What some irreligious people are missing...

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What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:07 pm

If there was space, the full title would have read "What some irreligious people are missing, and perhaps some religious people too."

To be clear, what follows is not an argument for or a recommendation that anyone join an organized religion.

Recently I visited an old church in a nearby town which had begun construction in the 12th century but due to many setbacks was not completed until the 16th century. I visited the church principally to examine the architecture and artwork contained in it and not for religious reasons. Visiting the church was also not the reason for me visiting the town, it was just something I did on a whim while I was there.

Inside the church there were high vaulted ceilings and at the time it was dimly lit only by sun shining through the windows and candle flame producing a dusky ambiance. (The pictures aren't mine)

Image

There was a large triptich by a Flemish artist which held my attention for a great part of my visit, depicting a scene from the life of Christ in Rome.

Image

These and other sights caused me to think how strange it was that so much of our secular public spaces lack historical consciousness (including work places, restaurants, shopping malls, where a great majority of people spend much of their time). There was also a mural in the church depicting a succession of animals and humans as well as their buildings and the celestial spheres above. That, as well as other sights in the church, caused me to think about how much of our modern secular culture lacks thinking about how mysterious existence is or considering our greater context of our individual lives. I have sometimes found that there is a tendency of atheists to explain away all of nature by saying it is "normal" or "natural", as if that really said anything about why and how we exist the way we do and is not rather a way of circumventing its consideration.

It seems to me that the Romantics tried to depict these considerations in something like a secular or else pantheistic sense, where nature is itself a mysterious force and a source of wonder:

Image

It makes me wonder if we don't lose something by forgetting this mysteriousness. Perhaps a source of inspiration or else the potential to form a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby WendyDarling » Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:53 pm

Does art, such as a painting, equate with history or more with ideals found in fantasy?
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:49 pm

I am not sure that I understand the question. Maybe neither or both depending on the artwork.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Otto_West » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:50 pm

One doesn't have to be particularly religious to enjoy religious art or architecture you know.
Your entire world of fantasy and make believe is doomed, have a nice day.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby WendyDarling » Thu Jun 29, 2017 11:55 pm

My question is based on the impetus for most artwork, which I believe lies in ideals rather than truth or facts, so their is no capturing history in a piece of art, only the portrayal of what was wished to exist rather than what actually existed. Now photography, minus modern editing, foolery, would be more aligned to what is rather than a wish for different.
I AM OFFICIALLY IN HELL!

I live my philosophy, it's personal to me and people who engage where I live establish an unspoken dynamic, a relationship of sorts, with me and my philosophy.

Cutting folks for sport is a reality for the poor in spirit. I myself only cut the poor in spirit on Tues., Thurs., and every other Sat.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:04 am

Welcome to ILP Jongleur :) ... it is in giving that we receive.

Your post(s) have an appealing feel to them ... perhaps the innocence and "beauty" of youth. :)

Your posts in this OP point to a profound truth ... how so? ... let me share my gut reaction.

In the beginning ... whatever humans were labelled in the beginning ... reacted to "mystery" ... reacted to the "unknown" with awe and fear.

After a long period of evolution language appeared on the scene ... the humans of this particular epoch used individual words to express their awe and fear of the unknown/mystery.

Again after a long period of time the individual words formed clusters of words ... which lead to stories ... which lead to myths ... to legends ... and eventually to organized religion and dogma ... which lead to heresy and apostasy ... which became reified ... which lead to hostility and violence.

We are likely near the peak of this hostility and violence.

Organized religion and dogma are not the root cause of the hostility and violence ... they are simply a symptom.

Since time immemorial humans have been unable to resist the temptation to enter the "arena of the unknown" ... the "arena of mystery".

Those who entered this arena came out with their personal understanding/interpretation of the unknown ... the mystery. They expressed it in words ... art ... poetry ... violence and so on.

