Increasing Convergence Between Time and Abstraction

Z VIII, 1924, László Moholy-Nagy

1. The Mathematical Inquiring into Today Literature as the Common Sense of a Nonsense Verse

What makes a literature of today? That of the past and of the future? I look for no map because there are no borders to cross. It is the sky, the cloud, the water, the terrain, the sea, the fire, the human mind, the birds’ hearts, the language of languages, the tribe of tribes from a place without time, where everything is darkened by its shadows. So that when I sieve all these things the remains are literature of all time with poetry, and when I sieve these things again the remains are poetry of all time with nonsense verse. I call this poetry the oil rig – or OJ-for Mr McCoy – or a vigilante – even in a northerly direction – and this is the next language matters of laxative – and this nonsense verse of third finger is a guide and more than a map. I draw the birds, the waters, the clouds that take their forms or that end in unapproachable and ungrateful house of imagination in nonsense verse beginning with, “I went to the pictures tomorrow”. That nonsense verse emerges from linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, art, science, history, economics, and so on. Think its space it inhabits in the dark colour of secretive magnolia. Think its creators of Hume, Burke, Heidegger, Birkhoff, Borges, Oulipo, Galois, Ramanujan, Hypatia, Euler, de Fermat, Descartes, Fibonacci, Khayyam, Gauss, Conway, Erdö, Cantor, Hilbert, Riemann, Perelman, Terry Tao, and so forth and who listen to the voice of the imagination than experience. Think Euler’s formula eɩл = 0, Galois’ paper on equation theory, or Ramanujan prime, theta function, partition formulae or mock theta functions, as clouds of imagination. In this creative work, the part that emerges is that one considered unsolvable, or presented in unusual ways and fails for the most part of the whole creative work. The cause is that, these creative minds are numbers with unique views, ambitious narratives, and thoughtfully crafted work that use language in new and interesting ways. They understand crossing, using their truths and that are itching to get out through collage making, or form-bending, or multi-genre to get the composition. This composition does not open to any mind, and sometimes, even to the high brains. Think Poisson, who declared Galois’s paper on equation theory as “incomprehensible” after reviewing it. Think the above pieces, which are examples of collages, including mathematical conjectures. Think these guesses of truth, for example, 1/3 – 2/3 conjecture, abc conjecture, or Riemann hypothesis, which are fruits often fibrous and soft. These are for those minds of star-wounds in literature of poetry, but with high humidity cause of nonsense verse, that uses simple materials to solve and explain the complex structures of rough forms. These forms are ubiquitous in nature. Thus, to solve and explain the cultures they are composed of from the past to the future. Think this example of these nonsense verses, the work by anonymous author. Here is the full text:

I went to the pictures tomorrow
I took a front seat at the back.
I fell from the pit to the gallery
And broke a front bone in my back.
A lady she gave me some chocolate.
I ate it and gave it her back
I phoned for a taxi and walked it,
And that’s why I never came back.

This classic nonsense verse is the sum of strata of all the major poetry of today. John Milton and William Wordsworth needed rules to achieve a positions in the poetry of the world. That rules for that finally emerged from here in this nonsense verse. Byron labelled Wordsworth for writing poetry as prose. Byron did not understand how poetry worked from the beginning. However, he got the guesses of truth when he wrote this cantos. Today poet and only a strong poet needs rules of no rules. He is working from “the universal refuse dump” and needs only the formation of strata. The above Playground Rhyme gives that sums from anywhere. Today poet plays the ground through constructing, moulding, and carving. Like a Spanish watch, the result has helical faces. The Playground Rhyme of the trendy timepiece outperforms the modern competition of today table-poems. Maybe the creation is the doing, a work to turn the table on well-noted poetry, including Homer’s epics – because – this is not a work of a careless worker using a benzene – based detergent to clean bottling lines, or to tarnish images of quality and purity. Unlike yesteryear-poets of modernism, today poets look for a nest, where the egg will be hatched, and grew with the whole self – of simile and metaphor, of irony and a glass of vodka, of consolidation and ambiguity, of chatting with the spirits of the place, of a new angle of vision, of bringing the description to life, of movement in the sentence, of cutting everything down to the bone with details, of the laughing voice and the Gothic voice, of holding the tension and energy, of a blue (for example, daydream, abstract(ism), primitivism, or magic realism, etc.), so that every read gives a news or flashes. Think Guillaume Apollinaire who used this to construct, think Gertrude Stein, who used this to mould, and now to be used to carve.

In Apollinaire’s work, this craft is not limited to helix. He applied lighting, shadow, and tonal value, contrast, atmosphere, shape and volume, perspective, structure, dimensions and proportions, affinities, subjects, elements, colour, design, symmetry and asymmetry, and different planes. His work, “Clotilde”, is the sums algebra.

The anemone and flower that weeps
have grown in the garden plain
where Melancholy sleeps
between Amor and Disdain
There our shadows linger too
that the midnight will disperse
the sun that makes them dark to view
will with them in dark immerse
The deities of living dew
Let their hair flow down entire
It must be that you pursue
That lovely shadow you desire

Yes, that is the “lovely shadow” we “pursue” with “desire” in the craft. For Gertrude Stein, she gave a shape to a group of words, creating the motley pieces. I have enjoyed her piece Tender Buttons: “A feather is trimmed, it is trimmed by the light and the bug and the post, it is trimmed by little leaning and by all sorts of mounted reserves and loud volumes. It is surely cohesive.”

It is adhesive force. It provides you the carving method. Here, every word must add to the playground.

Take its news – in the hands of any company’s publicity – shy chairman, who nests his confusion based purely on confidence, he hears a lot – different stories – juxtaposing – ecologically, …its sound and wild feeling to look at … – entrepreneurial enthusiasm with – its technical hurdles – abound. Is the Playground Rhyme not the brochure of V – and we are winking at the reader? I am not preparing a new vulgate – or V-sign – But one thing is certain. there is abroad nothing but flinging of witty pasquils throwing about in every corner of human stage. When a character finds himself in all conditions of disguising himself in modern dresses, and extravagant duties, and traversing the streets from one end to another, and free to enter and exit, is the craftsmanship in the nonsense verse, the verse we compose. Think Beethoven, Stravinsky, Cage, in the same direction, who adopted idiosyncratic forms in their music, to dress in motley to fire their listeners, most of them who are gallant warriors and of heroics at heart in the dark deeds.

Think Okubo algebras, Calabi-Yau manifolds, Yang-Mills equation, Cohomology ring, E8, Zariski topology, or Monstrous moonshine structures. These are rooted deeply in the Playground Rhyme, that is, the ability to create precipitation of the minds, the most urgent cause for argument of ordinances with much of integrating influences and inspiration. This is exactly what art must do.  

Think Matisse, Picasso, Dali, Warhol. Think Matisse’s The Red Studio, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Dali’s Persistence of Memory, Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe. These pieces have the same Playground Rhyme that runs through their human mind and heart, the political attitudes, and cultural and social patterns of today and that remain a creative spark that can be found in human beings in every time. Think Gibbon, Ruskin. Think Gibbon’s History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Ruskin’s writings on Turner. These works give images of these works of repose and harmony. The values of simplicity and restraint but that are not simple and restraint in their composition and materials. The contemporary events arise from their looks, that unmistakable evidence of a mounting human spirit. Is this the turning of the speculative faculty on to the human mind itself? Renaissance humanism has taught us many things on this, but feeling a strong undercurrent of feelings. This mark the independent psychological experience. Thus, it matters to see new surprise that are imported in seeking the new elements to define most of the histories. By making the imagination is very essential to all creative and practical works. Think poetry, and that clearly reinforces the shape of the thinking. Whether science, religion, criticism, or what, its literature must reflect who we are today and provides both a scientific and artistic space which will define more and more where we live now and where we are going as a culture.

2. Draw Before or Paint Straight Ahead?

You are seated five to six and half feet away from your model. Your brushes in two pots, palette knives, maulsticks, newspaper to clean palette knives, linseed oil, distilled turpentine, finishing lacquer and finishing protective lacquer are on a table from your reach. Oil paints of various hues run on your wooden palette, a canvas of number fifty which measured 455/8” x 35” (116 x 89cm) is mounted on tripod studio easel. Are you not ready to work? Now, will you draw before or paint straight ahead?

Mallarmé used “empty, defending its whiteness” to describe how difficult to begin a work. However, Michelangelo Buonarroti, who “was beginning a career” during most of the 1490s “that would propel him to the forefront of first, the Florentine and later, the Roman Renaissance, making him the most formidable artist of the sixteenth century,” drew before he painted. In the 1500s, the Florentine Giorgio Vasari visited Michelangelo in Venice. Michelangelo shyly remarked to Vasari, “What a pity that in Venice they don’t begin by learning to draw correctly.” Vasari who also visited Titian (the English name of Tiziano Vecellio) in the same period, described the Venetian painter’s approach, when he said, “He used colours immediately, without making preparatory drawings; he said that this was the right and proper way.”

