Summative 19th century

Task 8 (week 10) Writers and artists in the 19th century were preoccupied with trying to solve the question “what is the purpose of life on Earth?“ As an inhabitant of the 21st century, how convincing did you find their answers?


Gustave Doré The Bible Illustrated

Retrieved from Wikimedia. Gustave Doré, the Illustrated Bible.

Until the [wo]man realises that he must stop pursuing frivolous desires, he will be condemned to live in hell on earth. As long as [wo]man continues to participate in destroying the world while blindly contributing to his own demise, the humanity will fall only further down in the abyss. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the people are not only unconscious but also unwilling to become conscious: it’s so convenient to live in the comfort of ignorance. Looking at the problem at the root, isn’t it the responsibility of everyone to save himself from his state of ignorance? Hence, could this be the primary purpose of life? Whether or not we agree with this statement, the Romantics in their own way were going in this direction. Aristotle said that the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Assuming that life itself is a process of art, the purpose of life would be not to repeat insipidly the same dramas always and again (since we are not meant to regress). Hence, the purpose of life is to evolve in an intelligent and meaningful way. In one of her poems, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861) diminishes the value of the Romantics’ vision, disputing the fact that the poets were spending all their creative energy loosely while revisiting the past instead of focusing on the problems of the contemporary life. The author, however, fails to recognise that a real change must —and can only– come from the “within” and not from the outside. The Romantics, on their side, were very conscious of this fundamental distinction. Also, problems only arise as [wo]men driven by their arrogance attempt to overrule the natural states in place. In other words, [wo]men are entangled in unresolvable issues that they have created for themselves. But rather than admitting their wrongs they prefer to look the other way, even imposing on the mind of others by manipulation or by force, simply not to admit their weaknesses. The real problem of contemporary life is [wo]man’s ego and the Romantics were well aware of this fact. Knowing that, I consider their endeavour as an elective act of consciousness. In our materialist societies, too many people believe that they can change things that are external to them. But, in fact, a human being has no such power. The only true power that [wo]man has is that to work on his inner-self. Humble as they were, that is what the Romantics were doing.

In the play, The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) uses an interesting approach to criticise the prevalent attitude of the Victorian period. Throughout witty dialogues, he cleverly suggests how profoundly superficial and uninteresting the mainstream public of the Victorian period are. In fact, drama and Poetry can tell so much more of the reality of our lives than any scholar or critic can. That is because the language of art allows considering any given subject from a higher perspective. John Keats (1795 – 1821) himself dropped his instruments of science as he decided to dedicate himself to the arts, embracing the path of poetry. In his poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, he translates his subjective experience into a metaphysical statement. By doing that, he finds a way to reconcile contradicting ideas: impermanence with infinity; death with eternity. Also, in his work, William Blake (1757 – 1827) alludes to how the industrial enterprise represents a threat to our fellow humankind. However, he decides to explore primarily the world of imagination rather than wasting his time with boring human preoccupations. Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) in Line Written In Early Spring speaks of the sacred balance of life and man causing the disruption of this natural state of peace. And in his other poem Ode: Intimation of Immortality, rather mystical, the author gives us a glimpse of what could be the dreams that “stuff” is made of (and I insist that I do mean the dreams that stuff is made of, not the opposite!) Finally, John Glover’s (1767 – 1849) natural landscape Uliswater, Early Morning reaches to create awareness in the mind of the spectator. As we stare into the painting we grasp how precious beautiful nature is, and this should make ask ourselves “what have we done to nature”. Though I ask myself why is the humanity so corrupted as to destroy the very land he lives on?

fractal ontology doc com

Retrieved from fractalontology Beyond Desire: Remarks on Nietzsche and Becoming

In the end, all of these great artists allow us through their arts to grasp the key features of the society that we live in today. Their ideas deeply resonate with the truth of our present days. I pray only that the Romantics’ vision could have ever more echoes. But that vision prophecising the forthcoming of an industrial age that would eventually destroy all this divine creation now is a fact. It is the very fact of our reality. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do against the crazy people governing our world: they are such all-powerful. We could, however, deny their existence and start living consciously for ourselves. But even so, the common person is still hiding, blind and coward. Conversely, a revolution of blood would not help, as it would only create another dictatorship (we know that from history). Hence, the best we can do is still to focus on ourselves… inasmuch as this focus consists of breaking all the barriers that we have created for ourselves. Money and power nourish the ego, not the real self. We need to free ourselves from the ego. That is the purpose of life on Earth. And that is what the Romantics were doing as they were endlessly searching beauty and seeking the soul.

