Monday, January 11, 2010

FRANK BRANGWYN (1867-1956)

Frank Brangwyn had a special talent for depicting grand structures such as cathedrals, bridges and ships.





He drew individual human beings the same way, as if they were monumental structures. He posed and rendered them with the kind of weight, grandeur and dignity he would have applied to a cathedral:









Brangwyn had an excellent eye for the glories of the secular world; he was able to show the magnificence-- and even the divinity-- of laborers working in a shipyard. That's part of what made his work so appealing to the public. However, he did not lead a particularly religious life.

Then, while he was still at he peak of his powers, Brangwyn became more interested in formal religion, and from the 1930's on, "devoted himself to religious art."

Biographer Libby Horner offered one explanation for Brangwyn's transformation:
As the artist grew older and faced mortality he produced more religious works in which he frequently included his own image as if he feared retribition for having been a "bad lot" and, in his own superstitous manner, was hoping to redeem himself.
I was reminded of Brangwyn when I received the new portfolio of his illustrations of the Stations of the Cross from Auad Publishing (the publisher responsible for the forthcoming book on the illustrator Robert Fawcett).



As you can see from the drawings in the Auad portfolio, Brangwyn never lost his gift for classical staging of figures:







The newly religious Brangwyn drew himself into a number of these drawings. Clearly he was wrestling with a lot of issues.



Brangwyn was internationally famous during his lifetime, but as he aged, the modern art world passed him by. Scholars will tell you that modern artists and writers became embittered by the horrors of World War I and the hard lesson that modern science would not necessarily be a tool for progress. Brangwyn's triumphal style gave way to abstraction and art that questioned fundamental principles of western civilization.

The once gregarious artist, who had found such glory in the secular world, led an increasingly reclusive and superstitious life and died in 1956.




105 Comments:

Blogger kev ferrara said...

As an unabashed fan of Brangwyn's, I never seem to get enough of his work. Thanks for feeding my habit.

I wonder if you might clarify what you meant when you said Brangwyn's later work questioned the fundamental principles of western civilization.

(By the way, the cover to your Fawcett book is gorgeous! Can't wait!)

1/11/2010 6:24 PM  
Blogger kenmeyerjr said...

David, you make even a history lesson interesting and fun. I cannot remember if I have heard of this artist, but I love his renditions of fabric...and he had a great command of light/dark and atmospheric perspective. Another good one.

1/11/2010 6:25 PM  
Blogger kenmeyerjr said...

Damn that Kev, he beat me to the first post by one minute!

1/11/2010 6:26 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

>>As you can see from the drawings in the Auad portfolio, Brangwyn never lost his gift for classical staging of figures<<

Are you referring to the theatrical exaggerations a la "classical realism"? As far as arrangement goes, I think a third class Baroque master could group figures far better than these examples.

1/11/2010 7:08 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev: sorry, I was not clear-- I didn't mean that Brangwyn's later work questioned the fundamental principles of western civilization. I mean that Brangwyn's style-- that kind of heroic, triumphal, representational way of looking at the world-- was replaced by a very different approach from artists who were disillusioned and embittered. It's their work that questioned the fundamental principles of western civilization.

The sun was setting on the vaunted Age of Reason; people who formerly believed in the idea of Progress learned that progress in science and technology did not always translate into progress for humanity. (If the development of poison gas and tanks in World War I was not enough to persuade them, the development of quantum physiscs-- showing that our intuitive notions of the world are an illusion-- sealed the deal.) The artistic reaction was dadaism, surrealism, existentialism, abstraction-- anything except the kind of optimistic, realistic work that Brangwyn did. That style, in the minds of many, had proven to be only an illusion of an illusion.

1/11/2010 7:18 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kenmeyerjr-- I've done a few posts on Brangwyn before; if you want to see scans from an original drawing, go back to http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2007/02/one-lovely-drawing-part-ten.html. You'll see that his line is really quite sensitive.

etc, etc-- as I think you can tell from Brangwyn's drawings in the first half of my post, Brangwyn understood "theatrical exaggeration" of a pose very well. Your point about the "groupings" of figures in the Stations of the Cross is well taken, but I suspect Brangwyn was going for a different effect there. Brangwyn apprenticed under William Morris and worked in the Arts and Crafts movement; he worked in the flatter Spanish and Moroccan styles, and was also influenced by oriental rugs. As a result of these influences, you often see figures stacked up or grouped together in his murals in a way that is more decorative than classical realist. He really had an astonishing range, and depending on whether he was decorating porcelain or fabric, or making woodcuts, or painting a canvas, his groupings might appear very realistic and well integrated, or flat and unrealistic.

1/11/2010 7:54 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

>you often see figures stacked up or grouped together in his murals in a way that is more decorative than classical realist<

David,
True Baroque art is in essence decorative art, and thats why I made the comparison. A comparison that Brangwyn very much invited, and again in my opinion one that he failed at, great illustrator notwithstanding.

1/11/2010 8:16 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

etc, etc-- I meant "decorative" in a flatter, more design oriented, less realistic way (a la William Morris) than a baroque style, although I suppose most art is decorative, so perhaps my term wasn't helpful.

For a good analogy, compare Howard Pyle's flat, medieval looking illustrations with his more realistic, carefully molded illustrations. You know he was able to paint (and group figures) very realistically, but in those medieval images his figures look like they were run over by a steamroller, for purely decorative reasons. I think Brangwyn, too, understood quite well that he was using figures in space unrealistically, but did so for iconic purposes. In my view, there are too many Brangwyn drawings where he has grouped figures well to attribute this effect to anything else.

1/11/2010 8:33 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Ah, I see, David. I had missed the meaning of that, and I agree with your history, which you've written nicely and succinctly. As an aside, the existence of a subatomic level of reality does not negate our macro reality. We aren't illusory, only our primacy was. (Next time you stub your toe, you'll see.)

etc. etc.: Basically, I couldn't disagree with you more. I find most baroque decorative painting mannered and boring. I consider Brangwyn a far better decorator and think his figural groupings are spectacular and less mannered than baroque figural conventions. The difference is Brangwyn's inventiveness, which is modern while retaining integrity of draftsmanship.

1/11/2010 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Chad Sterling said...

I love Brangwyn,and I think his work portrays the common man with a non-condescending heroism and a kind of genuine regard that you seldom find in, for example, propaganda art that seeks to ennoble 'the proletariat'.
I don't know what he was like as a man, but I would regard him as multi-talented and much under-valued.
I imagine Dean Cornwell must have idolised him.

1/11/2010 9:51 PM  
Blogger Jelter said...

wow tons of great stuff on here. i'll be sure to keep an eye on this blog.

1/11/2010 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Thanks for the post. I really admire Brangwyn's work and I think he was one of the very best illustrators of the era.

I would like to know what is meant by "superstitious"? Is it your opionion that Brangwyn's renewed interest in Christianity was superstition? Just curious.

1/12/2010 11:04 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kev-- Thanks, I agree with you (and so does my toe.)

Chad-- you make a good point. Despite their common focus on the nobility of the worker, there is a huge gulf between the mindless socialist realism of Stalin and Mao on the one hand, and Brangwyn's tributes to industrial laborers on the other.

Jelter-- thanks, glad to have you here.

Brian-- "superstitious" was not my word, but I have seen it used in three or four articles or books about Brangwyn. This makes me think that we are talking about something other than conventional religious beliefs. I just don't know enough to tell you what form those superstitions took.

