Leonardo da Vinci, Saint John the Baptist, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Photograph: Wikipedia
Leonardo da Vinci, Saint John the Baptist, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Photograph: Wikipedia

An Italian “Pentecost miracle”

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.

Happy Pentecost!

_____
  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science, edi­tor of “Science” mag­a­zine, https://www.aaas.org/[]
  2. https://www.vittoriosgarbi.it/libri/index.php?route=pagine&p=19&pd=130[]
  3. https://www.politicasufacebook.it/politici/[]
  4. https://www.glistatigenerali.com/arte/leonardo-da-vinci-di-sgarbi-come-dio-e-in-mezzo-a-noi/[]
  5. Cited from https://www.glistatigenerali.com/arte/leonardo-da-vinci-di-sgarbi-come-dio-e-in-mezzo-a-noi/[]
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After it has come to light that “Black Lives Matter” is a marxist – and blatantly racist – organization that could not care less about equal opportunity but that, according to rally signs exhibited by “activists”, simply wants to “kill” or “eat the rich”, now the climate change scare appears to be crumbling to pieces as well: It appears we now have the Edward Snowden of climate change alarmism.

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