Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gnōthi Seauton - Know Thyself

"Composers combine notes. That is all. How and in what form the things of the world are impressed upon their music is not for them to say."

 La Place Stravinsky

Thus spoke Igor Stravinsky when asked whether his "Symphony in Three Movements" was programmatic music.  I had to mention this quote when Nina told me after reading my previous blog post "La Vie En Rose" that she liked the pictures but that the captions were merely descriptions of how the images had come about.  She missed the philosophical deliberations of other posts (like "Parallel Universe").

Cercles Mystérieux Des Adolescentes

Do Stravinsky's words apply - mutatis mutandis - to photography as well?  Should I keep it to myself how and in what form the things of the world are impressed upon the "Images Of The Subconscious"?   

The answer is yes!  I will stop explaining my pics right now  :-)

 Quatre Etudes

According to the entry in Wikipedia, four is "the natural number following 3 and preceding 5".  Phew - I knew that!!!  I also knew that 4 is a composite number.  I could have possibly guessed that it is an automorphic number.  But admittedly I did not know that 4 was also a Smith number and a Motzkin number.

Oh boy, there's so much out there to know... You could spend your whole day (and life!) just reading newspapers or watching the news and documentaries.  And still by evening you would most likely feel like Goethe's "Faust" who famously complained that despite having graduated in law, medicine and theology he was no wiser than before.  Or like Socrates who knew that he knew nothing.

 Le Roi Des Étoiles

Being around people who (other than Faust and Socrates) claim to "know a lot" is not always fun.  Countless times have I been faced with questions or comments like
- "You do not know when and where and of what Napoleon died?!?"
- "Come on Robert, it is general knowledge that Kazakhstan has a new capital!!!"
 - "Did you not learn in school that the Hagia Sophia was originally a basilica?!?"  

Unfortunately you can not impress many people with a profound knowledge of pop music, but in a perfect world I would have answered something like "Okay, admittedly I do not know these things, but I know that Stevie Wonder's song "Happy Birthday" is a social activist song from 1981 that was aimed at having the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. become a national holiday (=that holiday become a reality in 1986, it is on the 3rd Monday in January of each year and this year coincided with the inauguration of president Barack Obama on January 21, 2013).

I agree: Even this information might have just the same relevance - namely none at all! - for my every day life, such as knowing that a certain someone passed away 1821 in St. Helena because of stomach cancer (which would explain why in paintings he's always shown with his right hand under his shirt), that Astana succeeded Almaty in 1997 and that a formerly religious building is now a museum.

So let me come to the point: knowledge is very important, there can be no doubt about this.  Education must be a fundamental right for every woman and man, not least because it helps you better realise your potential and makes you more open minded (and thus happier?).  But do not despair if you cannot answer all the questions in a Trivial Pursuit game or a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" TV show. 

En Passant #1

It might be more relevant for you to know that you have a skill which only few people on this planet have and which could even help solve some of the most pressing problems in this world and earn you money eventually.  Note that Sir Richard Branson's motto is "have fun, do good and the money will come".  Every one of us has unique skills, Richard Branson has them, I have them, and you have them as well.  In case you are not aware of them right now just think for a moment of the things that you really love doing and which you know you are good at.  Why be a passenger in your own life? Where your skills and the needs of the world intersect, that is where your might find your vocation! 

L'Empire Des Lumières # 2

Let' s hope president Barack Obama also remembers this during his second term and that he uses his skills in order to help make this a better (and "greener"!) world for all of us, irrespective of our race, religion or sexual orientation.

 This Is My Tribute To A Man I Admire

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