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Notes

The Future/ Language and Mimesis

The Future

All attempts at predicting the future seem to fail because of either a too-Utopian expectancy or a too-pessimistic nihilism. Current predictions for what the future may bring are still stuck in either of these two moulds, although lately there haven’t been many positive interpretations. But what is interesting is that predictions that have a Utopian slant never manage to escape from the social conventions which shape their present (e.g. the home computer that ‘could aid the housewife with her shopping’)

What are ‘think tanks’? They often seem to be small groups of people closely associated in particular fields of work acting together to thrash out plans for the organisations that sponsor them. The Adam Smith Institute for the Conservative party, for example. Here the think tank seems to me to be a PR dream. What better way to justify ones policy or ideology than by having it endorsed by a panel of ‘experts’?

Language and mimesis.

Thinking about the attempts to forge a relationship between abstract art and music. Music is seen to be abstract and thereby ‘universal’. But I think that the response we have to unfamiliar music, as well as unfamiliar images is to find a link between what we know and what we do not. We all have a vast repertoire of sound-memories as well as visual memories to draw from, And we can quite often make meaning with very tenuous associations. But that is exactly what is important. “Language” is a tool towards both communication (the act of information interchange) and understanding (the process of making meaning from that information). When we are unable to construct a coherent meaning with the information we have, we have moved beyond comprehension, and our tools for communication are felt to be inadequate. Consequently, we must expand our repertoire, or in other words increase our vocabulary.

As in all languages, meaning is never fixed and timeless – in music, in visual art. What I am unsure of is when artists try to draw direct parallels between visual art and music. Visual language uses visual signs, which may be read ‘as’ “metaphorically mimetic”, i.e. appearing to be something else. A ‘pure’ visual abstraction will always eventually be incorporated into the language, with phrases such as “that reminds me of…”, and “it looks like…” etc.