Why Are Avant-Garde Philosophers So Difficult To Be Understood By Their Contemporaries?

„Most philosophers are so politically incorrect—challenging the status quo, even challenging God. Nietzsche’s my favorite. He’s just insane. You have to have an IQ of at least 300 to truly understand him.“

 „Iron“ Mike Tyson

I have read somewhere that „Iron“ Mike Tyson has a below-average IQ, however what he says here is more accurate and pays more tribute to how things are in reality than that what many more sophisticated people (or analytic philosophers) say when they judge Nietzsche as a „weak“ thinker. It is amazing how today bachelor theses at the universities are written about Wittgenstein (or even at school: I once met a girl who told me her project for the great final exam at school was to write about the Tractatus) and everything seems to be full of Wittgenstein, of Nietzsche, of Goethe, of Schiller in this world, while during his lifetime Wittgenstein was not even understood by most of the finest minds in Cambridge or the Wiener Kreis. Reading Wittgenstein or Nietzsche is challenging for the first time, yes; but it is not actually that confusing. (Even more obscure it is in the case of artists: beautiful pieces of art are usually immediately recognised, nevertheless it may take a long time until the artist and his art become respected and established.) The question seems to refer to some kind of mystery: Why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?

I have read in a book about Whitehead (an underappreciated philospher) that someone said that „nothing is so difficult to understand as is a new philosophy“. I do not quite understand that, since I find philosophy relatively easy to understand. However, I do not understand other things, I am not good at maths for instance, so it is all a game and life passes out individual cards, I suppose. Apart from that, philosophy, like everything else, is not even for the master understander something that is immediately to be grasped: it needs to be learned, and its quasi-fractallike depth something forever to be explored. To try to make sense out of that, let us start with the rumination that: Like poets, but at a higher level of intellectual reflection (which adds to the confusion in others), avant-garde philosophers have thoughts and inner experiences no one else had before – and you actually can understand stuff only when you have experienced it yourself. Without experience, you may have intellectual knowledge of stuff (if the stuff even interests you, which is, unless there are personal experiences, not so frequent), but you do not actually, and deeply, grasp it. Without being member of a minority, or a woman, you do not really know what discrimination or phallocratic sexism is – if you are sympathetic, you will try to understand it, if you are not sympathetic, you will call them hysterical feminists or impertinent immigrants – likewise, the experience of discrimination can produce some hysterical feminists or blackies that are racist against whities – just like as the experience of a mankind indifferent to his teachings may produce an overly grouchy and pessimistic avant-garde philosopher: Let the avant-garde philosopher behold to fall into the trap of ressentiment (which is what Nietzsche said despite falling into that trap himself to some degree): And, truly: Who could ever understand Nietzsche´s overman when not being an extremely intelligent outsider (with a splendid psychology), who understands Kierkegaard´s theological stadium, Wittgenstein´s radical quest for truth via radical scepsis (that, in its inner dynamic and outer form, is without predecessor) or Otto Weininger´s quest for the ethical self (das sittliche Ich), when one is not some kind of very extreme person himself that effectively lives on the margins not only of society but of humanity and the human experience all alike? They are, more or less effectively, beyond the margins of current human thought. The avant-garde philosopher explores the margins and the outer limits of human tought and inner experience and effectively pushes them a bit further into the exosphere. Therein, the avant-garde philosopher is, most effectively, likely to be alone in his contemporary world (instead, has to try to establish connection to other avant-garde philosophers via the Continuum – the sphere where the great ideas dwell). People do not understand very well things that appear in a framework that is alien to them, or for which a true framework does not yet exist: And the avant-garde philosopher usually comes up with entire new frameworks people cannot really relate to. Within that, avant-garde philosophers are kind of confused themselves. They are so singular and work at such a high level of abstraction and insight that insight becomes confusing and they do not immediately have an instrument to adequately reflect themselves and their situation in the world. They see through other philosophy but in a kind of space that is largely uninhabitated. Their philosophy often is the instrument with which they try to understand themselves. Since avant-garde philosophers (and artists) are usually the ones most eccentric and working at the margins and exurbia, but also the most normal and working most at the center of humanity, the paradox may appear to them that they´re living in two worlds (and not actually living in any of them neither – respectively, the „paradox“ is that not only exurbia but also the center of the human experience are both sparsely populated places). Since the problems of the avant-garde philosopher (and artist) are too far away from people, people are not interested in them, although they are the most interesting of all, and the avant-garde philosopher has to deal with the paradox that, in the end, respectively also among his contemporaries, folks like Iron Mike will dig and – somehow – understand him, whereas, on the other hand, hardly anyone finally does. He has to deal with the paradox that his mind is the most powerful while also being quite powerless all alike (nevertheless, also big business tycoons or politicians have to confront themselves with the same kind of thing). If the avant-garde philosopher is desperate that people aren´t interested in his most interesting philosophy, he may find consolation that most people aren´t particularly interested in most other things neither. (And concerning Whitehead and his unpopularity someone else said that the reason for Whitehead´s underappreciatedness lies, particularly, in the greatness of his metaphysics.)

