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Severance and continuance—mimesis in relation to Sacha Kagan's "Art and Sustainability" Hoekstra, Daan 2016

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SEVERANCE AND CONTINUANCE—MIMESIS IN RELATION TO SACHA KAGAN’S ART AND SUSTAINABILITYbyDaan HoekstraA THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE COLLEGE OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Interdisciplinary Studies)THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA(Okanagan)November 2016© Daan Hoekstra, 2016iiTHESIS COMMITTEEThe undersigned certify that they have read, and recommend to the College of Graduate Studies for acceptance, a thesis entitled:Severance and Continuance—Mimesis in Relation to Sacha Kagan’s Art and Sustainabilitysubmitted by Daan Hoekstra in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree ofMaster of Arts, Interdisciplinary Studies .   Nancy Holmes, Faculty of Creative and Critical StudiesSupervisor, Professor (please print name and faculty/school above the line)   Lael Parrott, Faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Irving K. Barber School of Arts and SciencesSupervisory Committee Member, Professor (please print name and faculty/school in the line above)   John Wagner, Community, Culture, and Global Studies, Irving K. Barber School of Arts & SciencesSupervisory Committee Member, Professor (please print name and faculty/school in the line above)  Margaret Reeves, Faculty of Creative and Critical StudiesUniversity Examiner, Professor (please print name and faculty/school in the line above)   Margo Tamez, Community, Culture, and Global Studies, Irving K. Barber School of Arts & SciencesExternal Examiner, Professor (please print name and university in the line above)  November 29, 2016   (Date Submitted to Grad Studies)Additional Committee Members include:(please print name and faculty/school in the line above)   (please print name and faculty/school in the line above)iiiABSTRACT:Sacha Kagan’s Art and Sustainability refers to four fragments from Heraclitus as exemplifying “an aesthetic sensibility to complexity.” Kagan’s book, however, deals mostly with art in the 20th-21st centuries, without addressing links between Heraclitus’ time and the present. This thesis addresses the historical gap by suggesting that Western traditions of mimesis in the visual arts provided continuity of the sensuous immersion in the environment, in spite of the severance that occurred, according to David Abram, when culture transitioned from oral traditions to written language, and from a pictographic mode into an alphabetic mode. I make legible the connections between the thought of Heraclitus, artistic practice in the Western tradition of naturalistic painting, and the work of John Ruskin, William Morris and Ludwig von Bertalanffy, contending that mimetic traditions retained the thought of Heraclitus and Pythagoras, in methodologies of practice that became a sort of proto-systems-thinking and proto-complexity-theory. Through Ruskin and Morris, these mimetic traditions, about a way of seeing, led directly to 20th century environmentalism and concepts of sustainability. Through Bertalanffy, knowledge from the mimetic traditions led directly to the genesis of 20th century systems theory.Discussion of these issues is nested within a broader analysis of the several narratives about how environmental problems are the result of multiple cases of severance, schism that separated humans, intellectually, psychically and physically, from the sensuous immersion in the “more-than-human” to which Abram refers. I emphasize both the need to take stock of the resilient strands of rooted premodern cultural traditions that continued in spite of severance and the need to understand and study severance as a recurring historical phenomenon. I point out the way in which ancient influences frequently revitalizeculture, contending that premodern mimetic traditions carry important ecological knowledge.ivPREFACEOne paragraph on page 32, a quoted passage on pages 73-74 and endnote #4 are adapted from Hoekstra, Daan. “The Artist’s Study of Nature and its Relationship to Goethean Science.” Janus Head Journal 10.1 (2007): 329-349. The paper is briefly summarized on page 9 of the introduction.vTABLE OF CONTENTSTHESIS COMMITTEE ........................................................................................................................... iiABSTRACT: ............................................................................................................................................ iiiPREFACE................................................................................................................................................. ivTABLE OF CONTENTS ......................................................................................................................... vLIST OF TABLES ................................................................................................................................. viiiLIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................................................. ixACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ..................................................................................................................... xDEDICATION.......................................................................................................................................... xiCHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION............................................................................................................ 1SUMMARY OF SACHA KAGAN’S ART AND SUSTAINABILITY..................................................... 1THE THESIS........................................................................................................................................... 4A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO HISTORY ........................................................................................ 5ART AS KNOWLEDGE ........................................................................................................................ 6RESEARCH METHOD.......................................................................................................................... 