Designed as a travel guide, there's good description of history that occurred in these three places. For various reasons, it's neither a history book,Designed as a travel guide, there's good description of history that occurred in these three places. For various reasons, it's neither a history book, nor a travel book. It's both, and in my experience, it's a new genre. A note of caution, especially to foreign readers: the history in the book is broad, so I caution you to accept what's written in this book as absolute. You may want to read other history books of this region. ...more
It is not necessary that every man should be an artist. It is necessary that every man should have his artistic faculty developed, his taste trained,
It is not necessary that every man should be an artist. It is necessary that every man should have his artistic faculty developed, his taste trained, his sense of beauty and insight into form and colour and that which is expressed in form and colour, made habitually active, correct and sensitive.
More often than not, when I have mentioned art to someone, they have always replied with, "Oh, I don't understand art." I've always struggled with this response, though I've accepted it. When the same people buy a new mobile phone, I've never heard them say, "Oh, I don't understand this new interface." They've experimented, asked friends, Googled for information and how-to videos, and have become comfortable, if not experts, in using it. Perhaps, this is a weak analogy, but I am sure I've made my point.
I may have an advantage that my best friend is an artist, and my understanding of art has been shallow at times, and cynical, when not shallow. Yet, I've taken time to refine my own understanding of art. I've been careful not to borrow an opinion and make it my own, and that is what's taking so much time. Roland Barthes' Death of An Author has been an all-time favourite, partly because it is excellent, but more so because it resonates with what I have always felt about art. Our understanding of art has to be our own, we can always refine, define, or deduct by what others have to say.
And then I read this very small 27-page book about the National Value of Art, by Sri Aurobindo. The title is misleading, to an extent, I must say - only two-and-a-half pages discuss the context of the national value of art. And, that, somehow is what's most fascinating about the book. Because before understanding the national value of art, it is important to know the value of art, the meaning of art, and the sense of art. And that, is what this book is really about. For example, this felt like a description of the purposeful nature of the art aesthetic:
But the aesthetic faculties entering into the enjoyment of the world and the satisfaction of the vital instincts, the love of the beautiful in men and women, in food, in things, in articles of use and articles of pleasure, have done more than anything else to raise man from the beast, to refine and purge his passions, to ennoble his emotions and to lead him up through the heart and the imagination to the state of the intellectual man.
This is the first time I've read any of Sri Aurobindo's works, and while I'll admit it has been difficult reading, I am excited and looking forward to reading much more of what he has said. The difficulty of course, is not about the written word or the construction itself, it is the sad habit of over-simplifying things that matter. We are keen to make meaning in an instant and when something that was written about ninety years ago prods you into mulling over every word, you are out of your comfort zone. That's how a small, 27-page book can beat you. But if you choose well, it can enrich you.
Mankind is apt to bind itself by attachment to the means of its past progress forgetful of the aim. The bondage to formulas has to be outgrown, and in this again it is the sense of a higher beauty and fitness which will be most powerful to correct the lower. The art of life must be understood in more magnificent terms and must subordinate its more formal elements to the service of the master civilisers, Love and Thought.
It is one thing not to understand art. It is another not to want to understand art. It is yet another not to care. But if you do care, I strongly recommend this book.
Finally, I ask that you buy the book, so that you can support the work of the Ashram, however, The National Value of Art is also available as a part of "Early Cultural Writings" (starting at page 433) which is available a free download [PDF 3.9MB]
If you were a stickler for categorisation of books, you may put this under self-help or guides. The back of the book claims it belongs to ART/CreativiIf you were a stickler for categorisation of books, you may put this under self-help or guides. The back of the book claims it belongs to ART/Creativity - but to my mind, this is misleading - to an extent.
Yes, the book has been written for "in-service artists" (painters and writers, the author says), though I found the matter in the book quite relevant. The problem there is not about whether one is creative (as the author describes towards the end of the book), but, probably about who is an artist?
Visual and performance arts have always been considered the domains where creativity abounds. To my mind it flows in every aspect of our life. And if there are sixteen principles to help define the authenticity of your creativity, I think they might be well useful for all of us.
I chose this book because of a post I read, while surfing for something about psychology and photography. (Don't ask me why, I now, don't remember). BI chose this book because of a post I read, while surfing for something about psychology and photography. (Don't ask me why, I now, don't remember). But I am glad, I did. It is good book, and probably deserves more than the three stars I have given it.
