David Bohm on art

14 Jan
davidbohm

The eternally amazing David Bohm

As a kid/young adult, one of my favorite radio programs was New Dimensions Radio – with Michael and Justine Toms. Michael interviewed physicist David Bohm and I feel the resonances of that talk rippling across the years of my life. The New Dimensions site is temporarily down today, but it’s well worth checking out their archives and interviews when they’re back up and running. I can’t think of many people in the 80’s and 90’s that Michael Toms didn’t interview. Fabulous resource about who and what influences our world.

David Bohm on the Word ‘Art’

” Considering the word art: The original meaning of this word is ‘to fit’. This meaning survives in articulate, article, artisan, artifact and so on. Of course, in modern times the word art has come to mean mainly ‘to fit, in an aesthetic and emotional sense’. However, the other words listed above show that art can also call attention to fitting in a functional sense.

The fact that we are hardly aware of the syllable art in words such as articulate or artifact is an indication of an implicit but very deeply penetrating fragmentation in our thought between the aesthetic, emotional aspects of life and its practical functioning aspects. This fragmentation tends to operate also in the meaning of the word beauty, which is ‘to fit in every sense’. Nevertheless, this word also tends mainly to emphasize aesthetic and emotional fitting.

It can be seen that, in a very profound sense, all these activities are concerned with fitting, i.e. with art. All that man does is a kind of art, and this implies skill in doing things, as well as perception of how things fit or do not fit. This is indeed self-evident for the visual or musical artist as well as for the artisan. It is true also for the scientist and the mathematician, but less evident.

It is clear, then, that reasoning is to be regarded as an art. And thus, in a deep sense, the artist, the scientist, and the mathematician, are concerned with art in its most general significance, that is, with fitting.” — David Bohm; The David Bohm Society

Bohm also saw artists as people who were fundamentally trying to change the meaning of life by challenging the conventions of the past. His fascination with linguistics led him to all sorts of crazy interesting speculations and perspectives. In his interview with Toms, he touched on the idea of beliefs.  He pointed out that our word ‘belief’ comes from the German  ‘Glauben‘: meaning “to hold dear, esteem, trust’. Our beliefs therefore, are quite literally, our beloveds and we have a hard time of it when they are challenged.

Artists, being primarily concerned with art; with the way things fit together, are prone to challenge our beliefs, our beloveds, continually. This is part of the blessing and curse of living the creative life. I am finding as I get older that more and more of my beliefs/beloveds do not fit. Emotionally, I have outgrown them, aesthetically they hang about me like a shroud and as for functionality – not so much.

For today, I am not going to try on a new set of beliefs for size – I am merely trying not to pick up all the out-dated wrappings that I cover myself in every day, without fail. It is uncomfortable- I feel myself grasping for the structure these beliefs provide, the known security I often hide behind – and yet, as an artist, constantly challenging myself to discover and incorporate the new- whether technique, concept or tool – I find this clinging conceptually odd.  Beliefs are good. But they are they beloveds? If I am an artist; concerned with how things fit, then I must be aware when things do not fit. Ah yes. The beliefs that no longer fit are not who-I-really-am anyway; they are artifacts; things of historical interest. Today I will leave them on the shelf in my imaginary room of curiosities…

Reality is what we take to be true. What we take to be true is what we believe. What we believe is based upon our perceptions. What we perceive depends on what we look for. What we look for depends on what we think. What we think depends on what we perceive. What we perceive determines what we believe. What we believe determines what we take to be true. What we take to be true is our reality. ~David Bohm

…and I will change the meaning of my life; doing what the artist does best.

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