The intellect of the avant-garde philosopher operates at the highest level of abstraction and it works very quickly, hence stuff other people discuss will not deem him stupid but irrelevant and slow food. The inner life of the avant-garde philosopher will try to mirror the great whole (in his own idiosyncratic form and understanding), so what other people discuss will deem him fragments and he will prefer to be a silent listener and witness (although, due to his intense perception, a considerable amount of stuff he seems to be indifferent to will hit him with considerable impact – which is usually not the case among normal people). However, there are people that do not especially like that, they´re afraid that the avant-garde philosopher will look upon them as if they´re stupid, especially as the avant-garde philosopher´s behaviour will usually be a strange mix between fineness, empathy and sympathetic concern, and bluntness and harshness and apparent sarcasm towards others, as his inner drummer is different from his surroundings and it is quite difficult, sometimes impossible, for the avant-garde philosopher to synchronize himself to his surroundings. The avant-garde philosopher will, in turn, only be understood and perceived in fragments – and it occasionally turns up that people do not particularly like what they do not understand, even if they understand at least (important) fragments of it! For some biological reason, humans (and obviously also animals) like it when they master something: and it depresses them to find out that they do not, or cannot master a thing. So-called ego isn´t something that is necessarily there in the first place, but it may come into being when someone is deprived of his illusion that he masters something. Therefore, he may react with hostility and envy to that thing (i.e. to the avant-garde philosopher and his avant-garde philosophy). As the avant-garde philosopher is, in the words of Iron Mike, challenging, he may well be a nuisance, even a fucking nuisance to others. „Challenging God“ or „challenging the status quo“ might deem others (correctly) as a challenge to the established order and to those who profit from the established order, therefore those who profit from the established order aren´t likely to welcome the avant-garde philosopher so warmly…. In our times God may be dead and everything seems to be allowed, so the avant-garde philosopher or artist may appear to be accepted, however, mediocrity may also be an established order and the status quo, and someone who challenges mediocrity considered an enemy. Füssli/Fuseli says (in his Aphorisms about Art), that in a world where everyone strives for perfection, a genius need not expect to actually be welcomed or celebrated, but for him it may be true that he will be born posthumously. What is more, there are people that appreciate stuff, including the intellect of others, only when they can make a toy for themselves and for their ego out of it; due to his independence the avant-garde philosopher is not likely to become a toy of anyone, and so to some people only a dead avant-garde philosopher will be a good avant-garde philosopher.

