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April 10, 2020


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This is a particularly awesome post. My response is way too long to type out on my iPhone. I’m going to get my laptop and write about what struck me most—science provides the building blocks for art and art is what gives science wings.

Sometimes it surprises me that people put Science and Art in different camps. Perhaps Scientists and Artists look at the world very differently in general. But I find people usually have a lot more in common with each other than they realize. Deeply ingrained concepts, prejudices, limited personal experience and just plain semantics often create unnecessary barriers. However, regardless of whether we identify ourselves as more scientifically minded or more artistically inclined, we still all experience the world through our five senses. (Six senses if you’re so inclined...)

What’s interesting about the science/art relationship is Art seems to represent desire and Science represents design. Some would argue otherwise, but I’ll explain...

With a little extra time on my hands (and needing something to cheer me up) I just started this “Favorite Things” journal. I have multiple tabs for different categories like Movies, Books, Music, Foods, Desserts, Snacks, Vacations, Natural Wonders, and on and on.

It’s such an energizing and relaxing and exciting project—an ongoing thing obviously. Just pick it up whenever I have time. But I’ve gained a few profound insights from this simple project. It reminds me how much there is to enjoy in life. Mostly they are small things. It gets me out of the daily checklist mindset and reminds me to make tasks more enjoyable (like why am I not listening to music right now or burning incense or candles). Why have I taken the art out of my daily to do’s. Artful living is a practice. It almost takes discipline to create a fun, enjoyable or relaxing environment. We’re so perfunctory in general.

The other thing I realized is that all of the things I like—other people’s creations are pretty much a big part of my own identity even though I played no role in the creation of most of the things I love (including my favorite people). Very little about me is really “me”. I identify with the things I love. I think that’s a natural human tendency.

The last and most profound part was that the list of favorite things didn’t include anything from the periodic table but none of my favorite things could have been made if those elements didn’t exist.

We say, “That’s my favorite flower—it has the most beautiful aroma!” (Stargazer Lily in my case) but we don’t list photosynthesis as a favorite thing. I guess what I’m getting at is we really do experience everything in color. We experience life in color. To me, color is everything as an artist. But behind the color are the waves and particles and all the biology involved in giving us the vision to see those colors.

Evolutionary changes in DNA is science being creative and adapting to changes in the environment. Nature contains myriads of analogies that we use to explain difficult concepts to others. Perhaps there is nothing new under the sun, but we couldn’t possibly see, do or experience every single thing under the sun even if we had a million lifetimes. That’s why we will always be able to enjoy the gifts of wonderment, discovery and mystery... and the Great Unknown.

"With this perspective the arts join language, story, myth, and religion as the means by which the human mind thinks symbolically, reasons counterfactually, imagines freely, and works collaboratively. Over the sweep of time, it is these capacities that have given rise to our culturally, scientifically, and technologically rich world."

I'm glad the author mentions religion since I tend to think religious ceremonies and rituals are some of the most beautiful forms of art, and that they have contributed more to human development and culture than secular art. Immeasurably more.

My appreciation for the ornate beauty of a traditional Church, or the peace in the synchronized bowing of a group of Muslims has increased over the years even as my faith in any particular religion has decreased. One of the main attractions of Tibetan buddhism has always been the art, I suspect. Most of what we call secular humanism seems to come directly from Christianity as well, although that idea is disputed by those who seem to want to deny their own lack of originality and roots.

Many have argued that the 3 Abrahamic faiths historically contributed so much to art and science because they all believe in a God who made a world of laws which man can and must attempt to understand. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a lot of truth to this belief. As we see today, the decline of religion corresponds to all sorts of really bad and destructive art, and a total mockery of the scientific process. Maybe the relationship is coincidental. Who knows.

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