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Notes Towards Day 23: Believing @ the Barnes

mlord's picture

I. 11:25-11:35: coursekeeping

* return this week's papers @ end of class

* During Thanksgiving break,
begin to prepare for your final city trip, alone, by spending two hours
roaming on-line amidst these sites (and related others that emerge during your explorations):
Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis, @ the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
KAWS @ PAFA. 118 North Broad Street.
Maxfield Parrish and Tiffany Studios. The Dream Garden. Curtis Center. 6th & Walnut (off Independence Square).
City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
"Particle Falls": Sensing Change. Public Art by Andrea Polli.
Enigmatic Tiles Inspire Philly rapper's "Toynbee Suite."
Auction of American Art and Pennsylvania Impressionists @ Freeman's Auctioneer's.
(1808 Chestnut Street. 2 p.m. Sunday, December 8).
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Documentary. 2003.
Maria Popova.The Art of Looking: What 11 Experts Teach Us About Seeing Our Familiar City Block with New Eyes (2013)
Michel de Certeau, Walking In the CityThe Practice of Everyday Life (1984)
Carman Papalia, Caning the City, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry 1, 2 (June 2007)
Explore the four squares (one via the Rittenhouse Square Sound Walk), then re-see them/the city
from two towers of different heights (Christ Church, City Hall Tower Observation Deck, Comcast Center...?)
Philly Art Experience: The Insider's Travel Guide
Anthony Bourdain-Inspired Philadelphia itinerary
Visit Philadelphia: Official Visitor and Tourism Site
Philly is Ugly: A Film by Nathaniel Dodson
UWishunu: Philly. From the Inside Out
Consider also: a real estate open house, a music store, Harry's Occult Shop, a Quaker meeting for worship...

ALSO: EXCITING DISTRIBUTION OF Open Arts passes from BMC's partnership with CampusPhilly!
USE THESE--your! next! step! to! the! city!
Access to the registration code expires on December 22, 2013, so sign up NOW.

Take a study break on Monday, December 9th for Campus Philly’s Student Exchange,
a meet-up of creators, explorers, and connectors from colleges and universities across the region.
What’s in it for you?
· Share what you think about Philadelphia
· Meet others eager to make an impact
· Help shape Campus Philly’s programs
Friends are welcome, dinner’s on us.
The Exchange runs from 6:15pm to 7:30pm at Benjamin’s Desk, 1701 Walnut Street – 8 th Floor
RSVP @ or 215.988.1707

* by midnight on Sun: do a short posting, re-reading the "re-placed" Barnes Foundation:
based on the movie, the articles about the move, and the conversation we're going to have now,
re-think/re-visit/re-read your experience @ the Barnes:
(this posting is the next step in the process of revising your last paper)

* for class next Tuesday, review Peter Elbow's essay The Believing Game--Methodological Believing,
which we'll use to brainstorm the next draft of your papers about the Barnes--
so also bring copies of those with you along w/ your posting/proposals.
You are warmly invited to do these re-visions as collaborative projects.

II.11:35-12:05: Let's talk about/honor your experiences @ the Barnes:
What happened  @ the Foundation?
Go 'round and tell your stories...of the gallery,
and then of your encounter with a single painting.

How hard was it to focus/limit yourself to one art object?
How much was your viewing influenced by what surrounded your painting?
How much did you notice of the formal repetitions of patterns?
(What were means, what ends, in this perception?)
What did 1/2-an-hour's seeing earn you? What did you see?
How scientific/mystical was your experience?
How much research did you do afterwards, to understand your painting?

Concerns about looking...
the importance of having categories for looking to roust your mind out of its habits.
And the importance of not giving in to the audio tour art history complex.

In what ways do you think the Foundation is a "school" rather than a "museum"?
(what's the difference? from Brain Pickings this week: "the role of a great writer –
or editor, or 'curator,' or any other custodian of cultural values
– is to frame for people what matters in the world and why."
If curating is "framing what matters," how does a museum resemble a school?)

Did anyone else see Antigone? It may work as an example here:
the director saw a pattern repeated from Greece to Boston:
Creon's resistance to burying Polynices "replayed" in the resistance to burying Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
She also used her multi-lingual cast to reproduce Tiresias' cryptic prophecy...
suggesting something about our incapacity to hear/listen to/hear/understand one another...?

III. 12:05-12:25: Then what happened to your experience, once you saw The Art of the Steal,
and read the "exposes" of the move by Roger Kimball, The New Criterion, and The Philadelphia Inquirer?
What are your thoughts and feelings about this material?
Do you think the foundation should have been moved, re-made as a museum on the Parkway?
What are/will be the consequences of this?

