Mac

Bits about software development, and about some other forms of art too...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Glory

Read this :

Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.
John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I find the very first point debatable. And so do others. We are animals, after all. I would rather say that our species is the only one who likes (needs ?) to express a consciousness of its (alleged) uniqueness. But this is not my point. The point is that the more I read it, the more I agree with the idea expressed in this paragraph.

My first reaction was one of skepticism, though : I thought about The Beatles. They seemed like the perfect counter example : no doubt that Ringo Starr had very little implication in the creative process, and that George Harrison was left to his own creation, but what about the association ? So many great songs are bearing both their names that anyone can be startled at the realization of how many of them one knows. But having read a great deal about it, I then remembered how much of a front the partnership was. Even in the good, early times, as you can read here :

Most of the songs they wrote during this time were mainly started or conceived by one of the pair, with the other adding in a line or verse, completing the song, or helping out when inspiration was lost.

In other words, they used their collaboration as a means to achieve what their sparks of creativity had started. In their lonely minds. Afterwards, when their artistic relationship evolved from collaboration to competition, the loneliness of their creative process was even more (if possible) extreme. And this was the period considered as many (including me) as the climax of their creativity.

is a great thing, the means of the greatest achievements. It is about development, building, construction. It just has nothing to do with creation.

And this I believe : that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for : the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against : any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.
John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Amen.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

(Belief in) God exists !

It seems that the trend in modern science is no longer to try to prove whether God exists or not, but to try to explain why belief in God exists. At least this last quest should lead us somewhere...

I have had the chance to come across this rather long and instructive article about this debate (also available here). Not only did I learn a new word (though "spandrel" might be quite difficult to use in an every day conversation, I must admit...), but it gave me matter for a lot of thoughts on the subject that had been initiated by my recent reading of "The Selfish Gene" (Richard Dawkins), which I strongly recommend by the way.

So, to have it brief, evolutionists have taken this matter with high interest, and now

the debate over why belief evolved is between byproduct theorists and adaptationists.

Nothing like a good controversy to spice up things ! I am enjoining you to read the rest of it, as I could not easily summarize the subject. And if you think that science is not compatible with belief, especially on the matters of God, you might be surprised :

At first blush, Barrett's faith might seem confusing. How does his view of God as a byproduct of our mental architecture coexist with his Christianity? Why doesn't the byproduct theory turn him into a skeptic?

"Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people," Barrett wrote in his e-mail message. "Why wouldn't God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?" Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them, he wrote. "Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me - should I then stop believing that she does?"

I just love this last sentence. It reminds me of the proclaimed life long quest of Hubert Reeves

While meditating on the glory of a sunset over the ocean it came to him that its astonishing beauty could be explained in “excellent mathematical representation of light’s behaviour.” (...) The equations themselves were “superb, mathematically elegant, and functional,“ but Reeves feared that his ability to reduce the play of light and colour to a result “perfectly predictable and calculable” from the right set of numbers might forever limit his instinctive response to the natural world. From that time onwards he set out “to reclaim the right to enjoy in peace the sight of pink waves”

And as for me, if you ever wondered, I am more versed into Fictionology, the only religion that cannot possibly starve my need for poetry ;-)

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