Category Archives for: Aesthetics

Having an Experience and Not

04 January 2016

[todo: original title and topics I desired to write about: Being Poor, Anarchy, and Creativity]

Recently I had some good conversations with a friend who grew up in rural areas in Taiwan, relied on media during her childhood, and describes her favorite time in life on a smaller island of Taiwan, Lanyu (蘭嶼).

She showed me pictures of her time there. Her face, radiant.

She taught kids at a school, usually art, sometimes reading, perhaps other things. It seemed as if the school gave her a great amount of freedom. She was able to create activities for the kids everyday, without much strain for normative education examinations. There were pictures of normative fine arts: painting, drawing, dancing. Furthermore, there were pictures of kids partaking in local cultural activities such as farming yams, fishing, cooking, swimming on the beach. Some related to the school, some not; She was fond of the fact that the kids would ask her for more activities after school. The social benefits were shared.

She was also more creative. Though she doesn’t have many outlets to show it through media, beyond the actions of the time, she did show me some pictures: a bookcase she created with found wood and string, natives performing festivals (dancing, cooking wild boar), local scenery, food she cooked, her roommates, her students.

Most of her creativity hasn’t been captured through media, lost in time and unrecorded, but it surely existed, through her actions. She taught, she had good roommates to share experiences with and talk to, she talked to local people, she had good students to help, she wandered and thought. She was having an experience. It’s the highest form of creativity: action.

Now, she describes herself as two people. The normal her, and the abnormal her. The normal her is the one from the island — the constantly acting, creative, often social, one. The abnormal her is the one seen right now as she works, restrained socially and economically, unable to act in the way she desires. She appears less creative, and unable to have an experience.

Now, at times, her normal self appears. She sleeps less, does her work while listening to music, is more social, is consuming more (through media and reality), and is more willing to go out. She maximizes time for new experiences and minimizes time for old ones. She climbs mountains with alacrity, fishes for shrimp with great concentration, cooks with whatever ingredients she has available with haste, and manically opens a wine bottle with a knife. She is having an experience.

[todo: continue]

[todo: the initial reason for the blog was to show the difference between poor creativity and instrumental creativity, how anarchy increases paths for creativity, and figuring out what makes an environment creative.]

Her experience reminds me of the first time going to a city. Every moment was an experience.

[todo: maybe can compare]

[questions to ask her: Beyond the pictures she took during her time on the island, and the bookshelf, is there any form of media to access her time there? Did she during or even after her time there?]

[cut: She also had roommates]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Aesthetics, Art, Conversation, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Metaphysics, Mind and Matter, Personal, Philosophy

I Can Almost See the Sun

11 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

This post contains three parts:

The Sun

Recommended listenings: “Sun in Your Eyes” and “Sun it Rises”.

I thought of the the sun, dreamed of hopping farms in New Zealand and Australia, checked the weather in southwest Taiwan. It is considerably warmer. Then I realized it.

All of this time I’ve been communicating through written language because the weather in Yilan, Taiwan is rainy, and recently, cold. Over time, reading and writing in an isolated dwelling, I lost weight, became habituated to communicating through this medium, prioritizing it over finding and talking to people with similar values. I was unable to fight it, media was easier, my physical condition made it a grudge to commute to the city. It’s the same experience I had at home. It stops me from acting, instead writing it down through ideals and directions.

At first, in addition to my physical condition and habituation, I thought it was the lack of money and a lack of desire to follow what capitalism wants. Perhaps they may be factors too, but recently it dawned that an alternate reason, a simple anti-cure exists: a lack of sun. The sun is what powers me to wake up, go out, and socialize.

The experience is very close now. I can almost see the sun. And the city.

The Experience

Excerpts from John Dewey, Art as Experience, end of chapter 1:

For only when an organism shares in the ordered relations of its environment does it secure the stability essential to living

The artist has his problems and thinks as he works. But his thought is more immediately embodied in the object. Because of the comparative remoteness of his end, the scientific worker operates with symbols, words and mathematical signs.

