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Nowadays everything has to have a STORY. We want to know the STORY. Here in Holland it’s madness, everything has to be a story, een verhaal, and nota bene, has to BE, not HAVE. It is part of a regression into a worldview based on myth.

The term postmodern is not very precise, better would be anti-modern. Modern is a very broad historical term while modernism designates a limited period in art history. Postmodernism has a wider reach than modernism as it includes a mode of thinking.

Corona 20 lays bare the development of the anti-modern mentality that has become rampant. It assumes that myth and belief are equal to and possibly better than scientific knowledge. It opens the way to fundamentalists, alternatevists, populists, antivaxers, qanoneers and other morosophists. 

Not everything is a story. When Jerry and George went to NBC to propose a sitcom they proposed it would be about nothing. “Nothing, so what’s the story?” the director asked. “No story, nothing”, George answered (Seinfeld 4.3).

I like the idea of a pillow book Japanese style: a kind of diary of observations and reflections. Sei Shonagon’s (c. 966 – c. 1020) pillow book is superb. Just a citation:

Though it’s the same it sounds different – The language of priests. Men’s language. Women’s language. Commoners always use too many words when they speak. [3] (and Trump repeats everything twice).

Handling colour in art is big trouble 😕. Matching sounds is easy—if the frequencies form a simple ratio they blend smoothly 😌. Like 200Hz with 300Hz. They are what we call a fifth, 2:3. Complex ratios like 17:19 will give a jarring sound. Jarring sounds have their own charm. With sounds we immediately recognise harmonious or dissonant sounds, but that’s not the case with colours. Does turquoise blend with lilac? There is no rule of simple ratios with colour. Likewise with smells. Do rosemary and ceder combine? And what about touch: silk and sandpaper? 

Long ago I dreamt of spending the fourth stage of my life high up in the mountains, in a sanctuary with a goat and a vegetable garden. In India life has four stages, in Europe three. I’m in the third phase either way. Pensionado we say in Dutch. In India that’s the vana prasta, the forest stage. Good, I’m living in a forest, sort of. The hut has central heating fortunately. The fourth stage, sannyasa prasta, according to wikipedia “is a form of asceticism, marked by renunciation of material desires and prejudices, represented by a state of disinterest and detachment from material life, and has the purpose of spending one’s life in peaceful, love-inspired, simple spiritual life”. We don’t do those things in “the west”. How could we? Amazon won’t deliver there, and there are other inconveniences.

One of the most important philosophers of India is Abhinavagupta, who, like Sei Shonagon, lived around 1000 CE. His commentary on the Natya Shastra by Bharata (a 2000 year old treatise of theatre, dance and music) is a crucial work on aesthetics. Abhinava explains that the sentiments and emotions of theatre are not the same as those of real life. His opponent asks: “But there is nothing in the whole world like this.” “Ah”, Abhinava retorts, “at last you have understood. Rasa is alaukika (non-worldly).” These sentiments are aesthetic experiences, fundamentally different in nature from those in the real world. The sadness we feel when a hero dies on stage is very different from the sadness at the death of a close friend or relative. In the course of the centuries a debate emerged about the hierarchy of the eight sentiments Bharata had distinguished. Abhinavagupta put an end to that debate by highlighting a ninth sentiment, shanta rasa, which is often translated as peace(fulness), but I prefer the noun “still”.1 Abhinava contended that this ninth rasa was the ultimate goal to which all art aspires, and suggested that the other eight rasas would collaborate to achieve that goal. Rasa etymologically is essence or flavour as in taste-smell. And the way rasa manifests in art is much like the tasting of a dish, in which the component parts of different spices, herbs and so on bring out the whole of the dish, a whole that is more than the constituent ingredients. By the way, rasa is what the receptive audience experiences, while the corresponding emotions brought out in the art are known as bhava.

Rasa could have been colour as well as flavour, but that simile is was hijacked by music. The key concept of Indian music is raga, which is derived from rañja, colour: “rañjayate iti raga”, that which colours [the mind] is raga said Matanga in the eighth century.And the Sāmarahasya Upanishad says “there are different colours to various parts of ragas. In spite of this apparent dominion of colour by music it is also true that colours are assigned to different rasas. Conversely the relation of raga and rasa is very vague, since music is far more abstract than theatre. 

While writing this I’m looking out over the dunes and see the sea at the horizon. The sea is where we come from, and walking on the beach is like going back to our hoary origins. The opposite of the sea is the mountain, and as our species has a strong negentropy that’s where we have to go. It is in the mountain that we find peace, still, shanta. We need that to survive the negentropy. 

Going through the thousands of pictures I have taken in the mountains over the decades I noticed that many of them have a limited palette. Instead of presenting an exuberant bouquet there were mainly one or two dominant colours in each image. The following presentation shows the flavours that went into the experience of mountain still. The presentation is not a story, just a collection of observations.

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