May 2009

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

constitution dockThis week I have been thinking about, reading about and watching things about creativity.

3 influential books I will mention:

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964 (this version reprinted 2001)

Thinking with Things: toward a new vision of art, Esther Pasztory,  2005

Creativity: Unleashing the Forces within, Osho, 1999

The movie: Pollock, with Ed Harris & Marcia Gay Harden

And finally the exhibition: Art Deco at the NGV

Have all had an influence on me and are shaping my current conversation around creativity and what is means in our contemporary virtual media driven society.

So I would like to start my little essay with this quote  ending McLuhan’s book (which I have updated to use more MODERN terms so that younger people may understand):

Since electric energy is independent of the place or kind of work-operation, it creates patterns of decentralism (decentralisation) and diversity in the work to be done.

This is a logic that appears plainly enough in the difference between firelight and electric light, for example. Persons grouped around a fire or candle for warmth or light are less able to pursue independent thoughts or even tasks, than people supplied with electric light.

In the same way, those social and educational patterns latent (inherent but untapped)  in (computer) automation are those of self-employment and artistic autonomy. Panic about automation as a threat of uniformity on a world scale is the projection into the future of mechanical standardization and specialism, which are now past.

I feel that this is going to be a number of posts, or it would be one really lengthy one. So I will split it over a few posts.

Thursdaycaba at twilight, 2 October 2008

I have become a bit fascinated by McLuhan’s predictions about the coming of electronic technologies. So I have included some links and quotes in this post, before I continue my little essay on creativity next post.

I am curious to know what would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to rearrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties… (Marshall McLuhan)

Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it. (Marshall McLuhan)

As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes. (Marshall McLuhan)

And I highly recommend devoting half an hour or so to this little curiosity from the vast world of information that is the www:

Here is a curious recording: (if m3u (streaming) audio work for you, or if it doesn’t (though the latter URL requires a 25 mb download before you can hear anything)). This is a recording of Marshall McLuhan (warts and all) visiting a High school classroom in Toronto, in conversation with the students. I’m not sure of the date of this recording. Probably late sixties (his book ‘Understanding Media’ was published in 1964). A friend of mine taped this recording when it appeared on the CBC radio program Ideas back when it was aired, which was probably late sixties or early seventies. It was recorded and edited by Alan Anderson. (THIS ONE IS THE 25MB DOWNLOAD VERSION)


Btw, I have turned my Mac’s speech recognition on, and I am teaching it to understand my voice. It speaks as a little alien. A little like EvA in Wall-E the latest Pixar movie which Will and I went to see this week.


Elizabeth and the beech treesDear all

Sorry that I haven’t been a good correspondent. I am thinking of you, and hoping you are all well. If you want to keep up with my doings, check this page out, or go to, where I am posting lots of stuff about art. You could join Twitter! I am often to be found there as well.

Due to my recent Macbook Mishap (hard-drive died), I have decided to re-visit and re-publish some posts from my early blogs of 2008 (from Cabanandra Dreaming, as an ode to the beauty of backups! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dear readers, back-up!

Systems Thinking Part 2

Eleanor Rosch distinguishes between two types of knowledge: analytical knowledge (cognitive science) and what she terms “wisdom awareness” or “primary knowing.”

Says Rosch: “The analytic picture offered by the cognitive sciences is this: the world consists of separate objects and states of affairs. The human mind is a determinate machine which, in order to know: isolates and identifies those objects and events, finds the simplest possible predictive contingencies between them, stores the results through time in memory, relates the items in memory to each other such that they form a coherent but indirect representation of the world and oneself, and retrieves those representations in order to fulfill the only originating value, which is to survive and reproduce in an evolutionarily successful manner.”

In contrast, “Awareness is said to [be knowing] by means of interconnected wholes (rather than isolated contingent parts) and by means of timeless, direct, presentation (rather than through stored re-presentations). Such knowing is ‘open,’ rather than determinate; and a sense of unconditional value, rather than conditional usefulness, is an inherent part of the act of knowing itself. Action from awareness is claimed to be spontaneous, rather than the result of decision making; it is compassionate, since it is based on wholes larger than the self; and it can be shockingly effective.”

In one of my previous posts  ( Indigenous Law vs Blunt Tools) I talked about UNDERSTANDING, which I think is something like this ‘wisdom awareness’ that Rosch talks about.

So how does it relate to building? Well, I think that many of the things that we all love in our homes are universal things. For example a sense of warmth, comfort, protection, security, light and etc. So building ‘eco-friendly’ (which owner builders understand because they have learnt it through experience!) such as using passive solar principles, using local labour, sustainable materials, building as a response to the environment, etc, could also be universal thing. BUT, it must be available at the level of ‘wisdom awareness’ or ‘primary thinking’. This cannot come from more legislation.

As Sam Sergi says in my earlier blog

SAM SERGI: I do believe we need parameters to kind of work in with if it’s going to help the environment, because we need to look towards the future and try and economise, yeah, but by the same token, you know, need to have a sense of “this is what I feel I would like to have”.

This sense is the UNDERSTANDING or wisdom awareness that I refer to.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Anyway here are some photos of recent goings on in Taswegia. Including another visit to Mt Field and caving at Mystery Creek. Cheers.