It's been a very long journey ... yet ... it seems the "unknown" wants to be "known" ... it has chosen science to reveal itself ... at least in part. This "revelation" ... through science ... is picking up steam and will likely merge with some aspects of some religions at some point in time. :)

Until then ... more of the ugly ... overshadowing the "beauty" ... choking the "beauty" of life ... similar to rampant weeds in a vegetable garden.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:40 am

WendyDarling wrote:My question is based on the impetus for most artwork, which I believe lies in ideals rather than truth or facts, so their is no capturing history in a piece of art, only the portrayal of what was wished to exist rather than what actually existed. Now photography, minus modern editing, foolery, would be more aligned to what is rather than a wish for different.


I have a few thoughts to consider. There are some paintings, for example, which are much closer to reality in what they portay, for example some works composed during the Dutch Golden Age:

Image

There isn't really the sort of embellishment in such a painting which warrants the term fantasy. It also depicts a scene that would likely have been quite ordinary at the time of its composition, as well as showing things like contemporary clothing which could be useful to a historian studying the age.

You said that “the impetus for most artwork” “lies in ideals rather than truth or facts”. How do you define truth and fact? If I am staring out at a landscape and it makes me think and feel many things and I wish to capture those thoughts and feelings in my painting so I add expressionistic touches to communicate them, how much does that intention diverge from one which wishes to portray truth and facts? If it was a fact that it made one feel something or think something, couldn't we say an artwork was missing something if, in avoiding trying to communicate those feelings and ideas, one intended to depict the entirety of the experience? That experience could be said to have taken place historically. Do you agree that there is more to experience than the visible forms of external objects?

What is your opinion on music in this connection?

Also, you phrased your response in the past tense: “what was wished to exist”, but what if one thought of ideals in terms of the future, “what one wishes to exist” and so in creating them makes them possible. To use an analogy of artwork to acting, if I have an ideal and then use it to act in a certain way rather than another, that ideal would become fact and even in its pre-actualized state something closer to fact than pure fantasy in a sense which disagrees with the fundamental nature of reality to a degree that it could never be actualized.

Those are some of my thoughts. I think that the role of art is unique in these ways because creative expression can be about exploring, communicating and even expanding what is called 'the human condition'. Could you connect this to the subject of the thread please?
Last edited by Jongleur on Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:40 am

Otto_West wrote:One doesn't have to be particularly religious to enjoy religious art or architecture you know.


I do know that. That was not what I was saying in this thread. My use of the word “some” in the title was meant to indicate that what I am talking about is not universal among those who are not religious, and the expanded title in the first line of the subject indicates that being religious might not be the sole criterion for the presence of what I think some are missing.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:53 am

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:Welcome to ILP Jongleur :) ... it is in giving that we receive.


Thank you.

pilgrim-seeker_tom wrote:In the beginning ... whatever humans were labelled in the beginning ... reacted to "mystery" ... reacted to the "unknown" with awe and fear.

After a long period of evolution language appeared on the scene ... the humans of this particular epoch used individual words to express their awe and fear of the unknown/mystery.

Again after a long period of time the individual words formed clusters of words ... which lead to stories ... which lead to myths ... to legends ... and eventually to organized religion and dogma ... which lead to heresy and apostasy ... which became reified ... which lead to hostility and violence.

We are likely near the peak of this hostility and violence.

Organized religion and dogma are not the root cause of the hostility and violence ... they are simply a symptom.

Since time immemorial humans have been unable to resist the temptation to enter the "arena of the unknown" ... the "arena of mystery".

Those who entered this arena came out with their personal understanding/interpretation of the unknown ... the mystery. They expressed it in words ... art ... poetry ... violence and so on.

It's been a very long journey ... yet ... it seems the "unknown" wants to be "known" ... it has chosen science to reveal itself ... at least in part. This "revelation" ... through science ... is picking up steam and will likely merge with some aspects of some religions at some point in time. :)

Until then ... more of the ugly ... overshadowing the "beauty" ... choking the "beauty" of life ... similar to rampant weeds in a vegetable garden.