1/12/2010 11:15 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Kev,
I understand your feelings about Baroque decorative art. I used to feel the same way. There is not an immediacy to that type of art. But if through a sustained effort one seeks to understand it on it's own terms, the rewards are significant.Of course that does involve getting beyond the conventional tag of "mannered" art.

1/12/2010 4:24 PM  
Blogger Einbildungskraft said...

thanks
gE
PS your way of showing particular areas of a work in detail is very helpful. Fawcett book? Perhaps there will be a more substantial bio on the author :-)

1/12/2010 4:26 PM  
Blogger Jesse Hamm said...

I suspect Brangwyn's biographer views his religion as superstition. Her website bio prominently cites a Douglas Adams quote ("the answer is 42") which mocks the ultimate answers offered by religion, and her characterization (including scare quotes) of Brangwyn's self-inclusion in his crucifixion scenes seems to miss that this is a tradition extending back to the likes of Rembrandt and Michelangelo. Rather than an effort to redeem one's self through art, such inclusions are a nod to the traditional Christian view that our sin made Jesus' sacrifice necessary. I doubt Brangwyn had more than that playful symbolism in mind, but I guess this would be lost on a biographer with a low view of the Bible.

1/12/2010 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Jesse,

Thanks for the info. The Bible is the absolute center of Western Civilization. To not read and understand it is to be culturally illiterate in the West, whether one believes it or not.

1/12/2010 6:26 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Hi David

Great art work. You can see how much he influenced Dean Cronwell across the board, in both boats and people. But in some ways I don't think his world view was abandoned. Artist might have moved on to something else, but the sentiment that is found in his work can be found in much of the Religious movies of the 30's 40's and 50's. Also traditional religion could be seen as part of the old world that brought so much destruction and pain to the 20th century. And I think much of the reason artist rejected the old was because art was always in the service of some great institution.
But more importantly I think we give too much credence to the apparent subject. As you noted the same formal strength is found in both Brangwyn's illustrations and his religious art. A religious or spiritual art does not have to use the symbols of religious institution. The spiritual is present in everything. It is funny because I came across a Michelanglo quote the other day
"Every beauty which is seen here below by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come." He seems to know the meaning lies in form itself and all form is a product of one source and reflects that source.

1/12/2010 9:10 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

D.A.- His monumental style and abstract pattern design have long attracted me. Even at thumbnail size they "feel" grand.

What "illustrations" are people referring to. None are shown, other than the "portfolio of his illustrations of the Stations of the Cross".

He only illustrated two books The Rubaiyat, and Eothen: or Trace of Travel Brought Home From the East, and still the Eothen pictures are more like orientalist easel paintings than illustrations. All other books featuring his designs are based on his work; etchings, watercolors, bookplates.

He was a decorative artist, both as muralist and designer of architecture, furniture, carpets, tapestry, ceramics, jewelry, glassware and stained glass.

'an artist's function is everything: he must be able to turn his hand to everything, for his mission is to decorate life… he should be able to make pots and pans, doors and walls, monuments or cathedrals, carve, paint, and do everything asked of him.' ~Brangwyn from Daily Sketch 17 October 1934

1/13/2010 3:20 AM  
Blogger Mellie said...

You can see work by Brangwyn down the road from me at William Morris's house in Walthamstow, London, which is now a museum.

I find Brangwyn's paintings harshly coloured and unattractive, but his drawings are very powerful.

Brian said: "Is it your opinion that Brangwyn's renewed interest in Christianity was superstition?"
All religion is superstition. No evidence has ever been supplied to prove that gods and spirits etc exist.

This doesn't mean that the Bible is not hugely important culturally and socially or that art treating religious themes can't be outstanding. It might be interesting to try and work out why that is.

1/13/2010 5:07 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Mellie said: "All religion is superstition."

+1

1/13/2010 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Mellie and Theory of Me,

I couldn't care less about your atheism.

There have been many people in the past who experienced God directly, including those who wrote the Bible. You simply choose not to believe them, since you haven't experienced God directly. That's your choice. But to say that they are all liars is despicable. You have no proof that they are liars. Talk about unfounded beliefs!

You simply think that your experience of life and non-experience of God is universal to everybody, and you are wrong. That's a symptom of massive conceit and egocentrism. It's sad that you don't recognize that personal shortcoming.

Since the post is about Brangwyn and what he believed, I think to label his beliefs superstition is unfounded. I'd like to know what Brangwyn thought, not a petty critic.

My comments about the Bible being the foundation of Western Civilization are simply a matter of fact, not bias. And anybody involved in cultural and historical study can see that to be true.

Thanks for injecting your anti-religious bigotry, intolerance, and narrow mindedness into an otherwise nice post.

1/14/2010 10:29 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

This is clearly a miracle of Biblical proportions...Kev and I are in complete agreement on something ;-)

This is a wonderful portfolio of Brangwyn's work and all but one were new to these eyes. It was fortunate that we also had the equally astonishing Dean Cornwell emulating Brangwyn and keeping that flame alive for many years.

1/14/2010 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Valentino said...

David, thanks for this new Brangwyn entry. I'd like to see some more of his drawings. For those interested, Images #6 features 20-page article on Brangwyn. Mostly large pics, very few words.One can see examples of his both pencil and ink drawings (including a spread), watercolors, etchings, oils, cartoons (that is - preliminary drawings for decorations), sketches for murals, orientalist works, as well as four panels for Panama-Pacific Exposition of San Francisco.

(Btw, don't wish to stray off topic, but I have to point people's attention to the fact that - when it comes to scientific evidence - we still wait for the proof that life can evolve from inanimate matter. No human has ever created life in a laboratory, therefore - by scientific standards it is just a theory without evidence. There are lot of other things which are not proved, but people for some reason chose to believe in them. For instance - Love. Many people claim that they experienced such phenomena, yet since it can not be neither touched, seen nor measured, no rational mind should believe in such superstitious stuff.)

1/14/2010 4:13 PM  
Blogger Mellie said...

Brian,

Good grief! All I did was express an opinion. I didn't call anyone a liar, nor did I disagree with you about the importance of the Bible.

You are not doing this "nice post" any favours by over-the-top ranting of this sort, attacking me for things I didn't say.

1/14/2010 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Mellie,

You are calling people liars by describing what they have experienced as "fairy tales". It really doesn't matter if it's an opinion or not--that's what you're doing.

It's a common tactic of the intolerant to react with shock when somebody calls them out on what they say. Any sort of disgreement is described as an "attack". That's because you probably never associate or talk with anybody who disagrees with you. That's pretty sad. Nobody attacked you at all. I correctly pointed out that you are calling other people liars.

Your experience of life is not universal. Simply because you don't experience something does not mean that nobody else does.

And that's pretty much what's wrong with atheism.

1/14/2010 7:17 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Brian: "But to say that they are all liars is despicable. You have no proof that they are liars. Talk about unfounded beliefs!

I didn't call anyone a liar. A liar is someone who knows what's true yet promotes what is false. I'm pretty sure religious types actually believe or desperately want to believe that God exists. I wouldn't say they're lying, just confused and unthinking. People who consciously don't believe in God while claiming to are pretty rare. You don't meet such people very often.

My atheism is not a belief, it's also not a simple lack of belief. I know exactly what God is (I know, it sounds crazy), which is why I know without a doubt that the various religious notions of God cannot refer to anything real. I put them all in the category of "wishful thinking".

"My comments about the Bible being the foundation of Western Civilization are simply a matter of fact, not bias."