Philosophers are appreciated, at least, by sapiosexual people. Sapiosexuality however in the usual case refers to what people can more or less truly understand, and that is stuff operating at maximal two intelligence levels ( = about 30 IQ points) above or below their own intelligence level. Maximum of persuasiveness of a leader (of any kind) can be expected to come into being when the leader´s intelligence is between 15 and 30 IQ points higher than that of the lead. Of course, people of much higher intelligence may be recognised and respected as such, but they are not likely to be accepted as leaders, buddies or lovers. They are foreigners and, maybe, outsiders. In the more depressing case, people´s sapiosexuality may beam when they see that they can mirror (or aggrandize) themselves in someone else´s intelligence, but implode when they find out that they cannot. In general, people like and accept people and stuff in which they can mirror themselves and may become hostile when they see they can´t, and when someone is vastly dissimilar from them. People also constantly and seemingly endlessly need something to talk about, as they are obsessed with talking and trying to make themselves important in relation to others. That seems to be a general human feature; the avant-garde philosopher may be in the splendid position that, with his stuff, he is elevated above the rat race and the sometimes brutal competition between those of roughly similar intelligence, but also excluded and ignored, as he does not deliver stuff people can talk about and make themselves important (therefore the avant-garde philosopher may mistake himself as a kind of egoless saint and „not affected by the trivialities of human struggle“ where in reality he is just a lucky bastard who is not challenged himself by it). – I am a very intelligent individual (and an avant-garde philosopher) and I could not say that I have met many sapiosexual people in my life. Actually I should attract sapiosexual people and people interested in intelligence like a magnet, but it rather seems I repel them like a magnet. At least, they´re not very interested in what I have to say, and they do not appreciate it so much. For instance, I can post very intelligent and beautiful (and funny!) stuff on social media and get, on average, 2 „Likes“ for it. I do not take that personally as I guess that Leonardo could come today and post his „Last Supper“ or Raffael could come today and post the Sistinian Madonna, to then get 2 „Likes“ as well – but that is even more depressing to see for the avant-garde philosopher: to see that there is something not exactly right with humanity. One would think that writers like Joyce, Beckett or Jandl, who had to suffer: that, with their art and effort, they opened up new spaces alongside new coordinate systems – but when the next Joyce appears, it may be revealed that they have opened nothing and that the new Joyce gets rejected like the old one had become for many years: So what is the purpose of art or the avant-garde and the suffering of avant-gardists, the avant-gardist may ask himself, as you frequently see that it is all for nothing and there is just eternal recurrence of the same? Of course, that isn´t the whole story, but a substantial amount of the story, and that is, for the avant-gardist, often quite difficult to bear.

In order to be an avant-gardist you have to stand at a higher level than the lead. – There may be narcissistic avant-gardists who find it funny to stand higher than the lead and to provoke envy in others, the true avant-garde philosopher will usually be above that level, and at least I could not say that I find it very pleasing to potentially subdue others – as I want everyone to be happy. Nevertheless, in order to be an avant-gardist you have to stand at a higher level than the lead. Avant-garde philosophers are usually so different from men that Nietzsche legitimately comes up with the question whether they´re human (all too human) at all. And actually: David Wechsler, a pioneer in the research of human intelligence, proposed that at an IQ level of 150+ actually a new species comes into being, different and distinguished from common man, the Homo sapiens sapiens. Let us say, they´re Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens. Their cognitive, mental (and psychological/interpersonal) processes are qualitatively different; tbere has been some stuff written about it; I say that with a highly gifted/IQ150+ person it is possible to develop thoughts in conversation at the level of theoretical abstractions, that can be scientifically and intellectually relevant. The great genius is a different species even from them (a Homo sapiens sapiens sapiens sapiens) as he can develop the most sophisticated theoretical thoughts that no one else can, also his psychology is likely to be different and distinguished and more refined than that of others. – Of course, making such distinctions and segregations is not likely to make you very popular, and I, as a good socialist and adherent of the notion of communion of creature, do not like it myself; however, it somehow resemblant to truth and I cannot help that either. People usually think they´re very smart, so when they see someone distinctly smarter coming around, they often are not very pleased, especially when they´re high IQ guys themselves who usually like to think they´re on top of the food chain. People appreciate the genius when they´re under the impression that the geniuses´ intelligence is one or two levels above theirs, which seems tolerable and reasonable to them; but when they see that the geniuses´ intelligence is ten levels above theirs and the genius, in general, is a quite different personality from them, they sometimes aren´t likely find that so funny anymore. – I think it was Enrico Fermi who once tried to measure the abilities of physicists, and he found out that while great geniuses of physics like Einstein and Newton would range at a maximum position of 100, most emiment physicists, like Fermi himself, would cluster at around 70 (note that I have to recall that from memory, it is likely not to be exact, nevertheless somehow similar to that Fermi (?) originally came up with). Maybe it can be said that the cognitive abilities of the great genius (i.e. in the case of the genius: cognitive as well as creative intelligence amplifying each other), his ability of intellectual penetration, resembles an IQ level of 200+, and is therefore out of ordinary human reach (therefore, Iron Mike was somehow correct with his estimate).