Vasari was a painter and architect himself, who was trained in the circle of Andrea del Sarto and his pupils including Giovanni Battista Rosso and Jacopo Pontormo. His fame rests solidly on his book, “Le Vite de’ piú eccellenti Architetti, Pittori, et Scultori Italiani…”, first published in 1550, issued again in 1568 in much enlarged edition and translated into many languages, the book is “the most important book on the history of art ever written.”

According to Vasari’s book, Andrea del Sarto “was the best painter, as opposed to draughtsman, in 16th-century Florence and had more feeling for tone and colour than any of his contemporaries south of Venice. He was the first Florentine to depart from the coloured drawing approach in favour of composition by patches of coloured light and shades, although his actual draughtsmanship is derived from Michelangelo.” Andrea del Sarto “with Fra Batolommeo della Porta (about 1474-probably 1517) was important painter working in Florence at the time when Raphael and Michelangelo were active in Rome.” Was Michelangelo’s rival Leonardo da Vinci, “who disliked each other intensely”, drew before painting or painted straight ahead? What about the “youngest of the trio of the great High Renaissance,” Raphael Santi (Raffaello Sanzio?

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, the leading Baroque painter in Rome who lived a short life like Vincent Van Gogh with “interruptions to his career caused by brushes with the law…worked in an innovative style that influenced painters in Italy and Northern Europe,” painted directly on the canvas, making no preliminary drawings. In fact, he exerted a long enough “profound influenced on some of the greatest artists of seventeenth century Europe form Diego Velázquez to Rembrandt van Rijn, from Peter Paul Rubens to Maurice Quentin de la Tour, as well as on Jusepe Ribera, Francisco de Zurbara΄n, Le Nain, Jacob Jordaens, and Jan Vermeer. Nicolas Poussin who misunderstood him said, Caravaggio “was born to destroy painting?” However, Caravaggio had been considered as the greatest master by those artists his genius touched them.

Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, and E΄mile Bernard for example, started their works from putting the paints straight ahead on the supports. Which Jean-Baptiste-Sime΄on Chardin, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, E΄douard Manet, Isidre Nonell, and Salvador Dali drew before. Painters who draw first are labeled as “valuists”. Because they work chiaroscuro. Painters who paint right away are labeled as “colourists.” Because they “paint very few shadows; they use frontal or diffused lighting which helps them to see the whole subject as patches of colour.”

Palma Giovane who completed Titian’s unfinished work, “Entombment” in Venice, Accademia, when Titian died, described Titian’s techniques as, “He laid in his pictures with a mass of colour which served as a groundwork for what he wanted to express. I myself have seen such vigorous underpainting in plain red earth [terra rossa, probably Venetian red] for the half-tones, or in white lead. With the same brush dipped in red, black, or yellow he worked up the light parts and in four strokes he could create a remarkably fine figure…. Then he turned the picture to the wall and left it for months without looking at it, until he turned to it and started critically at it, as if it were a mortal enemy… If he found something which displeased him he went to work like a surgeon….  Thus, by repeated revisions he bought his pictures to a high state of perfection and while one was drying he worked on another. This quintessence of a composition he then covered with many layers of living flesh… He never painted a figure alla prima, and used to say that he who improvises can never make a perfect line of poetry. The final touches he softened, occasionally modulating the highest lights into the halt-tones and local colours with his finger; sometimes he used his finger to dab a dark patch in a corner as an accent, or to heighten the surface with a bit of red like a drop of blood. He finished his figures like this and in the last stages he used his fingers more than his brush.” Indeed, Titian’s technique makes him the founder of modern painting. In 1516, his appointment as the official painter of the Venetian republic raised his social position in Venice to the level that Michelangelo and Raphael had achieved in Rome. And as the greatest of Venetian painters, he knew Michelangelo’s approach or technique and Michelangelo too knew his. Was there a supremacy between him and Michelangelo?

However, the most influential art critic of 19th-century England, John Ruskin once said, “There are no rules for the art of composition; if there had been, Titian and Veronese would have been ordinary men.” Composing without rules has been the backbone of modern painting and more modernist painters, especially the avant-garde artists.

So by 1912 and the years that followed, creams, whites, grays, browns and even blacks were used to substitute colours, and with old magazines and newspapers, wood, wire, strings and others to recreate nature where the artist had more room to distort the language of art. For example, Jackson Pollock on his part in 1947 abandoned the use of brushes and poured paints straight into his canvases. He said of this painting in 1951 that, “I don’t work from drawings or colour sketches. My painting is direct…I want to express my feelings rather that illustrate them.… When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of paint: there is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end.”