Oh yeah? Those ancient Greeks were some serious Bible-thumpers, weren't they....?

1/14/2010 11:30 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Valentino said: "we still wait for the proof that life can evolve from inanimate matter."

There's nothing else that life could have come from. That's just pure logic. If you reject the idea that life came from non-life and say that God must have created it then you automatically put God into the category of non-life or "inanimate matter", which isn't very reassuring to religious types. If you don't want to do that then you're simply saying that God is "life" or has "life" and that life came from life. That doesn't explain anything because then you have to ask what created God, if He even exists. What science has yet to show are the particulars of how abiogenesis happened. Science might never manage to do this, but we know that it must have happened at some point because it's simply logical.

"For instance - Love. Many people claim that they experienced such phenomena, yet since it can not be neither touched, seen nor measured, no rational mind should believe in such superstitious stuff.)"

You seem to be asserting that science would be the only way to prove that love exists. If that is so, why wouldn't you hold the existence of God to the same standard? Obviously, love exists as something experienced by an individual. Science has nothing to say about the validity of personal experiences. Such questions, including the existence of God, are in the domain of philosophy.

1/15/2010 12:05 AM  
Blogger Mellie said...

Sorry to divert David's thread from Brangwyn.

Brian, you are twisting my words. Someone is only a liar if they pretend to believe in God when they don't. Like theory_of_me, I'm sure this is not the case with the majority of religious people. So no, I am not calling religious people "liars", I am saying that they are mistaken.

You should use more appropriate language instead of throwing unreasonable insults at people.

My attitude, which you did not bother to ask me about, is that people must have freedom to practice religious belief even though I disagree with them. If anyone is being "intolerant" here I don't think it's me.

theory_of_me, I like your responses.

1/15/2010 5:01 AM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Valentino-

The inanimate objects about you are vibrating at tremendous speeds, filled with latent energy. Set them afire and their energy will become other. As it was in the beginning, gases* condensed to form matter, matter back to gas, the compositions constantly changing and new forms of matter and gasses ever evolved.So the only question really is, "Who passed the gas?".

Matter, mater, ma, maya, mary, that from which the eternal energy springs, the mother of the universe. I have seen god and she is black, the eternal void of space. Lesson learned, to be a master of reality you must venture INTO THE VOID!


*gas ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: invented by J.B. van Helmont (1577-1644), Belgian chemist, to denote an occult principle that he believed to exist in all matter.

1/15/2010 7:29 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

>There's nothing else that life could have come from. That's just pure logic.<

So you call it "pure logic" to assert as fact that which cannot be observed and cannot be repeated, the two key criteria of the definition of science? Call it what you want, I'd call it faith.

1/15/2010 8:44 AM  
Blogger Mellie said...

etc, etc: "I'd call it faith."

With the important distinction that theory_of_me's argument does not predicate itself upon belief in supernatural entities, demons, spirits, angels and omnipotent intelligences, so your analogy with religious faith is misleading.

1/15/2010 9:22 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Mellie,

Please refer and defer to a dictionary.

1/15/2010 9:49 AM  
Blogger Phil Kapitan said...

Having just finished Modern Masters of Etching's edition of Frank Brangwyn's work (only 12 pieces) I was struck by his use of dramatic angles which really gave the every day scene a sense of power and awe. I have you to thank David as I had never heard of him before I found this blog. Actually (and not to brown-nose too much) you've opened my eyes to many great artists I'd never known such as Fawcett, Steinberg, and Leyendecker, etc. I've checked out as many books as I can get my hands on from my library and it's really opening my eyes up.

Great site.

1/15/2010 11:15 AM  
Anonymous Valentino said...

I do not wish to stir discussion on the issue of religion/science/atheism. This is not a place for such debate. Besides, even if this was a blog on religion, I do think that such debates online are only a waste of time.

Both parties thinks that the other one is unable to grasp the power of their arguments. Some people believe that the cold logic and scientific reasoning are more than appropriate tools for comprehending and explaining every phenomenon in a Universe... while there are other who think there are "things" which both defy scientific logic and are even beyond human capability to understand. William Shakespeare, Isaak Newton, Blaise Pascal, Soren Kierkegaard and several billion of others fall to latter category.

theory of me, I don't recall I mentioned the word God in my post. I am aware that uttering that word make some people utterly nervous.
I reacted to Mellie's claim that "no evidence has ever been supplied to prove that gods and spirits etc exist."
I pointed out that no evidence has ever been supplied to prove that life come from inanimate matter, as well. It is a cold fact.

That's all. Everyone is free to draw conclusions as they see fit.

1/15/2010 12:33 PM  
Anonymous A little education said...

Abiogenesis:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_experiment

Synthetic life:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKZ-GjSaqgo

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temporal_lobe_epilepsy#Temporal_Lobe_Epilepsy.2C_Neurotheology_and_Paranormal_Experience

1/15/2010 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Theory of Me and Mellie,

Once again you have both proven me right. You both think that your own experience is universally valid and anybody who experiences anything different is mentally ill.

The megalomania involved in such a viewpoint is incredible. Rather than religionists exhibiting symptoms mental illness, you yourselves exhibit symptoms of mental illness. And sadly, as with most lunatics, you can't see that you are the one with a problem.

I truly am sorry that there are and have been people in the world who think and experience things differently than you do. That includees the direct experience of God. You can choose to believe their testimony or not, but to call them all liars or "wishful thinkers" (same thing) is despicable.

If the only evidence you have to say that they are liars is to repair to your own experience, which you claim to be universally valid, then you are both intellectually bankrupt. And without question, I know the rest of what you will say on a variety of topics will have little or no value, because it will be equally sloppy and thoughtless.

I'd like to know what Brangwyn thought and how it affected what he did without pejorative adjectives like "superstition" being tossed about. After all, he's the one of great accomplishment, not two petty university-trained atheists, which are a dime a dozen.

Unless either one of you will tell me why your personal experience should be held by all to be univerally valid, to the exclusion of all others, we have nothing more to discuss. If you think that calling you both out on that point is insulting, well that's just tough. It's not my job to caress the tender feelings of megalomaniacs who freak out at the mention of something greater than their own bloated sense of self.

There are more things in Heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

1/15/2010 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Oops! Superstition is a noun, not an adjective.

1/15/2010 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Valentino said...

David,
would it be possible to you to upload some more of Brangwyn's Stations of the Cross drawings ?

1/15/2010 3:08 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

etc, etc said: "you call it "pure logic" to assert as fact that which cannot be observed and cannot be repeated, the two key criteria of the definition of science?"

It can only be observed using pure logic. It is not possible to create a scientific experiment that proves it. Take the example of a banana. Where did it come from? Using pure logic, we can know with absolute certainty that a banana comes from anything that is not a banana. Before we can conduct an empirical investigation into the more specific origins of bananas, this general truth must be acknowledged. All science has the same requirement. You cannot use science to verify itself, you need to use pure logic. That's not faith, it's just the way things work. And no matter how many times you think about it, the result will be the same, as long as you're using logic.

1/15/2010 3:26 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

>It can only be observed using pure logic<

Wow. You play fast and loose with semantics. This is pointless. I bid you good day.

1/15/2010 3:58 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

hey... Brian(aka Thomas) is back !
how's the new realism movement going Bri ? you must be making a pretty penny, what with your insider knowledge of the market.

1/15/2010 4:36 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Valentino: "there are other who think there are "things" which both defy scientific logic and are even beyond human capability to understand."