I think it's possible, as you say, that early religious theories were a sort of language game where symbols were used to express experiences and relationships in nature and over time these language games began to take on significance of their own for those using them and perhaps the symbols even lost touch with their original intended meaning.

In any case I think that something like that does go on in producing artworks and some of the skepticisim we have for religious symbolism has carried over to artwork so that it sometimes suffers as collateral of wars on religion, particularly artwork which might have intentions beyond pure entertainment. Perhaps some of the criticism which art might suffer is understandable as it has frequently been used to express religious enthusiasm.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby WendyDarling » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:12 pm

Could you connect this to the subject of the thread please?

Connect what? What I wrote was connected to the subject of the thread, most directly.

There isn't really the sort of embellishment in such a painting which warrants the term fantasy. It also depicts a scene that would likely have been quite ordinary at the time of its composition, as well as showing things like contemporary clothing which could be useful to a historian studying the age.

And you know this based on what, other "realistic" pieces of art from the 1660's? The amount of food that was available for one meal (Is a feast a realistic meal for simple folks of that time?), the fact that most people did not make it past 40 yrs. old yet the male figure appears to have made it, if you'd like I can continue to pick it apart. The artist was most generous with his embellishments so the times did not appear so bleak and full of misery with the lack of cleanliness, sanitation, proper food storage/preparation, medicines, and the list could go on. The mystery for me becomes, why the lies? Why not an honest depiction to be rest assured in? Honesty would make for bad art?

To use an analogy of artwork to acting, if I have an ideal and then use it to act in a certain way rather than another, that ideal would become fact and even in its pre-actualized state something closer to fact than pure fantasy in a sense which disagrees with the fundamental nature of reality to a degree that it could never be actualized.

Why would you act? Why not be the ideal?
I AM OFFICIALLY IN HELL!

I live my philosophy, it's personal to me and people who engage where I live establish an unspoken dynamic, a relationship of sorts, with me and my philosophy.

Cutting folks for sport is a reality for the poor in spirit. I myself only cut the poor in spirit on Tues., Thurs., and every other Sat.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Fri Jun 30, 2017 2:23 pm

WendyDarling wrote:Connect what? What I wrote was connected to the subject of the thread, most directly.


Could you explain the connection?

WendyDarling wrote:And you know this based on what, other "realistic" pieces of art from the 1660's? The amount of food that was available for one meal (Is a feast a realistic meal for simple folks of that time?), the fact that most people did not make it past 40 yrs. old yet the male figure appears to have made it, if you'd like I can continue to pick it apart. The artist was most generous with his embellishments so the times did not appear so bleak and full of misery with the lack of cleanliness, sanitation, proper food storage/preparation, medicines, and the list could go on. The mystery for me becomes, why the lies? Why not an honest depiction to be rest assured in? Honesty would make for bad art?


People in that era did live past the age of 40. Life expectancy is calculated by a mean of years people lived and in older times there was a high infant mortality rate which makes the average life expectancy after calculation appear low.

From that picture it is not clear that they are sitting down to a meal and that the food present would all be for one meal time.

Why do you assume that everything in that era would have to be bleak and full of misery? The expressions on the figures faces are not ones of jubilation, they are pretty solemn in fact.

When you say lack of sanitation, what in the kitchen should there have necessarily been to have shown unsatitary conditions?

I am also wondering how you would know the status and state of every household in 17th century Netherlands to assume that this picture is full of inaccuracies and that no household could be like the one depicted?

The people shown in that painting were of the middle class of the time, a painting of the era depicting peasants shows conditions less tidy:

Image

Image

Image

from another era:

Image

WendyDarling wrote:Why would you act? Why not be the ideal?


