Literature And Art Essay
From a very young age, many are exposed to literature in the most stripped down form: picture books and simple texts that are mainly for the sole purpose of teaching the alphabet etc. Although these are not nearly as complex as an 800-page sci-fi novel, it is the first step that many take towards the literary world. Progressively, as people grow older, they explore other genres of books, ones that propel them towards curiosity of the subject, and the overall book. Reading and being given the keys to the literature world prepares individuals from an early age to discover the true importance of literature: being able to comprehend and understand situations from many perspectives.
Physically speaking, it is impossible to be someone else. It is impossible to switch bodies with another human being, and it is impossible to completely understand the complexity of their world. Literature, as an alternative, is the closest thing the world has to being able to understand another person whole-heartedly. For stance, a novel about a treacherous war, written in the perspective of a soldier, allows the reader to envision their memories, their pain, and their emotions without actually being that person. Consequently, literature can act as a time machine, enabling individuals to go into a specific time period of the story, into the mind and soul of the protagonist.
With the ability to see the world with a pair of fresh eyes, it triggers the reader to reflect upon their own lives. Reading a material that is relatable to the reader may teach them morals and encourage them to practice good judgement. This can be proven through public school systems, where the books that are emphasized the most tend to have a moral-teaching purpose behind the story. An example would be William Shakespeare’s stories, where each one is meant to be reflective of human nature – both the good and bad. Consequently, this can promote better judgement of situations, so the reader does not find themselves in the same circumstances as perhaps those in the fiction world. Henceforth, literature is proven to not only be reflective of life, but it can also be used as a guide for the reader to follow and practice good judgement from.
The world today is ever-changing. Never before has life been so chaotic and challenging for all. Life before literature was practical and predictable, but in present day, literature has expanded into countless libraries and into the minds of many as the gateway for comprehension and curiosity of the human mind and the world around them. Literature is of great importance and is studied upon as it provides the ability to connect human relationships, and define what is right and what is wrong. Therefore, words are alive more than ever before.
Chaos in Art and Literature
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Chaos in Art and Literature
Abstract: The following paper deals with the expanding world of the new science of chaos. Chaos is unique because it can be applied to all the core sciences, and more importantly it can be applied to subjects not considered to be science. The paper below deals with the evidence of chaos in literature and art, and how it functions in this world. While many aspects of the chaos present in art and literature are different from the science of chaos, some similarities still emerged and can be seen when examined closely. Chaos was found to be especially evident in the works of W.B. Yeats, John Milton, Wallace Stevens, William Blake, Jackson Pollock, and in the works of those involved in the Futurist Movement.
Chaos is a word with many applications. It has been used to describe situations that lack order, and at the same time it has been used to describe underlying mechanisms of the core sciences. Interestingly enough, chaos now can be found in other realms of the scholarly world, most notably in art and literature. By examining the literature of William Blake, W.B. Yeats, John Milton, and Wallace Stevens, and the art of the futurist movement and of Jackson Pollock chaos can be found as can its connection to the more scientific world.
The chaos found in literature is not something too entirely modern. In fact one of the first examples of chaos in literature according to Ala'a H. Fawad was found in William Blake's poem "Auguries of Innocence." The poem describes how a world can exist as a microcosm in a our world in a grain of sand and how the world Blake lives in could perhaps be a grain of sand in another world. Fawad insists that this poem sums up the idea of chaos: the science that "describes the cosmos at both extremes." Those extremes according to him were the largeness associated with the theory of relativity and the smallness associated with quantum physics (Fawad's Chaos on the World Wide Web).
Chaos, though, has also been found in more recent works such as in the poems of William Butler Yeats. This Irish poet who won the Nobel Prize in literature is known for his nationalistic poetry that celebrates Ireland as well as its culture and folklore. More importantly, though, Yeats was interested in philosophy.
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Chaos Literature Jackson Pollock Our World New Science World Wide Web W.b. Yeats Wallace Stevens Extremes
He studied western philosophy, and unusual for the time he also studied eastern philosophy (Ellman and O'Claire 67). His study of philosophy led him to develop his own philosophy which dealt with a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. He used the term "gyre" to describe this cycle that he saw when he viewed the world, and he saw these gyres as representing "the conflict of opposites" (68). The gyre at its most basic form is a spiraling cone that tapered. At its base was another cone that was also spiralling. These two gyres interconnected and Yeats felt that the world was like these gyres; it fell into chaos, like the gyre spiralling down, and out of this chaos a new world, the other gyre, would be born. While this order out of chaos idea may seem random, it should be noted that Yeats felt this was a cycle that repeated itself over and over again. Because of this cycle Yeats gyre theory is much like that of the strange attractors which seem random and disordered, but in the end have a beautiful order to them. This use of gyres can be seen in his poems, most especially in "The Second Coming", a poem that describes the coming of Christ and the Antichrist, two conflicting opposites.
