Monday, November 06, 2006

High mountains have wide feet

(translation from the dutch post below)

Am I the only one who has had it with the apparent strict seperation of art and science? All those compulsively artistic people, that have art running through their veins to an extent that they can only express themselves in vague terms and feelings are getting on my nerves. On the other side; the thought of being locked up with a bunch of science-purists, that believe art to be a waste of energy, isn't exactly appealing either. Where is this weird classification-mentality coming from? Is it the need to belong to a superior group of think-alikes or are science and art so incompatible that we have to choose to let one of the two into our lives? Of course not; choosing between art and science is as ridiculous as choosing between language and math, seeing and hearing, eating and drinking. Science and art are both essential components of the world we live in and should be treated as such. Ignoring one of the two is a crime against yourself and a deprivation of potential joy in life.

Sure, I can understand that not everyone can care for both art and science in equal ways. This would result in a lack of specialists in both disciplines and would devaluate both art and science. But regardless of the enrichment of a personal world-experience, I think both the artist and the scientist can be inspired by expanding their views into neigbouring territory. You just see more with the shell off your eyes. This analogy is in fact quite accurate. in visual perception the center of the visual field has the highest resolution and can thus discriminate most details. The surround is however not useless but serves as a contect for the center and facilitates center view accuracy. A salient stimulus in the surround can attrack attetnion just as easy as one in the center and move the focus. Shouldn't art and science cooperate in a similar way? If I take myself into account I am sure my focus is mainly determined by science, but art and cultural events are more than mere means to relax. They offer a change of scenery that is essential for a clear view of the world. Looking away from a search image for a while increases the chances of finding the target on the second attempt. This is how art should facilitate science and vice versa.

General knowledge of art and science is more than a means to win games of Trivial Pursuit from your friends and family; it's the basis for a specialized view in one of the two disciplines. High mountains do have wider feet than small ones. This means we can choose between art and science but it is not a definite choice. Young children will certainly have a preference for either math or language, but does this mean we let them learn only one? Not until they have reached a basic level in both. A similar basic knowledge level can be expected from art and science, but unlike the situation in primary school this is everyone's own responsibility. All we can do is point out the obvious advantages. With a wider scope there is more to see. Art and science shoul be allies in the war on ignorance, not enemies.

There is of course a small chance that the situation I desire is no different from the current situation, but in that case I fail to notice it due to my selective viewing of the world. This would make me the living support for my own statement an in that case I find it hard to believe that I am the only one in this situation.

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