Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Ask anyone who was the most notable painter of the Italian Renaissance and the chances are the reply will be "Leonardo da Vinci". Why would this be? Is it because of Mona Lisa's smile or because of the inventions and anatomical studies in his notebooks? I think mainly the latter, but that's just a personal opinion. As painters go, his production was minimal. His methods were sometimes more than just questionable and his attempted mural of the Battle of Anghiari was a complete disaster. Inventive? Absolutely!
Technical ability? Well... . On the mythos-logos scale he was further toward mythos than his contemporary artists.

I think that much of Leonardo's current popularity is due to his presentation of various mechanical inventions because we live in an age of technology and when we see such inventions in the past, it plays into some neo-Darwinist ideas about us being "on the right track". Science, of course, is also the pampered pet of the modernist who does not want to hear too much about the dreams, intuition and hunches of the really great scientists who can be just as eccentric as many artists. The modernist has his nose pressed firmly against the window-pane of science and logos.

My favorite Renaissance painter is Raphael, who not only produced an enormous amount of work during his short life, but who was also a great technician. He was also appointed as the Inspector of Antiquities in Rome, so his interests also leaned toward archaeology. I have noticed that a number of Raphael paintings have been rediscovered and after removing centuries of grime and bad varnishing, they seem to be in very good condition. Although I did not know about his appointment when I first decided that he was my favorite, his interests in the past and in architecture certainly added to my appreciation of him.

Our views of the past are considerably influenced by our attitudes in the present, and our interests are shaped by our personality types. The extravert is drawn toward archaeology because it mostly deals in material remains and being a materialist, that is the sort of evidence that is most trusted. Many archaeologists believe in the existence of an archaeological record, because they cannot find value in viewpoints too different from their materialistic views of existence. Introverts feel more comfortable with the idea of archaeological evidence because they are more likely to understand the values of different viewpoints. Viewpoints are of the psyche, and the extravert knows very little about that subject, so the idea of an archaeological record is not just comfortable but is projected because it fits in with their ideas about reality. Those archaeologists who are introverts are more likely to be critical of modernism and some have rebelled against the views of the modernists and have taken a postmodern viewpoint.

I became a postmodernist after reclassifying Coriosolite coins (staters). It did not take me long to discover that there was something seriously wrong with classification, itself. Reading Foucault's The Order of Things: an archaeology of the human sciences enabled me to understand my misgivings, but I was already heading in that direction since I read David Bohm's Wholeness and the Implicate Order. In his introduction, Bohm says:
"I would say that in my scientific and philosophical work, my main concern has been with understanding the nature of reality in general and of consciousness in particular as a coherent whole, which is never static or complete, but which is in an unending process of movement and unfoldment."
One hears some archaeologists talk about how when an object is apart from its archaeological context, it loses 90% of its information. This idea is not science, it is scientism. No one can determine a percentage of something unless the whole is already understood, and what constitutes knowledge is dependent on viewpoints too. It also reveals that their idea of what constitutes context is severely limited. Such people have accused me of being interested only in objects as they obviously have never read Bohm, either, and believe that an object holds a discrete position in reality rather than just being anything that we can name. An archaeological site is as much an object as a coin.

Modernist ideas of utopia are really just for modernists. Like their city Brasilia, it's not really for everyone. But they do like to project.

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