Saturday, October 20, 2007

Human Imperfection

Saturn is currently conjunct the South Node in Virgo opposite the North in Pisces, the axis of perfection, spiritual attainment, and mysticism. Part of the attainment is the acceptance of human imperfection. What can we do anyway? It's amazing that the complex machine called the human body functions as well as it does, with all the flaws and breakdowns. There is a self-healing mechanism and that in itself says that the variations are accounted for.
The same in human society. The criminals, misfits, wrongdoers, and politicians all are part of the self-healing unit. Awhile back we had a fascinating discussion about these imperfections. MPK talked about his rock-climbing experience and how the weak line in the stone allows passage. In the same vein, Tseka, an artist, stated that the flaw in a work allows entry for the viewer and the ability to participate. I knew it was true, and we're not the only ones. I came across an interview with the filmmaker, Jean Renoir, and here are some excerpts.
We know that in the history of arts, the arrival of perfect realism coincided with perfect decadence. I wonder whether man's gift for beauty isn't in spite of himself. His intelligence. What if the tendency to imitate nature is simply a tendency toward ugliness? So imitating nature can only lead to the death of an art form.
He went on to lament the advancements of film technique in which nature could be reproduced with amazing precision, pointing out that technical perfection creates boredom.
The story of my life. I know what he's asking. There must be someplace between reality and fantasy that is ideal, both in art and in life. Renoir continues:

Why is it when technique is primitive, the objects are beautiful, and when technique is perfected, almost everything is ugly? Except things created by an artist talented enough to overcome technique. 

That sounds good, although I'd rather not battle with it at all, if I have a choice. Jean Renoir was a Virgo. Moon in Pisces. 
Painting: Cafe. William Johnson.1934.

16 Comments:

Anonymous Joe said...

This reminds me of my pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs) in which it is said only God could create perfection. Women (and nowadays, men) would pray for God's help before starting the delicate work. Each inadvertent waver or mistake makes the egg unique, as do the individual variations in the shells, dyes and wax processes.

20/10/07 9:03 AM  
Blogger jm said...

I love this joe. Perfect:-)

20/10/07 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Elena said...

omg I think about this all the time!!!after being in art school I struggled with the self-indulgence of art and artists. creation should be veneration, not imitation. I find it almost an insult to nature, when someone tries to create a piece of artwork that is too realistic. I mean what-do you really think you could represent mother earth in a better way than reality?
no wonder artists suffer from a god complex....

20/10/07 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Elena said...

ooh was it you that told that story about native Americans that weave their rugs, and always put one white pearl in the weave as a reminder that nothing is perfect?

20/10/07 4:51 PM  
Blogger jm said...

It was not I but I love the tale!

creation should be veneration, not imitation

Love that one too.

I realized after writing this piece that human nature is part of nature. Therein could be the ugliness referred too and the urge of the artist to transcend.

20/10/07 8:05 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Life is absurd.

I had a bad day, nervous with a storm coming in, and when I got home there was a missed call. The voice message informed me that the lab report was positive for strep. Of course, I never got a smear, not sick, and now I feel infinitely better!
I hope the strep carrier got medication and is feeling better too!

20/10/07 8:10 PM  
Blogger m.p.k. said...

Why is it when technique is primitive, the objects are beautiful, and when technique is perfected, almost everything is ugly? Except things created by an artist talented enough to overcome technique.

I took a year of Karate in college. The sensei drilled into us that "spirit is more important than technique". We practiced the kiai for this. I found this description that describes this knowledge with which they teach the martial arts:

Kiai is a Japanese word and means to employ the karate yell. The yell should come from the lower part of the abdomen, not the vocals. The stomach should expand slightly when giving the kiai.

The kiai serves several functions:

~ to psyche one's opponent

~ to control breathing

~ to find one's rhythm

~ and, simply, breathing out when struck hurts less than breathing in

A teacher looking at a beginning martial art student doesn't so much look for how pretty their kicks are or how well their technique is, but rather their attitude and spirit. A timid person or someone who doesn't think much of themselves may give a weak kiai, where a student with strong spirit tends to give a strong kiai.

source: http://www.redsunacademy.com/

21/10/07 2:45 PM  
Blogger m.p.k. said...

It's funny, I remember little of Karate but I remember the kiai. If I'm ever attacked I will employ it. My instructor said often the sheer surprise an attacker experiences at hearing that scream of power is enough to tip the balance in your favor.

