Meditations on an Exhibition: „The Art of the Viennese Watercolor“ (Albertina)

Otto Weininger says intensity and comprehesiveness of memory is a defining feature of genius, and I think also Proust´s undertaking is about the possibility to enliven memory and, through that, make one´s own subjectivity more compact and immediate – maybe also more objective, since memories amalgamate the subject with an object experience and the world. I have to say that I also need to have everything on my monitor and that memory plays a vital role for me. Think of me being surrounded with an atmosphere that is memory and that I want to have present and compact. In contrast to the intelligent person the memory of the creative person will not necessarily be (quasi-) eidetic and textual, it will rather be associative and hypertextual. There! It happens I think of something, and then my memory often delivers me an instant from the past that somehow goes along with it – combining the thought/idea and the memory usually amplifies both and adds up to harmony. It becomes immersive. – Being immersive, or enabling immersion, is also an element of art. So I enjoyed the current exhibition at the Albertina: „The Art of the Viennese Watercolor“, showing watercolour paintings from Austrian artists, most of them from the 19th century, many of them from the glorious Biedermeier period. They usually portray everyday life scenes, and it moves me a lot to look at all these people and sceneries respectively to dive into my extented national memory and try to enliven them. They become present. Often these street scenes are from a time when also Beethoven used to walk those streets. There are also children in it and for instance in Karl Postl´s „View on Prague from an Archway“ (ca. 1800) you have a child accompaning her mother at the center. As you remember, I get immersed into children as they embody potential, becoming and the openness of future – and, therein somehow paradoxically, those children are long gone. I wonder what those people´s lives have been? Their individual experiences, their memories, their happinesses, their sorrows? I would like to get into every house of the world, not only in our time, but throughout all history, and investigate. That will feel good (?). Those watercolour painings are very enlivened, very immersive. Ahh, the innocence of perception of them painters and their high level of awareness and empathy for their surroundings! You become a part of something when you dive into those paintings. As for more specific purposes: Take a look, in great astonishment, in the amazing detailedness of Rudolf von Alt´s works! See how Peter Fendi, with his a bit dissoluting style, creates some sense of double identity of the world and of the social realm! Check out how August von Pettenkofen (a solitary eccentric) pushes that even further, into the twilight realm! The exhibition „The Art of the Viennese Watercolor“, does it bring me some happiness and relief? Yes, it does. And what an impression of nature there is in all that!

(Note that only Rudolf von Alt´s „Der Traunsee“ was part of the exhibition, and that both Fendi´s and Pettenkofen´s are oil on canvas, but I like them and good pics of the paintings aren´t so easy to find and you should go to the exhibition and get the book about the exhibition anyway.)

