that you have here, which I am not even going to deplete by copying,’ said the scholar, ‘and besides, it is unworthy to charge for knowledge.’

‘I make no charge for knowledge itself,’ said Awad, ‘for knowledge is not in books, only some of the ways to gain it. As for the thousand gold pieces: I intend to spend them on the travel expenses of pupils who cannot afford to travel. And as for the greatness of the sum: I have spent fifty thousand on my travels, plus twenty years of my life. Perhaps you might care to let me know what that amounts to?’

OBSERVATION: Encountering a true teacher is a rare moment in the life of any individual. The special relation between teacher and student requires the recognition of the genuine value found in the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge. While knowledge is a recognizable characteristic, it is also ephemeral, transitory, and difficult to define in absolute terms. Perhaps, more than anything, the teacher must recognize the needs of the student, provide direction, mis-direction, and a path to stimulate the capacity of the student, acting as an enzyme or catalyst.

BEUYS/STEINER: IMAGINATION, INSPIRATION, INTUITION

The link embedded in this statement reaches the NGV News page regarding the exhibition of Joseph Beuys and Rudolf Steiner held 26 October 2007-17 February 2008 in Australia.

Some of the ideas included are: politics, economics, intellectual freedom, ‘social sculpture’, direct democracy, sustainable economic forms.

THE SOCIOLOGICAL IMAGINATION: 1959

C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination, Oxford, 1959.

p 3 “Nowadays men often feel that their private lives are a series of traps. They sense that within their everyday worlds, they cannot overcome their troubles, and in this feeling, they are often quite correct: What ordinary men are directly aware of and what they try to do are bounded by the private orbits in which they live; their visions and their powers are limited to the close-up scenes of job, family, neighborhood; in other milieux, they move vicariously and remain spectators. And the more aware they become, however vaguely, of ambitions and of threats which transcend their immediate locales, the more trapped they seem to feel.

p 161 …..The life of an individual cannot be adquately understood without references to the institutions within which his biography is enacted. For this biography records the acquiring, dropping, modifying, and in a very intimate way, the moving from one role to another. One is a child in a certain kind of family, one is a playmate in a certain kind of child’s group, a student, a workman, a foreman, a general, a mother. Much of human life consists of playing such roles within specific institutions. To understand the biography of an individual, we must understand the significance and meaning of the roles he has played and does play, to understand these roles we must understand the institutions of which they are a part.”

OBSERVATION: Social scientists discover the meaning of human life evidenced by human activity and interaction. Mills points out that it is imperative to know the institutions in which humans live in order to understand the individual. The data and interactions necessary to gain a full understanding of one individual in society requires an accumulation of vast amounts of information (in order to genuinely understand the nature of that person). While the accumulation of data is required, it is important to recognize the organic nature of the data, with its constant ebb and flow. Equally, it is necessary to see the individual as a component of other larger groups, and again, organically linked. An interesting examination of social consciousness is currently being studied at: The Global Consciousness Project, subtitle: Meaningful Correlations in Random Data.

AGES IN CHAOS: 1952

Immanuel Velikovsky, Ages in Chaos, Doubleday, 1952.

p. 202 The Carian Language: With the Ras Shamra tablets before the linguists, it would seem that the scholarly world is at last closer to the solution of the question, What was the language of the Carians, than was Strabo, who discussed it nineteen centuries ago.1

Homer, in his enumeration of the allies of Troy, included “the barbarously speaking Carians.” Apollodorus understood these words as an allusion to the fact that the Carians spoke, not Greek, but some strange language.2 Strabo concluded from Homer’s reference that the Carians spoke Greek but pronounced it like barbarians. Strabo probably had in mind the Carians of Asia Minor, about whom Herodotus wrote that, with the settlement of the Carians there, the speech of the Caunians, the previous inhabitants, “has grown like to the Carians’, or the Carians’ to theirs.”3
That the Carians used a speech not understandable to the Greeks is obvious from a story of Herodotus.4 He narrates how a Carian people came to a temple to hear the oracle, the Thebans stood amazed to hear the oracle use a language other than Greek. The stranger said that the words of the oracle were Carian, and he wrote them down.

1 Strabo, Les Decouvertes, p. 20
2 Ibid., with reference to Apollodorus, Athenian grammarian.
3 Herodotus, I, 172.
4 Ibid., VIII, 135.

OBSERVATION: In a recent conversation someone asked, “What about all of the lost knowledge?” This question is certainly important in the context of human history. Language has acted as a support for culture from its inception. Language, and its various connotations and definitions requires an understanding of human physiology, history, and especially insight into the human organism in order to master a profound understanding of the subject. All too often we find language components that are incomprehensible to the general populace, sometimes a result of educational disparities, cultural distinctions, lost knowledge, etc. Evidenced by Velikovsky’s writing, we can understand that sources of language have been misunderstood, and this lack of understanding persists today. Following is a coded word sequence that may only be understood by the literati holding the technology and knowledge to decipher it.

