Sunday, April 26, 2009


The more I look at it, the more I realize that intuition, thus a good part of the artistic approach (and the mathematical approach) consists in finding and imagining relations between things.

For example, in mathematics, you take your house and you say the length at floor level is so many yards; what does this mean in the absolute? It only means there is a yardstick somewhere, in this case the yard, and that we have created a link between this decreed measure and the length in question containing X times the yardstick. Thus essentially a decreed relation between a human invention and reality.

Other examples of relation, this time in terms of proportions. The well known golden number is a measure that architects used, as well as painters and musicians. Gothic relative to Roman, quickly said, is the passage between a proportion of one to one, and a proportion of one to two or three or four. In painting, someone like Modigliani multiplied vertical proportions by two.

Better still, in music, consider a prelude of Bach, prelude n°1 for example of the Das wohltemperirte Clavier, in do major. Consider the first note, Do, as axis and base tonic, and multiply each interval by two. The prelude sounds as if it was written by Debussy. By multiplying by two any interval between this base Do and the other notes, we have obviously eliminated all half-tones, and it sounds "gamut by tone", yet the harmony remains, and continues to ring, for we have merely multiplied by two the harmonic rapport with the tonic. For that matter, if we multiply the same intervals by 5 or 7 (modulo 12), the prelude sounds like Berg and Webern.

Imo, mathematics is essentially about the establishment of relations, in as much as it is radically a non metaphysical viewpoint. From the metaphysical standpoint, relation, one of the 10 categories of substance, is considered as "flimsy" by Aristotle. He is right! From a metaphysical viewpoint he is right, for from the point of view of being, relation is last in line! In that sense, to consider mathematics to be a first principle (i.e. to substitute it to being) is even more "flimsy"! Yet that is what the average (and advanced) modern day person does, since, before anything else, nowadays everything is becoming and relations.

Credit drawing:

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  1. I think I am beginning to understand your idea. You see, and I agree with you, the modern world addicted to relation, which I think you also see as including universals. And you see these things as mind creations, not substantially real; and you want only the real and the substantial. The Idealists (neoplatonians?) would agree that they are of the mind, but they would then say that only the mind is substantial and real. You are not an Idealist. You have a vision of reality as (individual?) substances only. I look forward to see how you develop your idea, to catching a glimpse of your vision. Perhaps you could describe your vision is a piece of fiction.

  2. Hi Gary,
    Firstly, in case that wasn't understood, these are posts I have translated for a friend (RIP), except for a few. He had in fact written a book on substance(non published)and given the steepness of the understanding curve had started writing it in a more simple dialogue form (fictional?). As far as seeking substance-principle, it is the appetite of intelligence to seek what is first. Thanks for giving it a twirl. :)

  3. Great post. Having spent my working life as an art director, illustrator and painter, I know from my own experience that the constructions of the mind carried out by the hand are of the making of a mind (An individual expression of a universal mind..or the universal expression of an individual mind, or whatever you can imagine). The best work flows from hidden springs and requires no effort, given technical skill, or occasionally lack of technical skill. We call colors of paint different names. We combine them and get other colors to which we assign names. We say there are only three "primary" colors in pigments (red, yellow,and blue.) In light, we say there are three "primary" colors ( red, green, and blue.) So what. These are observations and words that vary from language to language they do not produce art or cause human reaction. Yet, certain colors carry the innate
    ability to produce psychological reactions. It is no accident that colors like red, blue, inspire and are used in so many flags and product designs. Look at the next product you buy and ask why the designer used this color or that and why did the product appeal to you.
    If you look for the universals in everything you may find behind the facades, the systems, the abstractions,
    and the desires, a face, perhaps your own, or one beyond
    form that is trying to give us tools to see it.
    But, what do I, a child crying in the night, know?
    My best, Count Sneaky

  4. Good evening Count! A fine profession that is! In case that was not clear, a universal (in philosophy) is an abstraction from different concrete realities. One from the multiple (eg tree or dog).

    Hope the chasse a courre was fruitful today. :)

  5. 'nowadays everything is becoming and relations' no doubt to attempt to make the future less uncertain, which is why Beckham steps on the ball, to attempt to excercise some control over its uncertain future.

    In the Bach to Debussy to Webern journey we are not only dealing with intervals but also with triads which have a much more complicated set of relationships and functions. In Howard Hanson's discussion of progressions, those triads will inevitably, eventually fold back upon themselves and will lead us back to Bach (pardon).

  6. @Shane,
    Yes Avatar was a smart person, or rather a "rare being". I'm not sure how he fared in IQ tests. Metaphysics is more about induction and analogy than deduction/logic.

    Interesting. My culture in music is limited. that would have made for a nice discussion with Avatar. Thanks for stopping in.

  7. The Count would like to know more of the idea of intelligence seeking what is first. I don't think you need to describe your (Avatar's) vision as a work of fiction at all. The Count has one more question. Are there concrete realities? I have no formal training in philosophy, just a life-long interest. When I was 16 I bought a two-volume edition of Jowett's Plato and then began collecting many other philosophers. So, all I know is how little I know. Bear with me.
    My boogieabilty is severely limited any more. I go to see my back surgeon this afternoon to see if I have to have another back operation. This will be my third and I probably will have to hang up my dancing pumps for good...but not my blogging pumps!

  8. Relations are social disciplines and relative positions of the objects in the Universe. These are essential for human civilizations to evolve further.

  9. Hello! Relation has supplanted substance, this is what is toxic for the neuron. Thanks for dropping in. :)