The artist does his thinking in the very qualitative media he works in, and the terms lie so close to the object that he is producing that they merge directly into it

This sounds like the distance between communication and rationality. Here it’s not just spatial distance, it’s temporal. The artist “thinks as he works“.

Dewey separates the two, artist and scientist. I feel the separation now too, I am definitely not a scientist.

Direct experience comes from nature and man interacting with each other. In this interaction, human energy gathers, is released, dammed up, frustrated and victorious. There are rhythmic beats of want and fulfillment, pulses of doing and being withheld from doing.

To overpass the limits that are set is destruction and death, out of which, however, new rhythms are built up.

The proportionate interception of changes establishes an order that is spatially, not merely temporally patterned.

Inner harmony is attained only when, by some means, terms are made with the environment.

The time of consummation is also one of beginning anew. Any attempt to perpetuate beyond its term the enjoyment attending the time of fulfillment and harmony constitutes withdrawal from the world.

Instead of trying to live upon whatever may have been achieved in the past, it uses past successes to inform the present.

Only when the past ceases to trouble and anticipations of the future are not perturbing is a being wholly united with his environment and therefore fully alive.

Sounds like Seneca here, with regard to past, present and future.

The live animal is fully present, all there, in all of its actions: in its wary glances, its sharp sniffings, its abrupt cocking of ears. All senses are equally on the qui vive. As you watch, you see motion merging into sense and sense into motion — constituting that animal grace so hard for man to rival.

His senses are sentinels of immediate thought and outposts of action, and not, as they so often are with us, mere pathways along which material is gathered to be stored away for a delayed and remote possibility.

Experience in the degree in which it is experience is heightened vitality. Instead of signifying being shut up within one’s own private feelings and sensations, it signifies active and alert commerce with the world; at its height it signifies complete interpenetration of self and the world of objects and events

Yes! The feeling of acting upon sense, the savage instincts, it is quite the experience. Does that make it irrational? It depends. Isn’t all one can do is to do one’s best within social time and space? Why is goal-oriented behavior better [beyond economic productivity]?

Because experience is the fulfillment of an organism in its struggles and achievements in a world of things, it is art in germ. Even in its rudimentary forms, it contains the promise of that delightful perception which is esthetic experience.


Well, it’s worth including in the series of posts. There’s surely things about communication I’ve missed here; Furthermore, it seems Dewey understands the way “artists”, or the artistic side of humans, communicate with the world. It’s something I feel Habermas glances over. What that something is I haven’t been able to explicate.

The City

Excerpts by Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, last chapter:

City processes in real life are too complex to be routine, too particularized for application as abstractions. They are always made up of interactions among unique combinations of particulars, and there is no substitute for knowing the particulars.

At first reading it sounded like hopelessness here, but upon rereading it seems to emphasize bottom-up thinking and relationships.

In the life sciences, organized complexity is handled by identifying a specific factor or quantity—say an enzyme—and then painstakingly learning its intricate relationships and interconnections with other factors or quantities. All this is observed in terms of the behavior (not mere presence) of other specific (not generalized) factors or quantities. To be sure, the techniques of two-variable and disorganized-complexity analysis are used too, but only as subsidiary tactics.

In principle, these are much the same tactics as those that have
to be used to understand and to help cities. In the case of under-
standing cities, I think the most important habits of thought are
1. To think about processes;
2. To work inductively, reasoning from particulars to the gen-
eral, rather than the reverse;
3. To seek for “unaverage” clues involving very small quan-
tities? which reveal the way larger and more “average” quantities are operating.

This sums up Jane’s method of inquiry: process otology, inductive reasoning, and street knowledge (gladly, no word for this). The process ontology is the method of observing behaviors (processes) and its relations to specific factors.

I’ve always been skeptical of anything beyond the third habit: street knowledge. Its not that I’m just skeptical of Jane’s method of inquiry, rather, in my mind, it all fell under street knowledge; I didn’t distinguish it.