QR Barcode
QR Barcode

MISSING PERSONS: 1971

Heinrich Boll, Missing Persons, Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Koln, 1961-1977.

page 220: The problem that torments us all–the young artists and writers who are being honored here no less than myself–is the problem of transforming objects into material and transforming this material back into a new reality that does justice to both object and material. Linguistic objects also offer themselves to writers for materialization. Every painter, sculptor, and composer is faced with the same problem, except that language is fraught with particularly ticklish objects, and their materialization, the double transformation language must undergo, is burdened with conventional images, with morality, politics, history, and religion, with misunderstood and misguided ideals lying in readiness on the palette of interpretation.

….Flames are too much alive to be intrinsically suitable for that double transformation into object and material; that is why I considered the artist’s heroic endurance in the front line of reality to be a waste of time. It is sufficient to pass by. What is interesting is the residue from the fire, from the flames, the ashes, including the ashes of remembrance and the ashes of the future; there is no present–what I have just said has already passed, is remembrance. The only thing that tries to remain within the present, that tries to grasp at a shred of permanence, is art, which creates something from the ashes, from the handful of dust and dirt.”

OBSERVATION: Heinrich Boll presents this complex aspect of artistic creation, the process of transforming and transmuting ideas and materials, forming a new reality. The equation, recognized by the remnants of the creative process leaves an impression of the artist’s life, personality, beliefs, and intent. Experiencing art is that moment of fulfillment when the artist’s mark is felt by the participant. It is this moment when the art comes alive, again, in the mind of the participant. It is possible to define, criticize, abstract, interpret, and evaluate the many layers of impression left by the imprint of the artist’s mind and hand. It is also possible to experience this same expression without subjective commentary, using conscious mental processes leading to a clear understanding of artistic purpose.

THE SHAPE OF TIME: 1962

Kubler, The Shape of Time, Yale, 1962.

page 84: “Time has categorical varieties: each gravitational field in the cosmos has a different time varying according to mass. On earth at the same instant of celestial time, no two spots really have the same relation to the sun despite our useful convention of time-zones regulating the regional concordance of clocks. When we define duration by span, the lives of men and the lives of other creatures obey different durations, and the durations of artifacts differ from those of coral reefs or chalk cliffs, by occupying different systems of intervals and periods. The conventions of language nevertheless give us only the solar year and its multiples or divisions to describe all these kinds of duration.

St. Thomas Aquinas speculated in the thirteenth century upon the nature of the time of angels, and, following a neo-Platonist tradition,1 he revived the old notion of the aevum as the duration of human souls and other divine beings. This duration was intermediate beitween time and eternity, having a beginning but no end. The conception is not appropriate for the duration of many kinds of artifacts–so durable that they antedate every living creature on earth, so indestructible that their survivial may, for all we know, ultimately approach infinity.”

1 Duhem, “Le temps selon les philosophes hellenes,” Revue de philosophie (1911).

OBSERVATION: ETERNITY: INFINITY: Pondering the concepts of time and space allow the human imagination to wander through territory well beyond the touch of conventional reality. In considering the idea of aevum, or infinity, it is possible to understand time and space beyond the individual physical presence of the self. Astrophysicists using mathematics, physics, and contemporary technologies explore the possiblity of looking back in time, actually seeing events occurring historically. The ideas of art, imagination, insight, intuition, creativity, and all these things represent clearly point to a potential of the human mind for vast exploration.

THE FLAME OF ATTENTION: 1984

Krishnamurti, The Flame of Attention, Harper & Row, 1984.

p. 15: “Thinking is a process born out of experience and knowledge. Listen to it quietly, see if that is not true, actual; then you discover it for yourself as though the speaker is acting as a mirror in which you see for yourself exactly what is, without distortion; then throw the mirror away or break it up. Thinking starts from experience which becomes knowledge stored up in the cells of the brain as memory; then from memory there is thought and action. Please see this for yourself, do not repeat what I say. This sequence is an actual fact: experience, knowledge, memory, thought, action. Then from that action you learn more; so there is a cycle and that is our chain.”

p. 22: “The word ‘discipline’ comes from the word disciple, the disciple whose mind is learning-not from a particular person, a guru, or from a teacher, or preacher, or from books but learning through the observation of his own mind, of his own heart, learning from his own actions. And that learning requires a certain discipline, but not the conformity most disciplines are understood to require. When there is conformity, obedience, and imitation, there is never the act of learning, there is merely following. Discipline implies learning, learning from the very complex mind one has, from the life of daily existence, learning about relationship with each other, so that the mind is always pliable, active.”

OBSERVATION: Neural plasticity: As thinking beings we are always challenged with this process of observing our own thought process. Krishnamurti points out that we must exhibit personal discipline, and personal responsibility for this process of learning, and that we must be careful to not defer this reponsibility to other persons, or materials. Through the proper application of direct processes, we have the capacity to act upon learning, and while some of these processes are automatic and unconscious, others are precisely calculated conscious processes.

RABINDRANATH TAGORE: WHAT IS ART: 1917

TAGORE, Personality, ISBN 076618286X, MacMillan, NY, 1917.

p. 13: ‘Questions have been asked, “What is Art?” and answers have been given by various persons. These discussions are introducing elements of conscious purpose into the region where both our faculties of creation and enjoyment have been spontaneous and half-conscious. They are supplying us with very definite standards by which to guide our judgment of art productions. Therefore we have heard judges in the modern time giving verdict, according to some special legislation of their own make, for the dethronement of immortals whose supremacy has been unchallanged for centuries.

This meteorological distrubance in the atmosphere of art criticism, whose origins is in the West, has crossed over to our own shores in Bengal, bringing mist and clouds in its wake, where there was a clear sky. We have begun to ask ourselves whether creations of art should not be judged either according to their fitness to be universally understood, or their philosophical interpretation of life, or their usefulness for solving the problems of the day, or their giving expression to something which is peculiar to the genius of the people to which the artist belongs. Therefore when men are seriously engaged in fixing the standard of value in art by something which is not inherent in it, —or in other words when the excellence of the river is going to be judged by the point of view of a canal, we cannot leave the question to its fate, but must take part in the deliberations…….
Therefore, I shall not define Art, but question myself about the reason of its existence, and try to find out whether it owes its origin to some social purpose, or to the need of catering for our aesthetic enjoyment, or whether it has come out of some impulse or expression, which is the impulse of our being itself.’

OBSERVATION: Tagore offers insight beyond any selfish notion in his attempt to self-critically examine the complex question: What is Art? Throughout modern times, artists and critics have searched for new expression, sometimes providing theories and manifestos using extreme rhetoric, debunking previous theories, and arguing that only the newest instrument has any genuine purpose. One art theory supplants another, ad infinitum. It is interesting to note Tagore’s position that it is perhaps necessary for us to examine the ‘reason for its existence’, and also perhaps to understand a participants action, rather than to stratify value.

SOCRATES: ION

Read, Art & Society, Schocken, 1968.

p. 102, ‘The best instance to quote is perhaps the description of a poet which Socrates gives in Ion: ‘For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantian revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains; but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysus but not when they are in their right mind. And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and unable to utter his oracles.’ 1 Jowett’s translation

OBSERVATION: Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud continue this line of thinking with their investigations into the mechanics of the psyche. Both psychologists defined aspects of the workings of the human mind in the realm of art. Jung, ed., Man and his Symbols, Aldus, 1964, has a variety of essays dealing with this subject.

Jean Cocteau, in his Orphic Trilogy, Blood of a Poet (1930), Orpheus (1949), and Testament of Orpheus (1960) looks into the description of the poet, as Orpheus (that mythic being who possesses the power of poetry and who can keep the awesome powers of Hell at bay with his words, and lyricism), states, ‘I am a writer who does not write’. Jean Cocteau, Orphic Trilogy (three films) dvd available through Criterion films.

Socrates’ reference to bees continues in the twentieth century in the work of Joseph Beuys. Beuys understood and expressed much interest in the life of bees, as evidenced in several works, and especially in his Honey Pump in the Workplace 1974-1977. (Honigpump). Beuys stated ‘The generation of energy means the production of warmth and hence the link with social sculpture.’ Beuys Honeypump in the Workplace was installed at documenta 6 in Kassel, Germany pumping two tons of honey for 100 days. (honey) as energy, and (heat) generated by the machine.

COGNITION & COGNITION OF COGNITION

Singh, The Heart of Buddhist Philosophy-Dinnaga and Dharmakirti, Munshiram, 1984.

p. 63: ‘Another major ground on which Dharmakirti is ranked as an Idealist is the theory of self-consciousness (svasamvedanavada). It is a fact that Dinnaga and Dharmakirti have expounded the view that every cognition of an object is always self-conscious, or that knowledge has a double aspect, cognition and cognition of cognition, and does not need any other agent (such as a soul) to make its cognition. It is like a light which reveals other objects and at the same time reveals its own existence and so does not require any other light to reveal it. The knowledge of blue and the knowledge that it is blue are not two different things, but two aspects of one process. Dharmakirti elaborates on this in two contexts:
a. while dealing with the four-fold nature of sensation (pratyaksa) and
b. while refuting the Nyaya-Mimamsa theory of a difference betwen a source of valid cognition (pramana) and a result of cognition (pramana-phala).

OBSERVATION: In reading Thomas Aquinas, the reader will encounter the word (aevum), meaning the concept of a soul which has a beginning but no end. Dinnaga and Dharmakirti demonstrate in their argument that the moment of cognition and cognition of cognition are independent of any need to defer to an aspect referenced by Thomas Aquinas, such as a soul. Recent inquiries into quantum physics describe the ability of contemporary mechanics to control single photons. These single photon mechanical systems are utilized in encryption and firewall protection for computer systems. Physicists have recognized that a single photon changes when being observed, demonstrating subtle phenomena, and the elusive nature of any definition of reality in a conventional sense.