Tibby Aubry, 20th of May 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

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Doomed to live in hell on Earth

Task 7 (week 9)

Cities for People, city-analysis.net

Retrieved from city-analysis.net. I haven’t read this book but I find the title particularly adequate: “Cities for People, Not for Profit”.

The human body is a system that is governed by the natural laws of biology; the universe is a system that is governed by the natural laws of the cosmos. Both systems work perfectly well in their natural state without the need for the man to intervene on them. “Problems” only arise when men driven by arrogance try to overrule the natural states in place. Although the man can alter a given state of the natural world, however, this very act is not without serious consequences for the ecosystem. Every time that a man alters something, it unfolds new series of subsequent problems… and at some point they become unmanageable. Thus, men are entangled in unresolvable issues that they have created for themselves. The real problem of contemporary life is man’s ego, and god will certainly not save him from such an apathetic attitude. Instead, it is the responsibility of everyone to save himself from his state of ignorance. Until the man realises that he must stop pursuing frivolous desires, he will be condemned to live in hell on earth. As long as man continues to participate destroying the world while blindly contributing to his own demise, the humanity will fall only further down in the abyss. Since the revolution of the industry and the migration from a rural to a modern life in the city, man has become the slave of a race that never ends. Contemporary societies are constructed on the false argument that the level of well-being of the people is a function of the economic growth. One of the premises of the argument is that Industrial and technological progress must be pursued at any cost, since the return on investment is always profitable in term of creating material wealth. The neo-capitalist view lacks to integrate the fact that the creation of wealth is a function of extracting the natural resources of the land. While we do know that these resources are not unlimited, the western mind, typically stubborn, always tries to avoid answering the vexatious question concerning his personal liability and the ethicality of his acts.

 

Tibby Aubry, 8th May 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

An education: what does that mean?

Task 6 (week 8)

People are created to be loved, not to be used...

If you are the author of this illustration, please contact me so I can credit you.

What do we mean by the word “education”? Well, in my experience, education means to be attached to a stick and to grow in its boring alignment. It dismisses the beauty of life. Life is not a straight line.

Education and culture are two concepts intricately linked together. Obviously, a culture will carry its set of values and experiences; however, it will not teach you the neighbor’s values. The education will never teach anything else that doesn’t support the given culture in question. The problem is that most cultures have lost their connection with nature (their root). Hence, the education has become nothing more than a social instrument to produce formatted people that will reasonably comply with the artificial powers already in place. The fact that our society is ruled by a few men who exploit all the other people for their private and mostly selfish interests is an evidence that our education is toxic and spread terror more than it creates harmony. Exploitation never existed in tribes for more than two million years. We are ‘educated’ to ‘believe’ that we should either fight or fly, we are not encouraged to opt for the middle ground; “—either you succeed or either you are a failure”. From the day we are able to pronounce our very first word and to count on our five fingers, we are streamed: classified, labeled; and we are put in competition. This tends to separate the people, not to bind them, and this is the sad reality of the western education.

Twelve years of compulsory education is not an act of generosity. What better strategy than throwing all the kids in the zoos of the institution and to teach them all the exact same mainstream insanities, in order to control the masses from their youngest age? We are taken away from our spiritual relation with nature as we reach the age of 3 or 4. Then the “syllabus education” becomes compulsory (school is free because the syllabus is compulsory) as we attain the “age of reason” (commonly 7yo but, in reality, between 6yo and 8yo). From there we are trapped in a schooling system that teaches what an elite of bureaucrats want us to be taught: they want us to be materialists, producers/consumers, and obedient citizens. Besides, everything that cannot be properly ‘measured’ is automatically banned from the syllabus; that’s why we live in a materialist society. “I was not born wrapped in trousers with a candy in the palm of my hand. Instead, I was born perfectly naked in a state of perfect harmony, and I was perfectly happy before I was forced to become educated” (Osho). Every child is a truly spiritual being in his early life, and then most of every child becomes an idiot because that is what the society makes of him. Some people might call this an “education” but I call it indoctrination.

It doesn’t matter what we cover, it matters when you discover (Noam Chomsky).

Tibby Aubry, 24th April 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

My goldfish is made of electricity

… or, is literature an antidote to the destructive forces in the world?