How could one be the ideal if not through one's actions?
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby WendyDarling » Fri Jun 30, 2017 3:57 pm

We investigated the role that urbanization and plague may have played in changes in life expectancy amongst artists in the Low Countries who were born between 1450 and 1909. Artists can be considered to be representative of a middle-class population living mostly in urban areas. The dataset was constructed using biographical information collected by the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague, the Netherlands. As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, life expectancy at age 20 amongst the artists had reached 40 years. After a substantial decline in the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries, when plague hit the region, life expectancy at age 20 began to rise again, and this upward trend accelerated after 1850. The life expectancy of female artists commonly exceeded that of males, and sculptors had better survival prospects than painters. In comparison with elite groups in the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, life expectancy amongst the artists was rather high.~http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00324728.2013.765955?src=recsys&journalCode=rpst20


Like I said, 40 years old life expectancy average for the urban, middle class, the artists, who did not have dangerous jobs.

I am also wondering how you would know the status and state of every household in 17th century Netherlands to assume that this picture is full of inaccuracies and that no household could be like the one depicted?

And you know this based on what, other "realistic" pieces of art from the 1660's? The amount of food that was available for one meal (Is a feast a realistic meal for simple folks of that time?), the fact that most people did not make it past 40 yrs. old yet the male figure appears to have made it, if you'd like I can continue to pick it apart. The artist was most generous with his embellishments so the times did not appear so bleak and full of misery with the lack of cleanliness, sanitation, proper food storage/preparation, medicines, and the list could go on. The mystery for me becomes, why the lies? Why not an honest depiction to be rest assured in? Honesty would make for bad art?

You don't seem to answer questions while simultaneously choosing to live in fantasy yourself. I made very clear in the paragraph above why these Dutch paintings are not truly representative of reality. The next image you introduce is of a tavern, by the painter Adriaen van Ostade (the people depicted by Ostade are short and ill-favoured, marked with adversity's stamp in feature and dress.), also early to mid 1600's. Peasants couldn't afford to hang out in taverns for they hadn't the money to indulge. This tavern you gave as an example does appear somewhat more representative of reality, but filled with older peoples...not so believable there.

You speak of assumptions and project the mysterious ideal whereas I advocate to speak of facts and incorporate the mysterious ideal into the real without destroying either. If you are happy with fictitious art then enjoy, but I am not. Artists lie to make their art noteworthy, unique, procuring coin, but honest art would be what is unique in any era. Adriaen van Ostade did try to depict reality more closely than other Dutch Golden Age artists of his time. The last painting you showed as an example is by a landscape artist, Esaias van de Velde, who worked for the nobility. His works are drab, uninspired, which is not exactly representative of fantasy and/or reality. He had to be a more interesting person in real life to sell those dull landscapes.

The next, The Alchemist by Bega, who was a student of Ostade. I like Ostade and Begas works.

The last painting you depicted was crafted around the turn of the 19th century which would have a slew of different realities than those from two centuries before.

Is this Dutch art your understanding of realism and/or the mysterious ideal?

[Sorry if I seem harsh, art is sacred stuff to me and I don't like to see it used for historical facts when it does not depict reality.]
I AM OFFICIALLY IN HELL!

I live my philosophy, it's personal to me and people who engage where I live establish an unspoken dynamic, a relationship of sorts, with me and my philosophy.

Cutting folks for sport is a reality for the poor in spirit. I myself only cut the poor in spirit on Tues., Thurs., and every other Sat.
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby Jongleur » Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:32 pm

WendyDarling wrote:
We investigated the role that urbanization and plague may have played in changes in life expectancy amongst artists in the Low Countries who were born between 1450 and 1909. Artists can be considered to be representative of a middle-class population living mostly in urban areas. The dataset was constructed using biographical information collected by the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie in The Hague, the Netherlands. As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, life expectancy at age 20 amongst the artists had reached 40 years. After a substantial decline in the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries, when plague hit the region, life expectancy at age 20 began to rise again, and this upward trend accelerated after 1850. The life expectancy of female artists commonly exceeded that of males, and sculptors had better survival prospects than painters. In comparison with elite groups in the Low Countries and elsewhere in Europe, life expectancy amongst the artists was rather high.~http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00324728.2013.765955?src=recsys&journalCode=rpst20


Like I said, 40 years old life expectancy average for the urban, middle class, the artists, who did not have dangerous jobs.


