Love of Technology and Individualism
Two enduring values of western culture are a love of technology and a love of individualism. Define and then use these values, to compare and contrast the Sumerian figure (2.2), the Greek Apollo (2.3) and the Gothic jamb figure (2.4).
What are the similarities between these sculptures? What are the differences?
Is there a representation of bipolar thinking in how we view them?
Do any of these sculptures fit the "Myth of the Autonomous Individual"? (Also known as love of individualism)
How do these sculptures represent the cultures from which they emerged?
The essay should be about 900 words long.
Grades will be based on the following:
- Responsiveness to the assignment clearly demonstrating that you have read and understood the chapter
- Quality of essay content, that is, having something to say
- Thesis clarity and specificity
- Coherence: Consistency of focus and unity
- Logical organization and development
- Use of explanation and specific detail to support and clarify your claims
- Use of concise, precise, clear and vivid language
- Standard grammar, punctuation, spelling and English usage, including introducing quotations and citing sources
- Your unique voice
Do not use Wikipedia as a source beyond our text for essays. It is better to use http://www.groveart.com/ or http://www.worldcat.org/ or our own library.
The copying of more than four or five words in a row without citing the source is considered plagiarism!!!
THIS IS WHAT WAS WRITTEN ABOUT BIPOLAR THINKING:
Dr. Brown asserts that bipolar thinking highly influences the way we create and view art. It permeates our culture and has at its roots all of Western historical thought. These are human constructions, not natural forms.
On page 12 Dr. Brown states "I will use the term in this text, a bipoloar opposition is a pair of terms that have been historically linked in Western culture. The members of the pair have been considered absolutes, like white and black, with no gray in between. Some of the key bipolar oppositions are: male/female, self/other, culture/nature, good/evil, heaven/hell and mind/body. Historically, while one member of the pair has been valued, the other has been devalued: white has been seen as good and pure, with black symbolizing evil. The privileged member of the pair has been constructed as primary and central; the devalued member has been marginalized. Further the members of the pair have been seen in conflict."
Dr. Brown continues on to state that these bipolar oppositions are not universal. For example yin/yang in the Chinese belief system depicts opposites that come together to achieve balance, harmony and completion. In other words, yin and yang do not perceive one as privileged and the other as marginalized or devalued.
The Bible is a fundamental textual source for the origins of bipolar oppositions like good/evil and heaven/hell. Plato articulated ideal/actual, mind/body and form/matter. French feminist Julia Kristeva discusses self/other opposition and its devastating political consequences. It is the self/other that allows us to kill in the name of whatever. Good/evil is a major player in the politics of this administration.
Dr. Brown also discusses the bipolar thinking regarding high and low art in the Preface (p. 17). Fine Art/Popular Art. This is an argument that has pervaded the arts since the beginning of time but is even more significant today.
If you still don't understand bipolar thinking, I recommend you reread the Preface.
THIS IS WHAT WAS WRITTEN ABOUT INDIVIDUALISM:
A note about the Autonomous Individual (or love of individualism):
I think the best way to begin to understand this concept is to realize that this really isn't a black and white definition. Conceptually, autonomous implies without influence, above society's pressures and morally superior. I really am not advocating that anyone is autonomous but the myth of it is pervasive in our culture. Look at GW Bush in his flight suit. What was that about? He never fought in a war. It was simply to promote him in the cloak of this myth and paradoxically as the everyman.
This myth is a dominant value in our culture.... look at the success of the Marlboro man, Luke Skywalker, Agent 007, Superman.... the list goes on and on. Only in the movies and advertising do we see a truly autonomous individual. For example, look at the advertising for the latest SUV.
It is this myth that advertising references when trying to grab our emotional selves that make that final decision as to which product we will buy. I think it is as valuable to see this concept in advertising as it is to understand the role of sex in advertising. We need to truly understand the subconscious influences in our culture and our lives... and it is extraordinary how our text is shaped and shows us the roots to our cultural values.
The myth of the autonomous individual is precisely that: a myth. It is our emotional legacy and therefore important to understand its powerful influence on our unconscious selves. This is the myth that creates our heroes and heroines, the "good guy" who is unscathed by corruption of any sort. From the Greek gods and goddesses to the press images of our presidents, this myth has powerfully shaped our history. It is an icon onto itself and a revered value in our culture.
Images speak a thousand words. We process images with a different part of our brain. That is why advertising is so successful. Have you noticed that very few advertisements make product claims? Mostly they show a lifestyle of sexy, happy and autonomous. Advertising images have become so pervasive that they are our environment and we do not see them on a conscious level. We process images with the right side of our brain, we take them into our unconscious and we tend to believe them without cognitive processing. We process words with our conscious self, comparing them to what we already know, evaluating the source, etc. Because images are so powerful, art and advertising is very powerful.
The myth of the autonomous individual is promoted through images throughout our written history. Yet few individuals are truly autonomous. To be untouched by a culture's values and social systems is highly unusual. Thus, the study of art, its contributions to the cultures of all ages and the unique individuals who create its powerful images becomes alive, personal and relevant.