Accepted "scientific logic" can be contradicted at any time upon the presentation of new scientific evidence. The same is not true of pure logic. What religious types do is resort to supernatural explanations whenever they encounter something that they don't understand. This is not the same as saying there are things we can never know, it's saying: "We don't know, so God must be responsible which is proof that God exists". This is what passes as faith for most religious types.

"no evidence has ever been supplied to prove that life come from inanimate matter, as well. It is a cold fact."

This doesn't mean that evidence for it will never turn up. If you look at the Wikipedia article on the Miller-Urey experiment that was posted in this thread, you'll see how much significant progress has already been made in abiogenesis research.

1/15/2010 5:02 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Different versions
From christies.com, A group of six printing plates

Lot Description
FRANK BRANGWYN R.A. (1867-1956) 
The Stations of the Cross 
Circa 1934 
A group of six zinc lithographic printing plates 
30¼ in. x 32¼ in. (77 cm. x 82 cm.) (6)

1/15/2010 8:25 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

etc, etc said: "You play fast and loose with semantics. This is pointless. I bid you good day."

Semantics are important, whether you like it or not. Accusing me of abusing language in order to give the false impression that I have a point is worthless without proof.

I didn't say anything false. There are many things that can only be observed using pure logic. For example, you don't need physical objects to see that 1+1=2. You just need concepts and definitions.

1/16/2010 3:37 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Brian said: "Unless either one of you will tell me why your personal experience should be held by all to be univerally valid, to the exclusion of all others, we have nothing more to discuss.

I never said that my personal experience of God's non-existence should be held as universally valid by anyone. That sounds more like something a religious person would say. The non-existence of God, will be experienced by anyone who analyzes the issue logically. Whether they do it or not, is up to them. I realize that many people are not mentally mature enough to think it through and deal with the consequences.

But since you (sort of) asked, here's the proof:

All existing things are necessarily finite. In order for something to exist, something else needs to simultaneously exist along with it. A thing cannot be identified or present an appearance if it doesn't contrast with something else. This means that anything that exists cannot be the sum total of all existence; the only existing thing.

Since existing is only possible because of the contrasts we see between things, the sum total of existence cannot be said to literally exist due to the lack of anything else to give it contrast. Anything that could contrast with it is already part of it because it is defined as literally everything. The sum total of existence, the Totality or the Infinite is the only definition of God that is not self-contradicting.

Religious notions of God are inherently self-contradicting. If God is defined as infinite, which in most religions God is, then God cannot exist. A God that exists is necessarily a finite God, which makes it vulnerable to all the natural limitations of a finite thing. A finite God will always be less than the Totality itself, it cannot be the source of all things. It is just part of space and time and bound by that which it is not, like any other regular thing.

1/16/2010 5:01 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

I said: "Using pure logic, we can know with absolute certainty that a banana comes from anything that is not a banana.

Actually, that should read:

Using pure logic, we can know with absolute certainty that a banana must come from something that is not a banana.

1/16/2010 5:07 AM  
Anonymous Valentino said...

> What religious types do is resort to supernatural explanations whenever they encounter something that they don't understand.

Being grown up, educated persons, which I suppose most of us here are, I can't understand why we insist on keeping this futile debate alive.
I also can not understand why some scientists - whenever they encounter something that they don't understand, or observe the phenomena which do not fit any theoretical framework - do not admit: "This phenomenon can not be explained by anything I know. Admittedly, it can be explained by something which I do not believe is possible, so that explanation is unacceptable to me."
Such statement would be fair. But, no - their logic is: if my (our) mind can not comprehend it, it is impossible. If it can not be touched or measured, it does not exist.

>This doesn't mean that evidence >for it will never turn up.

Can't you see that the same explanation could be applied for the existence of non-human (or super-human) entities?

Let us stop this discussion here. It leads nowhere. This blog is meant for different purpose.

Let us stick to art.

1/16/2010 8:30 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

I have been traveling on business for the last few days and had trouble connecting with the browser on my blackberry in order to respond to recent comments (which in hindsight might have been the intervention of some divine being who was keeping a protective eye out for me).

I'm not going to try to go back through all the various chains, but I do think a few general responses might be worthwhile.

Mellie: "Sorry to divert David's thread from Brangwyn."

I enjoy it when these threads go off onto the subject of human nature or the existence of God or the relationship between men and women, because for me art is intimately related to all of these areas and should inspire strong reactions from viewers. It is easy for me to slip from observing a beautiful line into thinking about whether there is a god. Personally, I might explore these themes in a different tone than some of the commenters because I think you become insensitive to interesting nuances when you are strapped in armor. However, that's just me.

Tom: "I think we give too much credence to the apparent subject."

I do regret is that the art in Brangwyn's portfolio seems to have been left behind in this debate. I think it is a good thing when inaccessible Brangwyn art is reproduced for a modern audience, and I would be interested in modern reactions to his work. If one reason that his drawings fell out of favor was that his religious subjects did not resonate with a 1950s audience, it would appear that we are not over that phase yet.

Theory of Me and Mellie: "All religion is superstition. No evidence has ever been supplied to prove that gods and spirits etc exist."

This is not the optimal forum for my musings on whether god(s) exists or whether all religion is superstition so I will spare you my views. However, I don't mind sharing a few bits of empirical data that cause me to be at least respectful of the debate. I have been impressed by the number of brilliant thinkers who seem acutely aware of the depths of human nature and the vastness of the existential void, but who have unaccountably become profound and devout believers. If Tolstoy could write the Grand Inquisitor and, despite everything, later embrace Christianity; if T.S. Eliot could write the Hollow Men and do the same; if Bob Dylan could write "The Gates of Eden" and become and ardent believer (and then, apparently, become an unbeliever again), who is to rule out how I will feel about this issue when I get to that stage of life? (And why might I react that way? potential causes range from fear of death, to senility, to "Pascal's wager," to the deeper wisdom that living life gives us, to the results of taking one's genius to a deeper level.) Anyway, I decided I should be a little less smug than I was in my teen age years, when it was so easy to explain that there is nobody up in the sky with a big gold "G" on his bath robe looking out for us.

And, to steer things back to a dialogue on art, one might agree with Bertrand Russell's blistering attack on some of the pernicious consequences of organized religion, but it is impossible to disregard the fact that that a belief "that gods and spirits etc exist" accounts for many of the most sublime moments in the history of art (along with many of the most unthinking acts of censorship). I haven't been able to find any easy answers here, but if I happen to spot one in these exchanges that satisfies all my deepest thirsts, I will be sure to let that person know.

1/16/2010 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Theory of Me,

"All existing things are necessarily finite."

Sorry, but your premise itself has to be proved. You omit that. You can't prove that all things are finite. And since you won't allow that things can be infinite, you're back to that comfortable spot where you get to live between your ears and everybody else's experience, thoughts, and lives mean nothing.

Once again you've proven yourself to be a pretend intellectual and perpetual navel gazer.

David Apatoff,

Dostoevsky wrote the Grand Inquistor episode in the Brothers Karamozov. I had the pleasure of re-reading that book last winter.

I'm sorry to hear that you haven't quit the agnostic camp. Since the consequences of unbelief are great, and tomorrow is promised nobody, I would think this question to be one of the most immediate importance. Since I am Christian (no surprises there) it would be nice to have share that camp. But since I have little faith in mankind and lots of faith in God (unlike the atheists), I know how difficult and tenuous a thing real belief is.

It's very much like the painting on the Sistine Chapel ceiling where God is reaching full length out to mankind through Adam, and Adam is only lazily lifting his index finger out in return.

Best of luck there. Thanks for the nice post.

1/16/2010 2:49 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

David,

It seems to me, the measure of any storyteller, fiction or factual, is just how much the story is being lived as it is being told.

Thus, the narrative illustrator's great necessary faculty -- and this extends to all story artists -- is the ability to believe at will.

And in so believing, the play being put over becomes invested with the inner conviction and authority that can only come from vivid experience... even though the experience never happened.

In olden days, the imagination was thought to be the work of higher power. In my view, it is a higher power, just not an external one. Although the location of consciousness has no physicality, so there!

---

Brian,

You seem to think that acceptance of the infinite is the acceptance of your particular version of a deity. However, I accept that the infinite does exist (the timespan, size, and power source of existence must be infinite, it seems to me) yet remain flabbergasted that folks such as you insist on anthropomorphizing these fundamentals. If you'd just stop pretending the metaphor is real, you'd stop seeming so wide-eyed and insistent (the stakes are HIGH! REPENT SINNER!). Not to put too fine a point on it, but you have as little an idea as to what exactly is going on as anybody else.

(Whenever someone subtly damns an agnostic or atheist to hell I give a salute to Pat Condell.)

I posted some links earlier under "a little education." Were you able to view those links, or did your ideology send you into a panic or rage at the very thought of entertaining such heretical thoughts?

I think I know the answer.

1/16/2010 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Kev Ferrara,

I completely ignore your posts. I can't make heads or tails out of them and they are hoplessly confused. I'm only making a point with confronting Mellie and Theory of Me because they both have no respect for religious people or their opinions, and they needed a good smackdown to show them that they are the intolerant ones, not the other way around.

Just thought that I would let you in on that. I'll go back to skipping over what you write from here on out.

1/16/2010 5:39 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/16/2010 8:26 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Brian...

My Italian grandfather was quite deaf from riding the subway to work his entire life. He couldn't make heads nor tails out of what anybody said.

His deafness had the added effect of making him impervious to any argument he didn't already know. So he just assumed he was right all the time and everybody else was hopelessly confused.

I hope you successfully skipped over this comment.

If not, see if you can figure out how the above anecdote relates to your inability to comprehend complex sentences.

kev

1/16/2010 8:30 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Valentino said: "This phenomenon can not be explained by anything I know. Admittedly, it can be explained by something which I do not believe is possible, so that explanation is unacceptable to me."

There is no reason to admit that an unexplained phenomenon can only be explained by an impossibility. If a scientist did that he'd be a pretty lousy scientist. Scientists do not deal with beliefs, at least not while they're doing science.

"if my (our) mind can not comprehend it, it is impossible. If it can not be touched or measured, it does not exist."

Scientists don't say that. A lot of science today is almost purely theoretical.

"Can't you see that the same explanation could be applied for the existence of non-human (or super-human) entities?

Not if the entity you're trying to prove exists is inherently contradictive. That would be like saying that it could one day be possible to prove that the color green is also the color red. It doesn't make sense so it's impossible.

1/17/2010 3:15 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Brian said: "Sorry, but your premise itself has to be proved. You omit that. You can't prove that all things are finite."

Can you imagine or identify a thing without also imagining or identifying that which is not the thing itself? Even empty space counts as something that is not the thing itself. So, since a thing cannot exist without something else also existing, a thing can never be infinite (everything). That's the proof.

If you believe in an infinite God that also exists then you believe in something that is infinite and finite at the same time, which is impossible. That's like believing the color green is also the color red. It might be comforting to believe in such things but they can never refer to anything real.

1/17/2010 3:30 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

David Apatoff said: "it is impossible to disregard the fact that a belief "that gods and spirits etc exist" accounts for many of the most sublime moments in the history of art"

This quote by Nietzsche comes to mind:

"It is not without profound sorrow that one admits to oneself that in their highest flights the artists of all ages have raised to heavenly transfiguration precisely those conceptions which we now recognize as false: they are the glorifiers of the religious and philosophical errors of mankind, and they could not have been so without believing in the absolute truth of these errors. If belief in such truth declines in general, if the rainbow-colors at the extreme limits of human knowledge and supposition grow pale, that species of art can never flourish again which, like the Divina Commedia, the pictures of Raphael, the frescoes of Michelangelo, the Gothic cathedrals, presupposes not only a cosmic but also a metaphysical significance in the objects of art. A moving tale will one day be told how there once existed such an art, such an artist's faith."

1/17/2010 4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The term (scientific law) is a misnomer. Scientific laws, as such, do not exist. Science neither develops nor enforces these laws. Science has only discovered what God has created. For an example Newton only discovered the Law of Gravitation, he or any other scientist has neither created nor enforces these laws. So called scientific laws are based on the statistical assumption that the universe, which operates according to fixed norm, will continue to do so. Science can observe, classify, describe, and apply these normative operations but is powerless to control them. Scientific laws should be named for greater accuracy, a Divine law.

1/17/2010 6:29 AM  
Blogger Mellie said...

"I'm only making a point with confronting Mellie and Theory of Me because they both have no respect for religious people or their opinions".

I said very clearly that I support freedom of religious expression regardless of whether I disagree with religious people. To go into a rage at my merely expressing my opinion is a much surer sign of intolerance than anything I have said.

1/17/2010 7:52 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

theory of me... look up set theory.

Infinities may exist within infinities, so your "proof" doesn't work. For example, both an infinite object and a finite object may exist simultaneously in an infinite space. Infinity minus one is still infinity

Anonymous, yes Science only offers probabilities about the behavior of phenomena, it doesn't claim to originate the phenomena or its behavior. Nobody would be that foolish as to pretend to know the origin of phenomena.

1/17/2010 9:24 AM  
Blogger Marcos Mateu said...

Great line, great way of distributing lights and shades. What an artist.

1/17/2010 8:54 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev ferrara said: "Infinities may exist within infinities, so your "proof" doesn't work. For example, both an infinite object and a finite object may exist simultaneously in an infinite space. Infinity minus one is still infinity"

Since you're referring to these infinite and finite "objects" as existing they can not be the same as the Infinite, which is defined as the totality of everything that exists. I know that there are infinite sets of things, such as numbers but these infinities are not my nose, for example.

You're thinking about something completely different. A thing can present an infinite number of appearances, interact with its environment in infinite different ways, be divided into infinite pieces and so on but none of these sets or things is the Infinite. The set of all sets is not a set.

1/18/2010 4:02 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Geometry is a noun.

Let us assume that geometry is the foundation of all things.

Finite objects may exist alongside geometry, yet geometry remains infinite.

Geometry can also describe void. (Void Geometry)

There is this thing called a Universal Set, which is a set that contains all things including itself. Geometry seems to be a universal set. The concept of God could be understood in the same way.

1/18/2010 10:48 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev ferrara: "Let us assume that geometry is the foundation of all things."

You do that. I have no use for assumptions.

1/18/2010 3:08 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Theory of me,

You, I, and every other human being act on assumptions all day long. So you do indeed have use for assumptions. You posted your last stupid message on the assumption that I would read it, didn't you? Stop acting like a petulant child.

The current state of knowledge about fundamental physics seems to indicate that the underlying fabric of reality is geometric in character (not geometric in the sense squares and triangles as taught in high school geometry classes.) Since one can not prove the nature of fundamental reality except through mathematical physics and logic, (as of yet) we must assume the correctness of the theory, rather than assert it.