 

Task 5 (week 7)

Retrieved from Allmusic.com

Projections / Woolfy vs. Projections The Astral Projections of Starlight (music album). Retrieved from Allmusic.com

“—One day I was a goldfish, and… One day I was a goldfish, and…” repeated Gerald all day long. He could never think through a single sentence. Besides, of course that he was a goldfish and he hasn’t changed, he is still a goldfish. Ha, but he never remembers this simple fact! I could not be mad at him because I knew that he was trying hard. But what do you expect of a friend with a span of two seconds of memory: he could try as hard as he wanted, it wouldn’t change anything, he would never be able to finish a simple sentence. Eight syllables, that was already a great achievement for a goldfish named Gerald. Even though I would like to explain it to him, he would forget the beginning of my sentence before I even reach the end of it. Besides, Gerald could not care less about learning the history but as an upside of his condition he never got himself into any troubles. He was just a quiet little goldfish. So, I decided to take care of him, I fed him and I watched him swimming around and around in the same round jar all day long. Though I found that watching at Gerald eating his tail was just perfect for allowing me to meditate in a serious fashion.

Meanwhile, sometimes it is he who stops straight in my direction, staring at me with his big grey eyes. He too seems to meditate when he freezes like that. One day as he took this frozen position for a bit too long I thought that he might have been dead, but he woke up and swam away like a snake before my fingers could reach his subtle body as I plunged my hands in the jar. I was always impelled to think that with only two seconds of memory span he surely could not have a strand of personality… yet, he looked somehow very familiar to me, how strange is that. He cannot know anything, yet he knows much more about meditation than I do: he already lives in a state of perfect harmony. Sometimes it even makes me jealous (just a bit). Surely, being a human is a much more difficult task and unlike Gerald who has attained equanimity, I struggled very much to clean up the mess cluttering up with my mind.

To calm myself I often need to jump on my bed (from which I can see Gerald in the jar on the shelve) and to quiet the noises in my head I would try to forget the world by reading lines of poetry. But one day something amazing happened. As I was reading Wordsworth’s (1770 – 1850) poem “Line Written In Early Spring where the author speaks of the sacred balance of life and man causing the disruption of this natural state of peace, I suddenly backed out. Then, as my eyelids opened up again to the external world, everything seemed quite different. My room was the same but the colours… the colours were so bright and splendid; and all the objects around me, it’s like if I could see through them. Following to this first impression I lifted my hands in front of my face so I could inspect them and as a matter of fact I was able to see through them as well! I jumped out of my bed in the direction of the window… and all became exceedingly magic. It was the night but I could see through the dark and all the trees outside were glowing like christmas trees. It’s like if every leafs were bulbs of shining light. The lights were everywhere striking like storms but quiet as squirrels. The silence was perfect until a voice started talking to me behind my shoulder, I turned back to the voice and I nearly blacked out again, I could not believe what I saw: Gerald was making complex sentences!

Picture retrieved from the cover illustration of Stephan A. Hoeller’s book: “Gnosticism, New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing”.

I wanted to ask him… though before I could articulate a single word as he flew through the air back and forth towards me and as he began to speak again, I had no other choice but to listen. He said to me: “—My dear human friend, I know that seems crazy but just try to realise what happened and what you are doing in this place. Look at me, I’m a goldfish and here I am flying around like a bird in your room. You see, we are in a higher realm, this is not the physical, this is the spiritual dimension. Can you realise now?” Well, yeah, for sure I was realising, and I was really enjoying it actually. Can I stay there, I asked Gerald, who answered: “—you can stay as much as you want but you can also come and go as you like whenever you want”, and he added with a serious tone in his voice: “—however, you might want to learn more of the physical world before you decide coming living here for good.” What do you mean, I asked to the Goldfish, “—well, you might think that the physical world is a superficial place once you discover the higher realm. But you need to know that if the physical was created by the spiritual, there is a good reason to it. In fact, it is all an experiment in which you and I and all the others are part of it. But the experiment isn’t finished, we need the experiential data from the physical world in order to allow the spiritual dimension to evolve as well.”

I chilled out for a moment, the time to digest the avalanche of new information, then it all started to make sense, everything seemed to perfectly blend in the most logical way. The human form and the physical laws are only the outermost expressions of an excessively unseen larger world the constituents of which are far more malleable than the unrelenting physical format of matter as we know it on Earth. In fact, the Earth is like a playground for it allows the spirit to materialise itself into a substance enabling the soul to physically explore further emotions that it would never have experienced otherwise. Fear and love are literally the dark force and the bright force acting dualistically behind the scene of life. This constant battle between both forces is precisely what enables the living beings to evolve. Fear is part of the process to becoming more conscious and so it is a necessary evil that allows man to learn to become humble and ever more loving. Now I get it, that is the path of mankind! But before I could come to fully realise how profound were the implications led by this first glimpse of wisdom, the harshness of a “Clap! Clap!” brought me back to the goldfish who was flipping his tail against my cheek. “It’s so wonderful!” I said spontaneously before Gerald would continue by adding the following words: “—You do understand now, don’t you! Your literature, for example, is an important piece of the creation. Every word that is ever written in the physical dimension displays a holographic imprint in the spiritual one. But you see, we need more words in order to write the grand story. Now, can you see the big picture?”