About People That Run Amok and Science Cranks

America has a problem with gun fetishism, due to a cowboy-macho mentality, and since people mimic other people there is an ongoing tradition of the USA being plagued by mass shootings. I.e. there are people with some sinister character that more easily hear their „call“ (to become mass shooters) in an environment where there are also other people who do – in contrast to the notion that such people are „ticking time bombs“ that are set to „inevitably“ explode I guess most people with sinister character won´t (at a large scale): it depends on their environment on how much they get triggered to really act out like that. Mass shooters seem to be a mysterious case since they usually accept their own death or being thrown into jail for lifetime (and I guess a substantial amount of people who may want to become mass shooters are held back just because of this perspective). What is the damage that is inside them? I remember there was a dicussion about the condition of Norway´s mass murderer/terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, of whether he is actually insane or can be held accountable for his acts (i.e. suffers from paranoid schizophrenia or has a massive personality disorder which however does not render him truly insane). There were psychiatrists who considered him insane and others who did not (public pressure however has been on being able to hold Breivik accountable for his deeds, which he also strived for himself). I remember how an Austrian psychiatrist said in an interview that the „insane“ grin of Breivik would remind him of a patient he had in an insane asylum that had cut off his penis but simply smiled at him, like a naughty child, showing his parents the mess it had done. I was wondering what kind of insanity that could be? Are there more, and more individual forms of insanity than just schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? I also remember a Norwegian psychiatrist who had to deal with Breivik in his youth said he was thinking Breivik had Asperger Syndrome (which may lead to difficulties in capacity to empathise, though more in the intellectual sense than in the moral or emotional sense). More recent American mass shooter Adam Lanza was also believed to have been aspergeroid. Could it be that an Aspie with an evil character and who had to suffer severe frustrations due to being a social misfit can turn into a monster? In some cases, maybe. However, I also read a „confession“ of another young mass shooter once (respectively I have screened it since it consisted of ca. 150 pages): It was a quite bright teenager, maybe with IQ 150, who had written a lenghty, well elaborated statement, the message however was that he was jealous of other (supposedly) happy (and romantically engaged) teenagers and hated them – as he did not consider himself able to ever lead such a happy life. So some kind of teenage angst – it remained unclear why, at such a young age, he considered himself unlikely to ever be able to live a life like those he envied – however, given the darkness or emptiness of his soul his guess that he wasn´t loveable (which he did not express directly, although I have read only parts of the suicide note) was likely correct. What is astounding is the level of hatred against a world about which he felt that it had wronged him and that he would have deserved better. I also remember a case of a juvenile interviewed in prison who had murdered someone, because he had felt that all the others at school were „someone“ whereas he himself had been „nothing“ – and so, in order to be „someone“ he killed a popular girl from high school and went into prison. Strange individuals (also like Mark David Chapman who shot John Lennon in order to become a celebrity himself): Are they extremely narcisstically wounded (due to a personality disorder that makes them so vulnerable) or do they have an even more severe identity diffusion that makes them feel so empty inside so as that they commit the most extreme acts, with which they also hurt themselves, just to „be someone“ (in the case of MD Chapman a more severely disturbed case than just a narcissist, reaching into mental illness, seems evident)? There has been an article „Inside the Mind of the Mass Shooter“ in the aftermath of a more recent mass shooting in the USA, leaving dozens of people dead and hundreds of people injured at a country music festival in Nevada, carried out by 64-year old Stephen Paddok. The article says mass shooters frequently show signs of paranoid schizophrenia and an illusion of narcissistic grandeur – that has been frustrated, and because of this, they act out, also taking into account their own death which does not matter to them anymore, or is desired by them. Apart from their narcissistic fantasies, which do not unfold in reality, they are obviously so empty inside that all that is left in them is to „settle the scores“ with a world seen as hostile or unworthy, and then obliterate themselves. – As far as I can see, a condition common in mass shooters seems to be a paranoid personality disorder. People with a paranoid personality disorder are extremely touchy against personal setbacks (for which they usually blame others), suspicious and anxious against possible setbacks, they hold long or everlasting grudges, they are argumentative, have a sense of entitlement and often are self-referential or have a superiority complex and fantasise about being omnipotent (in contrast to the narcissist they, therein, do not strive for admiration, neither (in contrast to the histrionic) for attention, but obviously just for power respectively for being regarded as superior for its own sake). There does not seem to be so much inside them concerning warmheartedness, their emotional apparatus rather mainly consists of feelings of anger and resentment. When, in their fantasies of superiority they see themselves questioned by others (regardless of whether that is the intention of the other person or not), they become extremly angry and, in a way of projecting their own hostility into others, paranoid (and maybe also their fantasies of large conspiracies against them is a projection of their own grandiose and grand-scale fantasies). Paranoids aren´t easy people and they are likely to become ever more lonely in the course of their life. A paranoid personality disorder can also develop into a paranoid schizophrenia. I think that paranoids aren´t just paranoid i.e. suspicious and deluded (maybe due to an attachment disorder in early childhood) but that they (at least in many cases) have severe problems of regulation of self-esteem and that their paranoia is to a considerable degree a projection of their own proneness to feel hostility towards others. They may lack inner resources and inner riches. They may even know that their paranoid fantasies are bs and irrational, but they hold on to them since they comfort them emotionally. So I guess paranoid personality disorder probably is the most frequent condition inside the mind of mass shooters. (However, among the possibly many causes a murderous instinct may also be caused by a brain tumor: Such was obviously the case of famous mass shooter Charles Whitman who went up a tower and shot several people and made it very difficult to catch him in the 1960s – he had been a normal guy who had become increasingly plagued by the desire to murder and, therein, felt that something „wasn´t right with his brain“ – after his death a tumor was found in his brain. Likewise, also another special breed – serial killers – aren´t necessarily lunatics or sociopaths. They might be neurotypical – apart from the fact that they have murderous impulses inside them. Also sadists aren´t necessarily sociopaths: that they get triggered by sadistic fantasies may be an isolated feature in the arena of their entire personality.)

