Consciousness in the Aesthetic Imagination

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Consciousness in the Aesthetic Imagination

JF Martel

Quote:What can art tell us about the nature of consciousness? The question is meaningless if it refers to the personal convictions of this or that poet or musician, this or that genre, school, or movement. The goal of this essay is to explore what the things artists make—the works of art themselves—tell us about the nature of mind and matter, self and world, over and above their creators’ personal beliefs. Is there a metaphysics that art as such implies? Or maybe the question is better framed in McLuhanian terms: What is the message of the medium of art with regard to the nature of consciousness?

Quote:In Van Gogh’s work, something familiar is reimaged in light of an ineffable newness that inhabits it and makes it an event. We realize that there is no such thing as sunflowers in the abstract, but only these sunflower-events that the intellect then classifies according to generalities which exist only in and for it. The way I put it in Reclaiming Art is that, while the botanical drawing eliminates every anomaly in order to represent the generic specimen, the painting removes all that is general in order to preserve only the anomaly. That’s why even the most naturalistic work of art contains a note of strangeness, a soupçon of the Weird.

Quote:Sensations are the immediate data of consciousness. Before the intellect reorganizes it according to general ideas, reality is a sensuous affair through and through. That’s why it isn’t wrong to speak of aesthetic experience as unmediated. There is always a moment, before the intellect does its thing, during which reality reveals itself to us directly. Something exists before we name it, before we attribute a function to it, before we subordinate it to our ideas, beliefs, and judgments—before “we” come into play at all as rational subjects. This is what I call the Real. It isn’t generic reality but the raw Real that comes to us in works of art.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(2023-06-12, 10:55 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Consciousness in the Aesthetic Imagination

JF Martel

As a sometime painter of landscapes and still-lifes and a few portraits, I have a few thoughts on this. It seems to me the essence of great art (especially of the representational and partially-representational kind) is the instinctual perception by the viewer of deep meaning of some sort in the painted image or sculpture, followed by an even deeper appreciation of an ineffable quality of beauty that pervades the work, and that these perceptions are some sort of partial revelation of aspects of the unique essence of the personality and consciousness of the artist. Especially in fine portraits which somehow also achieve an uncanny impression of the live presence of the subject person and his inner nature, despite all the artificial elements of brush strokes and perhaps expressionistic lack of detail. 

These instinctual inner subjective perceptions and feelings are certainly not reducible to neurons, leading to perhaps the recognition of yet another sub-category of the "hard problem" of consciousness, the hard problem of the appreciation of beauty.
(This post was last modified: 2023-06-13, 03:16 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 2 times in total.)
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