Tibby Aubry, 16th April 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

The entire panel of my emotions in a picture!

Task 4 (week 6)

W. C. Piguenit, The Upper Nepean (1889)

W. C. Piguenit (1836 – 1914), The Upper Nepean (1889) Retrieved from the NSW art gallery website.

What to say about the arts? I already expressed in a previous post, Sane reaction to reminiscent memories (2015), how much I dislike the so-called art of the 18th century, and this second visit at the Art Gallery has still confirmed my view. As Aristotle said it best: The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. Hence, I doubt that anyone interested in drawing stupid portraits of arrogant kings should be thought to be an artist. Instead, let’s focus on the real artists. John Glover (1767 – 1849) is one of them. In his natural landscape Uliswater, Early Morning, the author depicts in a very realistic manner a beautiful lake, surrounded by a relief of mountains on which the vegetation is abundant. On the very front of the drawing, but in the shade of big rocks protecting them from a bright sun, are a crew of cows quietly resting, or perhaps are they meditating? (I love cows and I deeply understand why some cultures think of these amazing creatures to be highly spiritual beings). Besides, apart from two or three houses sitting in the distance, barely noticeable on the image, no other (man-made) artefact comes to disturb this perfect harmony that resides in this serene nature. Also, I was made aware that William Wordsworth was living around the very place that Glover presents to us here. It is easy to understand, then, the deep connection that the writer has had with nature. I could see in Glover’s painting the mountains and the lake that Wordsworth (1770 – 1850) speaks of in several of his poems, like in Ode: Intimation of Immortality, for example. I completely grasp that the vision of the forthcoming of an industrial age that would eventually destroy all this divine creation must have been unbearable for the conscious, hearted, minds that the Romantics were. Always on the theme of natural landscapes, I also really liked Eugene Von Gerard’s (1877-1879) Milford Sound, New Zealand painting. I have not much to say apart that I felt a deep, enjoyable, impression of solitude within myself, as my hypnotised eyes were staring into the picture. Perhaps it was the interesting mixture of textures and colours that allowed mingling softness and rawness at the same time: the pink clouds and the red rocks. But more impressive was this work of W. C. Piguenit (1836 – 1914), The Upper Nepean (see above), which captured all of my feelings at once. In this singular painting, I could read the entire panel of my emotions, and this should suffice not to want to tell more, but instead to let the reader appreciate the author’s work on his own.

Tibby Aubry, 8th April 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

Keats, The Urn, Truth is Beauty

Task 3 (week 5)

Retrieved from Wikimedia.org

Retrieved from Wikimedia.org

As I read John Keats’ (1795 – 1821) poem “Ode on a Grecian Urn“, I got lost (as I always do) into the folds of my own mind. I had to be vigilant (forcing myself) to stick to the story! Anyway, I had to have a closer look at the title to remember that Keats’ poem was about the painting illustrating the surface of the Urn. I usually don’t like Art critics because too often they simply crave to dissect an ‘ideal’ while breaking it into a mess of little pieces that don’t make any sense anymore (that is reductionism). Poetry can tell so much more of a piece of art than a scholar or critic can while the language of poetry allows to consider any given subject from a higher perspective. Hence, instead of breaking the picture, Keats decided to live the story conveyed by the picture as it appeared to him throughout his emotions (as a subjective experience). “Sylvan historian, who canst thus express | A flow’ry tale more sweetly than our rhyme: | What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape | Of deities or mortals, or of both, | In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?”. This middle portion from the first stanza makes me think that Keats is not describing one single artefact in particular but that he is describing more an ‘ideal’ of what represents to him the visual arts in general (although he was especially passioned for the art of the Greek Antiquity). I can tell that from the way that Keats strongly emphasises the fact that the story could not be communicated by the rational language of historians, nor even by any written language: since we are obviously looking at a picture. Afterwards, Keats transforms the subjective experience that the story conveyed to him into a metaphysical statement. “Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, | Though winning near the goal –yet, do not grieve; | She cannot fade” (second stanza). Keats alludes to a boy about to kiss a girl, and while the kiss would in fact never happen, the blissful moment itself of being ‘about to kiss’ or say the emotional state that this moment carries, is eternal (the picture is a picture: a frozen moment in time). In fact, Keats is suggesting to consider the portrait from a paradoxical standpoint. The picture describes an action, but as a picture is frozen, so is frozen the action (which sounds like an oxymoron). Interestingly, I found that it is by translating his subjective experience into a metaphysical statement that Keats finds a way to conciliate ideas seemingly of an antinomic nature: impermanence with infinity; death with eternity. “When old age shall this generation waste, | Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe” (last stanza) tells us that the humanity can disappear but the Urn (made of stone) will still remain; an author can die but his work of art is part of the history. In this perspective, “Beauty is truth” tells us that unlike our dead bodies that evaporate into nothing, a piece of art more often than never finds its way to inscribe its message in the collective unconscious of man. Reciprocally, it follows that because this essence becomes part of our identity (arts have the power to shape men), therefore, “truth [is] beauty”. —And to finish, I find the very last line intriguing: “that is all | Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”. Could this indicate that because nothing more can ever be known (on Earth)… hence this is all there is to know?

