caro thinks

Art History, 2002/01/27:20:16

caro's home ~*~ caro's index
I'm currently engaged in a dialog with painter Michael Newberry, the text of which will appear on the Enlightenment web site. Newberry asked about my background in art, and then he requested that I enter my response into my journal. This is as good a way to reenter the web as any, so here it is.
From Sun Jan 27 20:00:07 2002
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 17:44:29 -0800 (PST)
From: Carolyn Ray
To: Newberry Michael
Subject: Re: your mail

> Thank you again for the continuation of the interview. Your now
> pushing me deeper and after screwing up my mind to go there its fun to have my brain "see" clearly after initially saying "whaaat." I do
> have congratulate you on your depth of feeling and understanding of
> art.

Thank you! That means a lot to me, coming from you. It is not how I see myself.

> I wish that all Objectivist philosophers were well experience
> with art appreciation.

Me too! Actually I wish this of all objectivists, period. The philosophers are usually better about it--though I have in mind people you probably don't talk to much, such as Irfan and Mike Young and David Ward. At least they've taken some classes or read some books, whereas Sylvia Bokor and Ayn Rand is about the size of most objectivist's knowledge base. And where there is no contrast object, no differentiation is possible, and therefore
no knowledge is possible. I'll let you draw the obvious conclusion.

> Do you attribute your interest in it from
> playing the harpsichord? Or is it simply your inquiring mind?

Well, my sister and all the family that she married into, and all her friends, are artists. Initially my theoretical interest came from love of and a desire to understand my sister, though I began sculpting shortly after I began walking, sort of as a natural tendancy and out of necessity (I _needed_ things, and there wasn't a lot of money, so I "made" them out of clay, just like god). I especially wanted a horse but would have settled (temporarily) for the plastic horseheads on sticks that I had seen on RomperRoom, but there wasn't even money for that, so my earliest-remembered sculpture was of a horse's head, which I stuck on a stick and rode around on. I made little dolls, too, who were my best friends, and I made up huge an elaborate continuous stories about them for years, and they needed things as well which I had to make. I had a little business in the 6th grade, taking orders for and selling small sculptures to my classmates. Weird, hunh?

My sister exposed me to all kinds of art just by being in the same house, ranging from better-than-pop music to classic literature to visual arts. I don't know what would have become of me, growing up in that impoverished and disgusting and dangerous neighborhood, if not for the mostly indirect example of my sister (who is 11 years older and had grown up in a much better place).

Anyway, I played violin in grade school and high school (with an orchestra, not private lessons); this made me extremely sympathetic to the work and styles of others. In college I started the harpsichord lessons because I loved Bach and harpsichord music, and it was available and included in my scholarship if I wanted it. I asked my sister what courses I should take, and she of course recommended art, which I took in this order: history of modern art (WAY over my head, but I tried very hard and enjoyed it and so learned a lot), drawing, and sculpture. And through all of this I had a very deep love of reading and especially of classic English literature, so while I don't really have a great deal of technical theoretical knowledge of art, I have been exposed to and enjoyed and critiqued and developed tastes in vast quantities of it. I was rather shocked when I read Rand's novels and heard one person after another say they were the best books ever written; clearly they had not read very many books (upon inquiring, I learned that this was true! Ack!)

And in graduate school again harpsichord was available and included in my scholarship, and I was exposed to the staff and students of the best early music institute in the country--all very nice, rational, sympathetic people who loved the hard logic of Bach while simultaneously being very, er, romantic and emotional.

One aspect of art interests me because of reasons of practicality. Long before I heard of Rand I critiqued architecture out of irritation at its silliness, or out of surprise at something that actually worked. I am especially concerned with windows and light as balanced against heating issues. You can't even imagine how many picture windows there are in Indiana--facing NORTH and covered by an awning!--while in the other directions the windows are small or non-existent.

And hearing people say outrageous and unfounded things about any subject usually makes me think about the subject if only to observe how nutty the statements are. There are a great many nutty things said to and in front of me, especially by objectivsts, about art. So I've dabbled into it here and there just for that reason.

But yes, of course, as my friend Liz also commented, I never really stop working. I don't usually just look at art without thinking critically about it, and that includes television, which is why when people criticize Watching Television as though it is in and of itself an evil and mindless passtime, I always object. Mindlessness is the fault of the beholder. Even mindless shows may be watched in a consciousness-expanding manner.

> Oh...I recall a minor comment you made about pursuing exactitude > with friends. But I think that is GREAT.

Cool. Then I won't hesitate with you. You may interpret that as a promise or a warning or a threat, as your mood shifts. :-)

> Thinking of you I would like to have a T-shirt with DEPTH WINS > written on it.

Depth wins! How did you come up with that? What does it mean?

> I hope the business part is going well and someday I hope to see
> your garden that is for some people hidden behind the screen door.

Yes, I was thinking it was really too bad you didn't get to see it. Maybe next time you come to the States. I have some very strict and annoying house rules (due to allergies), but if you can tolerate them you can stay a day or two when you're passing through this way. The accommodations are less-than-fancy, I must warn you; depends on how bad you need them!

Speaking of movies: MEMENTO is absolutely fabulous, on all sorts of levels: most especially the editing, and also casting, acting, story, and science.

Notify me when caro writes again.

Find Enlightenment