A while ago also the crackpot/crank personality attracted my attention. A crank is someone who inflexibly holds on to beliefs that are widely considered as wrong (or not-even-wrong) or irrational, obviously as, although cranks may appear to be humble, they also have a massive desire to see themselves as superior towards others. According to Wikepedia characteristics of cranks include: 1) Cranks overestimate their own knowledge and ability, and underestimate that of acknowledged experts 2) Cranks insist that their alleged discoveries are urgently important 3) Cranks rarely, if ever, acknowledge any error, no matter how trivial 4) Cranks love to talk about their own beliefs, often in inappropriate social situations, but they tend to be bad listeners, being uninterested in anyone else’s experience or opinions 5) Cranks seriously misunderstand the mainstream opinion to which they believe that they are objecting 6) Cranks stress that they have been working out their ideas for many decades, and claim that this fact alone entails that their belief cannot be dismissed as resting upon some simple error 7) compare themselves with luminaries in their chosen field (often Einstein, Newton, Edison, etc.) implying that the mere unpopularity of some belief is in itself evidence of plausibility 8) Cranks claim that their ideas are being suppressed, typically by secret intelligence organizations, mainstream science, powerful business interests, or other groups which, they allege, are terrified by the possibility of their revolutionary insights becoming widely known 9) Cranks appear to regard themselves as persons of unique historical importance. – So, although „perhaps surprisingly, many cranks may appear quite normal when they are not passionately expounding their cranky belief, and they may even be successful in careers unrelated to their cranky beliefs“, also the crank condition seems to be an expression of a personality disorder. But what common personality disorder would apply? Obviously you have narcissistic, histrionic and schizotypal features here, yet neither NPD, HPD or StPD seem to truly apply. Upon relfection, it may also be paranoid personality disorder, if we consider the problem of self-esteem regulation, desire for quasi-omnipotence and holding on to colossal belief systems which turn into the delusion of colossal conspiracies being plotted against oneself when ego becomes frustrated. In the German version of the crackpot article on Wikipedia there is a link to the querulant, a somehow similar condition to that of the crank, and as it turns out, querulant behaviour is regarded to stem out of a paranoid condition. Personality disorders are often hidden and people with personality disorders may „function“ relatively well in everyday life – only when you meet them more intimately you see there is something wrong with them. On the other hand, when you meet someone who acts inappropriately and inflexible there is a high probability that such a person has a personality disorder. There is a continuum between (harmless) eccentricities and massive personality disorders. It is good to have knowledge about psychopathology since you are about to meet many people equipped with such a disorder and they may bring severe upheaval in your life. Walter Riso, a therapist who has written a valuable book about dangerous romantic liaisons with problematic people estimates that 20 – 30 percent of people are equipped with PDs („and if we take into account lighter cases, that number would increase significantly once more“). Meditate about that.

