Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Art Of Life

I recently ran across a great article published by a scientist who argued that the arts are far more important than the sciences. I was intrigued by what he had to say, seeing as how he was a scientist, and his catch phrase that was titled  "We need science to live, but the humanities make life livable." That in itself was a poignant statement but as I studied his story further he demanded that such famous physics equations like E=mc2 could have been discovered by someone else had not Einstein lived, but no one else could have ever created Beethoven's 9th Symphony had not Beethoven lived. This struck me as profoundly true and grabbed my attention.

His idea struck me, but its not a new debate. It's a long standing debate, that goes all the way back to  Plato and Socrates, and probably before them too. Plato stood by math naming it once as the "God geometries." Plato valued math as the key to knowledge of law and order, measure and symmetry, uniformity and regularity, harmony and rhythm: and to the application of these to the art of life. He thought only math would discover the "numbers and forms" of the divinely ordered cosmos which he believed. Plato reasoned the laws of the motions of the stellar deities, would determin a standard and pattern for our own souls and their emotions. It was a doctrine which occupied itself in science as a probable account of matters which belong to physics, biology, and pathology. Is it me - or is it a coincidence how these exact terms also define art - harmony, rhythm, order, measure and symmetry?

In passages from The Socrates Dialogues, it was discussed that reason and the Idea of Good, were the source of all knowledge and all existence. In general our greatest philosophers thought that Ideas were objects of intelligence, not intelligences concequently mixing myth with mathematics in a baffling attempt to find answers.   Socrates, as far as I understand, differed from Plato and stated that enshrining math hampered the imagination telling only what should be rather than what is...good thing for artists! I politely also consider that it was the writers (however the difference of opinion) who recorded these important doctrines.

An artist usually will not have any great love for mathematics, but the truth is as an artist,you frequently rely on math and science. An apparent contradiction between art and science might even be parallel with the differences between reason and opinion, although in my humble experience I'd prefer to think they are co-existent and coherent, side by side. While painting or drawing you have to understand biology, the human form, and what makes a good composition. For instance proportions, like that the head is exactly 1/16 the height of a body. That you should never divide a landscape exactly in half as it will bore the viewer or that three points in a painting like a triangle will be used and hid in the highlighted areas of a painting. That with large frescoes in the past, the artists would draw a mathematical grid to use as a guide for accuracy. Plains of view, horizons and foreshortening are only really understood through math. Numbers and proportions and certain types of knowledge is very much needed to be a good artist leaving me with the impression that all fields have a harmonious connection.

I do agree that for instance had I not lived that no one else could write my stories which makes my accomplishments unique. I can stamp my name on them as indeed one of a kind. My purpose is to make life enjoyable for someone else but we also have to be able to live. I would say to anyone who argues the point between science and art is like saying we have to have wheat to make bread to eat, but the French chef makes it more enjoyable. Art is not necessary to live yet even in ancient times lived the greatest of philosophers and artists while they simply ate bread. To me the arts and the sciences are different but not necessarily here to compete, they are to compliment of course. What art simply means is that we have bodies, but we also have minds that yearn to know and go beyond our capacity to simply live. The sciences are an anonymous service we need for information and the arts are like a partner about intimate individual feelings. Arts are a sign of a human existence and economy which can afford to go beyond daily necessities. It's a point where we have the ability to stop and reflect ourselves which is also gravely important.  We are in a time when science can learn from the arts since both are deeply imbedded in curiosity and an investigation into the unknown. I agree that creative forces are a drive more involved with the ego and the personal story.

Let science find the stars and the artists will dream of ways to get there. Both are equally important. It can be deeply engaging, innovative and like high velocity brainstorming when these two disciplines take notice of each other.