The Titanic Twelve

 

Human consciousness is subject to fad. Left brain for this epoch – right brain for that. In a mandelbrotian hierarchy, the zeit of each generation leans to one hemisphere or the other. Zeit-summarizers comprise our philosophical, artistic, scientific canon: Brunelleschi with his fixation of the station point opened the door for linear perspective in drawing and painting, Newton explains a grand order, Carlyle and Ruskin repurpose religious energy for secular use, Einstein explains the simultaneity of energy and matter, McCartney combines rock-romance and melodic-harmonic invention, Cobain signals frustrated flannel for Gen-Y.

In Western Art-making for the past 20,000 years the picture plane has oscillated from shallow to deep and back to shallow. Cave art is shallow. Giotto, Cimabue extended pictorial space on chapel walls and with Brunelleschi’s codification of linear perspective, pictorial space became very deep. 400 years of Western looking through the picture plane as a window. Impressionists flattened the picture plane with impasto 3-d brushwork scattering sunlight across the retina. Cezanne accelerated this de-windowing of the picture plane, shattering the illusion of deep pictorial space altogether while creating deeply felt, intensely real works. Deep pictorial space and linear perspective not required.  Cezanne’s rebellious denial of the picture plane as a window is the source of his greatness and the source of all things Cubist,  thus most 20th century painting and much architecture. Analytical cubism is Cezanne for Dummies. Young Picasso was a great mimic of all the prominent painters of his youth but he wasn’t about to sit on a folding canvas stool out in the blazing sun every day painting rocks and trees to get his Cezanne ticket punched, nevertheless, he wanted to absorb Cezanne’s closure of the Renaissance idea of the picture plane as clear glass. Cezanne searches for a deeper magic and finds it. Mondrian, Malevich ignored the whole idea of a painting as a view through a plane. What you see is what you get – a panel with an idea – no window, flat as a pancake.

This three part division of ways of representing pictorial space: naive shallow, deep, informed shallow,  distill graphically the three great epochs of Western civilization 1. Pre-Renaissance: an epoch of the unpinned station point 2. The Renaissance epoch of the “Descended Grid” ( 1412-1912) from Brunelleschi’s codification of rules of linear perspective (pinned station point)  to 3. Cezanne and the cubists flattening of pictorial space. 1912 is the locus of Postmodernism – a new epoch of the Unpinned station point emerges with renewed vigor.The Titanic sunk in 1912 – a symbolic end of the domination of Enlightenment rationalism ( think steam power, slave-cotton capitalism, urban slums and disease and the evils of the 15 hour work day for children taking the bloom from Voltaire’s rational rose) There are 12 significant thinkers who introduced the ideas of Postmodernism to the world ( multivalence, ambiguity, contradiction, simultaneity, rhizomic connection. The Titanic Twelve: Braquasso, Einstein, Schoenberg, Joyce, Mieles, Isadora Duncan, Tesla, Marconi, Wilbur Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ferdinand Saussure. The twelfth player to be selected by reader.

Postmodernism did NOT begin in the 1960s with the invasion of the Fab French Five: Barthes, Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, as Yale academics would have us think or with the Modernist dogma-shattering book by Robert Venturi: “Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture” but in 1912 with the unpinning of the station point by Braquasso – see: attached diagram for the split of Western civilization at 1912. It re-started a dormant epoch of simultaneous and always conflicting, ways of looking at the world: orthographically pinned or in the spirit of the Titanic 12 – unpinned.

Note: Architecture game changer Robert Venturi likes my diagram and has the original on the wall of his Philadelphia office ( and in his slide show). The architecture world has labelled Venturi as the father of postmodernism and he has crowed from the rooftops that he is not a Postmodernist. My diagram (see above)  explains his assertion that he is not a postmodernist.

In the attached diagram “T.O.E.2” ( Theory Of Everything-2)  the postmodern ( unpinned) stuff is the upper branch of the arrow and the Modern is the lower, straighter continuation of the pinned idea. These ideas have been at war with one another for the past 100 years creating a cultural dynamism that continues to thrive. One is essentially pinned or unpinned at heart and mind. A case of neurology-neocortical networks-left brain-right brain, matters for neuroscientists. The Titanic Twelve launched the Postmodern swerve.

Diagram e-mailed upon request

JB Questions and Observations:

  1. Frank Lloyd Wright draws heavily on John Ruskin via William Morris to convey Protestant religious fervor in architecture. Mid-20th century Modern architects had religion i.e “Kill ‘em all if they don’t convert, feel the power and the glo-reee of the Miesian box-a placeholder for the uninspired.
  2. The religious impulse is an engine always running in human culture: the gears, clutches, belts, pulleys of core myth supply fervor to the machinery of art and politics. The Grand Synthesis ( Darwin-Mendel), Abstract Expressionism and MId-century Modern Architecture were religious cults.  Passing through the cultural alimentary canal soon will be gender-race driven obsession currently being digested as enzymes try to dissolve exceptionalism in a reign (rain) of obsession.
  3. Does life on Earth change the rate of solar decay? Does life accelerate the reduction of the solar gradient? Does life reduce the sun-void gradient or simply take advantage of it for some large and remote chemical-spiritual purpose?
  4. Are there long-term lasting genetic-epigenetic effects resulting from the age of American slavery (“The fecundity of the capitalized womb”) that are locked into both white and black genomes as methylated chromatin? Are black and white Americans now born deformed by 18th, 19th Century slavery horrors?
  5. JB Experiment: Test African blacks and American Blacks for DNA,RNA methylation differential. Are there residual heritable genetic effects of slavery horror. See: TTT (Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma – Dr. Natan Kellerman)
  6. T.S. Eliot and Richard Prince: appropriation agonistes.
  7. Any story told by anyone falls into some literary trope for explication – no need for erudition on part of author – explanation performed by lit academics for sport and credit.
  8. A bright purple butterfly is a single small, pretty thing in its own right but wherever it darts in its zigging and zagging across the Mayfield amid hundreds of shades of green, yellow, purple and orange-brown beige, it acts as a keynote or a compliment and lights up all colors as it flutters by. Its color is the cherry on top of the existing diffuse hues. Each small zone visited has its unique color combo and this butterfly brings them all to life. The fluttering keynote. Gifted people do this – add the keynote color wherever they go.
  9. Antebellum plantation owners were a population of absolutist dictators – one absolutist per mile square.
  10. The emergence of The Beatles in 1960s was the manifestation of a grand cycle of crime and atonement with roots in 250 years of global cotton capitalism, American slavery, Black oppression giving rise to the blues, jazz, R&B, rock and roll. Liverpool was at the heart of Cotton capitalism as the British port of entry for Slave-produced cotton for the child-crippling textile mills of Lancashire. Liverpool merchants and bankers got rich on the global slave trade as British banks financed American cotton capitalism (black enslavement). The Beatles were the expansion valve releasing an unspoken, dark pressure suffusing the Merseyside air. The Beatles, a band born of African-American music, transform this black music delivering it back to people of every color and creed around the world -a big thank you for the world built upon your slavery and the music it inspired- a melodic, passionate prayer for life  from the Liverpool lads:  tears into music – liquid into animated air.
  11. Two great inspirations for 19th early 20th century women’s hair fashion: Fannie Kemble and the Gibson Girl.
  12. Is high-fructose corn sweetener an enteric pathogen? Yes it is – don’t touch the stuff.
  13. Only two of our first 12 presidents did not own slaves: John and John Q. Adams.

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May 31, 2016    1:07 PM


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