Again, I do not recall it at the moment whether it was Duchamp, Picabia, or a brother of Duchamp (or maybe still someone else) who said that expecting (immediate) success as an artist comes close to playing roulette. Apparently no laws can be extracted why something becomes a success and other stuff does not, or takes a long time to do so. Likewise, there are popular and unpopular geniuses, and for every Einstein or Picasso, who became successful and established relatively early in their lives, there is a Nietzsche or van Gogh who were born posthumously (or, in the more depressing case, an Ignaz Semmelweis or Giordiano Bruno, who were actively and purposefully punished for their contributions to mankind). Nietzsche said that nothing about Schopenhauer was more offensive to professors of philosophy as that he did not look similar to them. Amanshauser ruminated that fellows like Goethe or Thomas Mann would always be accepted without too much trouble during their lifetime, while freak geniuses like Nietzsche, Baudelaire or Edgar Allan Poe would always be met with resentment during their lifetime because they are too challenging for the bourgeois (an uncanny perspective for those who are, even they do not want it, trapped in such a life: that the only way to become accepted is actually death). Of course one could say that geniuses like Einstein and Picasso are, while fascinating, easy to understand, while Nietzsche or van Gogh are not; but actually, for the moment, I feel the trajectory of thought about the subject „why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?“ somehow becoming useless; consider that most people do not even come to the idea to evaluate things under the consideration „is it right or wrong?“ but „is it left or right/Christian or Islam/etc?“, it is alien to them that truth could be found outside such frameworks at all. Alpha and Omega about the question „why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?“ is that one does a good thing to write a couple of pages about it, since some things can be said about the subject, but finally it cannot be explained thoroughly; that, in many cases, avant-garde philosophers are not understood well by their contemporaries simply is a recurrent phenomenon in the world, and an expression of this world. My propositions serve as eludications that anyone who understands them finally, understands them as nonsensical when he has used them as steps to climb up beyond them (he must, so to say, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up on it). He must transcent these propositions in order to see the world rightly. So we may conclude that to the question „why are avant-garde philosophers so difficult to be understood by their contemporaries?“ there might be no rational and sensible answer at all. Genius is mysterious. Life is a mystery as well.

„Do you know what this summer has been to me? An endless ecstasy over Schopenhauer and of mental experiences such as I had never experienced before … I don´t know if I shall ever change my opinion, but at present I am convinced that Schopenhauer is the greatest genius among men … Indeed, I cannot understand how his name can be unknown. The only explanation is the one that he so often repeats, that is, there is scarcely anyone but idiots in the world.“

 Leo Tolstoi

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was one of the most ultraintelligent painters, his intelligence supposedly relates to an IQ score of 180, the world he inhabitated, perceived and computed was extremely vast, his epistemology comparable to that of Goethe, his art reaches the supreme goal of being, finally, inexplicable, incummensurable and not to be translated into other languages of thought without losing power and coherence, strange celestial and (un)earthly realms. It is not easy to say where the final conclusion about Bruegel´s oeuvre may be situated, it is always evasive, eternal sunshine of the spotless raving mind. Says his friend Abraham Ortelius: „He painted a lot that cannot be painted. All the works of our Bruegel are more thoughts than pure painting.“ Which is true, in some cases explicitely, in all cases implicitely, the lines between the sensual, the (subjective) thought and the (objective) idea are blurred in the most profound way as they are (in some way) mirrored in each other; as is the line between the subjective and the objective in general; (spiritually) Bruegel is both a nominalist and a realist, and he neither is a nominalist nor a realist (and probably you can shed some new light on the problem of universals by meditating about Bruegel); there is no exact monadology or harmony, but of a perception of disharmony in the world he creates an (idiosyncratic) intellectual and spiritual harmony of vision.

