Friday, April 06, 2012
Art, Life and Science
Sometimes I think I’m hostile to science, perhaps because I give this impression to others. In fact I have no argument with science, except when it’s claimed that the science they call science is the only science. That is like saying that the Lord God of Israel is the only true god.
Art and Science: what’s the difference? Same as the difference between feeling and fact, I suppose.
Their science, public science, is devoted to asking “why?” questions; learning the secrets of cause and effect; applying their Promethean power to “improve” (at any rate to change irrevocably) the world around us. Mine is more interested in asking “what?” Not “What is the moon really?” but “What do I really see?” I once learned it’s a sphere of rock orbiting the earth, and have no argument with that. I don’t think it’s (she’s) a goddess, though I might have, if I lived three thousand years ago. Did they fuss about things being literally true in those days? As Francis says in his latest post :
I can find inspiration in a message which proclaims hope beyond hopelessness, vindication beyond failure, new joy beyond despair. Where I cannot journey with the Christians is their assertion that their narrative is a basically factual statement …
The moon I see is sometimes a disc, sometimes a crescent. It seems important to see what I see and not censor it in favour of what I’ve been taught, whether by scientist, preacher or poet.
My science, the kind I can practise for myself, has doctrines of its own. I must learn to see what I see, feel what I feel. It is the science of “What? What do you see, with your naked senses? What do you feel, in your unrepressed emotions?”
My science takes universal oneness as axiomatic on the straightforward basis that I can feel it. Not all the time, but that doesn’t matter. We take the sun as a given, though we’re not warmed by its rays all the time. Oneness implies that whatever I can feel, so can you, in principle; and I see no reason to deny feeling to any part of nature. Says Wordsworth in The Prelude:
I felt that the array
Of act and circumstance, and visible form,
Is mainly to the pleasure of the mind
What passion makes them; that meanwhile the forms
Of Nature have a passion in themselves,
That intermingles with those works of man
To which she summons him; . . .
In my science, the theory of evolution should acknowledge the role of desire embedded into all creatures. Giraffes have long necks because of natural selection, yes, but also because they desired to forage for foliage high in the trees.
I’ve just emerged from three or four days devoid of creative impetus, a state of comprehensive ennui when I didn’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything; as if my lifeblood had been replaced by dishwater. I read Rubye Jack’s blog, where she writes “Something I have little of at the moment is energy, and I've noticed that the older I get the less I seem to have.” And I thought to myself, better get used to it, it’s age wot does it.
This morning the ennui was gone, as mysteriously as it had come. In accordance with my science of “what” rather than “why”, I note the exuberant joy of my perceptions and feelings, back to the habitual level which too often I take for granted and fritter away on misplaced effort or idle indulgence.
So what is my kind of science, in practice? What kind of phenomenon is investigated? Miracles: not why or how, merely what. The process is merely to observe, drawing no conclusions—except one, always the same:
“This has happened. Therefore it can happen.”
Narrowing the scope even further, the only miracles I can observe are those which happen to me. There’s a time limitation too. I can only observe them as long as the feeling lasts, as long as the naked senses can retain the sight, sound, taste and smell.
And there is one more thing, to make it real science, as opposed to the simple flow of a lucky life. I should report my findings.
Posted by Vincent at 10:29 pm