The limits of knowledge …

…  its quite a high falutin’ term and has been used many times in the past, but mostly toward ‘advanced thinking’ by academics and philosophers but in my post here I mean it toward how it is often so difficult to put across in a few words areas of interest that I think others should also explore, ideas for children to build upon with activity and focused attention, a potential source of interest, joy and knowledge.

The limit of knowledge is that they are not interested and parents often now will view it as if witchcraft, ie the unusual, the less trodden pathway !!!

A case in point is encouraging young people to get a little more art and craft orientated in a practical manner, to explore images and artists from the past, to get practical  whether its cutting and pasting or sketching or modelling, clay, plaster whatever. To develop manual dexterity, to open pathways of thinking and co-ordination.  If by age ten they are not so inclined or have never known such activity then its not a given they will show any interest whatsoever in their lifetime. The curse of the screen has in a decade destroyed centuries of skill development that each child could experience so that in life they can have some facility with their hands, sketch, visualise, convey their meaning. Nursery rhymes, simple songs and poetry have for most children fizzled to nothing, become non-existent, needlework, helping with mother… all gone. Knowing the latest pop video release or minute nuanced trend in pop fashion is not building or development for rounded able citizens, just candyfloss, so much smoke and mirrors based on fantasy, endless escapism.

Looking at the Times newspaper April 29th p.29 print edition we find not even experts can agree, for instance counter to any common sense the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health decided this year there was no evidence that screen time itself was harmful!! This beggars belief. April 2019 the World Health Organisation injected some sanity to ask parents to greatly control and limit the amount of screen time children experience. Hurrah for the World Health Organisation !

Surely even a few brief seconds of seeing children hooked and over-enthusing on this junk can tell a parent or concerned adult all they need to know. Dear knows how poor their abilities will be as they progress through school, I’ve a feeling performance could be assessed as two and three years behind. Even the use of paper and being able to practice handwriting, sketch convey ideas is seen as arcane and marginal to requirements!!!

More enlightened parents will see to it Little Jonny does not skip the fundamentals the basics and will realise among other things paper and bookbased learning is essential. Theres an element of social class and background here that is being amplified and widened. A screen just cannot provide the depth quality or reinforcement to learning that is required, or the joyous serendipity of say a paper based textbook or encyclopedia.

This means there is an increasing gulf and stratification between those that can and those that cannot. An increase in differences of social class and performance. This unravels the efforts made to increase opportunity and pull up the poor performing, particularly since the Second War.

Yet still in the above we hear of groups asking for evidence … answer = watch the bloody kids and see how skewed their behaviour actually is !!!

Likewise the UK Guardian in its often emotive woolly nonsensical fashion asks for evidence – as if again do they not use their eyes and ears to see things are amiss!

Kids cannot even ride in the car without having a screen installed right in front of their faces, to suck on the digital pap as they journey along; God forbid, more junk from Hollywood and endless animated crap. What we could describe as using that dire term of modern times ‘a targeted audience’. Or maybe a film about journeying thro Monument Valley … as they drive thro Monument Valley ?



A test for Art.

Heres an interesting aside, a smidgeon of ‘something else’ to add some levity to the usual shenanigans called our preoccupations (ie web / trump / climate).

I’ve taken to looking at art books these last few days, the blanket nothing-ness of Christmas is proving its toll and I need nourishment. Apart from the sumptuous, educating and beautiful six parter Peter Philips ‘Polyphony’ on BBC r3 late evenings not much from the ordinary to engage me radio-wise. However the dreaded Christmas Day was quite good, well done bbc r3. Considering their library of material and skills as broadcasters it really would have taken a great effort to screw it up.

Plenty of art books here, plenty of art too that I’ve made twenty and thirty years ago, lots to engage any conversation if anyone were to visit or get access to my activities. As I’ve stated previously our web hours seldom if ever serves us any art (or images from past decades and centuries) …. of value, yet pick up a book or an encyclopedia and instantly dozens of incredible images, forms and ideas fly into our vision. I’m into planning and architecture too, I suppose all developments of human thought and ability, often the web is like peering through the thinnest of cracks in a broken door yet pick up a book and theres a feast for your mind, you instantly learn new things.

Point of this post is figuring out how to test for Art, how to evaluate a piece of nonsense presented as of merit. A case in point being trying to figure out a household where a family member makes a point to emphasise her new degree yet all around theres utterly nothing to reveal such an interest, walls bare, no book in sight. I think we’ve got a little bit of the emperors new clothes creeping in here. We have tv, we have phones and handy personal transport but does it make us work and study any better  …  I think not. So where is the Masterwork of this handy person? A masterpiece is a very old term indeed, ask any watchmaker or skilled time served worker of three hundred years ago. It will have carefulness and veer toward perfection; yet I enter the house in question and all I can recall is seeing something that looks likely, a homemade five minute drunken scribble masquerading as art. Depth ability and genuine effort seem in short supply.

My test for Art :-

  • You should immediately be able to tell which person produced it with only the merest acquaintance of the ppl involved as you enter the home. Which family member is likely to have done this, the six year old now fast asleep, or the demented grannie coping with her last years ? Can we tell ?
  • Can you instinctively put a name to it, a maker, a style of execution. Usually we can if it is cooking or needlework or handicraft … or why is the adept working so hard to conceal their supposed knowledge and enthusiasm of which I am increasingly sceptical? How much tackle is involved in its production, a work area, if none of these things present then i wonder.
  • Is this the remains of an art therapy session for someone injured or seeking recovery ? Scribble scribble, colour colour ….
  • Is this the only thing they’ve ever done now proudly or desperately displayed as a Masterwork; what is the hinterland we are drawing from? None? Ask ‘explain this to me’ … Can they speak for five minutes on this piece … I reckon not. Its all a charade in the particular case I’m thinking of.
  • Genuine application (ie our supposed ‘degree’ person) is sadly wanting,  not some few minutes  wannabe artist wishing to create an aura …  glib waffle to impress the check-out girl and strangers.
  • One hour is not a thousand hours. Please!
  • What knowledge, insight or craft was entailed in its production, show me your portfolio, your effort. Increasing ability with practice and effort.
  • What is the dialogue for this piece, references, developments, a body of work, an ongoing conversation, next step ?
  • Have a child make a copy, could anyone tell the difference?

The answer to this  (from my viewpoint a year later) … is go for the jugular … show me your portfolio, your development, your books and notes. Your enthusiasm.  Talk to me about it. In other words I’ve been duped and this is why I am so angry about this. These are wannabes and fantasists wishing to impress the girl at the checkout or a passing neighbour.  I am mighty vexed its assumed I’ll tag along with the fantasy, I don’t mind ppl acting a part or being pretentious, it generally always looks silly and raises a smile but I do not like it assumed I am taken in by this; trying to weave me into their dumb web. Thats two big scams I can put a name to for the same couple.

This highlights a problem I see more of, ppl kidding us they are something they are not. Its getting worse.

I’m all for people playing around harmlessly and maybe even learning something, hopefully to appreciate the value of books (ie a bound collection of information compiled by an expert) …  but what vexes me profoundly is nonsense, non-performance dressed up as something else, a self deluding pretension or mirage of greater things. All my reading, all my effort and I have adults playing as if children to perpetuate a no-hoper blind fantasy.

And once you hear “Oh I don’t read books!” then you know its time to quit.

postscript … something I wrote this summer …