Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"The measure of all things"

Olympia Metope, Apples of the Hesperides  (yes, a generation earlier, but radical in its own right)
author's snapshot in museum
I was reminded by another viewing of the NOVA program on the Parthenon of the basis, gradually built from all my experience of ancient Greece and all of the modern writers that I most admire, of my convictions concerning it: the founding of Greek art and thought in the keenest and most devoted empirical study, in particular of the human body and mind.  It searches for, and finds, the universal and mathematical in the particular and the concrete.  I revere this.
I have no time now to try to write an essay, and, besides, I cannot compete with the best studies that exist, so I shall post simply this statement.
In the TV blurb announcing next how the great cathedrals were built (and I love them, too), the announcer says that they looked for divine numbers in the Bible.  The difference, not to judge but to notice, between endeavoring to make buildings and figural representations to adhere to a divine text, and endeavoring to find what inheres in everything and then making art and architecture accordingly, and thus separate philosophy from worship (while still loving the ancestral deities), is the radical division that runs through all our civilization.  Call it Protagoras vs Plotinus, if you wish, though that is much too crude a reduction.

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