III.12:25-12:35: Can we begin to apply "the believing game" to any/all/some of this material?
a) what is it?
b) what do you "believe" (welcome/accept/see as hidden virtues) in the stories you have heard?

IV. Challenge you now to come up with proposals for papers based on this experience...
Post these, and come on Tuesday ready to present them...
we'll work in groups on how to make the papers happen..

do you want to do a more disciplined
"formalist" reading of your object,
following Barnes' injunction to think about "the emotional
coefficients of line, form, color, texture" (which most of you really didn't explore very
intently--you ducked most of the formalist elements, turning instead to theme and narrative);
or do you want to enlarge the scope and context of your reading? how (for ex) does knowing the
history of the move from "school" to "museum" alter your understanding of your experience?

Reading Notes from Kimball, "Betraying a Legacy":
Matisse: "this bringing together helps students understand a lot of things that academics don't teach"
[cf. tflurry: "at what point is it better for a viewer to let the connections go?"]
questions about the propoer place of art/aesthetic values in a democratic society;
struggle between the prerogativs of artistic excellence and claims of popular appeal
Barnes' interest in pragmatism, with its emphasis on the experiential basis of human values
he looked to art aas a primary means of educating the human spirit in modern democratic society,
and was particuarly keen that "plain people" have free access to the sustenance that art offers:
the Foundation was not created as an art museum, but
"an educational experiment under the principles of modern psychology"
center of his philosophy: effort to understand the distinctively aesthetic features of works of art:
"the emotional coefficients of line, form, color, texture," etc. (="formalism")
rather than the narrative or thematic affinities among the works
chronology, wall labels, audio tour distract (with reading or listening)
Barnes saw the academic art establishment as essentialy uninterested in the vital aesthetic core of art

From The Barnes Foundation, RIP:
cultural moral re: the perils of individuality in governing imperative to conform
He wanted to induce people to feel, to experience, for themselves.

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:
Philadelphia's conflicted feelings about its urbanity: "a geen country town,"
not a bold crowded city (Parkway seen as a park, not a city boulevard)
challenge of designing a new building, avoiding kitsch, falsely sentimental longing for the past

mistake of recreating the galleries, heart of analytical teaching method that identifies
compositional similarities of shape, line, color and space in paintings and decorative objects
each wall a blackboard, to identify aesthetic relationships among objects
functional objects used as visual "metaphors" (door latch = hands)


Reading Notes from Elbow’s essay,
“The Believing Game—Methodological Believing”
“no arguing”— > an intellectual scandal to
outlaw a central practice for good thinking?

doubting game = “critical thinking” = the methodology/disciplined practice of trying to be as skeptical and analytic as possible with every idea we encounter, to discover weaknesses, find faults, test for validity = the scientific method, an act of intellect and of effort or will, debate

for a richer culture of rationality, we need also to play the

believing game = the systematic, disciplined practice of being as welcoming/ accepting as possible to every idea we encounter, seeking hidden virtues = reading/writing poems & stories, inherently collaborative

3 arguments for the believing game: to
1) find flaws in our own thinking (hard to doubt what we live inside of)
2) choose among competing positions
3) achieve goals the doubting game neglects

 from a fear of being changed or polluted, doubting teaches us
* to fend off/guard ourselves/spit out, not to welcome or swallow
* to extricate or detach ourselves, not to enter into/invest/insert/”dwell in”
* to use the rhetoric of propositions, vs. that of experience (to understand from the inside)
* to pause and disengage, vs. engage or act (debating, not doing and inhabiting)
* to be masculine/aggressive/competing, vs. being feminine/compliant/listening

* both games promote both individualism (listen to unique p.o.v)
  and social interaction/groupishness
* believing helps make reading/discussion/writing less adversarial

most lack the ability to dwell genuinely in alien ideas
[using the doubting game here to undermine faith in the doubting game itself]

from “The Rhetoric of Assent,” College English 67, 2 (March 2005): 388-399
to enter a new point of view in the classroom:
* tell a story of someone who believes it
* imagine and describe someone who sees things this way
* tell the story of events that might have led people to have this view of the world
* what would it be like to be someone who sees things this way?
* write a story or poem about the world that this view implies
* where doubting thrives on logic, assenting or believing thrives on the imagination

the ability to experience the rhetoric of assent provides leverage
for helping us work out larger/better frames of reference