8THE BODY CHAPTERS ....................................................................................................................... 9DEFINITIONS—GLOSSARY............................................................................................................. 12CHAPTER 2: SEVERANCE, CONTINUANCE AND THE ANNIHILATION OF DISTANCE.. 18ANTI-MODERNISM IN OPPOSITION TO SEVERANCE ............................................................... 22ALTERNATIVE MODERNITIES AS POSSIBLE ANTIDOTES TO SEVERANCE ....................... 24THE ANNIHILATION OF DISTANCE .............................................................................................. 26CHAPTER 3: MIMESIS AND THE CHINESE POET...................................................................... 29DEFINING MIMESIS .......................................................................................................................... 29OPPOSING VIEWS: CRITIQUES OF OBSERVATION ................................................................... 33VISIBLE KNOWLEDGE, PHILOSOPHY MADE VISIBLE ............................................................. 37AISTHETA, EMOTION AND ACTION:.............................................................................................. 42CHAPTER 4: THE UNION OF OPPOSITES AND THE “INTERTWINED STRANDS OF KNOWLEDGE” ..................................................................................................................................... 43viVARIATIONS UPON TWO THEMES: CREATION AND UNITY OF OPPOSITES...................... 44ARTISTIC WAYS OF KNOWING, EAST AND WEST.................................................................... 47CREATING THROUGH THE RECONCILLIATION OF OPPOSITES ............................................ 48THE INTERTWINED STRANDS OF KNOWLEDGE....................................................................... 51CHAPTER 5: SIGHT-SIZE AS MIMETIC SCIENCE...................................................................... 56THE ATELIER TRADITION............................................................................................................... 57ATELIER BASICS ............................................................................................................................... 59THE ATELIER AS LABORATORY................................................................................................... 63THE COLOR LAB................................................................................................................................ 66HUMAN NATURE............................................................................................................................... 71THE OUTDOOR LAB.......................................................................................................................... 72MUSING ABOUT MIMESIS............................................................................................................... 74CHAPTER 6: MIMESIS, THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SEVERANCE AND THE ORIGINS OF ENVIRONMENTALISM....................................................................................................................... 77GALILEO’S REMOVAL OF THE CREATURE ................................................................................ 77RUSKIN AND THE SCIENCE OF ASPECTS (APPEARANCES).................................................... 79RUSKIN AND THE PERCEPTION OF THE SOCIAL AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT.......... 83MIMESIS AS PICTOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATION ...................................................................... 88WILLIAM MORRIS’ ECO-SOCIALIST UTOPIA AND THE ORIGINS OF ENVIRONMENTALISM ..................................................................................................................... 90SUMMARY .......................................................................................................................................... 95CHAPTER 7: LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY, COINCIDENTIA OPPOSITORUM AND THE ARTISTIC ORIGINS OF SYSTEMS THINKING............................................................................. 97SYSTEMS THINKING IS NOT NOVEL............................................................................................ 99THE ONE AND THE MANY: THE ARTISTIC ORIGINS OF BERTALANFFY’S GENERAL SYSTEMS APPROACH..................................................................................................................... 102CLARIFYING SYSTEMS IN RELATION TO ART ........................................................................ 107SUMMING UP A CONTINUOUS TRADITION OF SYSTEMS THINKING ................................ 108CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSION............................................................................................................. 113“THE WAY FORWARD IS THE WAY BACK”--HERACLITUS .................................................. 115viiENDNOTES........................................................................................................................................ 118WORKS CITED.................................................................................................................................... 123viiiLIST OF TABLESTable 1: Some Versions of the Human-Nonhuman Split……………………………………………19ixLIST OF FIGURESFigure 1:  Yinyang symbol………………………………………………………………………..39Figure 2: The Sight-Size Method………………………….