Search Results for representation
Representation in both the literary and artistic sense refers to depicting through language, music, visual art or dance some psychological, social, political or spiritual idea or environment.
C. G. Jung believed that representation was essential to the healthy growth of the psyche. He envisioned the conscious ego as a relatively small entity that must, through representation, express and therefore control the immense powers of the archetypes of the collective unconscious.
Postmoderns question to what degree representation actually represents some supposed thing and to what degree the process of representation creates it. Further distinctions are made in anthropology, philosophy and theology between second-order, conceptual realities and first-order sense datum.
In abstract art some believe that the personality and personal message of the artist can be removed from the overall representational message, whereas others say this is impossible–i.e. the artist, artwork and viewer will always exist in some kind of relationship.
In Platonic philosophy and much of the theology of the Middle Ages questions were raised as to the possibility of eternal, unchanging essences or ideas which are imperfectly represented in our world of change and decay.
» Active Imagination, Archetypal Image, Barthes (Roland), Bultmann (Rudolf), Cockburn (Bruce), Durkheim (Emile), Emic-Etic, Icon, Object, Participation Mystique, Surrealism, Wittgenstein, Ludwig (Josef Johann), Yoni
Hieronymus Bosch (Originally Jerome van Aken, 1450-1516) was a Catholic Painter from the Netherlands born in Hertogenbosch. Later in life he was suspected of heresy, which is not surprising, considering the times and the nature of much of his work.
Bosch’s depictions of demons and hell are horridly convincing, perhaps enough to compel some of the most hardened of sinners to repent and pray.
The contemporary treatment of Bosch’s work is illustrative. Prestigious art galleries display his frightening and gruesome representations without any public protest while fundamentalist and conservative religious persons point to the alleged debauchery and danger in rock and rap music videos, seeing these as indicative of a decline in cultural morality.
This arguably is a form of hypocrisy and, perhaps, racism against black rappers. In any case, it illustrates how societies, or certain aspects of a given society, can be arbitrary and selective when pointing the proverbial finger.
Many people don’t realize that representing evil doesn’t necessarily mean that an artist (or writer) advocates evil. In fact, C. G. Jung argued the opposite. Jung believed that evil left unrepresented or “swept under the rug” just reemerges in equally disgusting forms—a point that many religious persons and pillars of society sometimes overlook.¹
Among Bosch’s most popular works are The Garden of Earthly Delights (in the Prado) and the Temptation of St Anthony (at Lisbon). Bosch also had a noticeable impact on Surrealism.
Interestingly enough, there’s ongoing debate over how many of Bosch’s works were actually created by Bosch. He only signed seven works and art scholars agree on a mere 25 that they believe can be attributed to him. Many other works once thought to be Bosch’s are now thought to be those of his followers and imitators, his style being hugely influential.
¹ A similar dynamic occurred with satirical writings and dialogues of Erasmus (1466 – 1536). Martin Luther denounced Erasmus’ Ten Colloquies and vowed to tell his son not to read them. Even some of Erasmus’ friends and patrons didn’t like some of his work. Craig Thompson notes that, in his defense, Erasmus distinguished between (a) content appropriate for characters and dramatic situations and (b) an author’s actual opinions. See Erasmus, Ten Colloquies, trans. Craig R. Thompson 1986, MacMillan, pp. xxv – xxvii.
Related Posts » Projection
- ArtSmart Roundtable – Hieronymus Bosch: Morality and Monsters (daydreamtourist.com)
- +Tree Man Larger by Hieronymus Bosch from Garden of Earthly Delights (largerhieronymusgardenearthlydelightsg1sale.wordpress.com)
- Imagine No Religion. Here’s What It Looks Like. (bigthink.com)
- Ben Moore’s ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven 2013′ And ‘Hell’ by Hieronymus Bosch (ukgovernmentwatch.wordpress.com)
- Hieronymus Bosch-Inspired Portrait of Joan Rivers (galleryoftheabsurd.com)
Behaviorism is a psychological theory that sees mankind as operating more like a machine than as a free agent. Its modern form arose in reaction to so-called armchair philosophers, depth psychologists and alleged mystics who tried to understand human motivation in terms of what went on inside the mind or soul. For behaviorists, what really counts is what we can directly observe—in a word, behavior.
