One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why We Don't Understand Art?

Can you guess, what I am trying to imply in this drawing?

It doesn't surprise us to see a white bear on ice desert of north pole, but it definitely surprise us to see white bears on sandy desert of Sahara. When we visit a zoo, we expect to see animals in the artificial environments, that are close to their natural niches. In contrast, it doesn't surprise us, to find human in any of the environments. Why we don't have any niches as other animals do? Even a school boy can answer that. That is because of our brain. It is the ability of our brain to recognize suitable patterns in any environment and fit in it. An interesting case in how brain is able to find a pattern to difficult problems is the legendary story of Archimedes uncovering of the blacksmith's fraud:

Hiero II, the King of Syracuse, orders a crown to be built of pure gold but when the crown is presented to the king, Hiero suspects that goldsmith has replaced some of the gold in the crown with silver. The king asks Archimedes for help. It was a difficult problem to solve, as it was easy to weigh the crown, but in order to determine the density of gold, Archimedes needed to measure its volume. As crown was in the form of a wreath, it was difficult to determine its volume. Legend has it that when Archimedes stepped into the bath, it caused it overflow. Archimedes notice it and apply this principle to the solve the problem. As gold has a density of 19.3 grams/cubic-centimeter and silver a density of 10.5 grams/cubic-centimeter, the amount of silver mixed into the crown, increases the volume of crown. Now, all Archimedes needed to do was to immerse the crown in a tub and measure how much water was displaced. The volume of displaced water was the volume of the crown. (Archimedes' screw is another interesting example of the ability of brain to solve the problems nature offers) 

The fact is brain faces countless problems on daily basis. The complex nature of communication alone suffices to understand the plasticity and ability of brain in identifying suitable patterns out of complexity and solving the problems so quickly that we don't notice any communication gap. This ability of brain comes from its strategy of simplification. Brain reduce the complexity out there into manageable facts and we can find its extremes in math and science. As Michio Kaku dreams to find the theory of everything that is just one inch long and describes it as, "I want to know how far you can push science until it completely falls apart.".... 

This amazing ability of brain has also a downside. The brain has a habit of clinging to its simplified way of framing something and overtime, this framing is perceived as reality. This is a BIG problem that creates mess. One of good example of this mess is our concepts of "self" and "others". Brain simplify "self" as something that exists independent of others and its interacts with others as independently. If we becomes egoistic at times and do think of ourselves better than others and give ourselves the rights to judge others is because of our misconception of the self based on the habit of brain to simplify everything. The fact is, when one dig deep and deeper into ego, it turns out to be only a mirror of others. The same way that brain simplify "self" as an independent entity with a "freewill", it simplify others as with readily available templates in the form of stereotypes and even simpler it gets when we hate them as it makes things easy to put them in bad category and thinking the world would be a much better place, if they wouldn't exist or if they cease to exist. 

The simplification habit of brain is not just associated with problem solving and deluding our concepts of self and others, but it also lead to duality of reality. While we can find duality in everything but I am more interested in the duality of mind and body as it is the origin of all other duality. As I said earlier, the origin of duality is in the habit of mind to simplify things and we find the irreducible problems of duality in the fields of knowledge that rely in parsimonious simplicity such as math, physics and philosophy (duality-in-math,  duality in physics: Wave-Particle and String-duality, dualism-philosophy) BUT, I see one field doesn't bother about the simplicity much and that is art, either it is copying nature or rebelling against it, in both form, it tries to express (rather than present) reality as it is. These might look more of caricatures of external reality, a time frame or a mental states of artists, but they do not cling to abstract-simplicity and that is why, as much expressive a piece of art becomes, that much it appears meaningless (to simple habit of mind). And that is why, we easily interpret cave arts, but we fail to do it with modern art as our minds get bored with them. 

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