Very quiet today, very subdued. Everything—colours, sounds, asphalt, faces, cars, traffic lights, wind, steps. I am driving with Keith Jarrett playing Köln Concerto and the images roll slowly across the windshield. Popcorn and pop. 3D glasses. Very artistic film this Sunday. Anything that is not about me is bothering me.
Recently, I’ve visited Musee du quai Branly in Paris. It is a fascinating place. A stone throw from one of the most faded symbols of Paris—the Eiffel Tower (it is very difficult to take a picture of the Tower without it looking kitschy)—it offers a great piece of architecture and a great collection of artefacts related to native cultures around the world. The whole idea of this museum is to try and establish virtual communication between various cultures in different ages and places.
On the long and winding ramp leading from the entrance to the upper floors, where the permanent exhibition is located, an installation is positioned so it follows the flow. That piece, made by Charles Sandison and titled The River (2010), is an example of an excellent collaboration between architecture and visual arts. The river is made of words and the flow is perfectly in sync with the curves and the flow. One feels as if following the flow of ideas, not visual elements dancing on the floor.
I saw this couple on a sunny day last summer, and was immediately stricken with their succeeding in staying so isolated in a such a crowded area.
A great article on Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:
Kuhn’s idea was slow to gestate. It began in 1947, when, as a graduate student in physics at Harvard, he was recruited by James B. Conant, the university’s president, to teach a history-of-science course to humanities majors. In preparation, Kuhn was trying to understand how Aristotle could be such a brilliant natural scientist except when it came to understanding motion. Aristotle’s idea that stones fall and fire rises because they’re trying to get to their natural places seems like a simpleton’s animism.
Then it became clear to Kuhn all at once. Ever since Newton, we in the West have thought movement changes an object’s position in neutral space but does not change the object itself. For Aristotle, a change in position was a change in a quality of the object, and qualitative change tended toward an asymmetric actualization of potential: an acorn becomes an oak, but an oak never becomes an acorn. Motion likewise expressed a tendency for things to actualize their essence by moving to their proper place. With that, “another initially strange part of Aristotelian doctrine begins to fall into place,” Kuhn wrote in The Road Since Structure.
From this, Kuhn learned several important lessons that surfaced in SSR 15 years later. First, scientific ideas occur within a context that enables them to make sense. Second, context is accepted for different sorts of reasons than are the hypotheses that emerge within it. Third, the idea of a new scientific context occurs roughly the way his own illumination of Aristotle’s ideas did: all at once, an entire whole snapping into view the way a duck-rabbit illustration switches instantly from one view to another.
The couple was walking down the street, coming from a pub, holding each other’s bottom. She spotted the sunset and commented on it. Promptly, they took out their phones and took pictures.
This used to be a prototype of a moment to be remembered and cherished. In their case, this will be the moment when they instagrammed simultaneously.