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Picturing Mind: Paradox, Indeterminacy and Consciousness in Art & Poetry (Consciousness, Literature and the Arts 3) (Consciousness, Literature & the Arts) [Paperback]

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Item description for Picturing Mind: Paradox, Indeterminacy and Consciousness in Art & Poetry (Consciousness, Literature and the Arts 3) (Consciousness, Literature & the Arts) by John Danvers...

In this book the author takes an unusual multi-disciplinary approach to debates about contemporary art and poetry, ideas about the mind and its representations, and theories of knowledge and being. Arts practices are considered as enactments of mind and as transformative modes of consciousness. Ideas drawn from poetics, philosophy and consciousness studies are used to illuminate the conceptual and aesthetic frameworks of a diverse array of visual artists. Themes explored include: the interconnectedness of existence; art as a way of interrogating appearances; identity and otherness; art and the self as 'open work'; Buddhist concepts of 'emptiness' and 'suchness'; scepticism, mysticism and the arts; and mind in the landscape. The book contains an important and distinctive visual dimension with photographs and drawings by the author and texts employing unorthodox syntax and layouts that exemplify the themes under discussion. The author hints at a new aesthetics and! philosophy of indeterminacy, paradox, uncertainty and discontinuity - a contrarium - in which we negotiate our way through the instabilities and contradictions of contemporary life. Written in a lively and accessible style this volume is of interest to scholars, arts practitioners, teachers and to anyone with an interest in art, poetry, consciousness studies, philosophy and nature. Artists, poets and philosophers discussed, include: Cy Twombly, Helen Chadwick, John Ruskin, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Long, James Turrell, Anish Kapoor, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Agnes Martin, Land Art, Arte Povera, Minimalism, Charles Olson, Kenneth White, Robin Blaser, Fred Wah, Gary Snyder, RS Thomas, Alice Oswald, John Cage, Jorge Luis Borges, Guy Davenport, Kenneth Rexroth, Heidegger, Marjorie Perloff, Thomas McEvilley, Merleau-Ponty, Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Roland Barthes, Umberto Eco, David Abram, Thomas Merton, Pyrrho & Nagarjuna.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Editions Rodopi BV
Pages   372
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   1.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 20, 2006
Publisher   Editions Rodopi BV
ISBN  9042018097  
ISBN13  9789042018099  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Aesthetics

Reviews - What do customers think about Picturing Mind: Paradox, Indeterminacy and Consciousness in Art & Poetry (Consciousness, Literature and the Arts 3) (Consciousness, Literature & the Arts)?

Elliptical orbits  Jun 30, 2007
This monolithic-looking book (with as many pages are there are degrees in a full circle; "textbook" right on the cover in steely type) is at once a guide to and a model of avoiding monolithic models of thinking, both bad and good. Danvers opens sounding like a pastoral Gregory Bateson, pointing out how the qualities of the air and the light, the trees and animals around him, as well as what he is reading are all equally part of his consciousness at any given moment. "Each pattern is a moment of becoming, a shifting current of attentiveness and engagement that, for loss of a better word, I call my 'self.'" He quotes poet Anne Carson quoting Sappho on Aphrodite's mind/self: "many-colored, spotted, dappled, variegated, intricate, embroidered, inlaid," and many more---what Carson calls a "spangled mind." The cultivation of such a mind is Danvers' ideal, and this book is his way of helping us to achieve such a mind. It does indeed talk about art and poetry and science and paradox, but these are only the vessels we're invited to unwind or decant to find the ideas temporarily taking such shapes.

Danvers has strong Buddhist sympathies, and we shouldn't be surprised that he includes a number of drawings he has done, not as direct illustrations of specific text, but as a series of visual harmonics. Taking off from the Buddhist conumdrum of having to see the world both in conventional ("realistic") terms and as "empty," Danvers comments that "in some way drawing can be used to practice emptiness, in the sense that as we draw we become aware of the conventionality of distinction." Art's "interrogation of appearances," he suggests, is also something we can apply when looking at ourselves. (Poet Anne Wadlman once described herself standing before a mirror, "Putting makeup on empty space.") Seeing such ideas in science, art, self and more as being continuums rather than separate entities is one of Danvers' root principles here. And that is what Danvers is after: making us look to our root ideas and strip away false premises. (How many steely textbooks can do that?) In a telling Gaia of self, Danvers' ambition as an author prompts him to refuse to draw conclusions for us. PICTURING MIND at times seems an anthology, a daybook, an art journal, a record of spiritual thought, a work of light-handed socio-anthropology, anything but a lecture telling us "this is how it is."

Danvers knows not to thunder, not to hammer. He knows that purely "logical" argument carries with it the aggression of the rigid finger, impatiently tapping on the tabletop. His progress is instead a series of elliptical orbits, with long swings out to unexpected territory and back to the "we all know this already" landscape, always about the common center of finding a balance between living in the given and finding new ideas around and within ourselves; of a constant, insistent becomingness.

Danvers' range of subjects and examples here is near-encyclopedic, ranging from the classical age of Greek thought to deconstruction days. The reader probably won't get his or her mind around it the first time, and rereading and dipping in will likely be a rewarding necessity. And I wonder if this was not deliberate, if offering more than can easily be mastered, synopsized or summed in an effective way, isn't another way of reminding us that we always have to think and draw conclusions for ourselves.

Near the end of the book Danvers asks us and himself, "In following the various convoluted trails and themes of this book we are left with the conundrum of how to draw these together into a meaningful resolution?" He answers this in part by borrowing an idea from Guy Davenport, who wrote that artists infold, and readers unfold. He then suggests we extend Davenport's notion to the self, see the making of the self as an infolding, the making of a "complicatio," and when we meet another self we engage in a mutual "explicatio," and then infold some of what we find in the process. "And each folding leaves a trace, a crumpling, an adding to the texture and history of the 'complicatio,'" our self.

This book is a self-unfolding by Danvers, and if you come to it open you will get much to fold back into your self.


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