This approach is traceable to thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke David Hume, George Berkeley and David Hartley. Hobbes viewed man as a natural and social creature, while the others stressed the importance of the association of ideas.
In 1739, the so-called British empiricist philosopher David Hume wrote in A Treatise of Human Nature:
The qualities, from which…association arises, and by which the mind is after this manner conveyed from one idea to another, are three, viz. resemblance, contiguity in time or place, and cause and effect.¹
Most will say that the scientific study of behaviorism begins with the Russian, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), who conditioned dogs to salivate not just at the sight of food but also at the sound of a bell that preceded feeding.
The American psychologist J. B. Watson (1878-1958) generalized these findings to human beings, emphasizing the importance of recency and frequency. This means that if we’ve smiled every time we’ve seen a child for the past ten years, we’re very likely to smile if we see a child today. The American B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) extended this system to include the idea of positive and negative reinforcement.
Pavlov’s type of learning is usually called classical conditioning, while Skinner’s is called operant conditioning. Skinner soon became the most popular advocate of behaviorism. He argues that past reinforcements determine behavior. We learn to repeat or decline behaviors based on their consequences. This is called the Stimulus-Response-Reinforcement (S-R-R) model.
Skinner also formulated the idea of shaping. By controlling the environmental rewards and punishments for behaviors, one is able to shape behavior. Psychologist also call this behavior modification.
Critics of behaviorism say it depicts a soulless, mechanistic view of mankind. Instead of resembling a pleasure-seeking machine, critics say that human beings are uniquely free, replete with emotional, intuitive, intellectual and spiritual concerns extending well beyond the narrow confines of reward and punishment.
Daniel Dennett contends that human beings are Skinnerian, Popperian and also Darwinian creatures. This means that we learn from stimulus, response and reinforcement but we also have the inner ability to test our hypotheses prior to enacting them in the real world.
This challenges Skinner’s anti-mentalism, as does Dennett’s Darwinian component. According to Dennett we act partially in accord with ancestrally acquired knowledge. A good example of this can be found in our capacity for language. Because of our language skills, many believe that human beings are hard-wired to learn languages. And we do, in fact, learn language if we’re raised in the right kind of environment, whereas a child parented by wolves in the wild won’t learn how to speak a language.²
¹ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature London: Collins, 1962 , p. 54.
² Wittgenstein’s notion of a private language might seem to challenge this idea. But Wittgenstein, himself, argues that any kind of representation that isn’t socially shared cannot truly be language. More recently, the postmodern notion of connotation complicates this claim. Some postmoderns ask: If everyone understands signs differently, are we really communicating?
- Today’s Birthday: BURRHUS FREDERIC “B.F.” SKINNER (1904) (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- Ep 191: What Was B. F. Skinner Really Like? (thepsychfiles.com)
- Positive Reinforcement and the General Public (ayahska.wordpress.com)
- New Textbook! Behavior Analysis and Learning, 5th Edition (psypress.com)
- 4 Fantastic Thinkers Who Helped to Shape Psychology (whatispsychology.biz)
- David Hume: Reason is Dead(ness) (pathtothepossible.wordpress.com)
- Artificial Artificial Intelligence (smashingboxes.com)
- “Networked Minds” Require A Fundamentally New Kind of Economics (videolectures.net)
- B.F. Skinner: The Man Who Taught Pigeons to Play Ping-Pong and Rats to Pull Levers (blogs.smithsonianmag.com)
- Behaviorism 101 (ronnekafrasergreen.wordpress.com)
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was a French semiologist, best known for his book Mythologies (1957). Barthes argued that most of what we assume to be natural could be products of history and culture. More specifically, linguistic and artistic representations play a crucial role in the naturalization of arbitrary and morally ambiguous historical events.
By way of example, politically active gay persons usually challenge the following argument:
Homosexuality is ethically bad because it is unnatural, and heterosexuality is ethically good because it is natural.
Critics will say that, according to this line of reasoning, a deadly rattlesnake could be good for children because it is natural. And this seems a valid critique of this kind of argument. Regardless of one’s beliefs about the joys or horrors of homosexuality, to challenge it with this type of reasoning is philosophically weak.
Barthes also makes a distinction between readerly and writerly text, outlined well at Wikipedia:
A text that makes no requirement of the reader to “write” or “produce” their own meanings. The reader may passively locate “ready-made” meaning. Barthes writes that these sorts of texts are “controlled by the principle of non-contradiction” (156), that is, they do not disturb the “common sense,” or “Doxa,” of the surrounding culture. The “readerly texts,” moreover, “are products [that] make up the enormous mass of our literature” (5). Within this category, there is a spectrum of “replete literature,” which comprises “any classic (readerly) texts” that work “like a cupboard where meanings are shelved, stacked, [and] safeguarded” (200).
A text that aspires to the proper goal of literature and criticism: “… to make the reader no longer a consumer but a producer of the text” (4). Writerly texts and ways of reading constitute, in short, an active rather than passive way of interacting with a culture and its texts. A culture and its texts, Barthes writes, should never be accepted in their given forms and traditions. As opposed to the “readerly texts” as “product,” the “writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages” (5). Thus reading becomes for Barthes “not a parasitical act, the reactive complement of a writing,” but rather a “form of work”¹
However, this distinction seems spurious, for readers are always interpreting and creating as they take in a text, regardless of if being a so-called “classic” text or an “avante-garde” text. In fact, avant garde texts usually emerge within some new kind of clique or arts group that can be just as “bourgeois” as traditional groups. This was made abundantly clear whenever I attended a Cultural Studies class in university, which usually reeked with the snobbery of style exuded by some students living on their wealthy parents’ credit cards.
¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Barthes#Key_terms. See more on this distinction here: http://www.arts.uwaterloo.ca/~raha/700_701_web/BarthesLO/readerly.html
- Jean A. Baudrillard (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Creed (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- What Every Writer Must Know: Image, Music, Text (josvensson.wordpress.com)
- “I have tried t… (epitomeofmediocrity.wordpress.com)
- From Memory Scarcity to Memory Abundance (thefrailestthing.com)
- MartinJ’s #CBR5 review #1: Mythologies by Roland Barthes (cannonballread5.wordpress.com)
- ‘Finnegans Wake’ Follows Tocqueville Onto Chinese Best-Seller List (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- The Sound of Photography, The Noise of Time (michaeljkramer.net)
- A Lover’s Discourse (themillions.com)
Bruce Cockburn (1945 – ) is a Canadian, Ottawa-born folk and rock musician. He sang about Christianity through natural metaphors well before it was considered cool to do so. Despite this, Cockburn managed to survive and even thrive in the Canadian record industry.
In one interview¹, he said that it’s fine to sing about God, but if the music’s not happening, then the message doesn’t really connect. This was probably an oblique reference to the contemporary Christian pop of the time, so much of it being formulaic and arguably not too original, musically speaking.
At cockburnproject.net he’s quoted as saying:
I am a Christian songwriter. I just don’t fit the Christian music scene.
As the years went by, Cockburn became increasingly critical of what he saw as hypocritical political and religious practices. In “The Gospel of Bondage” (1988) he denounces the selective use of Biblical quotations to justify questionable acts:
God won’t be reduced to an ideology…God must be on the side of right, not the side that justifies itself in terms of might.
Perhaps due to music’s unique ability to move the body and arouse passion, his “Rocket Launcher” (1984) single was sharply criticized:
If I had a rocket launcher… Some son of a bitch would die.
Cockburn responded to his critics by saying there’s a difference between (a) the artistic representation of anger and (b) advocating angry practices (see sublimation).
With regard to “Rocket Launcher” he claimed to merely represent his outrage in response to the bloodshed of innocents in South America.
Signing with the SONY label, Cockburn’s sound became bigger but he never really cracked the American market as, perhaps, anticipated.
