Beschäftigungstrieb und Gestaltungstrieb

“After too much non-teaching, non-learning, and a consequent non-seeing – in too many art “activities” — it is time again to advocate again a basic step-by-step learning which promotes recognition of insight coming from experience, and evaluation resulting from comparison. This, in sum, means recognition of development and improvement, that is, of growth, growth of ability. This growth is not only a most exciting experience; it is inspiring and thus the strongest incentive for intensified action, for continued investigation (search instead of re-search), for learning through conscious practice.

Gestalt psychology has proved that 3-dimensionality is perceived earlier and more easily than 2-dimensionality. This explains why children do not begin – as most art teachers still wish – with painting and drawing, which are lateral abstractions on a 2-dimensional plane, but begin all by themselves with building, constructing in space, on a ground and upward, in 3 dimensions.

We believe that art education is an essential part of general education, including so-called higher learning. We promote, therefore, after a natural and easy laissez-faire as an initial challenge, an early shift from aimless play to directed study and work, which offers, with a basic training, a continuous excitement of growth.

To say this in psychological-educational terms, it means a shift from a recognition of the first but primitive drive for being occupied, entertained – Beschäftigungstrieb – to a more advanced drive, or better, need, for being productive, creative – Gestaltungstrieb.”

(pages 68-69)

Josef Albers. Interaction of Colour. New Haven: Yale UP, 1963/2013.

Borrowed from the Grande Bibliothèque (Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec).

Writing, prose, length, narrative, and protagonist

“Every novel has all of these elements. If any of them is missing, the literary form in question is not a novel. All additional characteristics — characters, plot, themes, setting, style, point of view, tone, historical accuracy, philosophical profundity, revolutionary or revelatory effect, pleasure, enlightenment, transcendence, and truth — grow out of the ironclad relationships among these five elements. A novel is an experience, but the experience takes place within the boundaries of writing, prose, length, narrative, and protagonist.”

(page 15)

Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. New York: Anchor Books, 2005.

Bought at the annual Rockcliffe Park Public School booksale, Ottawa.

Qualities and chain connections

“Earlier, when explaining light intensity as lightness and colour intensity as brightness, we found that agreement is easier in the first case, and difficult in the second.

This is because, in defining such qualities, we deal on the one side with physical facts and on the other with perceptual reactions, which permit either a factual measure or an interpretation of illusions. As a result, there are in the latter case various views and opinions and different, if not contradictory, readings.

Any measuring of light-dark qualities is not unrelated to a scaling of light-heavy relationships. Light-dark and light-heavy lead easily to soft-hard comparisons; or, quick-slow and early-late connect with young-old, and with warm-cool, as well as with wet-dry.

Such and other chain connections have led even to such opposites as here and there, indicating spatial differentiation.”

(page 59)

Josef Albers. Interaction of Colour. New Haven: Yale UP, 1963/2013.

Borrowed from the Grande Bibliothèque (Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec).

The reader may or may not experience them

“The often beautiful cover of a book opens like the lid of a box, but it reveals no objects, rather symbols inscribed on paper. This is simple and elegant, too. The leaves of paper pressed together are reserved and efficient as well as cool and dry. They protect each other from damage. They take up little space. Spread open, they offer some information, but they don’t offer too much, and they don’t force it upon me or anyone else. They invite perusal. Underneath the open leaves, on either side, are hidden ones that have been read or remain to be read. The reader may or may not experience them. The choice is always her own. The book continues to be an object. Only while the reader is reading does it become a novel.”

(page 14)

Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. New York: Anchor Books, 2005.

Bought at the annual Rockcliffe Park Public School booksale, Ottawa.

Quantity is a quality

“Although quantity and quality often are considered disparate, in art and music they appear closely related. We may even hear, “Quantity is a quality,” because here quantity not only designates amounts, as of weight or number, but also is a means of underlining, of pronouncement, and a means of equilibrium, of balance.”

(page 43)

Josef Albers. Interaction of Colour. New Haven: Yale UP, 1963/2013.

Borrowed from the Grande Bibliothèque (Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec).

A pool of ideas, a well of memories, a voice

“A theory of creativity is actually just a metaphor. A pool of ideas, a well of memories, a voice. The word “inspiration” is a metaphor for creativity – a nice one, the ingoing of breath and spirit, breath and spirit both being ubiquitous, available with only the most minimal involuntary exertion, as natural as life itself. Some writers wrestle with working, hydraulic pumps or clockworks or computers. A metaphor is a way of capturing a feeling in words, and creating is a feeling. I have sometimes imagined it literally as a feeling of the brain exerting itself as a muscle does. But all metaphors of creativity are both descriptive and prescriptive. A pool of ideas may run dry, a muse may desert, the mechanical brain may cease to work. [My horse] Mr. T. died. Dickens was exhausted and frightened by his diminishing inventiveness. My own metaphor bothered me. Was I not receptive enough anymore? Worse, was what I was receiving not worth receiving?”

(page 11)

Jane Smiley, Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel. New York: Anchor Books, 2005.

Bought at the annual Rockcliffe Park Public School booksale, Ottawa.

The body is a creative, shape-shifting entity

“To acknowledge that “I am this body” is not to reduce the mystery of my yearnings and fluid thoughts to a set of mechanisms, or my “self” to a determinate robot. Rather it is to affirm the uncanniness of this physical form. It is not to lock up awareness within the density of a closed and bounded objects, for as we shall see, the boundaries of a living body are open and indeterminate; more like membranes than barriers, they define a surface of metamorphosis and exchange. The breathing, sensing body draws its sustenance and its very substance from the soils, plants, and elements that surround it; it continually contribute itself, in turn, to the air, to the composting earth, to the nourishment of insects and oak trees and squirrels, ceaselessly spreading out of itself as well as breathing the world into itself, so that it is very difficult to discern, at any moment, precisely where this living body begins and where it ends. Considered phenomenologically – that is, as we actually experience and live it – the body is a creative, shape-shifting entity. Certainly, it has its finite character and style, its unique textures and temperaments that distinguish it from other bodies; yet this mortal limits in no way close me off from the things around me or render my relations to them wholly predictable and determinate. On the contrary, my finite bodily presence alone is what enables me to freely engage the things around me, to choose to affiliate with certain persons or places, to insinuate myself in other lives. Far from restricting my access to things and to the world, the body is my very means of entering into relation with all things.”

(pages 46–47)

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World. NYC: Vintage, 1997.

Borrowed from the Grande Bibliothèque (Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec).