All I am is a transient flickering irony that colours the motion of these signs. As psychoanalysis has revealed, the wound may well be the best hurting place to start from. Most of mass culture is manufactured to satisfy commercial ends and is as far removed from selfknowledge as an amusement arcade is from teaching philosophy. The second face, in contrast, is the Socratic. Art is shown as emerging from, and appealing to, the ironic postmodernist sensibility and mass media-led culture, while being devoid of philosophical significance.
In postmodern consumer societies most ethical and aesthetic judgements tend to be seen as absolutely relative — and, most often, merely subjective. To understand the foundations of his personality, he looks to early formative experience, to a complex reciprocal play between natural impulses and shaping environment. It is built on freedom, on personal engagement, on social collaboration, on cultural connection and the deep desire for transpersonal recognition. Some time had passed and the children learned to walk, and in spite of their blindness they began to stray away from their mother. This, as I implied earlier, is the economic background for many of the cultural insights provided by the postmodernists. The book provides a more productive exploration of the arts-literacy relationship.
What was the elenchus that he witnessed and underwent? Whatever occurs in this space of appearances is political by definition, even when it is not a direct product of action. In the form of advertising much of it exists to indoctrinate while in the form of art much of it exists to anaesthetize, to arrest that active movement from diffuse self-consciousness to articulate selfawareness which is one of the principal aims of education to engender. As an art-maker, Beckmann holds rather protectively the round green mandala which it is his burden and privilege both to make and to bear. With a sense of awe, consciousness discovers itself and struggles to speak its hidden and labile nature. Each poem seems like a further breathless graphic account of a landscape often impossible to depict where the febrile account can only end, truthfully, with another dash, an incomplete hyphen, leaving space for the next report. Yet if all judgements in life are absolutely equal, nothing can matter. The aim appears entirely negative: an examination leading towards refutation.
This educational process is the very antithesis of a private activity: it is also impossible to quantify and measure though its mesmerising power is palpable and observed, by any sensitive onlooker, in a flash. This utopian icon of wholeness is called by Blake Jerusalem. My assumption is that in a postmodern age the word metaphysical has to shift its meaning so that it refers not so much to those impossible systems of ultimate explanation but more to the process of questioning and questing which lie behind them. Never once did my tireless and well-meaning teacher engage my feelings, the latent energies of my aesthetic and existential responses. This book opens up a fresh and timely debate about the vital power of creativity in modern education. Peter Abbs argues that contemporary education ignores the aesthetic and ethical as a result of being in thrall to such forces as the market economy and managerial and functional dictates. The word metaphysical in this book has virtually no connection with these grand narratives of explanation.
Peter Abbs is one such mind … Being both a denizen of the world of education and a defiant outsider, he has now thrown out a firebomb in the shape of this little book … There is barely a page that does not provide a new spark of thought, or some new path to venture down. I often invite the students to begin with autobiographical work — with the drama and the narrative of the self, with the fairy story by Alex. The paradigm of progressive education described below passed me by entirely. Drawing on examples from modern poetry, literature and visual art, it is an eloquent and passionate argument for the need to develop ethical and aesthetic energies to confront the growing vacuity of contemporary culture. Plate 3 Vincent Van Gogh, Self-portrait for Gauguin 1888.
Now I believe there can also be a poetic elenchus. For most people in the West the word spirituality is still formally linked to Christianity and to at least some working acceptance of its major tenets. It is already, because of its chosen genre, inside a cultural tradition. To see it I almost have to make parts of it up. It is as if from under the proclamation of human rights — partly articulated in the eighteenth century by educated gentlemen with the Greek polis in mind — there has grown a smooth overarching managerial culture disseminated by global organizations, with a dramatically different set of symbols, values, relationships and expectations.
The Community of Recognition provide a truer sense of democracy and a richer sense of participatory culture, a culture closer to the primary processes of making, presenting and evaluating — directed by the need for exploration and social confirmation. It need not be complex or profound. In their double aspects, of making and of receiving, the arts are in pursuit of meaning. It was a key word of the new paradigm but deeply problematic. By permission of the painter. A compassionate tolerance for difference has emerged, yes; but what has gone is an informing sense of what holds life together beyond the consumer imperative.
At the level of factual description, it seems simple enough. In the former case, metaphysics was linked to versions of philosophical idealism and rationalism; in the latter with theology and doctrinal speculation. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. By using such an impersonal method he works to avoid any representation of a single consistent self — such a notion being seen as no more than an illusion, a literary phantom created by the deceptive reifying power of language. What, then, was the new paradigm shift in arts education? To delineate all facets of his personality; to examine his own behaviour, the sordid and the trivial, as much as the noble and the good; to demarcate an underlying pattern in that behaviour by tracing his own adult dispositions back to their sources in early definitive experience: these are the ends Rousseau consciously set himself and he presented his work as an unprecedented enquiry, requiring a new language: For what I have to say it is necessary to invent a language as original as my project.