Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Bosch Belt

The New York Times headline on the Bosch show: "Art Gone to Hell."

The headline reveals the kind of  keyhole view of reality  binary thought demands. Binary thought assumes dichotomous, either-or thought is the fundament of reality. Such logic is a necessary tool for the progress of mankind, the progress which most call civilization--- air-conditioning for example. An example Jan Cox used was inventing a mill to make water go uphill. This invention required, besides genius at some point, dividing the external world into pieces and then reorganizing the pieces. Each piece is either this or that. A rock is not a tree. Binary thought makes technological invention possible and thus man's comfort and modern connections, and the means to fulfill some dreams. Like getting off the planet. We do this with binary thought and we would be nowhere without such logic.  I reference this headline, "Art Gone to Hell," as an example of binary thought, because it tells us that Bosch's figures of bizarre composition are viewed from a very narrow perspective. The headline may suppose some tension between binary logic and actual reality from which it is drawn.

The fact is binary logic is a tool. The internal world allows a more complex reality, than a tool perspective does, one where things are part of each other. Pictures of a head with feet, a Bosch trope,  can be more accurate summary of the actual world, than the bits and pieces left over from the operations of binary thought, where logic has no way of explaining connections.

Back to the subject today. The art of Hieronymus Bosch is not a vision of hell, but a world in which the connections of everything is playfully celebrated. Surely someone has written about this: many of his figures represent medieval assumptions and designs. We might get a more sophisticated view of the artist's genius if we focused on his position at the dwindling of the medieval era. There was something incredible going on in Dutch art then. I have not the words now to express this peculiar genius in which Bosch shared. My guess is that the way forward in understanding his art is to broaden our knowledge of the era, and of ourselves.

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