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    Eseuri: Stefan Arteni. The East-Central European Cultural Model. 8
    Scris la Thursday, January 07 @ 14:38:49 CET de catre asymetria
    Etnografie The question is, what kind of reality does man possess? How is cultural knowledge organized within and between human minds? As a theory of knowledge, the notion of a ‘mind map’ has a long background in the history of modern philosophy. One of the first proponents was Giambattista Vico who wrote: “Man, having within himself an imagined World of lines and numbers, operates in it with abstractions, just as God, in the universe, did with reality”. The expression "the map is not the territory" first appeared in a paper that Alfred Korzybski read at the 1931 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans.

    Stefan Arteni

    The East-Central European Cultural Model. 8 . The Mind Map.

     
    Motto.

    A stylistic matrix cooperates in defining a People as much as blood or language. It may thrive or decline, but when it is extinguished, the People also has been wiped out.

                         (Lucian Blaga)

     
    Overwhelmed by the deep thirst for perfect forms…

                         (Mihai Eminescu)

     
     
    The question is, what kind of reality does man possess? How is cultural knowledge organized within and between human minds? As a theory of knowledge, the notion of a ‘mind map’ has a long background in the history of modern philosophy. One of the first proponents was Giambattista Vico who wrote: “Man, having within himself an imagined World of lines and numbers, operates in it with abstractions, just as God, in the universe, did with reality”. The expression "the map is not the territory" first appeared in a paper that Alfred Korzybski read at the 1931 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Orleans.

     
    Lucian Blaga’s thought does move along these same lines, coalescing in the concept of stylistic matrix. In the mid-1930s he wrote “Horizon and Style” and “Genesis of the Metaphor and the Sense of Culture”. Below are excerpts from “Horizon and Style”. We have chosen these passages because they provide the context for findings which later researcher will deepen and expatiate upon.  Says Blaga:
    “The phenomenon of style, seedling with saps as weighty as blood, has its roots planted in nests located beyond light. Style comes forth, it is true, in connection with man’s conscious concerns, but the forms it takes are only very slightly connected with the order of conscious purposes. An inceptive tree, with roots in another homeland, style draws its nourishment from over there, incontrollable and owing no tithe. Style comes into being unintended, unknown, it partially enters the light cone of consciousness, as a message from the empire of
    above-light, or as a magic creature from the great and dark saga of telluric life…
    …Such a constellation of factors, of a considerable innermost resonance, may establish itself in the human unconscious, gaining here the function of a determinative manifold. The stylistic structure of an individual’s or of a collectivity’s creations, will bear the seal of such an unconscious manifold. For such a manifold, we propose the term ‘stylistic matrix’...
    …For by means of the unconscious horizons and of the stylistic matrix we find ourselves anchored, in an undreamt-of measure, into an anonymous life”.

     
     
    The passage below has been selected from Blaga’s “Genesis of the Metaphor and the Sense of Culture”:
    "….For reasons of cosmic balance, and maybe in order for man to be maintained in an unending creative state, in any case to the advantage of existence and man, he was refused, through the agency  of a transcendent censorship imposed structurally to knowledge, the possibility of positively and absolutely containing the world's mysteries …As long as we consider the intellectual categories (the idea of substance, of causality, etc.) to be moments and structures imposed to the human spirit, due to a transcendent censorship, we think we are entitled to make the statement that abyssal, stylistic categories may also be considered integrant moments of a transcendent control. The stylistic matrix, the abyssal categories, are transcendent halts…”

     
    No doubt Blaga is right to claim that Dinge an Sich or things-in- themselves are inaccessible to direct inquiry. In the excerpts above we can see how in just a few broad strokes Blaga gets from the scarcely fathomable mystery of a culture-specific living map to the recursive dynamic of cultural memory, from the acquisition and validation of knowledge to outlining a philosophy of culture, and how he seeks to integrate into a single framework anthropology and epistemology, a new epistemology, consonant with  developments which will occur elsewhere, many years later.

     
    Many readers will recall that in the first part of this essay we mentioned Roy D’Andrade. Roy Goodwin D'Andrade, one of the founders of the subdiscipline of cognitive anthropology, proposes a succinct description:  a cultural model scenario is defined by a cognitive schema that is intersubjectively shared by a social group. A cognitive schema is “a conceptual structure which makes the identification of objects and events possible. Schemas form the reality-defining system of the human and provide information about what states of the world can be and should be pursued”, writes D’Andrade in his 1992 “Schemas and Motivations”. In his 1987 “A folk model of the mind”, he asserts:  “…schema is an interpretation which is frequent, well organized, memorable, which can be made from minimal clues ….This model can be called a ‘folk’ model both because it is a statement of the common sense understandings that people use in ordinary life and because it contrasts with various ‘specialized and scientific’ models “. As Michael Kimmel underscores, "every cognitive cultural template is chosen against a ground of other possibilities."

