Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lohbado Book pages

acrylic and ink on paper

acrylic on paper
Three pages from Lohbado's ongoing painted books, each picture is worth a pile of words.  Lohbado went to the laundry to wash a load of trousers, socks and towels. He read some Husserl, a few pages from Cinq Lessons, about the difference between immediate experience of a phenomena and the way one describes, communicates or contemplates that experience. There’s the level of the experience and then the level of thinking and conceptualization. Adorno suggested that even so-called immediate experience is mediated.

Is there a way to have experience without preconceived notions? One learns to think in a certain way. A newborn baby sees things as a wash of chaotic sensations and gradually learns to sort out forms in space. Maybe immediate experience would be at a chaotic level of sensation, the way a newborn experiences things. The act of sorting out sensations into a coherent picture involves mediation, the process of absorbing ways of seeing and organization from others, from parents, family, friends, teachers and the billions of people inhabiting planet earth.

For example, to take a sip of wine evokes the tradition of wine tasting, or it doesn’t. The non-connoisseur might shrug his or her shoulders and remain indifferent to the taste experience of wine. The non-connoisseur might have been negatively conditioned about wine tasting, viewing it as cultural snobbery. What is the taste of wine without the tradition surrounding the taste sensation? How would one describe it, without making use of language? Language is an example of tradition. Language evolves and continues to evolve through use. There’s the academic discipline of linguistics, involving a study of social protocol or consensus.

Two levels of reality occur: the phenomena, which is immanent, immediate, concrete and the contemplating, thinking or description, which involves abstraction and interaction with others and a going beyond, or transcendence from the particular the universal forms of grammar or reason.  Husserl used the example of a blind person learning a scientific description of vision as opposed to the actual experience of seeing. The experience of seeing occurs on an “immediate” level, while the science of vision is on an abstract level, which goes beyond or “transcends” the immediate act of seeing.

One might laugh at this as being silly talk. Such talk is important for undermining dogmatic certainty. To take apart superstition, dogma, fanaticism and confusion, which interferes with one’s growth or maturation as a human being, involves a process of analysis. It requires one to patiently examine one’s assumptions and the whole process of how one arrives at an opinion or picture of reality. 

It’s not enough to stomp the foot or to declare loudly a spade is a spade, since one’s very ideas of certainty and of spades are conditioned, or mediated concepts. You were taught to react to or think about spades in a certain manner. Perhaps it’s worthwhile to question  the nature of certainty and what makes a thing true. Lots has been written about this over the past two thousand years. It’s not something to dismiss with a gesture of uninformed impatience, or declaration of ignorance.

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