Bruegel´s life remains in obscurity, he was born between 1525 and 1530 and he died 1569 in Brussels. Despite his interest in peasant life it is likely that he was an educated townsman and, as a common thing for painters, he traveled through Europe to get impressions from nature and learn from other painters. He lived in a time of upheaval at the dawn of modernity: Nature had become tacitly manipulable, for very far-seeing eyes God was about to become gradually dethroned and the understanding of nature and the cosmos as an eternal and static order gradually shattered, you had religious wars and violence alongside political upheavals, the gradual formation of the nation-state and struggles for independence. Bruegel seems to be concerned about situating man in his environment, and a general message seems to be that man should not leave his individual place in society and disturb the natural order, else he gets punished (like Icarus or the Babylonians): Note that Bruegel lived at the very dawn of modernity, and innovations are usually not welcomed in traditional societies that have learned some humble ways how to wrest humble meals from nature and therefore view novel ways of doing things as dangerous experiments that lead to bad harvest (which they often are, or had been) – and note also that disorder and destruction of harmony is what the genius abhors and fears (see also Newton´s stubbornness concerning religion, Einstein´s stubbornness concerning refuting quantum mechanics or Goethe´s stubbornness concerning his theory of colours). And so you have most eccentric visions in the works of Breugel, an extremely vibrant force in everything that comes out of itself, seems to try to transform, maybe only to be thrown back onto itself and its own incapability to trancend itself on the one hand, and the extreme need for frame and order and meaning on the other hand („Dionysian“ vs „Appollonian“, if you like): Corresponding to his ultraintelligence and fine genius, Bruegel does not only depict the vastness of the world but tries to give meaning to it by tacitly moralising and trying to give it a moral framework. He is very concerned about the world as a moral phenomenon, desperate about the obvious inexistence of the world as a moral phenomenon or at least the lack of moral in it, therefore eager to make his art carry moral instruction and elatedness. He is very concerned about the cohesion and coherence of the world, the vast heterogenousness of the world, and of man´s insufficiency, nevertheless always escapes the unifying vision of the genius – and so you have both ecstasy and raving out of joyousness over the geniuses` own ability to perceive and give meaning to the world and to share it to others, as well as ominous depression and near-psychosic neurosis about the final inability to do so and being, like a neurotic, trapped in his own world (in the case of the genius, the world of his own inner riches that he tries to project into the world).

While Bruegel depicted the horrors of religious persecution of his time (the persecution of the Protestants in the Netherlands by imperial Catholic Spain as Spain feared to lose control over them, executed by the brutal and sinister Duke of Alba), it remains even unclear whether he was Catholic or Protestant himself, what is clear, however, is that Bruegel was that kind of man who transcend such limitations and make them look stupid, instead, they make religion by themselves. Religion, however, is rather present in the work of Bruegel via the sacred individual, in the Conversion of Paul or The Sermon of Saint John the Baptist (which indicates that Bruegel at least had sympathies for the Protestants and their proclamation of a new religion), apart from that religion rather is presented as a dangerous thing that leads to manslaughter, atrocities and violence (Massacre of the Innocents) or ridiculous hybris and self-aggrandizement of man (The Tower of Babel). Not only in The Sermon of Saint John the Baptist but also in the Procession to Calvary Bruegel however depicts a human race largely indifferent to the suffering of others and to the spiritual, but people (pseudo-)immersed in their own, more or less, serious affairs. Many listen to John the Baptist for entertainment purposes – although Bruegel usually depicts that it is not their fault: they are, more or less, innocent as they simply cannot be reached and touched by the spiritual. As there is nothing truly divine to be found in this world, or there may be just a deus absconditus that becomes deus relevatus only to the artist and the exceptional individual, Bruegel throws back man on himself and frames nature in itself: therefore you have the impression of everything being made of forces that are eager to unleash. In the Book of Strange and Unproductive Thinking I made some buzz about the great genius always seeing an eruptive, if not explosive vision before his inner eye, and also in Bruegel you always have eruptions (most explicitely, the tower of Babel erecting and growing into the sky).

In Bruegel´s vision, you have a communion of creature. Peasant and noble man are alike, they are of the same flesh and moral status, maybe they both are cripples, either as a punishment for sin, or due to the indifference (or meanness) of nature itself. Therein you may both sense a democratic and philantropic vision as well as a warning against hybris – as well as a vision of everything mirroring everything else as you have it in great art. (Why does hybris seem to be a topic that Bruegel so prominently depicts (a notion that forgets, however, that hybris isn´t such a prominent topic in Bruegel´s oeuvre, in which you have the entire spectrum of human (mis)behaviour, as kind of implicitely explicited in the Netherlandish Proverbs or the Children´s Games)? Bruegel was depicted as a very calm man, and boastfulness usually is alien to the genius – the fight against hybris and all other sins, in order to get rid of them, the quest for moral perfection is however the geniuses´ quest, and his achievements, talents and visions surely went to the head of that calm man, which surely embarrassed him and made him uneasy every once in a while.) In Children´s Games he portrays children as somehow grown up, indicating that they are, in the end, alike, and the affairs of grown-ups comparable to child´s play. Likewise, you have Blind leading the Blind as a vision about humanity.

Bruegel´s vision of the world is not a pleasant one, and you have landscapes of death or horror or of hell in his oeuvre. It is an egoistic world of Big Fish Eat Little Fish with man topping all the other fishes (and the vile and resolute look of one of the fishermen, with a knife in his mouth, indicates that some of men seem to sadistically enjoy it (with animals actually not being much better, nor man being much worse)). You have mourning about the Treacherousness of the World and an obvious fine man turned into Misanthrope (leaving open the possibility of weakness in the misanthrope himself and an implicit warning that a truly noble heart cannot be corrupted). You have hellish visions, that are, nevertheless, populated by clumsy demons that do not seem to be real or harmful, indicating that the true hell may be the man´s world. Divine spheres are more or less absent, although Bruegel made an iconic depiction of the Land of Cockaigne – as a narrow garden of largely earthly delights. Celestial heaven, as a sphere where you can see and feel all the beautiful things maybe is not a tangible place for men who are largely not able to see, feel and experience much with their hearts. The seperatedness between the artist (or the saint) and the world is also a latent topic, most prominently depicted in The Painter and the Connoisseur where behind the contemplative, concentrated, helpless-melancholic-unnerved artist there is the bourgeois who is impressed by the magnificence of the artwork and instantly opens his purse to buy it – and ironically, the bourgeois in his naiveté looks more likeable than the somehow grouchy artist.

Bruegel is famous for the depiction of peasants and peasant life. Although the peasant was a subject of mockery to the more educated people at that time, Bruegel´s depiction of peasant life is – although of course not free from depiction of human error – empathetic and it does not come as a surprise that he enjoyed attending peasant festival, weddings and funfairs. I also get immersed into watching children playing, their innocent but powerful movements that seem to actualise the full potential of gesture and immersion into itself. The innocently raving mind is the geniuses´ mind, and it does not come as a surprise that by watching children playing or peasant´s dancing, the genius feels that such must be heaven! Of course the genius knows that those gestures are, to a considerable degree, empty and behind the seeming ecstatic creativity there frequently is no creativity at all – however, he gets a very pleasant impression, also of human innocence, of humans enjoying themselves and being immersed in themselves – and it is a vision of the self-sufficiency of creature that he enjoys as well in it. In Bruegel´s peasants you often have vulgarity or an expressionless physiognomy due to the absence of soul, but there usually is no meanness (although of indications of meanness there is no shortage, of course).