1/18/2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

You posted your last stupid message on the assumption that I would read it, didn't you?

No. There is no need to make an assumption before doing something. If there was such a need, babies wouldn't be born, trees wouldn't grow, the wind wouldn't blow, existence would be absolutely nothing whatsoever.

1/18/2010 3:59 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullshit#As_nonsense

1/18/2010 5:03 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Is that article supposed to prove what I said is false?

1/18/2010 5:17 PM  
Anonymous J Calman said...

Belief is akin to a 5th dimension.Those with no belief cannot comprehend anything beyond the 'explainable'.
How would you describe color to the unsighted?
Non-believers only reveal their uncomprehending ignorance with every demand for proof of divine existence.
This is what Brangwyn believed.

1/18/2010 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Norm said...

J Calman,
Do you believe in the tooth fairy?
No?
Why not?
Then you are an unbeliever who only reveals your uncomprehending ignorance with every demand for proof of tooth fairies.

2000+ years ago, people tried to figure stuff out and answer questions as best they could with the information at hand.
Now we've got more accurate information on which to form new beliefs. I'm sure we don't have it all figured out yet....but, I think we're closer than we were thousands of years ago.

1/18/2010 6:09 PM  
Anonymous J Calman said...

J Calman,
Do you believe in the tooth fairy?
No?
Why not?
Then you are an unbeliever who only reveals your uncomprehending ignorance with every demand for proof of tooth fairies.

Norm, with every word you prove my point and bury yourself deeper in your earthly pit of ignorance.
YOU JUST DON'T GET IT,do you?

You are like a child arguing with an adult and thinking you are on the same level and resorting to belittlement in your frustration.

The same is true with many atheists, their desperation to try to prove us 'wrong' only highlights your own deep insecurities.

I feel sympathy for you.

1/18/2010 6:49 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

Has anyone seen Frank Brangwyn or any other grown-up? Paging Mister Brangwyn.

Seeing that this is the Illustration Art blog, the turn this thread that started out discussing that classic illustrator and muralist has finally devolved into a classic illustration of the word "puerile." I am always amused when someone brings up logic (small L) as though they could tell the difference between inductive and deductive forms and are familiar with both the French and Polish system of notation.

It's like Welcome to Camp Jejune.

These are the sort of "intellectual" discussions one grows out of with their first pubic hairs. I do, however, note the clarity that Brian showed when he spoke of the word salad that Kev offers instead of cogent thought. Not to say that he doesn't root out an acorn now and then, but that's only when he keeps to less than two sentences.

And I though that I was the only one who noticed the intellectual sandbox and mud pies.

Oh well...kids! We now return to discussing the great Frank Brangwyn and try to learn something from him rather than more gas from middlebrows.

1/18/2010 7:04 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Rob Howard said: "These are the sort of "intellectual" discussions one grows out of with their first pubic hairs."

Congratulations on your pubic hairs, Rob. Unfortunately, you'll find it much harder to cultivate a mind that isn't full of the blatant, self-serving contradictions and assumptions that are so easy to point out whenever you enter a discussion.

1/18/2010 7:19 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Speaking of jejune and puerile, along comes a spider who understands the difference between inductive and deductive logic. What a cerebral coup! Oh, you have us rolling, you nutty nutty man!

Theory of me, you're playing word games now. I won't play along. Your proposition was defeated.

1/18/2010 7:32 PM  
Anonymous norm said...

J,
Um....ok....sure.

Rob,
You're right...sorry about that.
As for Brangwyn, I don't know if I can add much there, but I put up a couple images I scanned in from some old bound Scribners collections I have.
Hopefully this link will work:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/36745949@N04/3406684832/

You might want to look around at some of the other scans too.

1/18/2010 7:35 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev ferrara said: "Your proposition was defeated."

By a Wikipedia article or by talking about something completely different? Sorry, you'll have to do much better than that.

1/18/2010 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Norm said...

If my Flickr link doesn't work for you click on my name here it it will take you to my Flickr site with some Brangwyn and other cool stuff.
Rob,

1/18/2010 7:50 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Those are some nifty images on your Flickr, Norm. Thanks. I'm very often on the lookout for more decent reproductions of Frank Craig's work.

1/18/2010 7:58 PM  
Anonymous norm said...

Rob,
You can ignore the "Rob" at the bottom of my comment. I was just going to say something , then changed my mind and deleted it...but accidentally left your name there.
(I was just going to try to excuse a certain amount of off topic rambling.)

1/18/2010 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Norm said...

Theory,
I didn't know much about Frank Craig until I bought a piece of his from Jim Vadeboncour several years ago. (click on my name to see an image)
Since then I've kept my eye out for his work.

1/18/2010 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Norm said...

Sorry about the quality of the image...I'll have to take a decent photo some day.

1/18/2010 8:07 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Norm, a thousand thanks for those images! You have great taste!

Theory of me: I'll spell it out: Geometry is THE infinite. Given that geometry can measure void, there is no "not geometry." Geometry cannot be said to not exist, yet it has no opposite as even randomness and void have geometry. (The contrast of Geometry with randomness and void is illusory). Geometry contains contrasts sufficient to create discreteness. While Geometry is abstract in principle, it definitely "literally" exists, as we experience it constantly. Geometry is a Universal Set, which contains everything and itself. (your "set of all sets.") And it can be proven through logic alone.

I should also point out that "void" is an assumption. Since, by definition, it doesn't exist, its conception may simply be the result of a word game or some other human error, like confusion.

1/18/2010 9:30 PM  
Blogger sinner said...

wow! the details are inspiring! very brilliant! you showcased the history in a manner that it can be very well appreciate, it doesnt look boring at all!

check out this site --> digital illustration

1/20/2010 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ kev, norm, theory, brian, david, rob:

*lol*

God

1/20/2010 1:52 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev said: Geometry is THE infinite.

That makes no sense. Geometry is an artifact of human consciousness, it cannot be literally everything.

1/20/2010 3:56 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Geometry is basic physical logic.

Physical logic is the core of reality.

Verbal logic works because of physical logic. So when you seek to create a purely abstract verbal proof, (as you did earlier) you are actually reducing the argument down as closely as possible to simple geometric relations.

For example, computers have become possible because language, it turns out, (being a reflection of reality), is reducible to symbolic representations of the simple logical relationships of reality's components... gates and routes and on/off statements and such... which can be programmed.

If geometry didn't exist, computers wouldn't be able to function on its principles. Engineering doesn't work because human beings perceive things like geometry in a certain way. Engineering functions because human being perceive reality accurately, can abstract physical-mathematical principles from observation, and then re-purpose them to create tools that perform specified functions.

Which is to say, we perceive geometry because it helps us survive. If geometry didn't exist, it wouldn't benefit us to apprehend its existence and we wouldn't be able to use it to manipulate reality through engineering.

There are many different varieties of geometry, btw.

1/20/2010 7:43 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev said: "If geometry didn't exist

I never said geometry didn't exist. I said that geometry cannot be the sum total of existence. Looks like you've been reduced to attacking straw men.

1/20/2010 9:33 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

geometry exists, but it is not reality, it's an abstraction used to understand and control reality. just as words exist but are not reality (wouldn't there only be 1 language?). now you might say geometry is that language, but every formula has variables, often endless which never fully captures the reality. (hence the need for test pilots).

the binary statement (on/off) shows your close to recognizing the oneness of opposites. the game of yes and no. 0/1, good/evil, live/die, up/down, yang/yin, light/dark, male/female. judges, nuns, priests, brides & grooms all dressed in black/white ~the union of opposites.

