More Deathblogging

It was with great sadness that I read that Mr. Wizard is dead. My lovely wife was stricken as well. Though we are separated by many years physically, mentally there is a connection that passes through the Mr. Wizard show. Watching all the obits pile up on Richard Rorty, I was most pleased by Jurgen Habermas’s remembrance. It seemed more personal somehow.

It was also with some shock that I learned via Krause about Rudolf Arnheim’s death. There isn’t much out there yet. You’d think that living to 102 would grant you some coverage by the press. Besides the Ann Arbor paper, the only mention so far seems to be in the Washington Post. I was rereading Visual Thinking a few months ago, and had tabbed out these paragraphs in his chapter on “Visual Education” as worthwhile:

In the arts, then, the student meets the world of visual appearances as symbolic of significant patterns and forces in a manner quite different from the scientific use of sensory information. Sights that are accidental with regard to objective situation become valid as carriers of meaningful patterns and can be called truthful or false, appropriate or inappropriate by standards not applicable to the statements of science. But art not only exploits the variety of appearances, it also affirms the validity of the individual outlook and thereby admits a further dimension of variety. Since the shapes of art do not primarily bear witness to the objective nature of the things for which they stand, they can reflect individual interpretation and invention.

Both art and science are bent on the understanding of the forces that shape existence, and both call for an unselfish dedication to what is. Neither of them can tolerate capricious subjectivity because both are subject to the criteria of truth. Both require precision, order, and discipline because no comprehensible statement can be made without these. Both accept the sensory world as what the Middle Ages called the signatura rerum, the signature of things, but in quite different ways. The medieval physicians believed that yellow flowers cure jaundice and that bloodstone stops hemorrhage; and in a less literal sense modern science still searches the appearance of things for symptoms of their characters and virtues. The artist may use those yellows and reds as equally revealing images of radiance or passion; and the arts welcome the multiplicity of world views, the variety of personal and cultural styles, because the diversity of response is as legitimate as an aspect of reality as that of the things themselves. (300-301)

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