Before I get to the topic of this post, a few opening remarks, in lieu of a formal “notice” to our readers, if you will.
Since I am aware that quite a few of our email subscribers are also following, or participating in, the discussions on the AAAS1 Member Community Board, some of you may have read my comment there speaking of “dehumanizing” repetitive tasks. Our striatum helps us handle regularity, relieving us from having to pay attention to some of it by helping to create sub- or semi-consciously observed habits. To the very end of freeing up our creativity. “Creativity” signifying: to (1.) change a given state in an at least to an extent (2.) sustainable way – the logical meaning of “to create” – , where (2.) requires that the new state have (3.) consistency both within itself and with regard to those elements appearing as its environment, so as to be able to (4.) form, modify and possibly expand a system (in the process establishing some new regularity, which is then handed over to the striatum aso.). An important, and the deeper, sense of developing robots – besides saving costs, of course – is to save humans from doing repetitive, mechanical work that reduces them to machines rather than acknowledge them as the infinite intellectual creativity that they are – in principle, and admittedly in varying markedness, but what principally matters is, of course, the principle.
My current work on finalizing the first working version of our forecasting software suite is mostly programming, and while there is a saying among programmers that you should automate everything you would do more than three times, everyone developing software himself knows that there are a lot of annoying repetitive elements in programming that one would rather they completed themselves when conceived, because once conceived and the awe moment over, they have lost our human interest set on creating rather than repeating. It is not lost on me, of course, that a “software developer” will normally look down on mere “programming”, which he typically leaves to others, but I do both. So at times I – logically – need a break.
Since we are personally not accustomed to entertaining entertainment as such – we decided 22 years ago we had neither the space in our living room for a television set nor the time to watch it constantly change the images on its screen (“constantly change”, notice the contradictory tension – a hallmark of actual logic, as we will see and discuss on this site in depth and also touch upon further down this post) – , “break” from programming means occupying myself with trying to form some observation (hopefully) “outside of the box”, and possibly sharing it with others.
In this sense, we may henceforth take the liberty to use one or the other break from our respective current work to muse about and observe, en passant, what strikes us as interesting, amazing, potentially important with regard to actual logic. Since logic-inspired observations will thus appear in a more blog-like format, we have for now settled on calling this category “Blogic”.
On a positive note, the progress in the development of our forecasting capabilities makes us confident that we will be able to make a prediction for the outcome of this year’s US presidential election that will have a very high probability of being correct. A very large part of the input we use is financial market behavior, and it was primarily financial market behavior that has enabled us to predict a win of the Republican candidate last time. Nobody and nothing is perfect, of course; everyone, including us, simply strives to be as good as he can.
Speaking of “perfect”, and now I am finally arriving at the topic of this first “Blogic” post: The author of a book on Leonardo da Vinci, highlighting how Leonardo and his work, in the author’s view, are characterized by conscious and willful “imperfectionism”,2 has, one might marvel, achieved a kind of “miracle”. A miracle which may only, at least at this time, be possible to occur in Italy, the “home country” of beauty and art.
Those interested in European political developments will be aware of the emergence – by now in large part reversed – of the Italian “5-Star-Movement” (M5S), in terms of seats still by far the largest force in the two chambers of the Italian parliament (though in terms of poll-assessed current consensus among the population by now only about half as strong as Matteo Salvini’s Lega). The founder and by far the most prominent figure of the M5S, and for a long time the recipient of the most Facebook likes for an Italian politician by far, being the first to amass a back then unheard-of two million likes, is Beppe Grillo. Beppe Grillo is a highly successful comic. Some might even say he turned Italian politics into – and others might say: even more of – a comedy.
We say neither of this, but we observe that the author of the book on Leonardo we mentioned, Vittorio Sgarbi, has, just in the run-up to Pentecost, overtaken Beppe Grillo in terms of Facebook likes for Italian politicians.3 Sgarbi is – among many things – also a politician, member of the lower house of the Italian parliament (the “Camera”) and mayor of a smaller Italian city. And he is an astute art historian gifted with a deep sensitivity towards actual logic appearing in art, known by essentially every adult Italian and probably the most “popular” art historian in the world, judging by the number of his Facebook likes now approaching two million. We at loico do not always agree with his views as regards art, but he is certainly one of the most original, intellectually intrepid and refreshing contemporary minds that we know of.