The Tao of Photography: Seeing Beyond Seeing is a book that may get easily misinterpreted as a book about photography technique. It does talk of camera work, method, and techniques. But it is not a book that teaches you photography. At all; if you ask me. The book provides a context to being a photographer in a Taoistic framework, if you will. The book is replete with references and quotes from famous photographers who have found the zen-like state as they took their photographs.
It is essentially a philosophy book, in the context of photography. And an important one, I would think, as more and more of photographic work becomes slave to micro and meta definition. While understanding the science and the technology of photograph is important (and the book makes a small case for it), photographers have an urgent need to get out of the rut of classification and belonging - as more and more photographs start looking the same, there are few that pierce your heart and ooze out emotion, the way they should. Of course, with so many photographs being clicked in the world - finding such photos has become very difficult indeed. But if you do understand this philosophy and are able to import it in your 'act of photography', you may find your self discovering things about your art - especially, if you feel stagnated in your work.
The book itself has a very interesting and varying showcase of work from some of the greats, which makes it an interesting read as visual context to the words is woven well. Some of the sections are repetitive - and I have now resigned to this form of writing by most contemporary writers of the non-fiction genre. It seems that constant reminders of the theme of the book is the new template and technique of the modern non-fiction.
If you would like to understand the mind and state of a good photographer, this is a very good book. If you expect tips and techniques to take good photographs, this is not a very good book. If you are willing to keep an open mind and be with the book and yourself, you might discover some interesting secrets about the art you love so much....more
I don't remember the last time, a "text book" was this interesting. I just finished reading Visual Culture and it more than made for interesting readiI don't remember the last time, a "text book" was this interesting. I just finished reading Visual Culture and it more than made for interesting reading. It is a thickish book - and I'll admit - it seemed daunting when I picked it up.
There is however an ease to the presentation that Richard Howells achieves, which slips you in comfortably, into the intricacies and complexities of Visual Culture. You are better off reading this book with an Internet connection handy, since not all references are available in the text - for reasons explained in the book: to keep the cost of the textbook down for the benefit of the students.
The book is divided in two parts - the first deals with the theory of visual culture - almost like defining the elements of grammar that we would learn for language and the second part takes up various media that allows us to practice this grammar on them.
In the theory section, Howells covers iconology, form, art history, ideology, semiotics and hermeneutics as the tools of the trade. As soon as we use the word theory - it bring up all possible guards for most of us. However as Howells says:
Do not be afraid of the word 'theory'. Yes, it can sound dauntingly abstract at times, and in the hands of some writers can appear to have precious little to do with the actual, visual world around us. Good theory however, is an awesome thing. [...] But unless we actually use it, it borders on the metaphysical and might as well not be used at all.
Howells lives up to this premise all through the book. The tools in the first part are well-employed in the second part - media - where he covers fine art, photography, film, television and new media. There is ample historical reference to all media - and the understanding of the media from the point of visual culture is well-contextualised.
One of the most important aspects of the book, however, is that Howells goes through the motions of introducing us to the theories and their sub-theories; he convinces us about the potency of the theory, and as we are about to be convinced of it, he flips it - and asks us to look at the opposite side of it - with equal conviction. He forces us to consider a theory in its own right - and demands that we draw our own conclusion and the application of a theory to a media form.
If you are new to visual culture and are intrigued by it, this is definitely a good start. Remember to have an Internet-enabled device handy. The references are many and useful....more
There is something about a private person's biography: it is a biography made possible by other people's views and insights into the private person'sThere is something about a private person's biography: it is a biography made possible by other people's views and insights into the private person's life.
Apart from that there is the usual chronology of incidents, mostly professional, which is a matter of public record anyway. Such a biography serves only on purpose: bring all that content in one place.
However, there is a value that the "compiler" (the author of the biography) really brings to the book and that is the presentation. Take a famous singer's biography, and I would think that there would be enough content there for the fans. Laura Jackson's biography of Paul Simon doesn't do that very well, yet it is a well presented biography. Because if you are Paul Simon fan, chances are that you are beyond mere gossip. To understand the life and times, mind and turmoil of your favourite singer, get to understand his art and approach to the art, is more important....more