Back with his former True North label, however, his electronically enhanced acoustic sound has returned, along with some noteworthy retro-style experimentation.
Like Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bryan Adams, Alanis Morisette, Celine Dione, Glenn Gould and Justin Bieber, Cockburn is something of a culture hero in a country that is finally growing out of its national identify crisis.²
The following tune, “Wondering Where the Lions Are” is a reference to the Old Testament story of Daniel in the Lions Den and, according to Wikipedia, is his most popular single to date on the US but not the Canadian charts.³
¹ From a magazine article. Source cannot be located. Probably somewhere between the late 80s and the new millennium. In recent decades, Christian pop has undergone a serious reboot, some of which is arguably just as “cool” or “good” as anything else out there.
² This was especially prevalent in the 1980s, when entire university departments in the Humanities spent countless hours (and taxpayers dollars) looking at how Canada differed from the US and beyond.
- Michael Buble, Deadmau5 And Bruce Cockburn Honoured For Songwriting (contactmusic.com)
- Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award (o.canada.com)
- Bruce Cockburn…a creativity to help us see (thewearypilgrim.typepad.com)
- Ottawa’s Bruce Cockburn to receive SOCAN lifetime achievement award (vancouversun.com)
- Mary Had A Baby by Bruce Cockburn – Christmas Songs 2012 Day 21 (garyware.me)
- Bruce Cockburn, deadmau5 feted at SOCAN gala (cbc.ca)
- “People see through you” Bruce Cockburn (jeffrozier.wordpress.com)
In Catholicism cherubim are angels of the second highest order in a hierarchy of nine. The word cherubim is most likely derived from several variants of an Akkadian word, karibu, meaning “great, powerful, mighty,” “one who prays, intercessor” and “gatekeepers.”¹ St. Gregory says the name indicates “the fullness of knowledge.”
Cherubim appear quite often the Bible. Some notable instances are:
- Cherubim guard the gate at the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24)
- Cherubim are gold figures forming the throne of God on the Ark of the covenant (Exodus 25: 18-20)
- Cherubim decorate Solomon’s temple (I Kings 6: 29)
- Cherubim guard the King of Tyre in Ezekiel (Ez. 28)
- Cherubim are a mount for God in Samuel (Sam 22:11).
Artistic representations and mythological ideas pointing to the idea of cherubim in the ancient world are also numerous. Archeological discoveries related to cherubim have been uncovered at Nimrud, Byblos, Nineveh and Samaria, among other places. It was not until renaissance times that cherubim came to be depicted as chubby, winged children.²
¹ Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, ed. Allen C. Myers, 1987, p. 204.
- The Ark (ghettoscorner.wordpress.com)
- His Presence is in the Present (iwanttobelieveingod.com)
- P is for Putto (grandmalin.wordpress.com)
- Anointing the Most Holy, the Ark of the Covenant (seashoremary.wordpress.com)
- The One Who Dwells Between The Cherubim (cracked-pot.com)
- Did you hear the one about Catholics “worshiping” statues? (patrickmadrid.com)
- Guardian Angels and Mentoring (djmarinizela.wordpress.com)
As one of the Maquis peoples, Chakotay is often sought for spiritual assistance, usually in the form of guided meditation based on Native American beliefs and practices, such as controlled dreaming.
The Maquis descend from a Native American tribe which, hoping to preserve its traditions, departed from Earth to settle on the planet Trebus. Chakotay was born on Trebus several hundred years later.
Chakotay, for the most part, plays a supportive, nurturing (yin type) role as confidant to the willful and strong (yang type) Captain Katherine Janeway. But once in a while he’ll challenge her command decisions if he believes he’s in the right, especially with regard to the Maquis crew members aboard the Enterprise.
This character dynamic between Chakotay and Janeway was interesting in the 90s (when the show first ran) because it inverted traditional sex role stereotypes. Sure, Cagney & Lacey were around in the 80s and The Bionic Woman in the 70s, but a “feminine” man standing behind a “masculine” woman was, perhaps, something of a first for big time TV.