21/10/07 2:48 PM  
Blogger m.p.k. said...

Thinking about this even deeper I realize that when I am full of that firey spirit I don't worry about technique. There have been times when I've been so full of fire that I knew I would not fail or falter. I would say, work on technique but if spirit is weak all the technique in the world isn't going to keep execution from being uninspired. Technique has limits, spirit has none. Spirit wins.

21/10/07 2:56 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Mpk, this is great. You just described singing with the kiai. I first learned placement in the face, the sinus cavities, but the real voice came in when the abdomen let loose. I remember the moment it happened. Most never get to that point. It's locked in the human for some reason. I think it holds fear and part of why people are too obedient. Lacking in self defense.

It seems to me that the abs give strength and power, the upper voice, articulation. I did notice yesterday, though, when playing some tapes of my music that a sequence of low bass notes on the keyboard stopped me in my tracks. My body moved involuntarily and I wanted to do it again immediately. It's fascinating. With some pleasure, once is sufficient, in other instances, repeats are desired.

simply, breathing out when struck hurts less than breathing in

This is fantastic. Thank you. Makes sense. release, moving away from the body. I think the principle can be applied in many many ways. It's connected to nourishment and the sucking impulse, I believe. At some point that can be let go of if trust is acquired. Self confidence.

It's a fascinating dichotomy, the head voice and the chest voice.

21/10/07 3:33 PM  
Blogger jm said...

to find one's rhythm

Yesterday I lost my rhythm and all sorts of complications set in. I finally got it back by going into the sewing room and making one mistake after another on some drapes I was making. Very interesting. The doing and re-doing was better that perfect technique. Very very interesting. I didn't put it together until just now.

21/10/07 3:35 PM  
Blogger jm said...

In some ways I think the human tries to imitate itself. The perfect machine. We live in a technically perfect universe inside of a mechanically well designed body and maybe people are overwhelmed with all the perceived perfection, yet we can't even feed ourselves at first. Can't coordinate anything consciously, yet our little bodies immediately go to work doing a great job. How do we fit into the gears of life? We're perfect despite ourselves. What Renoir was getting at. Somewhere along the line maybe we can recognize this and not try so hard, and ruin everything doing so.

21/10/07 3:47 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

I finally got it back by going into the sewing room and making one mistake after another on some drapes I was making. Very interesting. The doing and re-doing was better that perfect technique.

I wonder if this is why I sometimes get unbelievably stuck when working on eggs. I'm too hung up on doing it "right" in order to match what's in my mind's eye with what's in my hand, and thereby allowing no room for growth through mistakes.

21/10/07 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Elena said...

i just totally made a link about this meme and hyper-realism;another thing that constantly floats in my head. jm I think you would love Baudrillard's writing-mimicking reality in art is his shtick and he talks exactly about the soulesness about such imitation.

21/10/07 7:02 PM  
Blogger jm said...

I'll have to check this out elena. Baudrillard.

I'm too hung up on doing it "right" in order to match what's in my mind's eye with what's in my hand

It's the 2 eyes we were talking about. The seeing eye and the feeling eye. This is exactly what happens to me on the piano. Sometimes I play chords and sequences I've done before, but the best music I play is when I let my hands see and I have no idea where they are going. Absolutely none. It's amazing.

Performance requires rehearsed patterns but I'm working on incorporating this feeling music with it. I've always been able to play like this, but it still astonishes me to "see" my hands go on their own and make beautiful music. Unorganized, free, odd, and fascinating. It can't be done with conscious direction.

The audience wants familiar patterns and I don't know how to break them of this rigid habit. Maybe get their trust and see.

21/10/07 8:31 PM  
Blogger jm said...

Long ago I had a Cancer teen-age friend who was also able to do this. She would come over to my house and in the long desert sunsets play my old grand upright while I soaked it in mesmerized.

Her mother was my voice teacher, classically trained in oratorio, but no one understood her daughter's playing like I did. I think conscious trained music would have been entirely different and the brilliance and shimmer would have been lost. There's an added element of humility when playing like this which probably is a large part of it.

It's more than playing by ear. It's playing completely unscripted. I haven't heard it often. Jazz musicians tried it but missed. Too much ego and competition. When it happens it's the most heavenly sound you can imagine. When it really gets free of conscious remembered patterns.

21/10/07 8:41 PM  

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