Thursday, January 26, 2012

Entry #3

My first philosophy class at U of L was Intro to Philosophy, taught by Professor Arthur Johnson (a.k.a.: A.T.J.)*.  As those who introduce you to something you grow to love often do, ATJ left a lasting impression on me.  Before learning about influential philosophers, like Nietzsche,  ATJ would often start his lecture by saying something along the lines of, "There could be an entire class taught on this philosopher, but since we only have 50 minutes today...".
*If you have an interest in philosophy and can handle an 8:00 a.m. class (this is the only time that his class is offered) I highly recommend that you take Professor Johnson's course!!  It is PHIL 

Why, you might ask, am I talking about a teacher a had a year ago? Today, after having the oppurtunity to attend Osborne Wiggins' lecture on Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, A.T.J.'s quote was validated.  I could spend a whole academic year in a class about Nietzsche and the thinkers who followed his lead, continuing the dialogue we now refer to as existentialism.  I took a great interest in the lecture today and wished that it had lasted longer.  I am excited to take classes with Professor Wiggins in the future!

Nietzsche approaches art with hermeneutics of suspicion and asks the question; what is this art a symptom of?  As we've seen in class, it is beyond difficult to define art, because art is constantly evolving.  Nietzsche's curiosity towards the artist's condition of life reminds me of a quote by Edwin J. DeLattre that I can't find on the internet to save my life.  To paraphrase DeLattre's simplistic definition of art; art's goal should be to repair, change, improve, or express a someone's life.  Nietzsche holds that all is flux and their is no concrete truth to be found due to constant change.  I find this idea relatable to the changes we face in life, the ever changing definition of art, and the artwork produced as a result of these changes.

Alan Watts- Reality, Art, and Illusion

I have learned a little bit about of eastern philosophy, mostly from reading the Tao Te Ching and listening to Alan Watts' lectures online.  I made connections between some of eastern philosophies' general ideas and Nietzsche.  Nietzsche's Apollo and Dionysus have very different characteristics, but both figures are used to explain illusions and appearances.  Dionysus is the god of wine, revelry, and chaos.  Apollo is the god of forms, dreams, and music.  While the two may seem to form a dualism, Apollo and Dionysus are really different aspects of life that form a whole.

Eastern philosophies' emphasis on the difference between reality and appearances share similarities with Nietzsche's conflict between Apollo and Dionysus. The video above is a lengthy lecture by Alan Watts discussing both eastern and western thoughts on the nature of reality as well as art.  Buddhism's goal of enlightenment involves removing the veil that the human experience creates.  This veil is dualistic exchange between the self and all things external to the self.  To overcome these illusions reinforced by what we are taught is to see yourself, all aspects of life, and the entire universe as one.


Nietzsche's idea of the internal return is one that caught my attention.  The internal return is to ask yourself if you would be satisfied living your life, exactly the way it is, over and over again.  This exercise reminds us that we must to take no moment for granted.  Doing so entails appreciating life's ups and downs and accepting that there may not be any redemption after death.

Because drawing or painting from life is what I tend to revert to for my weekly artwork, I'm going to spend time some time contemplating ways to branch out.  Last semester in Scott Massey's 3-D foundations class, it was awesome to have such freedom in our choice of medium.  Now I have that same freedom in this class and I should be taking advantage of it.  Philosophy can be stressful and confusing, for there are no definite answers, only only logical arguments.  As mentioned in my previous post, creating art is a way for me to relax.  I want to start breaking out of this comfort zone and making things that require critical thinking.  I am not quite sure what I will make this week but for the next day or so I will be brainstorming to come up with an idea I'd like to develop, and experimental ways I can do so.


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