Monday 27 April 2015

Flat Earthers - exploring human nature

 Can graphic art offer unique and particular insights that words alone may miss?

By Tessa den Uyl

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I believe that they can. It was as a result of working on a project to create an animated film about the processes of the imagination that I came to the idea behind these images...  And so, the drawings here (part of a longer series) are a kind of path that I followed in a bid 'to solve' a particular philosophical question

'Flat Earth' was conceived as a kind of platform to display aspects of imagination, modesty, and alertness envisioned within a character who inquires into himself about how language games determine his ways of thinking.

This central character tries to understand in what kind of landscape he sees his habits, and whatever he produces materially within that created world is not merely the reflected image of the creation that he imagines, but instead what he perceives is a privileged space, where an image becomes an epiphany, and it is in that space that he can develop his imagination.

Imagination is an activity, it is never passive, it is never negative. Instead, it is active within the limitations that the thinker - and the central character in my imaginary world -  assigns to it. That is why the character reveals himself, in the images here, as he really is: defined in relation to the biases of his own worldview, his own philosophy of knowledge.

Imagination is reaching out towards him and he cannot help but grow inside of it. This is the temptation of imagination; he cannot refuse to grow up and enter into a deeper relationship with the world.

On the other hand, even if the character is willing to “grow up” it doesn’t necessarily mean that he is capable of doing so. Instead, what he wants to see, what he has learned to see, excludes what he can actually see.  His knowledge doesn’t describe the world, but only tends to ascribe to things its own relations.

So the human being on Flat Earth recognises that he has nothing but relations; that imagination is about making relations between things, and this means that he will always have to deal with language and context. The Flat Earth is that space in which the character tries to “un-culture” himself. In the process, he has to face how he perceives, for it is too easy to be transported along the paths of semantic distortions and to inadvertently give a false value to something in the process of trying to transform values we have created into ultimate truths. The character in my imaginary world does not want to postulate a world, to impose a particular view, but tries instead to enhance the possibility of many different ones.

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Perig Gouanvic said...

Hello Tessa and welcome.

I believe that your contribution is precious for several reasons. First, on a personal note, if one watches the home page as it is right now, one sees two essays dealing with difficult topics in connection with the dream state, how a being projects itself in the world. I envision interesting synergies in the future, if you stick around!

"Imagination is reaching out towards him and he cannot help but grow inside of it. This is the temptation of imagination; he cannot refuse to grow up and enter into a deeper relationship with the world." -- hey, that's my dreaming particle! Philosophical Investigations: Particles Dreaming

Your art reminds me of an artist's, perhaps (s)he was from Belgium, who represented scenes in dreams, that are indeed very evocative of scenes in dreams (for reasons that we can't exactly pinpoint). I like what you do, how you arrange frames, make them communicate and startle the reader, engaging him in the process.

Perig Gouanvic said...

more later -

Tessa den Uyl said...

Dear Perig,
Thank you for your warm welcome.
What would one particle be able to create all by itself? We are creations of synergies, eventually it's the human brain that tends to divide -things- for it's endless reasoning about, and we tend to forget -the whole- which expresses from within. As a Dutch writer, Jeroen Brouwers, wrote: nothing exists that doesn't touch something else.

If only we could enter those gaps in our perception... we might be able to recognise that within all images we can recognise ourselves, for our imagination can make us step out of predetermined nominations that externally influenced our internal meanings.
(We've got a lot of work to do!)

Perig Gouanvic said...

To answer your question, in David Bohm's theory, particles are a momentary concretion of the whole, and this is what explains that particles do behave as if they knew where objects are, around. What they create is an information field about their surroundings and the whole. (This information field is, most often than not, shared; it touches other information fields.) It is at least one way to explain that particles do seem to know what's happening around.

For those who are interested by those odd particles: I've made this little video (I added audio to a video...) that shows some interesting features of particles, but with drops : ▶ Renegade Legion - The Weeping Waste - YouTube.

Gaps in our perception: there exists interesting cases, some that have been used by phenomenologist Merleau-Ponty and others, where a person is «estranged» from his predictable perception of normal objects (a kind of amnesia). I wonder what's happening, in philosophy, with those limit cases.

One way to experience those gaps is perhaps, IMHO, through intersubjectivity, when two persons have the «same» object in their conscsiousness; they look at the same thing at the same time and experience slight divergence that open up to the what is really "other" in the object.

Another interesting avenue is psychedelics : how perception of common objects is transformed when taking dream-state drugs.

And then cartoons :)

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

Dear Tessa,

At first, the very richness of ideas made the article hard for me to assimilate. In the days since, however, I have found my thoughts returning again and again to what you wrote (and pictured). To put it in a word, the article is captivating.

I very much like the quote by Jeroen Brouwers.

docmartincohen said...

Yes, there is a 'dreamy' quality, certainly. More so, if I may so, then Perig's particles, who, after all, only seem to worry about which way to spin, or maybe which 'slit' to travel through....

Tessa den Uyl said...

Dear Martin, Thomas and Perig,

Maybe that, like in dreams, images help to remember that the universe is not a verbal object.

There always is some 'truth' in the language of things in which the things mentioned are not the same as referred to. It's about less logical relations and often we tend to focus on the logical, with logic we manipulate structures in which we (try) to believe and hence even call reality.

Somehow persons permit themselves to be more like 'floating' (free from judgment) when they dream, listen to music, read a novel, watch a painting etc., permitting themselves to enter a state of being without the immediate necessity of logic, there is no immediate need of possession, maybe because it's unreal? unnecessary? Maybe, better would be to say that there is no direct resistance in being transported.
Though in so many other happenings men seems obsessed with logic, but if logic doesn't describe the world, then why, most of his energy is not being spent in describing that world? (As if men resists the possibility of being transported and clings to a thought that cannot be but rethoric in its own logic).

We are focused on finding meaning, but if we could 'weave' that search for meaning more into that combination of relations like dreams give to us, would we than be able to create a new syntax? (The so called 'inappropriate' becomes a new syntax)

After all, (besides certain physical needs) men, worldwide, has in common that he dreams and maybe that the language of dreams (the relations within it that provide the reality of the dream, even if not logically related) provides an insight to relations we tend to overlook as highly valuable for being in relation with each other.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

I wonder, Tessa, whether you have seen this book before: It broadly shares your perspectives I think, and grounds them in research.

Tessa den Uyl said...

Thank you Thomas,
I don't know Gelertner and will read his book

docmartincohen said...

Tess, I've been interested by the idea that when we read 'the voice in our head' is not our's - but the author's! In a well-written book, this is a really strong impression. The same applies to images plus text I'm sure, and maybe to just images. But the psychologists I read it first in - Paul Broks - said something about the author 'takes over the language centres of our brain'.

I thought that what he maybe underestiamted is that the author too, is in a ki8nd of 'daze', and writing not so much as an individual as part of some kind of philosophical community.

Perig Gouanvic said...


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