Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Art's Dueling Problematics

"I don't know if you have the same experience, but the snag I come up against when I'm telling a story is the dashed difficult problem of where to begin it." (Bertie Wooster)
–– P. G. Wodehouse

If the reader has not guessed by now, it should be obvious at the end of the next sestina entry that the subject of this thread is not the sestina, nor is it poetry or poetry's underlying/defining forms.  Neither, in the final analysis, is it about the "spiral algorithm" per se, an example of [––abusing mathematical terminology:] an isomorph that pervades  [––now stealing from crystallography:] the characteristic idiomorphs that define and sort the specific arts as-we-know-them and guarantee to keep them separate from (or blissfully ignorant of) one another.

I will be skipping between "fields" willy-nilly from poetry to math to card tricks to computers to music, and possibly a few more. Along the way I will string them all on the same necklace, their common thread in this case being the spiral algorithm. But also along the way I will try (I can't see any QEDs ahead) to gain some insight into a deeper ancient issue.

I am looking for oblique ways (I know of no direct routes) to approach what I consider to be art's dual problematic: the place of structure, or form, in the act of creation versus[!] structure's myriad, unpredictable and seemingly inscrutable effects in perception of the object created. In my own mind, this is not unrelated to the deeper dual problematic that can be traced back at least to the pre-Socratics: If the world is one, why does it appear to be many? But then if the world is many, why does it appear to be one?[1]

This is not to suggest there is a puzzle here that can be solved given a puzzle-solver of sufficient genius provided with sufficient information. I'm using the more convoluted noun "problematic" to distinguish it from the way we normally view problems as puzzles. In the way I am using it here, what a problematic describes is a special kind of problem (whether it has actual "solutions" or not is irrelevant) that, by the simple act of working hard at it, drives us to deeper levels of understanding.

[1] "Dual problematics" idea extrapolated from David L. Hall, Eros and Irony; Thinking through Confucius; The Uncertain Phoenix; and others.

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