- Representations of indigenous peoples in science-fiction (thegeekanthropologist.com)
- Star Trek London Recap: The Five Captains (wired.com)
- Times I Wanted to Straight Up Punch Captain Janeway (thebestofalexandra.wordpress.com)
- Why Don’t You Come Out to the Delta Quadrant Sometime and See Me? (thebestofalexandra.wordpress.com)
- Star Trek Week: How Voyager Got Me Through It All (wired.com)
- 5 Best Quotes from the Star Trek Captains Reunion (jeredhiggins.wordpress.com)
- People Are Pigs: ‘Eating Raoul’ (Review) (popmatters.com)
In psychoanalysis, Charles Rycroft says cathexis is a term coined by Sigmund Freud‘s English translators to indicate an “investment” of libidinal (sexual) energy that attaches to an internal object, representation or mental structure.¹ Some years later, Rycroft’s assertion has been expanded on in Wikipedia:
Once inside the head, so to speak, the libidinal energy can transfer from one mental structure to another, much like troops positioning around a battlefield.
According to Freud’s theory, cathected energy may attach to one mental process in order to repress another. Sooner or later there’s a build up of energy. This results in psychological dysfunction, or more positively in sublimation, where the energy is redirected toward some socially acceptable outlet (such as creating artwork).
Object cathexis refers to mental energy invested in an external object instead of the self. It should be noted that Freud’s use of the term “object” includes people. “Object” for Freud simply means a recipient of instinctual drives. So an object can be inside one’s own head or outside in the environment.
Also of note is how Freud never considers the possibility that pent up libidinal energy could be redirected to the spiritual life. On this score, many saints and mystics attest to the importance of celibacy. Without it, they say, their spiritual work (e.g. intercession) just can’t get done. Many go even further, describing chastity not as a kind of unavoidable necessity but as a great gift and virtue. This positive attitude lead St. Frances de Sales to say
Chastity is the lily among virtues and makes men almost equal to angels.³
Sadly, many people still on a materialistic level of consciousness find this difficult to understand. As a result, some predominantly spiritual people may suffer ridicule and persecution, even by their apparently religious peers. Even more sad, it seems that some potential spiritual sensitives are, themselves, duped by the status quo viewpoint. So instead of flowering into sainthood, they may end up in psychiatric wards.
Related Posts » Abreaction
¹ Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 16.
³ Cited in The Voice of the Saints, ed. Francis W. Johnston, Tan Books, 1986 , p. 55.
- Displacement (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Dreams (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- The Century of the Self (pulsemedia.org)
- Review: ‘Freud’s Last Session’ at the San Jose Rep (mercurynews.com)
- Quiz – Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development (psychology.about.com)
- Sigmund Freud my Quest for Peace (sexymomma884.wordpress.com)
- Freud Philosophy (trinadlambert.com)
- What is the libidinal economy of collective sovereignty? (jdeanicite.typepad.com)
- Freud & Jung in “A Dangerous Method” (psychologytoday.com)
Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) was an innovative French sociologist who taught at the university of Bordeaux and the Sorbonne. He’s usually upheld in introductory Humanities courses as as one of great three “classical” sociologists, and one of the founders of sociology as a discipline in its own right. This academic honor also includes Karl Marx and Max Weber.
Among his many achievements and insights, Durkheim is seen as a pioneer in the use of scientific method. Durkheim focused on society instead of the individual. He believed that “collective representations” emerged from many minds that interact in a social environment. Depending on their character, these collective representations had variable but statistically demonstrable effects on society.
In addition, he tended to view society as a doctor would look at a patient. This is often called Durkheim’s “organic metaphor.” His outlook predates what would come to be called structural functionalism. As such, he believed that some social forms were healthier than others.
Durkheim sought to create one of the first rigorous scientific approaches to social phenomena. Along with Herbert Spencer, he was one of the first people to explain the existence and quality of different parts of a society by reference to what function they served in maintaining the quotidian (i.e. by how they make society “work”). He also agreed with his organic analogy, comparing society to a living organism. Thus his work is sometimes seen as a precursor to functionalism. Durkheim also insisted that society was more than the sum of its parts.†
Unlike his contemporaries Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber, he focused not on what motivates the actions of individuals (an approach associated with methodological individualism), but rather on the study of social facts. As a result, Durkheim contrasted mechanistic social types (where individuals cooperate less, relying on tradition and punitive authority) to organic solidarity (where individuals cooperate more, working together to satisfy mutual needs). And for Durkheim, the former is inferior to that latter.