That an art historian and original thinker, almost equally controversial with regard to his “manners” as Grillo but infinitely more knowledgeable, in our assessment, has now trumped the comic in Italian politics, that deep-searching thought and sincere and knowledgeable admiration of beauty have overtaken a mostly superficial making-fun of things, may, in our time, be regarded as a “Pentecost miracle” we wanted to share here, and may even have a more widespread symbolic significance at least for Italy. His – in terms of actual votes entirely insignificant, he has been voted into parliament with another party – political movement is called “Rinascimento”, “Renaissance”. One would be inclined to think of Italy as one of the most “problematic” countries Europe has to offer. And one would clearly not be blamed for doing so. Yet since the spring of 2017 we have begun to observe a number of signs, some more subtle, some less, that Italy’s funda-“mental”-s, if you will, are actually much more solid than those of many if not most other European countries today. Italians owe this, of course, to the man who has virtually created their language and woven the most profound sense of logic into its fabric: Dante.
With regard to Sgarbi’s book on Leonardo and “imperfection”, one Italian analyst has written:
“Sgarbi draws, perhaps consciously, from the philosophy of Hegel who, as we know, believes that the fulfillment of the Spirit is realized in a journey into reality that is always imperfect, dirty. But tension is the most elevated moment of thought: The very fact of striving towards perfection, of wanting to overcome imperfection, the torment of the negative, of searching for the Absolute, makes the artist unique.”4
Which is only logical. “Perfection” would mean standstill, yet the Absolute which man strives towards cannot logically stand still, thus excluding movement from itself, which it would then have to externally relate to, aware that it was the very movement that brought the “perfection” about. So a perfected Absolute would have to be noted as being dependent on the movement it excludes from itself, and being dependent on something contradicts the concept of “absolute”. It is exactly because of this that we abhor pianists who play like a metronome, while, of course, we equally abhor those who take too large a liberty in “interpreting” what they are supposed to “perform”. It is this tension between the subtly demonstrated liberty of the performing pianist and his still-adherence to the prescribed notes that logically makes a performance “perfect”. We will come back to this.
Vittorio Sgarbi himself attributes to Leonardo’s life what may be characterized as his own individual version of a somewhat sharpened Pentecostal meaning:
“For Leonardo, man was meant to fly, and indeed he flies now. His problem was to compete with God, to measure himself against Him.
All Leonardo’s work is not born from a commissioner, from a prince: Leonardo needs to align himself with God’s creative process. This is precisely what artists do, and the artist is proof of God’s existence. Leonardo does not die and it is useless to look for his body. What is essential is his thought that lives in his work, that is projected into a time that exceeds our time.
The work of art is man’s challenge to God, it is the way in which man becomes eternal, with which he overcomes time, with which he overcomes death. Here, this is the process that moves all Leonardo’s thought: to compete with God, to engage in an arm wrestling with Him, to show that God is man.
What motivates Leonardo, more than any other artist, is the attempt to overcome time, to overcome death: it is to enter the dimension of immortality.”5
The ultimate tension the analyst speaks of and Sgarbi describes may be experienced by looking into Saint John the Baptist’s eyes in the featured image above this post: His right eye looks at us – the other to where his finger points to. A quick web search did not yield any articles highlighting this obviously not unintentional “squint”, so it appears that also in contemplating art it is logical consciousness that creates savoring connoisseurs. Note, also, how Leonardo paints the highest light intensity on the forehead of John the Baptist, apparently, as one is inclined to surmise, to emphasize what matters most to him: human thinking; which, in a first descending, then rising flow of light ending in the upward-pointing index finger, he then relates to what he was certain was its origin.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science, editor of “Science” magazine, https://www.aaas.org/
- Cited from https://www.glistatigenerali.com/arte/leonardo-da-vinci-di-sgarbi-come-dio-e-in-mezzo-a-noi/