(Posted by Fi, after Mark and Zena)
How often have you heard the phrase “I know what I like and I like what I see”? How meaningless and subjective can that statement appear to people who have a different frame of reference to the observer. One man’s spam is another man’s steak. So what if I think that modern art is a load of old Pollocks. What really Lichtenstein’s my Klimt and makes my Gaugin Gogh is a nice Seurat or Monet. I can’t explain what it is about those 19th century French painters that makes my Botticelli all warm inside.
What does all this have to do with Science? Well, if we are to believe Robert Pirsig in his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance the unifying value behind art, science and religion is quality: a judgement brought by the observer to the object being observed and not just a street made of chocolate.
With science we postulate theories, make logical progressions through experimentation and draw conclusions that support our original theory. With art… with art… well… we sort of dab paint on canvases and step back and hope it doesn’t look too crap. Or we cut out square blocks and put them one atop the other and sell them for millions of pounds.
Science has its foundations in art of course, undocumented unfortunately, but true nonetheless. The famous caveman scientist Ug-ugog used stick-figure cave paintings to develop his first invention “fire”. Fire was such an immediate success that the cave was turned into an art gallery with nice lizard canapés served hourly and freshly fermented mammoth pee lager available at the bar.
Conversely art’s roots can be traced back to science. Across the other side of the super-continent Pangea another caveman known as Og-ogug was attempting to determine the origins of a particular species of spineless fish by pinning it up on the wall and rummaging around through the internal organs. The resultant cross of biology and art was also turned into a science museum where tour guides refused to tell you where the nearest dunny was and small pamphlets for coming attractions were handed out.
This conflict and chicken/egg-style paradox lead to the emergence of the first two true religions: The Church of the Fish and the Flowchart Appreciation Society. Suddenly the continent was in turmoil, split right down the middle. Whole tribes went to war to defend the premise that reading the fish innards revealed the future against the blasphemous idea that the flowchart predicted the way. Thousands died clutching small keychains of fishguts or postcards depicting the best panels from the flowchart.
Unsurprisingly, it all ended in tears when the true messiah, Mastadon Smith, left his tall black obsidian obelisk in the middle of the monkey enclosure…