Individuals who (obviously) combine a high IQ with a paranoid personality disorder may have been Bobby Fisher, Ted „Unabomber“ Kaczynski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Christopher Langan. Bobby Fisher was an entertaining and flamboyant chess genius before he turned into a person that made antiamerican and antisemitic comments at every occasion, as if he had been compulsed to do so. At September 11 2001 he welcomed the terrorist attacks (in a Japanese radio show) as „wonderful news“ and in his last radio interview in Iceland (where he lived in „exile“) he could not refrain expressing his sympathies for the North Korean Dear Leader. Yet already in former times it had been noted that Fisher was deeply troubled, arrogant and with a short temper, which however he had managed to somehow balance with being funny and exiting and a genius. Psychologists noted that for Fisher playing and winning at chess was about fantasies of power, and in a TV interview he once gave answer to the question what he would experience as „the greatest pleasure“ in chess: The moment when he „breaks the opponents ego“. – Ted Kaczynski was a normal child at first. At age 2 however he suffered from a shock of the immune system and had to be isolated in hospital. After that experience he had become a very reclusive child and person. I guess, apart from genetic disposition, personality disorders stem out from severe frustrations in early infancy where the infant does not have a fully developed concept of self and the own body and cannot recall memories (therefore, unlike neuroses, personality disorders do not appear as something „attached“ to a personality, but an element deeply ingrained in that personality itself). Apart from being a maths genius hardly understood by anyone Kaczynski became a reclusive and bizarre individual who gave up mathematics to become the Unabomber. Despite employing a primitivistic (and a bit Rousseauian) ideology he admitted to himself that the true motive for his criminal crusade had been his „hatred“ for people. When I once took a short look at his manifest, I noticed that it was full of paranoid hatred against the political left (I would have liked to analyse that further since it appeared to me as an expression of an inferiority complex, respectively a hatred against everything that is „soft“ and tolerant because of self-hatred for one´s own perceived inner weakness, but I am not interested to do that at the moment). – I have not read or studied Jean-Jacques Rousseau a lot, but it is commonplace that he sent his offspring to orphanages and that after a while he antagonised against everyone, became suspicious about Voltaire et al. betraying him or plotting against him. When he finally arrived in England, David Hume welcomed him, therein dismissing warnings that Rousseau is known as a problematic person, only to find those warnings justified after a while. Maybe his entire apparently humanistic but also anti-civilisational philosophy is an expression of his paranoid condition, an attack against a society about which he thought that it did him wrong (note that intellectually a paranoid person may well be a humanist). – Christopher Langan is noted as a person with one of the highest IQs currently on stage. He developed a metaphysics, the Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe (CTMU) as a „Theory of Everything“ (ToE) i.e. as a „theory of theories“ that finally explains (or provides a framework for understanding) the entire reality. I have read  some of his texts and also the counterarguments by others (which Langan however says they do not exist or are invalid) but still do not know what to think about it. As far as I can see it contains at least some plausible claims or suggestions as well as apparent exaggerations, as Langan claims he can prove the existence of God, of the afterlife, of the ethical character of reality and the like (note that in Langan´s theory those categories are somehow distingiushed from what is commonly understood by them). I cannot discuss the CTMU at the moment, but, as Christopher Langan appeared on Facebook (in a group for discussion of the CTMU) a while ago, I can discuss his behaviour: He joined the group as people in it have expressed curiosity why Langan had spoken out for Donald Trump. He went there to explain his motives and since then, apart from engaging in discussion and explaining about the CTMU, he compulsively rants against academia (which he flat out denounces as all corrupt and interested in anything but scientific truth), immigrants, left-wingers, „cultural marxists“, tech-billionaires, („stooge-like“ and sociopathic) politicians, atheists, (philosophical) materialists, liberals and people who don´t stick to guns – regardless of whether it is any issue in the respective thread or not. He bitterly blames „academia“ for not being „famous like Einstein“ and disrespecting the CTMU (what he fails to mention however is that the CTMU has also met opposition in the high IQ communities) and, as it becomes apparent after a while, he rants against the elites as well as the more stupid parts of the populace of a world that fails to acknowledge that the CTMU is the greatest intellectual achievement of all time and the overall solution to everything and that Christopher Langan is the greatest genius of all time and the greatest saviour since Jesus Christ (as, concerning the more stupid parts of the populace, he likes to engage in dreaming about eugenics). There is some rationality and things being worthy of consideration in what he says, but it becomes apparent that Langan says them for psychological reasons and that he is not at all a balanced individual. In arguments he goes ad hominem pretty quickly and he employs an uncannily contemptuous and scornful language in which he dehumanises others: he does not radiate much goodness and warmheartedness. He is excessively self-referential and, in contrast to humbleness and proneness to question and re-evalute one´s own ideas and beliefs as common characteristics of the genius he never ever comes up with any sort of „self-irony“. He is excessively sensitive to being „trolled“ (which, of course, he occassionally gets, however he seems to understand every disagreement as „trolling“, specifically if the other person has a point: in such a case, when he runs out of arguments, he simply derisively claims that he is much smarter and the other person an idiot). Like the paranoid person I have personally known, he permanently complains how hard his life is and how „infinitely entitled“ immigrants are (because of plutocratic-cultural marxist anti-christian conspiracy engineered by tech-billionaires and the government (if it is run by democrats or an „Obamamessiah“ and where only Trump can be a saviour)). Concerning his fantasies about conspiracies and plots he even goes that far to come up with conspiracy theories that the attacks of 9/11 were an inside job carried out by the government (and fantasises about the purpose having been to distract public attention from the game-changing and mass illuminating CTMU) – whereas no serious intellectual, regardless of nationality or ideological affiliation comes up with such a thing since to anyone who is capable of critical thinking it is evident that those conspiracy theories are much less plausible than the „official version“. In general, also as an intellectual he is pretty picky in taking into account stuff that confirms his vision and neglects stuff that does not. For someone who claims to be „closer to absolute truth than anyone else“ in history, Langan is quite casual in making claims he, at least somehow, knows himself that they aren´t exactly appropriate or pay tribute to „absolute truth“, but preeminently serve the purpose of comforting him emotionally. For someone who humble-brags „Do I think this (my achievements/IQ) makes me better than anyone? No, I still work in a bar“ he is quite immodest (note: the quotes are from a video portrait about Langan easily to be found on Youtube). And, at any rate, someone who claims to be the „smartest man in America“ and then speaks out for Trump! Ok, granted that Langan is a conservative, but also most of the more illuminated conservatives turned away from Trump. However, Langan finally makes it clear that he endorsed Trump because Trump runs against left-wingers and „cultural marxists“ which he deems accountable for lack of success of the CTMU – I mean, so much for Langan as an honest intellectual who claims being solely interested in the progress and enlightenment of humanity, but endorses an aggressively anti-intellectual/scientific individual who is a slap in the fucking face for any rational person and is irresponsible enough to elect someone like Trump into the most decisive office in the world! Ok, granted again, Trump is a personality disorder guy and a narcissist like Langan, but an intellectual should first and foremost ask whether someone is intellectually honest and accountable. – To sum up, while operating at a high intellectual level and at least containing elements that should not be dismissed the CTMU makes the impression of being something Christopher Langan wants to come up with to prove that he is the greatest genius in history (i.e. a toy, not a theory). Certain paranoid elements like its grand dimensionality, dismissal of „moral relativism“ in favor of an absolute truth/logos that Langan equates to a pantheistic/psychic deity (that equates to the universe itself) (and where Langan is his prophet) seem to be there, or could be interpreted along these lines. – I actually feel a bit uneasy mentioning all of that since Chris Langan hasn´t done anything bad on me personally, but I am, among other things, here to document my age, and that is how he exposes (and deconstructs) himself online (and, as I can see, he doesn´t do it only on Facebook, but also in various other threads on the internet – as for instance HERE). I have been aware of Chris Langan for some years now and have been reading and observing this and that in bits and pieces from time to time and did not know what to think about him, but given such exposure – which, by the way, does not invalidate (parts of) his theory, but sheds a strange light on it – I am skeptical.  On Facebook I can even a bit understand his „eccentricity“, as in the respective group there is a considerable number of people who applaud to Langan and kiss his ass to anything this idiot says, no matter how outrageous it ges (for one or many reasons). Even if they are sympathetic to his views or his theory, I do not quite get why many of those folks do not see, at least after a while, that Langan simply is not a balanced individual and that his behaviour is flat out abnormal. Of course, his frustrations can be understood – thinking that he has come up with one of the most significant intellectual/spiritual achievements of all time, with important implications for self-understanding of man and is not credited for it – yet contrary to good intentions, a basic abrasiveness of his personality is obvious (what is most frustrating that some individuals fall out with Langan after a personal unpleasant encounter, but not so often because of his genral behaviour). They think they are geniuses themselves and oh, so special and so damn clever when they endorse Langan and the CTMU, or so. Concerning true geniuses, it gives me an indication why folks like Einstein preferred to solely talk at length with Gödel, Nietzsche went to Sils Maria, Wittgenstein went to Norway to think or to Lower Austrian children to communicate or Emily Dickinson refused to leave her house after a while (as now does Perelman). I mean, those highly gifted physicists around Einstein, what did they do? Crying „Hurra!!“ when the First World War broke out, and then again crying uncritically „Hurra!“ when a tricky thing like quantum mechanics manifested! There seems to be a bit of a lack of inner clarity in those people! Even people who are not commonly retarded may follow dangerous leaders. The fog of the world. That is the quintessence of „Moby Dick“.

 

White Light from the Mouth of Infinity

Recently I bought me some books, anthologies by female Christian mystics Mechthild of Magdeburg, Teresa of Avila and Marguerite Porete (as well as male Christian mystic Dionysius the Areopagite (although Dionysius probably also was a woman, since his true identity remains obscure – therefore s/he is also commonly referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius)). Mysticism strives for the unio mystica, the becoming one with deity through purification of personality (which is therefore often a nuisance to clerics, since it undermines the authority of the church as intermediary between man´s world and the divine: especially Mechthild had no easy life and Marguerite was sentenced to death by the Inquisition). Especially both Teresa and Marguerite were talking about stages of enlightenment, in the highest form the soul becomes a medium of divine perception. Teresa said, God can be understood as a diamond, greater than the entire world, where everything can be seen, and in which she happened to see herself and her actions at incredibly speed and heavily concentrated (leaving her a bit embarassed to see her noble deeds as well as her sins without any true distance from each other). Such a soul has been touched by the divine light. Yet, interestingly, both Teresa and Marguerite say that seeing the divine light is just a short flash, that may happen only once or a few times in life. Full unio mystica, i.e. becoming one with the divine light, is only possible after death, in this life the soul is to still remain in the body and to wander the earth, and also the fully developed mystic still remains, in parts, an earthly, human creature that is object of suffering and possible setbacks. – I am somehow relieved to hear that from such distinguished persons, since I was thinking that my own enlightenment was incomplete. Furthermore, I see there seems to be no use in expecting anything more than that, to achieve an entire clear (of complete balancedness): No hope = no fear. Bucke wrote in his book about Cosmic Consciousness about the white light, and also Colin Wilson wrote about it in The Outsider. Colin Wilson saw the white light too at a young age, and he said all his life has been a strive to bring back that moment. I also saw the white light when I was writing my second book, I thought, compared to the epiphanies described by those people mine was a weak epiphany, but I think indeed it was a higher one, since I am more rational than they are/were. Bucke said, of all the enlightened people in history Walt Whitman was the only true (highly modern) individual that did not fall prey or become an instrument of his divine perception, but rather turned it into an instrument for himself. I think I also remain in control (if I am not mistaken about my enlightenment at any rate). I called this form of enlightened perception the White Lodge, as readers of my convulsions may now know. (Dionysius the Areopagite spoke of God as a „dark light“ that illuminates the earth, but that can be truly seen only through his absence to the obvious gaze. A deep bass I connect synaeasthetically with the headlight of this dark light).

White Light from the Mouth of Infinity is a major album by Swans. It combines the most outstanding songwriting, majestic elegy, triumphantly arranged, with extremely depressing lyrics. The cover is one the coolest I´ve ever seen. On the front you have a human rabbit, reaching out his carrot antenna at the end of the world, likely in search for someone else, his soulmate, his counterpart. On back you have him eventually have found him. I wrote to Jarboe many years ago and mentioned the album and the artwork, she was asking in return whether I want to purchase the original artwork „at a reasonable price“. But I could not afford it anyway. In my apartment there is a poster of it, hanging on the wall nevertheless.

Wir wollen also sagen, die Gottheit sei wie ein überaus klarer Diamant, der weit größer ist als die ganze Welt, oder ein Spiegel nach der Art desjenigen, welcher in der früher gedachten Vision die Seele empfing, nur dass er auf eine weit erhabenere Weise sich zeigte; auf eine Weise, die ich nicht hoch genug vorzuführen vermag und dass alles, was wir tun, in diesem Diamanten gesehen wird, so gesehen wird, dass er alles in sich schließt, und weil es nichts gibt, was über diese Größe hinausgeht.

Staunenswert war es für mich, in so kurzer Zeit so vieles in diesem klaren Diamanten nebeneinander zu erblicken. Höchst bedauerlich ist es mir andererseits jedes Mal, wie so garstige Dinge, wie es meine Sünden sind, sich in jener klaren Lauterkeit ebenfalls darstellten. Gewiss, wenn ich daran denke, weiß ich nicht, wie ich es ertragen kann. Deshalb wurde ich auch mit Scham erfüllt, dass ich nicht wusste, wohin ich mich wenden sollte…

Teresa von Avila

New Problems and Perspectives in Contemporary World Order (as Recognised by the CIA) (Prelude to Notes about the New Axial Age)

I reiterate, in 2005, when I had to complete my one-year postgraduate study course „Master of Advanced European Studies/Major in Conflict and Development“ at the University of Basel, we had to write a a thesis of maximal 50 pages i.e. a work somehow resemblant to a larger seminar work. I, however, wrote a pretentious thesis in which I tried to formulate a framework in which contemporary international relations could be understood, discussed major international developments from economics to politics to legal matters and also discussed the problems, the state of the art and the prospects for all the world regions. After that I fell into depression, but a while ago reconsidered it and found out is hasn´t been that stupid, and I already posted about it.