Of districts, main streets, individual shops, public placss, public spaces, neighborhoods, people, gentrification, de-gentrification, ethnic enclaves — all of which have their own unique culture, the people individually, public transport, pedestrian and biking accessibility, and so on, is all magically inputed in the mind, and decisions come out. I don’t think of the method of inquiry. I only think of the particulars and creating a particular application. Never further.

Jane might be on to something, beyond spending half a book attacking quantitative thinkers, she’s able to talk to those thinkers, “scientists” in Dewey’s terms, she’s able to communicate. Every city dweller has the intuition of her book, but she seems to be the first to explicate it, and in doing so, she created an important urban planning book.

Instead of trying to create social movements, create technology to to enable people to make more political decisions, create anarchist spaces, create art which could convey the same messages in a much higher speed, she decided to talk to the scientists.

It’s strange that scientists can even talk. Perhaps the pertinent question is: why scientists are unable to learn from experience as opposed to the symbols of communication from others? Why did they fail to see this when they live in New York? Why did they fail to see it communicated through art? Does a strong artist-scientist dichotomy really exist?

I think the problem, perhaps missing from the book, is of culture and economy, in this case, American culture and American capitalism. Why the developers (private and public) have surplus wealth in the first place, spend it hastily on urbanization — likely pressured by capitalism, and the greater the city the greater the pressure, and what do they hope people will act like?; Why their culture brought them up to think scientifically, even on non-science topics. [todo: could continue this thought]

The surplus wealth, the productivity, the close-grained juxtaposition of talents that permit society to support advances such as these [the example was disease control] are themselves products of our organization into cities, and especially into big and dense cities.

I agree with the close position of talents communicating and acting, and the density factor of cites, though less so in a an exclusive capitalistic culture. I disagree on the fact they have to be big, and I don’t think it’s ideal either.

It may be romantic to search for the salves of society’s ills in slow-moving rustic surroundings, or among innocent, unspoiled provincials, if such exist, but it is a waste of time. Does anyone suppose that, in real life, answers to any of the great questions that worry us today are going to come out of homogeneous settlements?

Hah, this is quite persuasive. I agree that nothing comes out of homogenous settlements, but I disagree that things cannot be learned from other kinds of human settlements and societies. Human settlements and societies are the real experiments, and what works in one place could work in another. I disagree again: All cities depend on it’s rustic surroundings, and caring for them is a responsibility of the city, simply because they provide the sustenance. These areas do require more thinking, and one must be there to think about it. I disagree yet again: One can escape society’s ill’s by getting out of the society. When a city culture is so dominating and progress is too slow, outside of the city becomes a place with alternate possibilities (though, it’s sometimes possible to create alternative space within the city or make social progress for the entire city): where artists go to create villages, anarchists go to create their own districts, and generally where people go to form new communities, which themselves are vital, just on a smaller scale.

That leads to another point against big cities that Jacobs is missing: things don’t come out of big cities, they come out of particular people in it, as mentioned before, “the close-grained juxtaposition of talents”. A big city is just has more groups of organized talents, a university is supposed to have a higher ratio of these, a small town could have just as many equal to a vibrant neighborhood, down to a single group, which is probably around 2-15 people. It’s not the size, or even density in the case of China, it’s about throwing diverse people together and giving them space to allow them to self-organize.

Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.

New York is constantly devouring capital by constantly gentrifying itself. It regenerates at the cost of the world’s labor. In the act of caring for her city, a city I love too, Jane ensues blind optimism for it.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Area, Art, Communication, Community, Critical Theory, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Social Science, Social Philosophy, Urban Philosophy

Communication, Social Action, and Cities

05 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

When one infuses messages into a medium, it does count as communication until someone else extracts the messages.

The time between the extraction of messages and responding to them is response time.

The faster the extraction of messages, the faster one gains information.

If the person does not understand the message, then the person must use other sources (people or mediums) to communicate to in order to understand the message.

The person’s understanding is the completion of the one-way communication.

