*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
My earlier work had taught me that artistic activity is a form of reasoning, in which perceiving and thinking are indivisibly intertwined. A person who paints, writes, composes, dances, I felt compelled to say, thinks with his senses. This union of perception and thought turned out to be not merely a specialty of the arts. A review of what is known about perception, and especially about sight, made me realize that the remarkable mechanisms by which the senses understand the environment are all but identical with the operations described by the psychology of thinking. Inversely, there was much evidence that truly productive thinking in whatever area of cognition takes place in the realm of imagery. This similarity of what the mind does in the arts and what it does elsewhere suggested taking a new look at the long-standing complaint about the isolation and neglect of the arts in society and education. Perhaps the real problem was more fundamental: a split between sense and thought, which caused various deficiency diseases in modern man.
Rudolph Arnheim in Visual Thinking
Comments are welcome!
Q: At the end of last Saturday’s (September 28th) post you mentioned something called, “Esala Perahera.” What is that?
A: My trip to Sri Lanka was timed so that I could observe it first hand. Here is a description from the “Insight Guide to Sri Lanka:”
The lunar month of Esala is a month for festivals and peraheras all around the island. Easily the finest and the most famous is the Esala Perahera held at Kandy over the ten days leading up to the Esala Poya (full moon) day (late July or early August). The festival dates back to ancient Anuradhapura, when the Tooth Relic (of the Buddha) was taken through the city in procession, and the pattern continues to this day, with the relic carried at the head of an enormous procession which winds its way round and round the city by night. The perahera becomes gradually longer and more lavish over the 10 days of the festival, until by the final night it has swollen to include a cast of hundreds of elephants and thousands of dancers, drummers, fire-eaters, acrobats, and many others – an extraordinary sight without parallel anywhere else in Sri Lanka, if not the whole of Asia.
I would go further and add that the Esala Perahera is one of the world’s great festivals. Who could ever imagine such a spectacle? It may be a cliché to say it, but travel is ultimately the best education.
Comments are welcome!