     
    Within the aggregate of the ideas that grew together after World War II, constructivism (not to be confused with the artistic movement known as constructivist) and cybernetics became the unifying master notions, especially the transdisciplinary framework of second-order cybernetics. Simply put, second-order cybernetics includes the observer in the process observed.

     
    Constructivism, the cornerstone of second-order cybernetics, entails the idea that there is no objective representation of the real world, that it is impossible to tell to what degree knowledge reflects an ontological reality: the mind cannot “mirror” reality. There is only a viable relation between ontological reality and the/an/our constructed model of reality. Ernst von Glasersfeld writes:  "Knowledge does not reflect an objective, ontological reality but exclusively an ordering and organization of a world constituted by our experience…To the constructivist, concepts, models, theories, and so on are viable if they prove adequate in the contexts in which they were created".

     
    Regarding the culture-specific mind map, Humberto Maturana argues that this knowledge generation based on an autopoietic model is constructed within the consensual domain of a self-organizing networked social system: "...the participants of a consensual domain of interactions operate in their consensual behaviour making consensual distinctions of their consensual distinctions, in a process that recursively makes a consensual action a consensual token for a consensual distinction that it obscures." Maturana underscores the recursive dynamic of cultural memory: “In recursion, something new arises”. In sum, the mind map is brought forth by computing a reality which can secure its own paradoxical dynamic stability-change.

     
    "Cultures, semantic, epistemological communities, serve as… pools of distinctions…and any of these is highly normatively oriented…As in visual perception where we cannot evade the blindspot of seeing, our social construction of meaningful environments is dominated by the blindspot of our cultural distinctions…” writes S. J. Schmidt. He continues: “Signs do not refer to objects in reality but to our interpreted activities in culture, that is to communication…The reference problem is…a problem of semiotic material…versus the collective knowledge concerning the handling and interpretation of semiotic operations”.

     
    In a private communication dated December 1, 2009, Petru Ursache remarks: “The mentioned researchers are our companions in the realm of similar ideas. They are gathered together on the scholarly plane of semiotics.  We, on the other hand, probe also the way of religiousness, for our being is more lyrical and contemplative”. First of all, art making should be thought of as enstasis, for, as Mircea Eliade once said, “originally, all art was sacred”.

     
    The two Latin words  formosus and  forma (form, mold, shape) are etymollogicaly related. This also occurs in a few languages of Latin origin: Italian (formoso), Spanish (hermoso) and Romanian (frumos). In his “Ethnosofy”, Petru Ursache highlights this very fact:
    “… in [the] Romanian [language], the Beautiful is a concept of form”.

     
    Ursache continues by stating that art becomes a re-enactment of, a return to the time of origins: “His art...is an actualization of Genesis. God made the world only once and then rested peacefully; the human being has adopted both the model and the lesson within the ritual tempos of work and has added something of his own”.

     
    In his “Ethnoaesthetics”, Ursache describes artistic proficiency as a gift:
    “The expressions ‘I say’, ‘I make’, ‘I paint’, have meanings different from those mentioned in dictionaries, they speak of craft as a gift bestowed on the one who invents a song, the model of a building, the image on an icon…”

     
    He continues, underscoring the fact that only through kenosis is one able to feel the peak experiences of art:
    “…the singers wandering through villages…had to swear an oath binding them forever to song and poverty. This is a kenotic self-sacrifice, by means of which the genius is united with the saint…”

     
    A few pages later, Ursache states that  the structure of symbols is grounded in ontic immediacy:
    “Besides the fact that he never coveted somebody else’s land, the Romanian transformed his own territory into a philosophical and existential category (the stylistic matrix), and essentialized it though symbols with an ontic value”.