In the case of a social situation:
The faster the two can respond, the faster the person will understand the meaning of the message.

Once the meaning is understood, the person can create a new message for further communication (an action itself).

Once the communication ends, there are three possibilities:… [todo: stopped here]

social action:
Often, the reason one creates messages is to have one’s rationality validated or, in the case of more than one person, come to a consensus. Once validated, one is able to proceed with a social action.

cities [urban areas] and social action:
Because cities have such high density (people / social and material / urban), communication often takes place in the same space, allow communication through body language, oral language, urban art, in addition to non-space-based mediums (e.g. listening to radio, talking through instant messaging), often simultaneously.

Because people are able to respond faster, understand meaning, continue communication, get validation of rational or come to a consensus, people are able to act faster.

[Hmm, I was trying to extract some tacit knowledge of why consensual social action is more frequent in cities than outside of them. I wasn’t able quite to do it. I often use the internet to communicate, not to another person in the same social time, reading several sources, to validate my actions. Actually, I often privilege the internet over many people as a source of validation.]

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Aesthetics, Communication, Critical Theory, Ethics, Humanities, Philosophy, Rationality, Urban Philosophy

Awareness and Communication

05 December 2015

This is part of a series of thoughts that are thematically bounded by a criticism of capitalism, communication, and rationality.

1. The mind has a bias toward what to be aware of.

2. The mind has a bias toward which medium of communication to be aware of. If has been talking recently, then the sense of hearing speech is more aware. If one has been recently reading, then text is more apparent. If one has been watching films, then visuals are more apparent. If one has been traveling, then one is aware of everything, and must actively choose what to be aware of.

3. Because the mind has a bias toward which medium to be aware of, one’s mind may tend to organize communication into that medium. If one has been talking, one may feel like talking. If one has been reading, one may feel like writing. If one has been watching films, one may want to create more visual-oriented films. If one has been traveling, then one may choose a medium or create a medium to communicate in.

Possibly related older post: Working Memory and Creativity.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Communication, Epistemology, Experience, Humanities, Media, Mind and Matter, Philosophy

A Thought about Quality

05 August 2015

Hmmm, this started with a thought risen by a book, but it drifted quite far, and perhaps never answered the question.

From Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:
“Quality from the marketplace and predicted the changes that would take place. Since quality of flavor would be meaningless, supermarkets would carry only basic grains such as rice, cornmeal, soybeans and flour; possibly also some ungraded meat, milk for weaning infants and vitamin and mineral supplements to make up deficiencies. Alcoholic beverages, tea, coffee and tobacco would vanish. So would movies, dances, plays and parties.”

– When I stay in one place for some time, get into habit (usually for work, but also if I just become bored or nearby, accessible things), I become a very functional person. I eat simple, healthy, vegetarian meals, with multi-vitamins. I watch a film once or twice a week.

– When I returned to Taipei, it seemed I wanted to live the most functional life, making the right decision every time. In addition to simple living habits, I desired the society around me to naturally partake my own simple living habits.

– At times in my life, I become anxious when I see privledged people waste money on things of quality, especially when the cost of labor for it is so high [and now likely in another country]. I didn’t care for the coffee shop Pan’s friend was interested in. I didn’t care for Meng’s major, which wasn’t functional. At the time, I was thinking about how to help people in nearby developing countries, those in poor areas in Taiwan, and even those poor people nearby, in Taipei. How can one think of quality when there’s so much functional work to do?*

