"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Friday, August 17, 2007

What Would Papageno Do; or, the Grecian Urn is a Decorative Peanut Butter Jar?

I want everyone to focus on the content of an education---the meat and potatoes: on how that content should be presented, mastered, put to use, and passed along to others. Specifically, I believe that three very important concerns should animate education; these concerns have names and histories that extend far back into the past. There is the realm of truth---and its underside, what is false and undeterminable. There is the realm of beauty---and its absence in experiences or objects that are ugly or kitschy. And there is the realm of morality---what we consider to be good, and what we consider to be evil.
---from Howard Gardner, The Disciplined Mind: What All Students Should Understand

I often feel, dear reader, as if in this blogosphere, I often find myself in a collaborative learning group: something I very much appreciate about this endeavor. Thank you so much for it!

Purple Worms has been holding a discussion on art over at her place, concerning a defaced statue of Mozart. Swampwitch is presiding over playtime, MI-style. Then I begin reading from one of my favorite educational theorists, Howard Gardner, and find the above quote (side note of interest/synchronicity: he goes on to give examples that embody each of those three sisters---and Mozart is given as the example of beauty), which speaks to the reference that PW made to truth is beauty, beauty is truth.

It makes me very happy, these connections.

I was somewhat surprised that Gardner used the kitschy as the antithesis of the beautiful. I've always regarded kitsch as pithy beauty: sort a zen take on baroque, or alternately, a baroque take on zen; it speaks to the referent from a different perspective, the "flip side" if you will, in a different dialect than is typical, and I like that very much. (I've become an object of amusement for Snowy at the times when I see something kitschy: I exclaim, it's so ugly that it's beautiful! and then Snowy rolls his eyes, hoping with all hope I don't bring whatever it may be home.)
Perhaps that's what Gardner was speaking to; if so, I then posit: the beauty is in the delivery.

To me, it's very much like a parlor game that allows participants to hold a conversation using only famous quotes: the quote becomes a picture, a signal, of the speaker's intent.To me, it's very much like the use of picture icons in communication systems we use to communicate with those whose language abilities differ from our own.
Or perhaps it's a game of exquisite corpse; cadavres exquis.
Communciation, in all its transmissions. The enjoyment and the challenge and the beauty arise in broadening the bands of reception, allowing for all frequencies; for their variance is the given, and not the exception.
Don't expect to hear anything: expectations are so much static. Just listen; and in so doing, the beauty is heard.
Communication begins.
What do you think?

I'm listening.

Note: I've fixed the hyperlink for exquisite corpse, and added a new one as well---dear reader, you know how I like to look at things in more than one way!


The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

I love our conversations - you always give me so much to consider and I must think think think about this before saying too much or else I wlll be clear neither in my own mind nor my expression of opinion. I'm astounded and thrilled by the idea of kitsch as a zen take on baroque and wonder if baroque is not a zen take on kitsch. I have to think about kitsch and what it means (and do a lot but have not done so recently) - so once more unto the mountain to confer with the masters and mistresses and I'll return, I hope, with a clearer head

neroli said...

Artist, as do I!
I look forward to your return :)

min said...

"I wish I had said that!"

captain corky said...

I enjoy the conversations too even though sometimes I'm a bit out of my league. ;)

neroli said...

Min, are you quoting me when I'm reading your words?---I think I should install a key that when I touch it, it instantly types in one fell swoop this phrase: "what Min said!"
Ask Purple Worms. She can probably show evidence to that fact in her comment boxes...;-)

Corky, we love what you bring to the table; *never* are you out of your league. You are a credit to your uniform :)!