Dagdha's Blog

The Hazy Line Between Art and Science

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on August 20, 2012

The last two months have been a challenge. Like being trapped in the Minotaur’s labyrinth without a trail or king’s daughter to guide me out, the doldrums of daily life have become an unending maze of repetition. I wake up, train, work, train more, and occasionally manage to eat before sleeping and repeating.  It’s even less exciting than it sounds. As someone who has been conditioned on high levels of dopamine stimulated by novelty, routine desaturates the world like Dorothy’s Kansas.

In Christopher Hitchens’ book Letters to a Young Contrarion, he compares life to war, both of which are filled with long periods of tedium and silence interjected by brief moments of action, for which one needs to be ready. He continues by expatiating the necessity of art and science in these endeavors – art to create new ways of breaking the silence, and science to persevere through it. Lately my art has been lacking, and science can be equally as tedious as the silence it assuages. But the paradoxical pair of art and science are not as dichotomous as often portrayed.

Science is a reductionist method of epistemology. It seeks to break down systems of understanding into their most basic elements, which can be proven and connected through logic and reason. In other words, if knowledge is a completed jigzaw puzzle, science is the kid with autism who smashes it apart (sometimes literally) and reassembles it using the blank backsides of the pieces to make sure they really fit together. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but I understand hard science, like quantum mechanics, about as well as I can put together a blank jigsaw puzzle on LSD.

Art, despite broad misconceptions born from the phrase “art for Art’s sake,” approaches the world in much the same way. The first lesson in any art class or instruction program (that I have encountered) discusses the break down of perspective into basic visual elements and shapes. The artist then learns how to assemble and manipulate these elements or, as is the case in much of the post-modern era, forsake them altogether in an attempt to capture the incorporeal. And where science values objectivity above all else, art cannot exist without subjectivity.  It is specifically the relationship between the viewer and the viewed that matters.

The key difference between art and science is not their relationships, however, nor the method. It is the realm of subject – science addresses the external, physical world; art deals with the internal world of consciousness and emotion (or spirituality, if you’ll forgive any implied connotations). So, returning to Hitchens’ original observation, understanding the physical and fostering the emotional are both necessary, but it is the latter that makes life worth the effort. And herein lies the heart of my recent unhappiness.

Since moving to my current location, my ability to relate with the native inhabitants has slowly waned. Whereas I crave meeting new people, having new experiences, and discussing new ideas, most of the people I know here are only interested in carrying on the status quo, numbing themselves to the innate desire for novelty with two staple narcotics: alcohol and religion, neither of which interest me. This makes interesting conversation, by which I mean the discussion of ideas, a very rare commodity. So instead of socializing, I read, which only perpetuates my feelings of mental and physical isolation. In short, I crave to connect with people and, due to geographical and temporal constraints, am left wanting, which in turn makes it difficult to find inspiration, or at least the motivation to capture said inspiration and share it with others.

So, I’m really not sure how to cure myself of this artistically crippling isolation. Everything I want to do stands on the other side of a financial wall with a pit of economic slavery as its moat. A wise Admiral once said, “Stick with what you know until something better comes along.” I suppose the best course of action is simply to continue writing. At least until I find a catapult.


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