– This kind of thinking leads to a life with Kant’s Imperative (Rorshach). Constant steps in a positive direction. The constant decision-making leads to an extremely active life, learning whatever that is needed to reach the next goal. Perhaps the steps may be small, but they are positive, and practical. During this way of thinking, I often do not believe anything past these small steps, sticking close to reality, and taking actions based on experience, as opposed to theory. It’s possible I’m unable to relate to any kind of media because the language of it (verbal, visual, etc.) is so distanced from reality. I’m limited to documentaries, biographies, and philosophy and science (including Wikipedia). I choose real experiences. But this leads to a peculiar education. I’m able to choose steps in the right direction, because I know from experience, but I don’t know what the rest of the world is doing, and fail to use the knowledge of gained by others. I try to build knowledge from the random scraps of experience I’ve had, instead of using someone else’s solution. It’s the only way to learn. But it is unguided knowledge. The knowledge is real, far better than the knowledge people obtain after the Information Age, but it’s still random. I get caught up in the obtainment of knowledge, realize it, and go back to functional steps toward the right direction. What’s better than gaining knowledge about the practical work one does?* Perhaps the only time I am stable in life is when I have a goal that is lengthy, and feel the work is practical.

– But with the poor decision-making of humans, politics will always show it’s head, and that feeling of being somewhat useful to a community disappears, because the work feels useless. This shifts me from technical problems to more socio-political problems. The same Kantian ethics apply. Instead of building a program to prevent bank fraud, it shifts to building civic media — guiding people to make better decisions for the society as a whole, organizing communities, civil disobedience, and so on.

– Both kinds of work are necessary and practical, but it often feels that at this point in time, especially in a modern country, the social problems outweigh technical. [stopped here* thinking whether building a water resorvoir in Africa is better than influencing a city-society to share]

– Back to the question, How can one think of quality when there’s so much functional work to do? Functional work often does not require much of the brain. At these times, if one can fit in Quality in the work, or elsewhere in the world so be it. Off-time is spent on Quality, for example, decorating a house or shop. It’s unnecessary, but people get stuck, often physically, in places, boredom arises, and Quality is added to the world. [stopped again, here]

“We would all use public transportation. We would all wear G.I. shoes. A huge proportion of us would be out of work, but this would probably be temporary until we relocated in essential non-Quality work. Applied science and technology would be drastically changed, but pure science, mathematics, philosophy and particularly logic would be unchanged. Phćdrus found this last to be extremely interesting. The purely intellectual pursuits were the least affected by the subtraction of Quality”

– I don’t care much for taste, but I do care for design, which may fall under applied science, though maybe everything that isn’t science would fall under such a broad term. There’s a lot of wasted effort in applied science and technology, but the physical design of the world is something worthy to strive for change. Does the Quality of design matter?* Would an entirely functional world be ideal? The difference between Japan’s and Taiwan’s societies come to mind. The Quality of design of the world would affect the Quality of life. One cannot design of Quality for some one else, as everyone’s interpretation of quality differs (think of someone designing an apartment for another; this example works for the two previous statements). If the only goal to society were to survive, the quality of design may not matter much. Wait, no, even now survival is still a problem…(broke into the following two thoughts).

1. The designs are based on knowledge, and knoweldge of humans, i.e. the social sciences, are infinitely complex. Using the house example again, a house (good or bad in quality) (link to poorly-designed upgrades game) may lead to other unknown problems. This would lead to the solving of those problems, and leading to more unknown problems. By this constant trial and error, the house becomes better. And this is how societies progress, through policy-making. Quality, here, is not a variable.

2. Striving to increase survival is functional, absence of Quality (in an impossible environment where there is no chance of the thought of doing and thinking of something beyond survival). It is beyond survival, one has more time to have more ‘higher-functioning’ brain activity, which is where Quality enters. Without Quality, Marx’s idea of Communism comes to mind, and does indeed seem to be the ideal society. Yet, Quality leads to the creation of more effective (and beautiful) solutions, for example, using games for education, as opposed to rote learning with written language. Perhaps Quality comes later in society just as it does in humans. The first step is to survive. Then next is to do it beautifully. And back in a loop I go. I must sleep.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Thoughts

Creativity as Organization from Chaos

26 November 2014

The further one is from society, the more disorganized the world appears.

The more disorganized the world appears during the time of creation, the more creative the result.


It is the distance between disorganization and organization that determines the level of aesthetic beauty.

It is up to the mind to organize chaos.