Chaos has also been found in "Paradise Lost" the poem by John Milton. This poem deals with the struggle between Satan and God and also deals with Satan's fall from grace. In the poem chaos itself acts as a character as the world was created from chaos. In his book Matter of Glory A New Preface to Paradise Lost John Peter Rumrich argues that chaos and glory represent two extremes in the poem and that God must harness the power of chaos because it represents potential. It is potential because it is disordered and therefore is able to still be created (61-63). The idea that chaos is potential is much like today's thinking because nowadays chaos is looked to as a potential way of understanding the world in way it was not understood before.
More evidence of chaos exists and this is not found in the subject matter of writing, but rather in the process of writing. This can be seen in the writing style of Wallace Stevens. He wrote a poem titled "The Emperor of Ice Cream". The poem itself does not describe a chaotic theme, nor does it deal with a chaotic idea. It was however written in a chaotic fashion. Stevens himself said of the poem, "I dislike niggling, and like letting myself go. This poem is an instance of letting myself go....This represented what was in my mind at the moment, with the least possible manipulation" (Ellmann and O'Claire 158n4). Chaos is what the world would be without manipulation. Chaos is letting something go and letting it take its natural course. Entropy, the tendency toward chaos, is, after all, the natural state of the world, and this is exactly how Stevens wrote his poem. He did not manipulate his thoughts, but merely wrote them as they came to him. So in effect while his poem does not tell about chaos, it does represent chaos in the way it was written.
Chaos while prevalent in literature was also found in the art world. The futurist movement of the early 1900's is an excellent example of chaos in art. The movement was started by the Italian poet Filippo Tomasso Marinetti. He wanted to destroy the art of the past and bring a new art to the future (Read 108). He gathered together like minded artists such as Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carra, Luigi Russolo, Giacomo Balla, and Gino Severini. Their chaos was alive in the fact that they wanted to go against the established rules or order of art. They wanted to create something new in the art world that went against previous art notions. Perhaps their idea of chaos can be illuminated best by the manifesto written by five members of the group. Two of its main points especially show how chaos was present in their idealogy. This was found in the manifesto's second and third points:
"2. That we should rebel against the tyranny of the words harmony and good taste...
3. That art criticisms are either useless or detrimental." (Read 110).
Both these statements show that the artists of this movement did not want to follow any established rules but rather work within the disorder, the chaos, of their own ideas.
Jackson Pollock, an American painter, of the mid 1900's really embraced chaos in his work. He is a painter known best for the works of art that look more like splatters of paint on canvas, rather than conventional paintings that are clear representations of the everyday world. Willem de Kooning one of his contemporaries said of him,
"Every so often a painter has to destroy painting. Cezanne did it. Picasso did it with cubism. Then Pollock did it. He busted our idea of picture all to hell. Then there could be new paintings again" (Fineburg 86).
This quote oddly enough shows a philosophy much like Yeats'. De Kooning is saying that Pollock brought chaos to the world of painting so that new painting could be born out of the chaos he created. Pollock's works themselves are very chaotic. One critic even described one of his works as a "happy accident" (Craven 556). Pollock's works were not always so revolutionary but evolved this way after he saw French paintings. He said of them "I am particularly impressed with their concept of the source of art being the unconscious" (Fineburg 88). Pollock soon encompassed this idea of painting from the unconscious, painting without thinking first, and this is when his paintings took on their chaotic effect. It is when he begin his drip paintings; that is paintings where the canvas was laid on the floor and Pollock would stand over it and splatter paint upon it. No longer were his paintings planned events, but they were rather creations of spontaneous energy (89). This spontaneity is why his paintings are considered chaotic. There is no reason for why or where the paint lands, and there is no order to either. One of his paintings Autumn Rhythm painted in 1950 is a good example of chaos in his work. The rusty oranges, blacks, and browns are thrown together, a hodge-podge on the campus that has no initial order. Interestingly, though, when examined long enough the painting can seem to the viewer to develop some type of pattern. Once again this chaos is like the strange attractors which are at first disorderly, but eventually develop a definite rhythm.
All in all, chaos is a term that functions in a multitude of ways. It has been used to describe the way that systems work in the physical sciences, and now has been applied to the world of art and literature. By watching closely how chaos appears in this world a new understanding of it can develop in its own sense as well as in the scientific sense as many similarities are present in both realms of chaos.
Craven, Wayne. American Art: History and Culture. Indianapolis: Brown and Benchmark, 1994. p. 556.
Ellmann and O'Claire. Modern Poems: A Norton Introduction. 2 edn. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1989. pp. 67, 68, 158-159.
Fineburg, Jonathan. Art since 1940: Strategies of Being. Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 07632: Prentice Hall, 1995. pp. 88-96.
Read, Herbert. A Concise History of Modern Painting. Washington: Frederick A. Praeger, 1959. pp. 108-112.
Rumrich, John Peter. Matter of Glory: A New Preface to Paradise Lost. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987. pp. 61-63.
Fawad, Ala'a H. Fawad's Chaos Page on the World Wide Web.