Now I have got me a book: Die Welt im Jahr 2035, gesehen von der CIA, a report where the CIA tries to capture future developments, particularly those that can be expected to unsettle in the next 20 years with particular focus upon those expected to unfold in the next 5 years. Upon reflection, I do not want to talk a lot about that now since everyone can read the book herself. I think however that in those centuries we are living in a new Axial Age which (will) bring(s) about significant shifts and transformations concerning the self-reflection of man, a major transformation of categories concerning science, philosophy, spirituality, politics, economics, religion, social stuff, technology, morals – my project is to think about that and sort all of this out as good as I can. I want to reflect the intellectual foundations of the new Axial Age, or construct them. I guess I will have some success concerning that endeavour. That will feel good.

 

 

Albert Oehlen and Daniel Richter

After the (alleged) demise of meaningful painting and make metaphysical statements, from this implosion and collapse in itself, from the depths of the mind of Albert Oehlen formidable and tasteful explosions emerge, masterfully executed. The eternal whirlpool from below. That means there is hope.

Daniel Richter paints tasty pictures packed full with stuff, in an opposition to minimalism. Sometimes he is abstract, sometimes figurative. The statue of man is often erected as seen via a nightscope of armed forces. There was an exhibition of his works last year and Erich said, Richter is a damn good painter.

I wonder what would happen if I was a painter. Given the extreme intensity of my intellect and unearthliness of personality, I relate to Vicent van Gogh. What would van Gogh do, after the demise of painting? What would his explosions be? Since reality is dim, I finally had to rely to a significant amount on dreams in order to finally do literature. A while ago, after I quit or suspended doing literature, I dreamed about painting a picture. There was not much to it, there was part of a circle in the upper end and also a triangle, then there was the usual seam which you have in dreams which make content unclear but make things seem so interesting. I think it was about easy geometry, but there was much to it. Maybe, in doing so, and exploring those possibilities, I`d be on the right way. The Merowinger said I should start to paint. But I guess I am not very skillful at this endeavour and I do not have the time to learn it now or in the nearer future. Geometrical forms – I will remember it however as maybe that is the way out to express the metaphysics of our age.

Piet Mondrian (and the Geometry of the White Lodge)

