I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion about the supernatural in
art-science. Thanks to Stephen and Roger for putting it together, and
thanks to all of you for your thoughtful participation. I hope we can
follow up on this topic in the future.
I have just finished reading Stephen Goldblatt's "The Swerve: How the World
Became Modern." This fascinating historical account of the unearthing and
dissemination of Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things" reminded me how
ancient are so many of the roots of modern science - that we are made of
small particles moving around, that assemble and disassemble to form us
just as they form other animals, plants, rocks, and the stars, and that our
lives are finite. But it also reminded me that the Dark Ages that
suppressed that book and its ideas are still with us (on this gloomy
election day in North Carolina, I might add), clouding our understanding of
the nature of things. Greenblatt's book revealed to me what a long journey
this is, coming out from under clouds of superstition and persistent
beliefs in the supernatural. Of course art-science cannot clear those
clouds on its own. For those of us who put our trust in the process and
culture of science, and make or support art that celebrates science, we
need to find allies and join voices, keep working even when it seems
futile, take the long view, and remember we are tugging at some very big
and persistent veils, that may not fall away in our lifetime.
But the main thought I want to leave us with is this: Letting go of
comforting myths, accepting the nature of things so far as we have come to
understand them, trusting the process of evidence-based inquiry to find out
more - for those who are still steeped in the culture of myth, that is a
journey that requires courage. I remain convinced that the courage to
embark on that journey requires the compassion and fellowship of those who
have already traveled that path. Art-science at its best can be a gift of
fellowship, a warm invitation to travel the path of reason, and a
celebration of the wonders of the nature of things, unveiled.
Here's to clarity, and compassion.
With warm regards,
*Director, Symbiosis Art + Science Alliance*
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