Durkheim also wrote on alleged “elementary” forms of religion, building his theories on the anthropological studies available at the time. And he did (secondary) statistical analyses of the sociological facts of crime and suicide, trying to link their frequency to particular social conditions and beliefs.
What makes Durkheim unique to most sociologists is his blending of theory, method and observation. In most cases Durkheim provides a detailed outline and defense of his scientific approach before engaging in a particular study. After completing his research, a theoretical analysis of his data follows. However, most of Durkheim’s observations are secondhand. He used the statistics and case studies available to him at the time, and rarely – if ever – went out in the field to do his own primary research.
While this kind of approach wouldn’t wash today in social psychology, many academic sociologists can still get away with armchair philosophy, making pretty obvious statements and distinctions that hard core philosophers have already covered in far greater detail. The only difference is that the sociologist applies conceptual distinctions to everyday life in ways that are more easily understandable and up-to date.‡
‡ Forwarding simplified versions of existing philosophical distinctions is evident in the works of Peter Berger and Erving Goffman. However, Berger talked about the importance of data collection while Goffman usually went a step further, actually going out into the field and getting his own data.
- “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, None but ourselves can free our minds” – Bob Marley. (zenandtheartofbreakingthings.wordpress.com)
- Deviance (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Strat theorists, ngram waves (familyinequality.wordpress.com)
- Sociology Essay (thinkingbookworm.typepad.com)
- Infidelity, Tiger Woods, and Émile Durkheim (nortonbooks.typepad.com)
- What Is Collective Consciousness? (powersthatbeat.wordpress.com)
In sound and music recording digital sampling is a technology that first appeared in the 1970s but took off in the early 1980s. Digital sampling takes tiny slices of sound and writes the waveform to computer files, permitting the original sound to be reproduced, altered, rebroadcast or re-mixed with other sounds and music.
While musicians were already recording and mixing with analog (old style) tape decks for many years in advance, the great advantage of digital sampling is that there’s absolutely no sound degradation once he recording is made. This may seem underwhelming to today’s generation, but to the older set, the advent of digital sampling was a breakthrough, and its influence on not only the clarity but also the style of recorded music (and live concerts) has been tremendous.¹
Like any technology, digital sampling may be used for good or ill. An artist in the United Kingdom, for instance, uses a specially tuned radio receiver to obtain and sample private conversations from cell phones. He then re-mixes the conversations with music and markets it in CD format. Although all names are removed, we have to ask it it’s ethical to package and sell personal conversations without the knowledge or permission of the individual speakers.²
Before its invention, a few audio and music pioneers wanted the audible effects of digital sampling so experimented with the technology of the analog tape loop. Brian Eno looms large in this area, but Terry Riley, Robert Fripp and Steve Reich were also experimenting with tape loops around the same time.
¹ When CDs first came out, however, some critics said the sound was thin and artificial compared to the warm and continuous waveform of vinyl records. Most agreed, however, that CDs outperformed at higher volumes, while a select few stood firm in believing that vinyl sounded better at lower volumes. And to my mind, the Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band never really sounded right on CD.
² This story was all over the web a few years ago but seems to have disappeared. If anyone has the link, please comment. I’d like to reference this by linking to the story or artist.
- Question: How to turn a physical synth into a full scale digital sample (gearslutz.com)
- The quest for higher quality digital music (telegraph.co.uk)
- WT Cox Subscriptions Adds IGI Global to Digital Sample Issue Program (prweb.com)
- Using the MPC2000XL for live shows. (makerofspace.wordpress.com)
- Sampling on the asr-x (gearslutz.com)
- Music For Umpteen Musicians: Steve Reich Interviewed (thequietus.com)
- Creating Drum(or any other kind of) samples (gearslutz.com)