Bruegel´s physiognomies are a mix between individuality and idiosyncracy, typology and caricature, all mirrored in each other at once, and the richness of how to depict it in always new ways is another expression of Bruegel´s overabundance. Bruegel does not depict humans as truly vile, instead there is dignity in most of them, it touches the heart to look at the personnel of the Peasant Wedding being content with themselves while eating, even if it is animal-like and there seem to be no higher interests – but they are not to blame and the genius usually rejoices when he has the possibility to watch someone innocently enjoying something and, therein, fully actualising himself in his own self-containedness and immanence. Look at how the aberrations from beauty, like the physiognomy of the bag piper and his friend at the Peasant Dance, are giving identity nevertheless, although the tastyness of it seems to predominantly lie in the carefulness (and empathy) of artistic execution. Even the many demons like in the Dulle Griet or in The Fall of the Rebel Angels look like funny little animals, and they provoke some sympathy as they are obviously cursed to a ridiculous existence for their lack of character and their debasedness, and they actually look harmless and neither affect the Saint Antonius and not even the Dulle Griet. In some paintings, mostly those portraying peasants at the harvest, you have an absence of physiognomy, and the rather uncanny Beekeepers are defaced – people reduced to their social role (the Beekeepers are a late work and it is curious to think how Bruegel would have developed had he lived longer). Facelessness, however, is also a good principle, as it indicates the concilliation of the subjective and the objective, the individual and society, etc.

As it was about situating man in nature, Bruegel was also (kind of) revolutionary and hugely impressive as a painter of landscape: Karel van Mander noticed that Bruegel, on his journeys through the Alps, seemed to have „devoured all the mountains and rocks, to spit them out as paintings again – that close he had been able to get to nature in this respect, and in others“. It is true that the productive mimesis of the genius goes that far: he internalises things in his mind and soul and recreates them. Bruegel´s landscapes usually are extremely vast, diverse and depicted in great detail, most prominent to be seen in The Tower of Babel or The Hunters in the Snow. They are neither real nor overly surreal, they are neither an abstract „idea“ of landscape nor an exact realisation, they aren´t exactly sublime nor are they indifferent – again it is difficult to find out how Bruegel actually situates man in nature, or nature in nature, or nature in a divine order. The hunters seem to have, in a humble way, captivated and domesticated a bit of nature but seem to be far from the dominium terrae and the cultural mandate expressed in the Old Testament („Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.“). In the vision of Bruegel the Elder, there seems to be some tacit symbiosis, some possibilities of exchange but also a vast indifference and impossibility of communication and communion between man, animal and nature. Man and animal in nature and nature in nature – a story of heterogenousness, as told by Bruegel.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was a famous and respected man during his lifetime, and after his death his sons carried his legacy. Nevertheless he had not been very prominent for centuries afterwards and came to be misunderstood, for instance, as a minor copycat of Hieronymus Bosch in the 19th century even by respected art critics – LOL, what a stupidity – but this often happens to the most intelligent people. In the 20th century the implications of Bruegel´s worldview and artistic vision became honoured and broadly understood, and it is actually difficult to fully understand and appreciate Bruegel before our own age (concerning Bruegel and Bosch, it needs to be said that Bosch lacks Bruegel´s humour – and in Bosch´s world evil is not man-made — whereas in Bruegel´s world of man and deus absconditus it is man who is responsible for evil: that is not to be taken as a derivativeness but there is actually a broad spiritual and cognitive distance between those two visions – apart from that, when a genius seems to copy another genius, it will not be because of lack of own imagination, but because there is a familiarity of mind and competence – and because to honour the predecessor and to establish another mirror view).