     
    Cybernetics has circularity, circular interlocking, recursiveness, as its central concern, though as Gregory Bateson pointed out, circularity does not mean a precise circle in which events repeat themselves in the same circular path.  “This important theme is discussed in Bateson's concept of aesthetics. In his writing - unique in modern scholarship - aesthetic unity, incorporating a sense of the sacred,  lies at the interface between the named (the maps) [our means of describing the world arises out of notions of difference (or what G. Spencer Brown's “Laws of Form” calls ‘distinction’ and ‘indication’),]   and the unnamed (territory). Aesthetics is the unifying glimpse that makes us aware of the unity not able to be described in prose or prosaic consciousness. The sacred is the ‘integrated fabric of mental processes that envelops all our lives.' The sacred implies tacit recognition that there are gaps; that the maps that we create will never provide a complete description of the territory. The essence of communication lies in the relationship between perceptual redundancy (which creates pattern{s}), metaphor, which cognitively links levels, and the sacred which lies at the interface of map and territory. Thus the sacred implies tacit recognition of an immanent aesthetic unity derived through current practices which embody patterns of relations…Aesthetic wholes derive from ‘the pattern which connects.’…Redundancy is a vital clue to patterning [- the patterns that connect and their recursive nature -];  it involves convention, habit, repetition and practice”. [Kathy M'Closkey, “Towards an Understanding of Navajo Aesthetics”, http://www.library.utoronto.ca/see/SEED/Vol4-1/M'Closkey.htm ]

     
    Through the idea of distinctions one sees how the outwardly figurative work actually proceeds on two different levels at once, explicitly on the embedded level of a demonstrative iconography proclaiming its progression, and then within the actual material stratum, where one finds the concrete realm of marks and surfaces that traverse this progression, restoring its deeper sense in a succession of apparently disordered (or differently ordered) color and texture areas.  The movement of drawing distinctions, then, as a key to viewing the work, is not somewhere behind the image.  It takes shape, rather, as something manifest, visible, quite literally as the form of form.  Configuration moments, color moments, and finally figural moments,  are  bound by internal axiological relations.  There is a logic of distinctions, for distinctions amount to a certain way of thinking, an experience of life that carries a subterranean socio-cultural context, perceptual and cognitive sets, frames of reference and selection.

     
    In his „Horizon and Syle”, Blaga affirms: ”Nisus formativus is the appetite for form, the invincible need to stamp on all things lying in the area of human enactment, on all things which are in touch with our formative virtues, the need, we say, to stamp on all things within our imaginary horizon forms articulated in the spirit of an insistent consistency...”

     
    In „The Mioritic Space”, Blaga explains the essence of the mioritic stylistic matrix. He writes: ”The appetite for form appears...as an orientation toward geometric and  elemental forms...all is achieved with an astonishing sense for nuance...The rest is – fate...
    ...Romanian folk art excels...through a conspicuous stylistic consistency… …through measure and rhythm manifest in the distribution of motifs…The void is not sensed…as a shortcoming…but as a necessary medium for the articulation of a rhythm… In his ornamental art, the Romanian villager went for a recti-linear geometrism…
    …Our tradition is our stylistic matrix…A separation from it would signify apostasy…
    …The thirst quenching jug will always be adorned with an ageless design, and the wall, no matter how desolate because of misfortune, will always carry an icon”.

     
    In the same book, Blaga also deals with the appropriation of ‘empty’ signs: “Borrowed motifs lose their initial purpose, gaining in Romanian productions a new function”. An alien sign system is ‘empty’, it can be viewed as just a formalization system and it can be appropriated.  The sign as form becomes progressively cut off from its origin, it may be integrated in a different whole as an empty sign.

     
    A practical way of describing the actual realization of the artwork is to borrow the terms applied to G. Spencer-Brown’s Calculus of Distinctions (Distinctions Ontology), a non-numerical mathematics of form.  One may speak about the void and the distinctions in the void, a process that seems closely akin to Matisse’s description of the actual act of drawing.   The design of such an art-view must be recursive, it must be able to return to where it started and re-plobematize its starting point. It all gets even more visual with Louis Kauffman: “In all cases, the mark stands for a distinction, but just how that distinction is distinct in its particular context is a matter of local articulation…The act of drawing a distinction involves a circulation as in drawing a circle…Self-reference and reference are intimately intertwined…One keeps returning to the mystery of how ‘it’ emerged from ‘nothing.’ ”

     
    In his “Ethnoaesthetics”, Petru Ursache speaks of the geometry and the subtleness of nuances inherent in Romanian visual art - color harmony is the reenactment of the central theme of the mioritic worldview, the relation of the multiple to the One, a qualitative scale of the sensible where other units may be situated as ‘transitions’ or ‘nuances’:
    “One of the characteristics of Cucuteni painting, and of Romanian painting in general, is the tacit dialogue between line and color…The second characteristic of folk art regards the particular way of the evolution of color and line within the compositional space: the former tends toward nuance, the latter toward the non-figurative…”

     
    We shall conclude these remarks with another brief excerpt from Petru Ursache’s “Ethnoaesthetics”:
    “‘…’God geometrizes’, says C..Noica. Order is the condition of the cosmos…by cosmos the Greeks also meant ornament, an ideal model of harmony where mathematics and music meet”.

     Stefan Arteni

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