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Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church Forum Sunday, February 27, 2005. Qi, Art, Science, and the Brain. Neil Greenberg University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN USA. John Constable (1828). QÌ. Mists rising to form clouds, ethereal.

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Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church Forum

Sunday, February 27, 2005

.

Qi, Art, Science, and the Brain

Neil Greenberg

University of Tennessee

Knoxville, TN USA


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

John Constable (1828)


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

Mists rising to form clouds, ethereal

Altered to distinguish from the number three(during Zhou Dynasy, 1066-770 BC)

Altered again to distinguish from similar words

Eventually combined with the radical meaning “rice” from the character Xi (“to give nourishment”)


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa


Qi in art

Qi in ART

Chen Rong (1244) Southern Song dynasty


Qi in art1

Qi in ART

Wu-Wei, “effortless action”


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

Nine Dragons(detail) Handscroll attrib to Chen Rong: Southern Song dynasty, 1244

The dragon is one of the most ancient and powerful images in Chinese culture, representing creative forces of the cosmos. In this scroll, the nine dragons' varied expressions and movements are manifestations of the Dao, the Way of Nature. The contrast of solid rock and fluid, ever-changing waves and clouds accords with the fundamental Daoist concept of life as the interaction of two forces: yin and yang.


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

“In the poem on this scroll, Chen Rong writes that he painted it in an intoxicated state. Meditation and other mind-altering experiences have long been associated with Daoist transcendental practices.”

By impairing some cerebral functions, do we empower others? Do we facilitate “transparency?”

Chen Rong's poem concludes: ". . .the greatness that emerged from the tip of my brush cannot be found elsewhere in the world. At a distance, one feels as if the clouds and the waves were flying and moving. Viewed closely, one suspects that only a god could have painted these dragons.” He was enthused, inspired


Qi and art

QI and ART

“There is the charm of qì, transmitted via the ink, some via the brush, some through action without intention. The highest level is that transmitted through actions with no intention. The next is action with intention. The next is that which is transmitted through the brush. The lowest is that sent through the ink.”

A Discussion of Painting from Lu Mountain (Lú Shān Huà Lùn)


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

ACTION without INTENTION

IMPULSIVENESS

Experience

SPONTANEITY

  • We are right to wary of IMPULSE

  • It is “impulse control” that distinguishes us from “lower” animals


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

TRUTH in the BRAIN

LEFT HEMISPHERE

Coherence: creates a “stable and internally consistent belief system”

(Ramachandran 1998)

Probabilistic reasoning

(Osherson et al 1998)

Abstract object recognition

(Marsolek 1999)

RIGHT HEMISPHERE

Correspondence: tests reality and if damaged, confabulation runs rampant

(Ramachandran 1998)

Deductive reasoning

(Osherson et al 1998)

Specific object recognition

(Marsolek 1999)

Kant: "The senses cannot think, the understanding cannot see.”


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

“Calligraphy was not simply fine penmanship, but an art form some considered superior to painting. Southern Song (12C) calligraphers wanted the viewer to sense the speed and weight of the brush and the movement with which the strokes were made, as well as the relationship to the words of the poem represented. The calligraphy of this poem was done by Emperor Xiaozong


Qi and art1

QI and ART

“Not only does the qì function to connect the mind and spirit of the artist with the painting, it weaves the painter, the painting, and the viewer into a single unified experience. In fact, it stitches all of Chinese art into an elaborate, ongoing tapestry of continual creation, cultivation, and refinement of aesthetic imagination and imagery.”


The dance organisms must change and remain in harmony

The dance: organisms must change AND remain in harmony

Our PRIMAL NATURE and our NURTURED adaptive individuality must be harmonized:

Impulsivity and spontaneity --- are thought to be authentic, genuine expressions of one’s deepest nature . . . unimpaired by ephemera such as personal memories.

Impulsive and spontaneous acts resemble instincts . . . emerging from one’s most ancient, primal nature

But human nature need not be naïve, primal, expressions of ancient instincts. It can be or informed by one’s experience, what we’ve learned or been taught


Neil greenberg university of tennessee knoxville tn usa

“the dào that can be spokenIs not the eternal dào.The name that can be namedis not the eternal name.”

Dào Dé Jīng.


But words are not unimportant

But words are not unimportant!

WORDS are one of the clearest expressions of the human capacity to represent experience and to organize experience coherently. . .


Mastery liberates creativity

Mastery Liberates Creativity

“Thus, when his spirit and hand are in perfect accord and he moves above and beyond convention, he can unfaltering turn his back on the greatest masters and do wonders, even by going against them.”

(From Treatise on Calligraphy by T’ang scholar Sun Kuo-t’ing (c. 648-703)

“The emergence of the personality accordingly marks the end of the apprenticeship and the beginning of the creative adventure, which is a permanent invention of oneself.”

(Billeter 1990)


Beyond words

“beyond words”

“Kiss” in the traditional form (Kaishu)

A great example of learning and forgetting -- gaining access to the innermost meaning of form – is manifest in the startling innovation of caoshu about 200 c.e. by the Han dynasty calligrapher, Zhou Yuguang:

“Kiss” in Caoshu


But all representations of ideas are more or less expressive

The ART ARTARTARTARTARTART of TYPOGRAPHYTYPOGRAPHYTYPOGRAPHY TYPOGRAPHY

But all representations of ideas are more-or-less expressive

Signatures of Salvador Dali


Beyond words1

“beyond words”

Caoshu was a marked contrast to the prevailing forms, governed by strict rules of form . . . It persists today as Kuangcao (“crazy calligraphy”) using words stripped of literal meaning to manifest feelings.


Beyond words2

“beyond words”

Contemporary calligraphy: lung (dragon)


Abstract words not words about abstractions

“abstract words” not “words about abstractions”


You d be forgiven if kuangcao recalls the work of jackson pollack

You’d be forgiven if kuangcao recalls the work of Jackson Pollack

Number 14: Gray, 1948


Or mark tobey

Or Mark Tobey

Fragments In Time And Space, 1956


Or adolph gottlieb

Or Adolph Gottlieb

Dialogue I 1960


Abstraction

abstraction

Abstract expressionism emerged after WWI as the result of artists inspired by science and mysticism: Does that seem an odd couple?

They were both united then (as now) in their quest for insight into the forces and processes that lay beneath the surface . . . They sought qi.


For example

For example…

“Mondrian was particularly attracted to the Theosophists' idea that all life is directed toward evolution and that progress toward the ultimate revelation of reality could be achieved through the balancing and reconciliation of opposing forces, a concept that informed his painting until the end of his life.”

Gray Tree, 1911


For example1

For example…

“Mondrian was particularly attracted to the Theosophists' idea that all life is directed toward evolution and that progress toward the ultimate revelation of reality could be achieved through the balancing and reconciliation of opposing forces, a concept that informed his painting until the end of his life.”

Tableau 2, 1922


Shitao idiosyncratic ching dynasty painter

ShiTao, idiosyncratic Ching dynasty painter


Qi in art2

Qi in ART

Wu-Wei, “effortless action”


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