To sum up, in Bruegel´s vision you have ecstasy, eccentricity and eruptions of overabundance and a strong sense of connectedness and how stuff is mirrored in other stuff. As it had been frequently said in those notes about artists, art is about revealing the existential ontology of a thing via presenting a thing mirrored in different or in dislocated contexts that shed new light on the thing. Bruegel, via his omega mind, more or less shows the existential ontology of the entire world! He is able to investigate relationships and interrelatedness of any kind, and then to ironically question them, respectively, via irony, add an additional point of view to the entire structure. Bruegel´s vision, and Bruegel´s mind, is, more or less, complete and Bruegel´s world floats and stabilises itself via the solidity of its own endogenous set of equations. See how you have everything, or may see with your inner eye, as a burning chamber, every person, every peasant or demon, throwing some light on his surroundings – without, however, illuminating the whole world. It isn´t the case that „every thing mirrors everything else“ or that the world is an „endless network of jewels“ or a monadology where every monad contains everything else and the complete history of the world, including the world´s future, as the enlightened mind often claims it is: it is a world of more or less limited areals, where some connections are possible (to some), others aren´t. And, as it seems, if the enlightend mind is honest to itself, that is how the world truly is. Endless and without limits (?) is the mind, heavily bumping into each other and blocking themselves are the objects of the real world. Bruegel the Elder depicts the world, in general, as a kind of purgatory. Which, however, means that it is up to the individual itself and the duty of the individual to make a good impression via catharsis, reformation and refinement.

P.S.: That I said in the introduction that Bruegel´s intelligence relates to an IQ of 180 is a personal guess at the moment, maybe Bruegel´s IQ was only 160, but, given the vastness and sophistication of his intellect and the total inner cohesion of his vision, I guess it was considerably higher – and actually as high as human intelligence can ever get (note that this does not mean that Bruegel would have scored 180, or even 160, at an IQ test, since especially an artist´s intelligence is not what IQ tests adequately measure and represent – however I try to estimate a person´s intelligence via the level of analysis and integration, abstraction as well ability to see individual aspects to a thing, and in such respects, Bruegel´s intelligence is hardly ever reached and maybe only in the case of Leonardo only ever truly topped). I do not come up with this out of an intelligence/IQ fetish, which is viewed with suspiction in our society, but as a matter to achieve clarity about the Bruegel case! Having said that, it may come to mind that maybe Bruegel even had an IQ of 200! Note that very high intelligence and creativity will come in as a kind of psychosis to others, due to the extreme throwing up of heterogenous and diverse material at once and the eagerness to establish hardly intelligible connections between all of it, however, only as a kind of psychosis, since, to the sympathetic observer, it will reveal itself as a vast cosmos of sense and meaning, not the collapse of meaning as you have it in psychosis. There´s no abnormality to it, but hypernormality. As I follow along these lines of thought and establishing perspective, it comes to me that Bruegel the Elder depicted the psychosis of the world! Jiiiiiii! A completely rational depiction of the psychosis of the world! Finally, maybe the ultimate fulfillment the human mind can reach is that it is not an („enlightened“) mirror image of an „endless network of jewels“ that would make up the real world (a vision that is a lie!), but that it is the endless hall of mirrors (ego should also evaporate when a stage like this is reached). Bruegel´s interior is the endless hall of mirrors. So you see, it is not meaningless when reflecting about things with the help of IQ scores.


Update about Extreme Metal (Architects and Iconoclasts/Morbid Angel)

„Kingdoms Disdained“ by Morbid Angel is (once again) unbelievably strange and otherworldly death metal, this time from 2017 Chaos A.D. Guitar riffs that have no resemblance to guitar riffs, song structures that are incomprehensible, nevertheless architectures and structures that stand erect, tall, upright, intimitating and as ancient relicts from the future, it reminds of Kataklysm´s opus magnum in aloofness from anything commonly accepted, „Temple of Knowledge“. As you gradually awaken, it appears to you that even the solipsistic production seems to make sense. Architects and Iconoclasts. I am very happy with it, and that it took them 17 years to actualise a really good album since „Gateways to Annihilation“ can be forgiven as you see them opening another gateway to strange dimensions and stranger aeons and giving new impulses to the most philosophical genre in popular music – extreme metal – and paving ways for a bright future (although the album is, of course, and as always, about world downfall caused by the resurrection of the Ancient Ones blabla). „Kingdoms Disdained“ is a major event, almost like their first two albums, centuries ago. Hell yeah, death to false metal. 

Metaphysical Note about Extreme Metal