PHIL 431, Fall 2008 Selected images

1. Electron miscrosope images of insects (to support Sue Hubbell's claims about insect beauty).

A. Fruit fly eye magnified 260-7800 times. Dust trapped in hairlike structures in lower left. At high magnification the structures are shown to be fluted. The facets are simple lenses.

B. Ridges on the back of a water mite hydophantes ruber.

C. Carbon spheres derived from coal tar.



2. Kant's theory of free beauty illustrated by random and non-random tile designs.

An image to illustrate a design that is freely unbeautiful, on Kant's theory of free beauty, contrasted with one that is plausibly freely beautiful.

3. Images relating to the reading on Roman Ingarden

4. Images pertaining to Clive Bell, Art: the aesthetic hypothesis.

Edwin Landseer, Windsor Castle in Modern Times, 1841-45, 445/8 x 56 7/8" (113.3 x 144.5 cm.). Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the green Drawing Room. The Queen greets her husband on his return from hunting. The Queen's first child, Victoria, holds a dead kingfisher.

Other images relevant to Bell's conception of art: (Chinese Jade Bracelet)

(Chinese bronze age artifacts: see esp. the diagram of the horned animal's parts.)

Images re. depiction

Example of a minimal depiction (one line only)

Giotto, Flight into Egypt (example of a drastically undersized feature (hill)

Matisse, Mme Matisse with a Hat (example of many deviant seeing-in handles)

Detail of Mme Matisse with a Hat (one of the examples mentioned above)


Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, from Lone Pine, California, 1944.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Self-Portrait, 1973.

At the URL below: Willem de Kooning, Whose name was writ in water, 1975. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Followed by an exhibition of the artist's work

For Sherrie Levine, the following images:

For Marcel Duchamp, the following:

Re. Architecture

Getty Museum complex: (stills) (tour) (uberorgan in operation) (Tim Hawkinson) (commentary)

Re. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao: (tour) (Gehry) (A Matter of Time) (Charlie Rose short) (Charlie Rose long)

Robert Hughes on Serra's Guggenheim sculpture (excerpts). The Guardian , June 22 2005.

Now 65, Serra has embarked on a magnificent, productive maturity. Put in the simplest terms…his achievement has been to give fabricated steel the power and density, the emotional address to the human body, the sense of empathy and urgency and liberation, that once belonged only to bronze and stone, but now no longer does. He has achieved a very deep synthesis, and it may not matter whether others follow him. Once you are in the enormous Guggenheim gallery which these sculptures fill, once you are absorbed in their space and pacing out their convolutions, you feel suddenly free - far from the dead zone of mass-media quotation, released from all that vulgar, tedious postmodernist litter and twitter, from the creepy posturings, tired bad-boy claptrap and squalid sanctimony that characterise PoMo and BritArt. It is quite a good feeling - rather like the old days, one's inner fogey is tempted to say. The work is as new as new could be, but when you are experiencing it you may also think of an 18th-century definition of the spirit of classical sculpture: "A noble inwardness," wrote Johann Winckelmann, "a calm grandeur." Eine edle Einfalt, eine stille Grösse . Without the white gods, of course.

"Do not speak to me about small projects," said Gianlorenzo Bernini to Louis XIV, when the sun king brought him in state to Paris to redesign the Louvre. This could have been Serra's motto at Bilbao [for his installation]…The gallery it occupies is the biggest in the museum - a vast room, some 430 ft long by 80 ft wide. Paintings hung in it before, and they usually looked diminished by Gehry's architecture - sometimes to the point of silliness or near-invisibility. But Serra's work dominates Gehry's space like a rhinoceros in a parlour.

These [immensely heavy] sheets are joined by spot-welds to form curling walls. This creates a passageway, through which you move. The walls lean and straighten; they reverse their curvature, bulging and then receding. Nothing supports them but their own weight, bearing hugely and mutely on the floor… The space inside, the gap between the walls, narrows, widens, breathes in and out … and eventually rewards you with an inner chamber, from which you have to follow the same route out… a marvellous complexity unfolds almost of its own inexorable will and nature from apparently simple premises…continuous surprise afforded by his sculptures, as you move through them. How can things this big and so apparently simple be so unpredictable? Just look.

The curious fact is that when you do look, what you see is not only sculpture but a kind of painting as well. Of course, all sculpture has colour, or colours. But Serra's work, in all the gloomy or lambent richness of its weathered steel - now as red as one of John Ford's sunset buttes in Monument Valley, now as black as the hull of a stricken tanker - is singularly enriched by colour…[presents a] living, streaked, mottled, accidental darkness [that] conveys the sense of [an] inborn, embedded emotional tension…

Interpreting poetry

1. Dylan Thomas, Do not go gentle into that good night.

What if anything needs interpretation? Words forking no lightning? Frail deeds dancig bright in a green bay? Blind eyes blazing like meteors, and seeing with blinding sight? Is the meaning unclear?

What attitude exactly is Thomas hoping his father will adopt? Is it wise to burn and rave at close of day?

2. Ezra Pound, A Virginal.

Strange, Pound's use of the word. The noun (now, anyway) refers to an early harpsichord. But it's a lady Pound refers to, except that she is presented also as (or at least like) a plant with a bright sheath, subtle, sort, savory, full of the vitality of spring, creating an atmosphere that suffuses the poet. One thinks of Botticelli's painting Primavera. Pounds compond imagery is paradigmatic for lyric poetry. He didn't call the poetry he advocated "imagistic" for nothing!

3. Is the God of Blake's Tyger a cruel God?

Hirsch: Blake propounds a God who is merciful toward the good, wrathful in opposing evil, and ultimately beyond mere human good and evil.

Raine: Blakes represents the Tyger as radical evil, which is a by-product of creation, not part of the essence of the Deity. God does not "smile his work to see." Blake depended on a rich kabbalistic and alchemical literature for his images.

This dispute may be impossible to resolve. However, Raine's argument depends on less likely sources than Hirsch's does, so his idea of a wrathful Bod (against evil-doers) is somewhat more plausible. In any case, note that critics clearly try to bolster their interpretations by evidence using standard rules of rationality, not personal preference. The next issue shows that clearly.

Also it is clear that it is Blake's meaning that the critics are concerned to ferret out -- that is, they assume that the poetic community has a responsibility to discover that meaning, so far as that is possible.

4. Esoteric reference in Blake's The Tyger:

When the stars threw down their spears/And water'd heaven with their tears…

Who are the stars, what are their spears?

Raine: the stars rained down their influences – threw down beams of light like “spears” and “watered heaven” with those waters above the firmament that fertilize all growth in the elemental earth below.

Source: Johann Reuchlin, de Arte Cabbalistica , 1517, trans. Thomas Vaughan: “There is not a herb here below but he hath a star in heaven above; the star strikes him with her beams and says to him, Grow.”

The stars weep because the Elohim (God) has ordained the creation of such a world as this “below.”

Hirsch: “When the stars threw down their spears” is an allusion to the angelic fall as presented by Milton :

“They astonisht all resistance lost,/All courage, down their weapons dropt.”…The defeat of the angels cause them to weep tears, and these tears, left behind as they plummeted to Hell, became what we now call the stars.