Life expectancy does not mean that nobody lived past 40. Depicting someone in an older age is not unhistorical.

WendyDarling wrote:You don't seem to answer questions while simultaneously choosing to live in fantasy yourself.


Which questions did I not answer?

WendyDarling wrote:I made very clear in the paragraph above why these Dutch paintings are not truly representative of reality.


You making assertions about history does not make it so. You said that the people were happy and their expression was not, so that was false, not to mention do you have any primary source that proves that people in the 17th century would be consistently unhappy all of the time?

You neither did you say which unsanitary conditions should have been present in that picture.


WendyDarling wrote: The next image you introduce is of a tavern, by the painter Adriaen van Ostade (the people depicted by Ostade are short and ill-favoured, marked with adversity's stamp in feature and dress.), also early to mid 1600's. Peasants couldn't afford to hang out in taverns for they hadn't the money to indulge. This tavern you gave as an example does appear somewhat more representative of reality, but filled with older peoples...not so believable there.


Peasants would have money from trading their produces in that era and the wares sold in taverns would be proportionally cheap. Also, as I said, the presence of older people does not make it historically inaccurate. If there were no older people, how did people of that era even know what they looked like in order to depict?


WendyDarling wrote: You speak of assumptions and project the mysterious ideal whereas I advocate to speak of facts and incorporate the mysterious ideal into the real without destroying either.


Which assumptions are you referring to specifically? The mysterious that I am talking about is how humans came to exist is mysterious to us. Mysteriousness is not an aspect of what is present and revealed because in being revealed it ceases to be a mystery.

WendyDarling wrote: If you are happy with fictitious art then enjoy, but I am not. Artists lie to make their art noteworthy, unique, procuring coin, but honest art would be what is unique in any era.


None of the things you have claimed prove that. If you wish to link to primary historical documents which defend sweeping statements about the past societies you may.


WendyDarling wrote:Adriaen van Ostade did try to depict reality more closely than other Dutch Golden Age artists of his time. The last painting you showed as an example is by a landscape artist, Esaias van de Velde, who worked for the nobility. His works are drab, uninspired, which is not exactly representative of fantasy and/or reality. He had to be a more interesting person in real life to sell those dull landscapes.

Is this Dutch art your understanding of realism and/or the mysterious ideal?

[Sorry if I seem harsh, art is sacred stuff to me and I don't like to see it used for historical facts when it does not depict reality.]


Calling that painting uninspired is not an argument or proof that it is unrealistic or historically inaccurate, nor does making claims about the painter needing to be an interesting person to sell his work.

The Dutch artwork are examples of realism. In my original post I said that some Romantic artwork reflects the mysteriousness of existence.

WendyDarling wrote:The next, The Alchemist by Bega, who was a student of Ostade.


Can you explain how the title of that work makes it unrealistic? Alchemy was practiced in the 17th century. The painting does not depict alchemical creations which disagree with reality.

WendyDarling wrote:The last painting you depicted was crafted around the turn of the 19th century which would have a slew of different realities than those from two centuries before.


And again, your argument was that art does not depict historical reality. What does it being painted in the 19th century have to do with it being an unrealistic depiction of reality?
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Re: What some irreligious people are missing...

Postby pilgrim-seeker_tom » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:59 pm

Jongleur wrote:

Perhaps some of the criticism which art might suffer is understandable as it has frequently been used to express religious enthusiasm.


Artwork ... including poetry ... has also often been used to convey ... to keep alive ... human history subject to vicious censorship.
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