Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Civilisation Network

A glorious day! First I glued two picture frames. One is a bit larger than required and so needs special lengths of wood fitting so that the picture fits tightly inside. Then I spent a few hours backing up my computer, which I do monthly, then to a second hard drive which is stored off site every three months. This took longer than usual.

Then I put down in words some of my thoughts about hierarchical societies and the formation of spontaneous order. That, and ideas about the nature chaos are the two philosophies that will most occupy my artwork over the next few months. I'll put the words at the bottom of this blog post.

After lunch I designed some business cards, and then began glazing a small picture called "Flower of Awe". That's finished and drying now, my first picture of 2010 signed off. I won't post a photo because the frame should add to the impact. That glazing was an aparatif for the main course that starts tomorrow, the glazing of The Transmittance of Pity, which I underpainted a couple of weeks ago. I used the colour study as a test bed and rubbed some glaze colours over it to be sure I had what I wanted. Generally speaking it will be glazed in just ultramarine, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and white.

And now the aforementioned notes on social networks. All comments are most welcome.

My latest idea for creative exploration is the understanding that society and civilisation is built from the bottom up. Leaders exist because of the collective actions of the individuals at the bottom. Even in a dictatorship the leaders exist with the consent of the people. Leadership is created by the led.

This has many political implications. A leader will reflect the personality of those led. The will of the led is more significant than the will of the leadership, although most of the time both will reflect each other. Those that criticise their leaders either dislike themselves or lack understanding of their leaders. The power of an individual increases with the number of connections. Success in a society is measured by the quantity of connections and it's better to connect with people who have large numbers of connections.

The collective actions and interactions of individuals form a sort of higher intelligence, built from the bottom up. The state of a typical household or typical street will reflect the state of the nation. That happens because the nation is a network of typical households and typical streets, and those things are networks of typical people.

Like the individuals within it, this higher intelligence has thoughts, dreams, aspirations, a will, an intellect, an unconscious, and a self image. Nations can have a personality, be aggressive or passive, friendly or unfriendly, rich or poor or any other aspect that the individuals that constitute a nation can possess.

The news output of a nation reflects its views, but like a person's thoughts can guide views by an equal amount. Negative people have negative dreams and positive people have positive dreams. Dreams both reflect and contribute towards and personality. A persons thoughts and attitude can change by changing their dreams, and in the same way the attitude of a nation can change by changing its news and artistic output.

Gossip, news and art achieve the same functions in society; they are the communication media. Gossip is normally restricted to a small quantity of friends, news to a larger network, and artworks and philosophies to yet larger networks, often across centuries. An artist doesn't have to be living to have connections and affect the network.

The self image of a nation is as important as the self image of an individual. A nation that considers itself aspirational and righteous becomes so. As with individuals, nations with goals and vision will attain goals and realise that vision. Nations without goals or aspirations lack vitality and become unhappy.

It is the responsibility of individuals to create their nation, and it is the responsibility of writers and artists to reflect but also guide society. Those who portray society as negative encourage negativity, and as such the role of censorship is important and all artists and communicators have a responsibility towards society.


Kathy said...

Mark: I was expecting to read that after lunch you split the atom. You are one crazy busy guy!!
The progression of logical thought you put together is interesting. Your conclusion suits my sensibilities. The beginning, about selecting leadership, makes me think a little more. For instance, in this country, I think we elect our leaders out of individual and collective self interest coupled with naive optimism. For some weird reason, we tend to believe campaign promises enough to actually elect people who, once they get to Washington, serve only themelves at the expense of the people who sent them there. Therefore, they no longer represent the will of the people. It's a mess. Perhaps things are different in England. BTW -- I have very high regard for your Queen.

Mark Sheeky said...

Thanks for reading. I feel I should say congratulations because it is rather a mammoth entry I've posted!

I like the idea of a monarchy and democracy together because each balances the other. Our constitution doesn't give the queen many powers but if a despotic government should ever come to power the people can uniquely turn to the
monarch, as people can turn to parliament if a despotic king appears. With a free press people in the public eye are always accountable, but it's the very fact that the queen is not elected that gives her the necessary freedom to function in the best interests of the country.

Most of the time, it seems that politicians are forever doing what others tell them; the news media, opinion polls, opposition politicians, lobby groups. Everyday must be a barrage of pressure to do one thing or another. I suspect that politicians are most like the mayor in the old film The Taking of Pelham 123... anxious decision makers with delusions of being in control!