Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Country wherein Art and Science have been Interchanged


In that country, artists play the role of scientists, and natural philosophy is purely the province of the artist. Instead of publishing papers on ways to represent the effect of light on snow in oil paints, each scientist in that country must discover it for himself, or in conversation with friends; and the results are judged largely on popularity among the fashionable, rather than through a rigorous process of review by scientific peers.
Conversely, the artists in that country do not explore their topic of interest (whether it be animals, or weather, or the workings of the mind) through performance and exhibition, but break down art into its simplest components, and publish dry, scholarly missives about some small part of what would more naturally be an artistic whole. Instead of admiring a world-view for its artistic integrity and daring composition, their works are judged solely on technical accuracy. The individual artist generally gains recognition only among other artists in similar fields, and most see their work as part of a much larger collaborative composition.
This has resulted in a strange state of affairs; for their novels are the composition of one author (or at most two) working alone, and each must perform the research needed to build a realistic world on his own. Thus the novels are small, pathetic things, but with a certain charm in their unified viewpoint. Whereas their physics is a vast monstrosity, full of the most carefully checked detail and explored in every ramification, and accurate to the highest degree; but it is a dry thing, and appreciated solely as a tool, rather than for any particular beauty.

No comments: