Exploring Depths of Experience in Arts, Letters, Science and Ideas
Challenging “Postmodern” CriticismGo Back to Table of Contents
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The fact that matter is energy creates a whole new set of in-form-ation--making solid matter, for Baragona, as elusive as light, shadow and color. All nature is in flux, but beneath that flux resides time-less-ness. And it is paradoxically time-less-ness that makes time-li-ness possible, for energy is constantly being expressed in form. The invisible is thus made tangible in the physical. Baragona, who portrays in her art the intersection of energy and matter, finds in the expression of physics a natural art form which is all around us. “I try to paint or draw waves at sea,” she explains, “as an expression of fixed impermanence. The wave is a fixed principle. The wave at sea expresses this principle in infinite variations of motion. I see this fixed motion of energy in flowers as well... in the context of flower arrangements, landscapes, and the purely wild.

“My art is consequently ecological in the sense that I truly want it to raise consciousness of nature’s art. Nature’s book is illustrated with our art; and as we illustrate nature, it illustrates us. Our knowledge of light and physics gives us in-sight into nature; and we can illustrate this insight as a holistic evolution in which all forms are related in energy and expression; both are bound up together. This also suggests that when we see color, we are seeing light--which is itself a manifestation of energy and of time. Our humanity is established in our own concerted expression of this as the beautiful.

“Consequently, I think we must be serious about the business of living, which is the exercise and expression of consciousness. I truly believe this is what we are here for; and when societies or individuals repress or deny this purpose, they lead inevitably to self-destruction in one form or another. We must be creative--or we become destructive by our own inertia and are put out of the cosmic order. Yet when we are creative, what we express is so much greater than ourselves that--by finding ourselves within this greater wonder--we become so much greater than what we were at first. Thus I think artists prophetic of the agency of truth and understanding that humanity is intended to be. If we fail at this task, then we fail as a species, I think, so I do not see art as a frill, luxury or competitive industry, but as a vital necessity for survival.”
As a “necessity for survival” art must rise above critical perspectives based on the need to categorize and define. For some artists, the emphasis on criticism over art constitutes a normative inversion which takes place when our understanding of life becomes more important than life itself; when formal philosophy becomes more important than thinking, inquiry and wonder; when what is said becomes more important than what is true; or when what is said about literature and art becomes more important than literature and art. Rather than further dissection and division, these artists offer us a vision of possibility; rather than narrow focus and closure, an enhanced sense of wonder and an open-ended adventure.

Thus some artists see our era as truly millennial, science moving back towards art, philosophy expanding its venue of challenge, and Being encountering Being in time across horizons of immediate experience. By creating a new vision of time, creativity, and art, they remind us that Art, like life, is grounded in deeply personal constructs of meaning, and it is only such meaning which gives us a sense of moral purpose in living. Moral restraint expressed only as authority or taboo will always, finally, create repression--and repression tends to lead, in the end, to rebellion and decadent abandon. It is only the recovery of meaning that creates moral sensitivity. Thus these artists are attempting to make our lives meaningful. Such a new birth of meaning and expressive freedom for the next millennium should prove as difficult to categorize, contain, collect, or define as freedom, or life, itself.

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