Philosophy Gets Personal

One of the rewards of being interested in a number of different topics is the satisfaction of noting similarities and connections in seemingly disparate areas. For instance, after I re-read The Stranger, by Albert Camusit struck me that the main character had some traits displayed by some autistic individuals. Perhaps the similarity is a trivial coincidence; perhaps by making that observation, I miss the point of the novel, or maybe it adds an entirely different meaning to the book.  At any rate, I enjoy being able to overlay points of view from my own experiences on new ideas I encounter.

Portraying personal philosophical arguments

I was surprised to learn in Plato at the Googleplex (Goldstein), one of the books I am reading, that Plato cast the participants in his dialogs as real people. As real people, they bring their personal style of argument to the fore. Goldstein considers this form of writing remarkable, in that Plato, while using personal arguments, did not mean to say that truth is personal (Goldstein pg. 39).

Personal artistic style

This struck me as similar to the advice that Paul Klee and Hans Hofmann gave to their students in creating their own works of art. Klee maintained that the creative energy within the artist is transformed by a linkage from the brain to the hand and resonates with the medium, resulting in the creation of a personal work. Hofmann also posited that the empathy of the artist (inner vision) is a key ingredient necessary for creating a work of art.

It is comforting to know from his writing style, that Plato fostered the idea that differing personal arguments can contribute to the construction of a single truth. The analog of this statement as applied to the creative arts is that each artist brings his or her inner vision or resonation between mind and medium, to bear in revealing a single personal truth.

I know this is analogy is faulty, unless one considers the postmodern standpoint.

Goldstein’s book is inspiring me to learn more about philosophy, so it is less ‘Greek’ to me.

Today’s experiments:

First study:

My first study is the watercoloring of yesterday’s pen and ink drawing:

Watercolor Sketch - Multi-leaved Arthur the Avocado Tree

Multi-leaved Arthur Watercolored
4″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

It came out less contrasty than I had hoped. Perhaps a darker color between the fence slats would have made the foreground stand out more.

Second study:

I am rather pleased with this study. My aim was to represent Arthur, but with Paul Klee’s teachings in mind.

I drew the essence of Arthur, my pet avocado, with his two baby leaves that fell off (the lower set of leaves), his newer leaves at a higher level and finally, the proliferation of his newest leaves at the very top.

Watercolor Sketch - Arthur and Bird

Arthur and Bird
4″x6″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I drew Arthur with one line. I am proud of that fact and that the drawing seems to reveal at least one truth about Arthur.

The humming bird was an afterthought, and I put it in (also with one continuous line) to balance the composition. That may not have been a correct decision. However, all in all, I think it works.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Plato at the Googleplex. New York: Pantheon Books 2014

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