The Byrds bit from Ecclesiastes (King James version)

1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Why replace the myth of a potter-creator with a geometer-creator.

Anything you can name is not God, God is beyond all conception, God is no-thing.

1/20/2010 10:03 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Theory of me.... Rolling my eyes here. I wasn't setting up a straw man. I was using logic to try to explain a point about foundational reality.

Anyway, it seems likely that you haven't really looked into the various competing TOE's and what they're really saying about the nature of existence. If you did, you might understand my points better. And you can't just skim this stuff, you really need to try to understand the foundational ideas. (Loop Quantum Gravity, String Theory, M Theory, Twistor Theory, Holographic Principle.) Its fascinating and mind-bending reading if you care to give it a go. (I don't know your level of math and physics, but the concepts alone don't require anything but an ability to conceptualize difficult notions and a determination to do so.)

As to the last poster (your name comes up as ??????? on my browser for some reason.) those bible quotes are nice. I like bible quotes. Your last paragraph is word games. Wholly without content. Geometry is no myth. And I don't need to explain why Geometry exists because I can live with gray areas. I don't need to pretend I have knowledge that is impossible to ascertain. I don't need to pull that mumbo jumbo you're hawking about "God is anything that you can't name... beyond all conception..." that's just patter and jive. All you're doing is declaring that whatever you don't understand must be supernatural. What is this, the 7th century?

1/21/2010 1:12 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Kev said: "you haven't really looked into the various competing TOE's"

I have no interest in TOE's. I limit myself to that which can be known with absolute certainty. Science and its "various competing TOE's" will always be vulnerable to uncertainty because a theory creates artificial boundaries between things in order to form its concepts. A perfect Theory of Everything would have to predict all the results of all the possible ways of drawing boundaries between things. Since boundaries can be drawn in an infinite number of ways, the perfect TOE will always be incomplete, it would have to include the entire Universe within itself, which is impossible.

"God is anything that you can't name... beyond all conception..." that's just patter and jive.

It's not "patter and jive". All names, concepts and labels are simplifications for categorizing things in order to use them for practical purposes. They are ultimately artificial and can be discarded at any time.

1/21/2010 3:15 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Theory of me...

Yes, names aren't important, they're mostly arbitrary assignments. That's not a relevant or new observation.

Referents are not arbitrary, however. Especially in the world of engineering and physics where symbols signify very precisely measured phenomena. The symbols used may be arbitrary (although quite often they are designed cryptographically to have intrinsic meaning, like certain words have onomatopoetic qualities), but the referents are concrete or specific.

Your 1 + 1 = 2 is an easy example. Whether the numeral 1 is used or not, the abstract referent 1 is understood.

By using this simple equation, you admit that abstract logic in mathematical form can offer ironclad understanding about reality.

This equation began life as an observation of the real world, a simple physical observation which led to a simple logic construction. 1 + 1 = 2

As simple logical constructions give way to more complex formula, as more complex observations about the world are abstracted, it is not necessarily so that the logic involved becomes any less sound. The number of complex theoretical predictions that became observable fact at a later date are too numerous to count.

If you dispute that accurate real world observation can be made by humans, then there is no absolute certainty to which you can "limit yourself."

Unless you are suggesting we confine ourselves to only what is abstractly provable. But since logic only has meaning because it signifies basic physical logic, your argument is self-defeating. There cannot be logic without physicality. And if logic has absolute merit, a proposition you have agreed with, then the human observations about reality from whence it is derived can also have absolute merit.

At the end of the day, the physical logic of real world observations are all we have in terms of absolute knowledge. And from simple logical parts, much larger and more complex, yet still logical, constructions may be built.

Your point about "drawing boundaries" does not take into account that geometry is hierarchical. That is, for every object discrete from another, there is a larger physical set within which they are unified, and/or a set of smaller set of components which they share.

Incidentally, the idea there are an infinite number of connection between things is an assumption. Regardless, a more salient challenge might be that there are an infinite number of TYPES of connections between things. Again, this is an assumption.

Regardless, the core of all the Theories of Everything is geometry for a reason... because the simplest possible component of anything must be physically logical. This is only logical.

1/21/2010 11:43 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev said: "Referents are not arbitrary, however."

Yes they are, because they are names created by people. Any theory needs to cut reality into distinct parts (names, referents, etc.) this automatically creates conceptual gaps between things that are not really there to begin with. You are creating a false distinction between names and referents in order to make it look like you have a point.

"you admit that abstract logic in mathematical form can offer ironclad understanding about reality."

With emphasis on it being about reality, not reality itself.

"Unless you are suggesting we confine ourselves to only what is abstractly provable."

I suggest we confine ourselves to that only when we're thinking about reality in order to clear up any confusions we may have about it. Once everything is cleared up, we can safely abandon all abstractions and experience reality directly.

The direct experience of reality is beyond logic in that the power of logical thought alone cannot generate the experience. But at the same time, we are perfectly able to reason about reality and draw all sorts of meaningful conclusions about it, if we want to.

"There cannot be logic without physicality"

It's more accurate to say that they both arise simultaneously within consciousness. As immediately as anything, whether it's physical or conceptual pops into consciousness, it automatically has logical characteristics, the most basic being that it is itself and not any other thing.

"Your point about "drawing boundaries" does not take into account that geometry is hierarchical."

Hierarchies are not possible without boundaries and all boundaries are artificial, arbitrary and ultimately false.

"the core of all the Theories of Everything is geometry"

It sounds like you're saying that geometry itself has no core or foundation, which is false. Obviously, geometry, or any other type of conceptual thought is based in logic. You're conflating physicality and geometry. Actual physical things are not geometry. Geometry is only one way of apprehending physical reality.

1/21/2010 3:18 PM  
Blogger Jesse Hamm said...

More cool Brangwyn:

http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/search/label/Frank%20Brangwyn

1/21/2010 4:48 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

A referent is that which is being named. What a referent is named has no bearing on its existence, assuming one believes reality has extension.

There are things which are distinct, evidently. To say there is no such thing as distinction (distinction being the cause of the need for naming) is contrary to fact... assumedly based on some ideology about oneness that you harbor.

Since planets and plants obey physical logic, physical logic is more prime than our appreciation of it.

Saying "all boundaries are artificial" DOES NOT MAKE IT SO. This is an assumption on your part because, again, you have some pet ideology about the nature of reality. If anything is real, it is that there is discreteness... which aligns with our experience of reality. Oneness is the assumption.

Geometry exists outside human consciousness. When all is broken down, physics is telling us that what is left is of less dimension than our experience of reality. Yet this noumena is real nonetheless.

For instance, in one of these theories, the core component is a 1 dimensional "superstring" ... which is an object that is simultaneously real and geometry itself. This means that there is a metaphysical reality that corresponds to abstraction. (This is the crucial concept that marries physics and metaphysics.) These strings manifest the fundamental particles by winding through various non-euclidean geometric world-surfaces/dimensions. In other words, reality is comprised at the most fundamental level of lines winding through warped spaces.

Anyhow, that's just one of the theories. But all of the creditable theories share the characteristic of having a "metaphysical" geometry at their core.

1/21/2010 7:59 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

kev said: "Geometry exists outside human consciousness."

That's a hypothesis which you have yet to prove. To prove it, you'd have to step outside of consciousness. Good luck with that.