I like the name Piet Mondrian. It is like an oval spheroid, self-saturated, self-contained, stabilising itself in his own harmony. A rippling, a wave, a self circuit that does not spread confusion or butterfly effects in the universe but that comfortably leads back again to its own start, to be explored again. Piet Mondrian. Indeed, Piet Mondrian was one of the leading proponents of making harmony great again in art. Look at the immersion of mind, progressively plunging into deep reality, to finally see the movement of primal/eternal forms, to give rise to new concepts and frameworks in order to communicate and understand reality, getting into closer touch with it! See how he starts as a naturalist painter, occasionally flirting with impressionism, portraying quiet nature or quiet people! Gradually the fire of deep reality litting eleven poplars, the woods near Oele, red cloud in the sky, devotie becoming more intense, apple trees becoming more semi-abstractly distinguished from as well as embedded in the background, the windmills as evocation of silent materiality increasingly on fire and finally a triumphant semi-abstract red mill (leading critics to denounce such paintings as „insane“)! In accordance to Mondrian´s thinking inspired by theosophy the evolution of (wo)man as a hypercycle! Then, in his peculiar adaption of cubism nature made of eccentric lines and curves, until the basic raster of reality of geometric lines finally breaks through (most perfect in Composition VI), then loosens its own grip (Composition 10), then becomes replaced by somehow moving rectangles/colour fields, until you finally have impersonal geometric grids (that would alienate critics and cubists from such an approach)! At that time and point of immersion, Mondrian was alienated from the art scene, devoid of success and unsure how to progress further (and he thought about giving up art and becoming a sailor then). With the help of friends he was lucky to find a humble but steady income nevertheless and in deep doubt how to progress further the final breakthrough happened into his signature paintings made of lines, rectangles and colour fields over white ground! Kind of „last paintings that can be made“ the possibilities of movement within such basic scenario are vivid; in the 1930s his paintings would often become even more minimalistic. In his final period, when he moved to London and eventually to New York, the geometry of New York would provide new inspirations, the grid becoming deep and threedimensional or vibrating in its own fractal intensity to the Broadway Boogie Woogie – the calm and calculated Mondrian also was a big fan of jazz and a vivid dancer, likely not only for Dionysian reasons but also as an adherent of the eccentric and moving/shifting geometry expressed in jazz (indeed, Mondrian was both an ascetic monk as well as a hedonist, in both respects at peace with himself and balanced in himself). As a theorist, Mondrian was an eminent and influential figure of the De Stijl movement (although it should be noted that other members of De Stijl like Theo van Duesburg and Bart van der Leck were very influential upon Mondrian). Like suprematism in Russia, De Stijl was striving for expression of harmony and perfection. In Mondrian´s understanding, art was not about the „self expression“ of an artist, but a striving for expressing that which is universal, and eternal (and therefore harmonious). As such, as a seeker for deep reality, who wants to see through things, in order to investigate the thing-in-itself, Mondrian was a metaphysical artist. At his time, Mondrian had to acknowledge that religion as the sphere of the universal had become superseded. Instead, a protean modern subject had come into power as well as an impersonal technology that facilitates, standardises and explosively increases productivity and the possibilities of man. Like other abstractionists, Mondrian saw abstraction as the possibility to express the metaphysics of a modern, industrialised age – but he hoped that within that process of amalgamation or dialectics, a more concrete subject would come into being, a man that is fully matured, who is able to reflect and internalise the forces of protean subjectivity and technology and is not alienated by them: that is, then, the new, and final universal (or, the overman, if you want). In order to master a transgression like this, art had to supersede to be spiritual by expressing the tragic of human experience but had to become intellectual via a purified intellect – and Mondrian´s artistic endeavours can be understood as an undertaking of purifying the intellect. In that respect, Mondrian also said his art was about the expression of pure relation and pure relationships between things (as, so to say, the network of reality). As, in reality, relationships between things can never be seen directly but only concealed, the task of the artist is to directly express those relationships: in the pure form, the relationship between the thing and the other thing is a square angle (and the emanations of reality colour fields). That is the primal geometry of the world (respectively the mind that looks at it). The Universal means the unification or concilliation of object and subject, respectively, as Mondrian deals with it, of the thing and the other thing. Harmony is established when object and subject, the thing and the other thing are reconciled. Like in the works of his fellow compatriot Vincent van Gogh, trees have been a prominent subject in the (earlier) paintings of Mondrian, allegedly symbolising the solitary artist, in his serenity and timelessness. While van Gogh can be said to have been a Dionysian painter, Mondrian was Apollonian. While Vincent´s letters were maniac and passionate, Mondrian´s self-reflection was expressed in the mode of calculated and methodological essays. While Vincent was expressing the sensational character of the world, or of his mind, directly, Mondrian expressed them indirectly. In the white ground of his paintings, where lines and surfaces are erected, you have the white noise of possibilities in which everything is contained …. Remember that I called the space where you are surrounded by white nebulaic light, where ideological and doctrinal segregation between things have broken down and you have pure and universal perception the White Lodge. And indeed, the White Lodge can also be seen as a space of the possibility of pure relations. It is the space of the beginning and the end, of the Alpha and Omega, where subject and object, the thing and the other thing are reconciled as waves within the continuum that is the White Lodge. Mondrian´s signature paintings can be understood as expressions of a white Nirvana, they can also be understood as expressing the geometry of the White Lodge.

Although he is considered the major Netherlandic painter of the 20the century, Mondrian remained relatively poor during his lifetime. He never married. When he happened to have success and his reputation increasing, he would perplex people and lose his reputation again as he would become more experimental again and moving to new territories. I find it very sad not to have found an extensive biography of him, but he also destroyed letters and traces from his past later in life as he became confortable with maintaining his image as an impersonal „art monk“ so that it seems a bit difficult to distinguish how much of this was motivated by constructing an image (which is, nevertheless, likely of a greater necessity also in the most venerable regions of human endeavour in order to make oneself a circulating unit) or simply the truest and the natural form of Mondrian himself. I have read elsewhere that there are no indications that Mondrian had a lot of humour, contrary to many humorists he never gave up his enduring optimism about the arrival of the universal man. Later in his life at peace he had been very much at peace with himself and he never gave up hope. In preparing this note I have read however that it would frequently happen that people reluctant or in opposition against Mondrian´s paintings sooner or later have an epiphany how harmonious and calming those paintings are, radiating inner peace. Art dealer Sidney Janis said in his career he had met only two artists who did „not feel compelled to defend their own vision against that of others“, who were vastly tolerant and balanced, therefore, in a way, im/transpersonalised truth seekers: One was Duchamp, the other one was Mondrian. In the valuable book „Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts“ (edited by Ingo F. Walther) the conclusion about Mondrian was that although his mature paintings seem to be easy, hardly any artist is more difficult to imitate or to forge than Mondrian. Of all the artists of De Stijl who were striving for harmony, Mondrian (they said) was the only one to have actually achieved it.