30 September 2007

A Bit of Cutesy Philisophy

Popular discourse makes a distinction between an art and a science, the latter being applied to any pursuit that is empirical, objective and/or quantifiable, and the former being used to indicate that the rules of engagement are somehow vague, undefined, and/or subjective. Dating, it might be said, is an art in that there's no quantifiable recipe for success; conversely, bicycle maintenance could be called a science in that there is more clearly a right and a wrong way to do things. Hitting a baseball or a golf ball are good examples of tasks that might appear to fall somewhat in the middle: some great players may appear to have wildly erratic or idiosyncratic swings, your coach might say, but they all do a few crucial things exactly the same way.

This widely understood distinction notwithstanding, abstract art and the hard sciences do have at least one thing in common, along with athletics as well: they afford human beings the opportunity to cultivate, demonstrate, and freely exercise their understanding of and control over their physical environment. The hard sciences may be empirical, logical, and rigorous, but they are also expressive in this way; and abstract art, while devoid of literal meaning and hence ensured of the most subjective of receptions from its audience, is not created randomly, but by being in touch with physical reality in a way that can only be called scientific.

Accomplishments such as calculus, the slam dunk, and The Rite of Spring are all brash displays of a certain level of control over and understanding of the parameters of our physical environment. In my view, this is every bit as much an inherently artistic or aesthetic concept as it is a scientific one.

1 comment:

Lane Savant said...

There is some science to art and some art to science.
God is in the proper balance.
Try to imagine a computer program that could calculate the arc of a fly ball and coordinate 200 muscles in order to get the ball to the proper place for a double play in order to win the pennant and secure a profitable contract renewal while impressing an adoring public and god knows what else the human brain can do all at once....
At the same time boggling itself just considering all this.