Tibby Aubry, 1st April 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

Reaction to Oscar Wilde’s play

Task 2 (week 4)

The importance of being earnest

Old photo of “The importance of Being Earnest”. Retrieved from http://samanthastier.com

In the play “The Importance of Being Earnest“, Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) finds an interesting approach to criticise the prevalent attitude of the Victorian period. Throughout the dialogues, he cleverly suggests how profoundly superficial and uninteresting the mainstream public of the Victorian period are. From the beginning to the end the lines are written with wit and energy. I particularly liked when the author enters the subject of education. He would first briefly raise the topic with Lady Bracknell’s line: “Fortunately in England… education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes…” Then the author would use the scene where Miss Prism is tutoring Cecily as a pretext to fully enter the topic. In this scene, O. Wilde alludes to the sterile nature of the English education system. Subjecting the young’s natural sense of wonder to annihilation by forcing them to learn irrelevant knowledge in boring books was the very strategy to create generations of unskilled individuals and docile citizens that would not question authority. I also found clever that as a literary device O. Wilde uses a phonetic pun on the word “earnest” and the proper noun “Ernest”. He wants to play on the double meaning: the two characters (Jack and Algernon) wanting to be Ernest and that of the virtue of being earnest. But what I found even more interesting is Oscar’s statement when he said that the most glorious moment of his life was the acclamation that his play had received from the public at the end of the very first performance (at the St. James’s Theater on February 14, 1895).  What did he mean exactly? Was Oscar stricken by the fact that people who he intended to criticise could laugh of their own defects of character, or was he deluded by the fact that the public was so unconscious that it failed to recognise its own very personal traits in the show —in which case his glory would be the summit of irony?

Tibby Aubry, 21th March 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.

How do I feel about the Romantics?

Task 1 (week 3)

John Keats handwriting note

Illustration: John Keats, Letter from John Keats to Benjamin Robert Haydon 20 November 1816. This brief note includes the ‘Great Spirits’ sonnet which Haydon later sent to Wordsworth. Retrieved from http://englighhistory.net

I see this particular period as the most inspirational frame of time in modern history. I consider the romantics’ endeavour as an elective act of consciousness and I feel in every sense compelled to this bunch of great people. In this piece of history, I can read everything in it by heart. I could’ve been in every place at every moment with each one of them while I can relate to everyone’s character as if their story was intrinsically mine.

I was there at Diderot and Rousseau’s coffee table, watching them playing chess, listening to them whispering about the tyranny of the king. I participated with them in fomenting a secret plan to free the people from their masters. I was there at Wordsworth’s country house as I accompanied Coleridge when he drank this opium liquor. It made him able to understand the true nature of the language and able to explore the metaphysics of the mind. I was with Blake when he foresaw how the industrial enterprise would represent a threat to our fellow humankind. He was so full of tristesse when he witnessed how the material prospect was taking away the soul of every innocent child. I was with John Clare when he screamed his horror, realizing that a few profit makers had ruined all of our beautiful lands. I was with Percy Shelley when he was forced to run away from his home, wandering without any purpose in the wilds of Europe. I was with Keats the day he dropped his instruments of science as he decided to dedicate himself to the arts, embracing the path of poetry… seeking the soul, searching beauty.

Unfortunately, most people don’t have the degree of sensitivity that the Romantics had. This kind of sensitivity can only arise from a great effort of consciousness. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the people are not only unconscious but unwilling to become conscious: it’s so convenient to live in the comfort of ignorance. “I was there” is to say that I have made this decision to embrace the same path as the Romantics did. Though, I haven’t chosen to be a bleeding heart, but I did accept the idea that being conscious is not an easy thing in this horrifying human life. However, I rather be suffering and conscious, than happy and dumb… and surely I can say that this makes me feel good enough!

(Fin)

Tibby Aubry, 14th March 2016 © http://adnspirit.com \ Literature; text registered at ACU.