Monday, June 29, 2015

Update 37


"This universe that Humanity is struggling with when we make art includes man himself. While the effect of making a piece of art is as we've outlined, namely the materialization of immaterial things, the possible motivations for doing so are quite varied. 

McCloud may be wrong that humans qua humans make art because they're bored, but individual human beings very well may. They may make it because they're bored, or because they're anxious, angry, lonely, or because of a genuine love of beauty or desire to know the truth. 

And YouTube commenters may be wrong that humans are miniature gods, but our basic motivations and desires are mysteries that connect us to the highest things in ways we might not see or understand."

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, June 22, 2015

Update 36

An Excerpt

"...So, humans live on the line between the material and the immaterial worlds. When we make art that has no practical purpose, we embody some immaterial idea or thing in a physical medium. This embodiment of the immaterial in the material is just what we do when we talk or write, because language conveys ideas (which are immaterial) by means of air waves or ink or LCD monitors (which are material).

Making this connection between language and art allows us to see something very important about human history, namely that it has been a huge conversation. Each generation has spoken to the next, and even distant generations have spoken to each other, by means of art of all kinds. 

Philosophical treatises, poetry, sculpture, painting, music, drama, legends, etc. have all embodied thoughts and ideas just as language itself does and anyone who finds these things, and can interpret them, can see something of the immaterial world in them. Their thoughts are then influenced by what they’ve seen and they produce their own art, and on and on and on."

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, June 15, 2015

Update 35

Hello people who read my blog.

I am dropping in briefly to say that, rather than writing about pop-culture this week, I am entirely enmeshed in it.

I am currently writing feverishly with my teammates over at Pixel Dynamo covering all the news coming out of the Electronic Entertainment Expo in LA.

Therefore, if you wish to read by me, besides this paltry update, then follow that link above. You should be able to find something I wrote in there.

See you all next week!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Thinking About The Lord of The Rings and Update 34

A thought

I was reading The Fellowship of the Ring to my daughter for bedtime and something occurred to me that I think might be profound because I felt dumb for not having seen it before. Some have complained about the "Scouring of the Shire" chapter near the end of The Lord of the Rings, calling it superfluous. But I think it's particularly important for the overall structure of the tale.

If you look at the first chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring, those having to do with Hobbiton and the preparations for Bilbo's birthday party, the scope of what's going on is tiny. In fact, it's pretty much small town gossip; An old gardener talking about his boss and the weird people who live across the river, etc. Then, as the story goes on, the scope widens more and more until finally we're dealing with ancient races banding together in a last attempt to vanquish an enormously powerful, twisted, primeval spirit bent on the domination of the world for millennia.

By the end, however, we've got Sam marrying Rosie and having hobbit babies. The subject matter of The Lord of the Rings starts small, gets bigger by degrees, and then shrinks again. The "Scouring of the Shire" is an important step in narrowing the scope again.

I felt dumb when this occurred to me because it's been right in front of me the whole time. Bilbo called his book, the account of these events, "There and Back Again."

An Excerpt

"A vacation snapshot is a fairly simple example, but the principle holds for all other kinds of non-practical art. Movies, novels, and music all evoke ideas and immaterial things by means of material things. Language itself is probably the most fundamental example of this at work. When we speak, we literally shape the air and use it to convey ideas.

Once we do this, once an idea (or more often a complex of ideas) is embodied in some work of art, that artifact takes on a sort of life of its own. It speaks to us in a metaphorical way by being and remaining what it is and recalling to our minds the ideas that were put into it in the first place. 

This is not only handy, but essential. Human beings must do this in order to think about things. We embody the immaterial so we can consider it long enough to figure it out, or at least make progress. Since language is an example of this embodiment, no one can avoid being an artist in this sense. It’s inseparable from thought because it’s inseparable from conversation.

Speaking of conversation, we’re ready to say what pop-culture is."

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, June 1, 2015

Update 33

An Excerpt for you

"What, then, does art have to do with this third notion of human nature, specifically the art that makes things that are meant to be themselves and to be experienced by us; things like sculptures, novels, and Taylor Swift songs?
Well, what this kind of art does, given the definition of human nature we’ve settled on, is make the immaterial world of ideals, laws, judgement, and experiences material in some sense. Even a photograph, which is arguably a simple recording of what something looked like at the time the photo was taken, accomplishes this because the photographer has chosen to record something they’ve seen. They might additionally have other aesthetic ideals and impressions they intend to convey, but even a snapshot taken on a vacation is a tangible artifact which embodies, in a sense, the intangible experience the vacationer had.
The camera simply receives impressions from photons, but what is communicated by the photo to any mind that looks at it is what the photographer saw when he was there, which is more than simple photons.
They may do this to share it with other people, or to remember what it was like to be there, or both. The point here is that while the medium is physical (a photograph) and even the subject is physical (some place the photographer visited on vacation) it’s the immaterial that drives the taking of the picture and the looking at it."
© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, May 25, 2015

Update 32

Here's a fun excerpt from the part of the book I was looking at today. For a little context, "common sense" in this context is "sense" because it's how we detect things out there in the universe and it's "common" because everybody has access to it.

"Please consider the pubescent/stoner question 'what if life is just a dream?' This question and questions of its kind have given people quite a bit of trouble. But, as I see it, there is a fundamental problem with it. It is, in fact, only the illusion of a question. 

First, asking the question presupposes that the person being asked understands what is meant by dreaming and what is meant by 'life' that includes more than dreaming (that is, being awake). Then, the question suggests that these two things, which must be understood in order for the question to make sense, are the same thing. However, the only reason we have two concepts instead of one is that there are two different states which we distinguish from each other, namely being awake and being asleep. That's why we gave them two names. Like a magician's slight of hand, the question tries to fool us into using something we definitely know (that dreaming and being awake are different) to call that very knowledge into doubt.

What does this have to do with common sense? It shows that, in order to address the question “what if life is just a dream”, one must use common sense even though the question is trying to destroy common sense itself. This is true of everything human beings do in thought. Common sense (reason) is the only tool they have to think with. Even their attempts to undermine that tool have to use that tool to do it.

By the way, there is a sensible question like this that one might ask. One could ask, “what if there is a state of awareness which is to consciousness as consciousness is to dreaming?” That is a question that might be considered. But, that question does not equate dreaming and waking, it hypothesizes some third state while acknowledging the existence of the other two.

If we don't trust the tool we have to work with, we have no reliable means of learning anything, including learning that our tool is defective. So, education must be a matter of refining our ability to use the tools we have (common sense) if education is going to mean anything or do anything at all. 

We should at least be willing to bet on common sense, because its the only bet we've got."

© 2015 John Hiner III

Monday, May 18, 2015

Update 31

A Thought

Do you think that things like Facebook, Twitter, and instantaneous communication actually enable us to get any more done, or are we just busier about it? I know I'm not the first one to ask the question, but it's been occurring to me recently. I will say this though: without instantaneous communication, it isn't at all clear I'd have the chance to do the kind of work I want to do at all.

Progress Report

I begin to understand the appeal of being a hermit. Not that I would want to give up my family or my other work; certainly not. But, I imagine it's quite a bit easier to get things done when you're by yourself in the desert. But, alas, I am not, and things related to other work press upon me. 

On a positive book-related note, someone recently found my draft in progress and began reading it (without my permission, but I forgive them) and said they couldn't bring themselves to put it down. So, that's a hopeful sign, yes?

I hope to have a little more for you next week.

© 2015 John Hiner