For some artist, drawing is a complete finished work of art in itself and not just preliminary studies for a painting or other art work. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres and Edgar Degas did a lot of drawings as complete artworks. Ingres’s drawings were in pencil. He made these pencil drawings when he was in Rome to earn a living. The drawings were the subjects of visitors to Rome. He said, “Drawing is the property of art” and “includes everything except the tint.” For Degas, who studied at the E΄cole des Beaux-Arts under a pupil of Ingres, “whom he knew and deeply admired”, did his many drawings in mostly in pastel, which he used in his later life more than any other medium. The difference among artists from the same country, region or place help one to understand what and is between the valuists and colourists. Ingres and Eug`ene Delacroix are French painters of equal importance. However, Ingres described Delacroix’s art as “complete expression of an incomplete intelligence.”

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso, one of the men (including Giotto Michelangelo and Bernini) who has changed more radically the nature of art and stood at the beginning of a new epoch, drew first in many of his works and at the other times too, painted right away. In 1915 onwards, he developed interest in Ingres’s drawings by their “precise and restrainedly stylized” in pencil. He too made a lot of drawings as finished artworks. And his work “Guernica” painted in 1937 in oil on canvas, 11’5 ½ x 25’5 ¾” (3.49 x 7.77m) in Prado, Madrid, is more of a pencil drawing with newspaper pieces pasted on the canvas. Again, his “Man with a Hat,” also known as “Portrait of Braque” he created in pasted paper, charcoal and ink on paper, 24 x 19 5/8’ (62.2 x 47.3cm), in Paris after December 3, 1912 and is in museum of modern Art in New York purchased, shows the artist who was “less interested in content than in creating a new visual reality through nontraditional means.” Thus, draw before or paint straight ahead was not his concern.

To draw before or paint straight ahead has been “an-old problem that has been debated for centuries.” Paul Cézanne, “a pivotal figure in Western art,” and “the prophet of abstraction in Post-Impressionism and a precursor of Cubism,” said, “To paint or to draw? When you get colour in all its rich variety, you’ll get plenty of clear shapes as well.”

3. David, the Marble

A full figure in 17 feet tall is still standing in a public square, outside the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of civic government in Florence, in the Piazza della Signoria, the city’s town hall. Here he was unveiled on 8 September 1504.  He is naked, showing his heroic physique, capturing the balanced ideal of High Renaissance art, science, architecture, history, religion, and philosophy. This nakedness is a mark of distancing from the figures in the hands of Donatello. He is David, the Biblical hero and a favoured subject in the art of Florence. The image of a young man wavering between thought and action. This is uncertainty of the artist. The artist is directing his work to respond to reasoning rather than emotion. He would face opposition. That would begin just after he came into existence. Where he would stand in Florence was divided among leading artists. Giuliano da Sangallo led one group, supported by Leonardo and Piero di Cosimo and others, believed that, due to the imperfections in David, he should be placed under the roof of the Loggia del Lanzi on Piazza della Signoria. The other group thought David should stand at the entrance to the Palazzo della Signoria, (now known as Palazzo Vecchio). Botticelli also supported another opinion, demanded that David should be situated on or near the cathedral. Thus, in 1549, he came under strong attack for a copy of his Pietá here in this city. Because of depicting Mary as an attractive figure, who is scarcely older than Christ. Michelangelo was called an “inventor of filth.” Four years earlier, Pietro Aretino had written to him, criticizing his Last Judgment as suitable for a bathroom but not for a chapel. Contra wise these rejections ahead of him, Michelangelo has identified David with aggressive spirit of Florence. He was woken up from a damaged and abandoned block of marble. His weight is balanced on the right leg in Classical contrapposto. Again, his eyes with a warning glare are fixated towards Rome? or the defence of civil liberties embodied in the Republic of Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and by the hegemony of the Medici family? However, Michelangelo applied some abstractions, deviating from Classical principles of rendition to achieve a height. David’s large hands, for example, and these suggest a young man who has yet to grow to his full height and strength. His furrowed brow also violates the Classical ideal of serene faces and this reflects his intense concentration. Michelangelo was filled with abstractions of deviation. This spirit helped him to go beyond his limits, and remains more to us than his contemporaries, who were just copyists of nature and objects. In fact, every closer look of his great work carries deviation of rules. Thanks to his hosts that David is now living his complete life inside Galleria dell’Accademia, here he was moved to in 1873, and later he was replaced at the original location by a replica.  David was one of a series of statues of Hebrew prophets commissioned to be positioned along the roofline of the east end of Florence Cathedral. On 16 August 1501, Michelangelo, at twenty six, was given the official contract to sculpt David. He began carving the statue early in the morning on 13 September, a month after he was awarded the contract. He would work on the massive statue for more than two years.