Seems to be a repeat of an old thought:

If this is the case, then it is best to live on the edge of society. Cities are the most potent area of human organization. One needs distance, surround oneself with less common materials, then create. It will also lead to a more creatively efficient lifestyle, as the mind struggle to piece together the world into new designs and ideas.

It used to be in order to have social connections, display work, one had to live in cities. With the internet, it is no more.

During certain points in travel I came with these ideas:
A public vending machine for barter. The machine allows a user to place one item inside and take one item out.

GPS track a pigeon and/or a dancer to get flight pattern data for a robotic dodo bird.

A film that contains video footage of a GoPro camera traveling around Taiwan, using JRPG music to fit the natural and artificial settings.

A film from real video footage of animals in the jungle to display high culture ideas of humans.

Live robot exhibition. I am the robot. The robot moves depending on interaction (touch, possibly other senses) according to a set if rules. There is a pattern to find. The winner gets a candy.

An art installation dealing with video game memory cards.

A multi-player game installation in which the game installations are physically separated, but have a map to one other installation.

A smartphone application that allows users to create things in real space, allowing people to interact with a digital world atop a real one.

update from 8/25/2015:
Organizing materials into different forms does indeed seem to define creativity. It’s the artistic version of materials science. It’s not about organizing a functional world. It’s about organizing a vision.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Mind and Matter, Philosophy, Thoughts

The Most Powerful Forms of Art

25 November 2014

The characteristics are:
One that contains knowledge
One that directly affects humans via physical interaction.
One that is social
One that is beautiful

These are also forms of pleasure.

Physical interaction can be satisfied without manmade objects; The sublimity of nature is enough. So is eating and exercise.

In another view:
One that affects the mind, and
One that affects the body

The potency of art depends on the potency of the characteristics of the art and the audience. A more sensual art more strongly affects a more sensual person. A more mindful art more strongly affects a more rational person more. Beautiful and social arts affects everyone.

The more potent, the greater chance of reacting to it.

If social, potency, and therefore chance of reacting, is multiplied.

Hmm, is a social experience the end?

Or the beginning of another?

Also see Street Artists are Powerful.

Size of media matters. Big screens. Planetarium. Art at d-structure.

The scale of art is a powerful sensual effect

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Art, Thoughts

Street Artists are Powerful

22 November 2014

>9/3/13The only time I stop is when a street musician is playing.

The combination of a human, performing, in public, is powerful.

More powerful than any media. More powerful than any performance in an artificial environment.

These are humans. They are performing. There is no place in society for them to act this way, or, they don’t feel they belong to such a place in society, or, they simply want to perform directly toward humans, so they do it in the public.

The most powerful effect is direct human interaction. Any distance between lessens the effect, and the chance one reacts.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Aesthetics, Philosophy

Why Make Art?

15 November 2014

Banksy’s role is to make people aware of what’s hidden in daily modern life, as with many other artists. A good example: the truck with stuffed animals, driving through Hell’s kitchen.

A list:
To further art aesthetics
To add something beautiful in the world
To add something empirically educational
To add something educational for humanities. If one believes in absolute truths, this is okay. Narrative (film, books) can be destructive a la propaganda.
To make people aware of the bad things in society. Sounds like the reverse of the above.
Because one has leisure time, and one is passionate
To express a thought in a form that a mass amount of people can consume it at any time

to make a beautiful educational experience

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Philosophy

Aesthetics versus Humanities in Art

11 November 2014

thoughts from Japan

before 9/24/13:
I play some games that people spent years on in a few minutes and feel I am done with it, or have experienced it before.

While consuming art, I’d skim through products at lightning speed, not impressed by any because I experienced the aesthetic before, craving for something new.

When an artist creates something there are two directions, which can be combined: to further aesthetics and to further humanities. Humanities contains knowledge that can educate. Aesthetics has a method of transmitting knowledge that can provide a better means to educate.

Leave a comment | Categories: Aesthetics, Art, Communication, Philosophy

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