"To say there is no such thing as distinction (distinction being the cause of the need for naming) is contrary to fact"

It may be contrary to what superficially appears to be factual but not after you analyze the matter logically, making no assumptions about anything. If the distinctions between things were ultimately real and not just caused by consciousness then there would be no cause and effect relationship between anything.

For example, at what point exactly does a human life begin? Some would say at the moment of conception, others at birth, others after three or six months in the womb. The point is, we can never know for certain so we create an arbitrary starting point (a division/distinction between life and non-life) to suit whatever practical purpose we have.

1/22/2010 4:04 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The Popperian critique is lame. Or is it that you watched the Matrix too much? Whatever is causing you the grave narcissism that makes you think your fantasies aren't assumptions is clearly not helping matters here.

If we know anything it is that engineering works, therefore physics is not a product of our own minds. Very simple.

If you contend that all of this is a product of our own mind, then EVERYTHING IS ASSUMED. So don't try to pretend you have some cache of absolute truth if that's the view you hold. If you want to pull everything back to your own mind, then don't bother talking to other human being or interacting with the world because it would just be hypocrisy or madness on your part to assume anything besides exists besides yourself.

But it's a tedious view to hold for its very narcissism and negativity. Planets and elements obey laws that we discover, not invent. That we describe these dynamics with math, does not mean we think the symbols we use are real. It is the phenomena itself that is calculable.


Yes everything is unified in a cause and effect system, but this does not mean the elements aren't ALSO discrete.
You are confusing the word connection with the word touching. But this "point" does not even approach the issue that I am describing. Its just another picayune attempt to seem like you know what you're talking about.

I can see this conversation is going nowhere. I'll just assume you haven't gotten into any higher physics or mathematics studies. And you haven't considered any philosopher past Kant, except for Popper because a superficial reading of Popper gives you an excuse not to know any physics, yet still talk as if you do.

Soyanara, Siddhartha

1/22/2010 10:19 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

I've actually never seen the Matrix movies. I doubt they contain much that would interest me.

Anyway,

kev said: "the grave narcissism that makes you think your fantasies aren't assumptions is clearly not helping matters"

Assumptions? You mean like your assumption that geometry exists outside of consciousness?

kev said: "physics is not a product of our own minds."

Physics (and geometry) is just equations created by people. It's a way of describing certain aspects of phenomena, not the phenomenon itself. You're making the classic error of confusing the map with the territory.

"If you contend that all of this is a product of our own mind"

If by "all of this" you mean existing things then I do. If you meant the all as in the totality of existence (literally everything), I don't. Obviously, since all minds, because they exist, are generated by the Totality. The Totality is not a thing because it is literally everything, it has no boundaries. It can't be said to literally exist but of course, it isn't absolutely nothing whatsoever.

"If you want to pull everything back to your own mind"

Obviously not since literally everything is more than a mind can hold, it being the Infinite and all minds being finite; created (less than everything).

"don't bother talking to other human being or interacting with the world because it would just be hypocrisy or madness on your part to assume anything besides exists besides yourself."

It isn't necessary to assume anything before talking to other people, in fact, it's better not to. They might not be able to understand or even hear me, all I can do is judge by appearances whether they do or not and all such judgments are always uncertain.

Alright kev, if you've really had enough of this then thanks for the conversation.

1/23/2010 4:20 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Brian-- you are indeed correct that Dostoevsky, not Tolstoy, wrote the Grand Inquisitor. That's the kind of mistake I make when I am try to post comments on the existence of God using a blackberry in a crowded airport waiting room. Thank you for the correction. But I stick by my point, which was that Tolstoy's novels showed that he understood the darkness in the human heart and the complexity of human motivation, so his faith can't simply be written of as simplistic wishful thinking. By the way, I don't recall saying I was an agnostic.

Valentino, I think you can see more of the Brangwyn Stations of the Cross on the publisher's site. In compliance with the copyright "fair use" laws, I try not to post more than a representative sampling of any copyrighted work.

To all those who have reacted to the Brangwyn drawings, thanks for sharing your views. I am pleased that he is held in such high regard today, if only by a small, knowledgeable group . He is an artist who deserves resurrection.

For those fighting a pitched battle over the nature of faith, I remain impressed that such battles still break out spontaneously, with such ferocity, and in such unlikely places.

1/23/2010 7:50 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

David Apatoff said: "Tolstoy's novels showed that he understood the darkness in the human heart and the complexity of human motivation, so his faith can't simply be written of as simplistic wishful thinking.

I seriously doubt that Tolstoy's faith had very much in common with the faith of the typically ignorant church-going slob. He appears to have been more rational than average and admired Schopenhauer, a pretty decent philosopher who was strongly influenced by Buddhism. The average religious nut never gets much farther than asking God for a good grade on tomorrow's spelling test so he can get what he wants for Christmas.

I searched for some of his quotes on God and found some accurate statements:

"God is the infinite ALL. Man is only a finite manifestation of Him."

"God is that infinite All of which man knows himself to be a finite part."

Some of his remarks show that he still had some muddy thoughts about God, although it could be due to translation issues:

"God alone exists truly. Man manifests Him in time, space and matter. The more God's manifestation in man (life) unites with the manifestations (lives) of other beings, the more man exists. This union with the lives of other beings is accomplished through love."

"God is not love, but the more there is of love, the more man manifests God, and the more he truly exists..."

This one's pretty good:

"We acknowledge God only when we are conscious of His manifestation in us. All conclusions and guidelines based on this consciousness should fully satisfy both our desire to know God as such as well as our desire to live a life based on this recognition."

Judging from these words, I think it's safe to say that Tolstoy had given his faith a lot more thought than the average religious person, whose faith never amounts to more than naive wishful thinking.

1/24/2010 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Pure Evil said...

Havent got anything interesting to say,just wanted to be 100.

1/31/2010 9:15 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Pure Evil-- That's one of the more interesting comments.

2/01/2010 8:30 AM  
Blogger Steve sculpts critters said...

Stumbled across this quite by accident.
Nice to see good old Brangers getting some air play on the web!
I'm a big fan. I even got shown around his house in Ditchling back in 1996 I think, or else it would have been around '93.
Anyhow, nice post, thanks!

2/06/2010 8:48 PM  
Blogger Alan Lawrence said...

Love Frank's drawings. He could draw up a storm and show modern artists how to draw folds so they look like real cloth, draw faces so they looks like flesh and bone.

As to the pseudo intellectuals arguing for or against the existence of a god... Why bother?

The people who believe in god will continue to believe in him. The ones who do not will continue to marvel at the gullibility of the people who do.

However, in defence of all none believers...

No atheist or agnostic ever waged a holy war... against anyone, never burned anyone at the stake, never stoned anyone to death, never tortured anyone in some grand inquisition.

None believers are harmless men and women who prefer logical argument to illogical myths and legends.

The Christian crusaders under, Richard the Lionheart all thought that god was on their side. Saladin and the Moslem army were convinced he was in their pocket. Just one historic example of deluded men using god’s name to slaughter each other.

And Frank was worried about a vengeful good after he fell off his perch... Vengeful men are a much bigger threat to him and everyone else on this planet

Alan

3/13/2010 9:06 AM  
Blogger ArtistAmudhan said...

nice works all are...

3/30/2010 7:46 AM  
Blogger Professor Emeritus PETE BAGNOLO said...

The great Brangwyn, Studied him throughout my art and architectural education. See my art at http://www.Bagnoloart.com

10/11/2010 7:43 PM  

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