………………………………………61Figure 3: A Still Life………………………………………………………………………………68Figure 4: Detail of a Still Life……………………………………………………………………..70      xACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI am grateful to have had the good luck to be supervised by Nancy Holmes, who has been a kind, insightful and patient mentor, as well as a much-appreciated and thoughtful neighbor.I cannot imagine a better committee for this thesis, composed of Nancy, a poet, biologist and complexity theory expert Lael Parrot, and anthropologist John Wagner. Learning from all of you has been a fascinating process.The University of British Columbia provided me with a level of financial support which far exceeded my expectations, for which I am forever grateful. I thank the University, as well, for providing a scholarly home for and access to indigenous professors. My contact with several was brief, yet inspirational.The Syilx people deserve special recognition for allowing me, and all at the University, to dwell on their unceded land.To the many and diverse people of Canada with whom I came in contact, I thank you as well. I could not be more impressed.A special thanks to Ted Glattke. Without your encouragement, this would not have been possible.Most of all I thank my adored wife, Magda. Her perennial good cheer and positivity havebecome as essential as air for me.xiDEDICATIONTo Magda1CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTIONThis thesis project began with a feeling of discomfort with a historical gap in Sacha Kagan’s Art and Sustainability, which refers to four fragments from Heraclitus (c.535 – c. 475 BC) as exemplifying “an aesthetic sensibility to complexity” (239-40). Kagan’s book, however, deals mostly with art in the 20th-21st centuries, without addressing links between Heraclitus’ time and the present. The historical omission, intentional or not, has the effect of rendering invisible the way in which cultural traditions rooted deeply in sensuous immersion in the environment tend to have a revitalizing influence, creating the cutting edge from some of our oldest and most resilient strands of knowledge.SUMMARY OF SACHA KAGAN’S ART AND SUSTAINABILITYThis thesis will explore theories of art and sustainability, using Sacha Kagan’s defining work as a point of departure. Kagan begins with a definition and short history of sustainability, finding early roots for the idea in a German word that was used to describe a technique of forest management that would plan for renewal of wood resources without depleting them (9). He contrasts sustainability with sustainable development, noting that the latter is aligned with the mentality of unlimited growth (10). Kagan then looks at the dual roots of environmentalism, in the preservationist vs. the conservationist approaches, from which the sustainability vs. sustainable development contrast grew, and argues that it is possible to develop a complex understanding that would reconcile the two seemingly divergent approaches (10-12). In his haste to deal with the complexities of the present, Kagan does not search for the deeper roots of these movements, finding the earliest antecedent of the preservationist view in Henry David Thoreau, and entirely2missing the roles of visual artists in the emergence of environmentalism, such as John Ruskin and William Morris, as noted by environmental historian Ramachandra Guha (18-25).Then Kagan addresses what he sees as the culture of unsustainability, characterized by “disjunctive thinking, simplification by reductionism, and [the] atomization of knowledge and experience” in “modern to late-modern societies” (17). To define unsustainability, he focuses on “ways in which modernity organizes the anthropic transformation of the world” (25), relying upon critiques of Western science, technology and society by Fritjof Capra, Ervin Lazslo, Edgar Morin, Gregory Bateson, Jacques Ellul and Basarab Nicolescu, as well as David Abram’s critique of alphabetic culture. These critiques offered by Kagan resonate with the views I express in this thesis. Next Kagan turns specifically to a lucid critique of what he calls the art of unsustainability, and how “the values of modern and postmodern art have been contributing to the wider culture of unsustainability” (17), portraying art and the artworld of the era as self-referential, due to its concepts of taste and “high art”—a world inhabited by specialists that is encapsulated and practically sealed off from its broader social environment (67-8). Kagan contends that, while seemingly standing apart and in opposition to the values of technological society, art is complicit and enables unsustainability, reproducing the characteristics and values of the technological society (68-72), mirroring the manmade environment instead of nonhuman nature (74). Kagan further fleshes out the critique of modernism and postmodernism by noting Suzi Gablik’s discussions of the disenchantment of art and the failure of modernism. Gablik contends that, at worst, art as cynical parody of consumerist society becomes “total complicity,” as in the work of Jeff Koons (qtd in Kagan 90).3Having described unsustainable culture, Kagan turns to consider how a sustainable culture might emerge. The missing elements, he says, are systems thinking, complexity theory and transdisciplinarity, which could lead to a new sustainable paradigm (212), again following Bateson, Capra, Lazslo, Nicolescu and Morin. In this wide-ranging discussion of systems and complexity, Kagan focuses mostly on theory that applies to society, culture and ecology. He resists many varieties of simplification and reductionism, pointing out the dangers of “reductionism by holism” that often stems from systems views (140). Systems and complexity are considered here in an entirely theoretical way, and at no point in this section does Kagan show how the theorists derived theories from experiments or encounters with the more-than-human world, or how the knowledge might be applied. Likewise, though Kagan’s introduction to systems and complexity is comprehensive, condensed and clear, as good as any, he wades through what he seems to see as a progressive development of theory, from simple to more complex and more sophisticated, rejecting some views and adopting others, based on cerebral, philosophical and theoretical judgements, without resorting to application, experience or experiment. As such, Kagan’s approach seems rather immaterial and disembodied, which might explain how he misses some important connections, especially by failing to look at the roots of systems and complexity. For example, Kagan erroneously claims that the “systems view” emerged from “several branches of the contemporary sciences” after World War II (95), but I will show in Chapter 7 that the 20th century version of the systems view was first developed in the 1920s by a student of art history, philosophy and mysticism, though the systems view had far deeper roots and was a revival of Heraclitus’ project. Though Kagan seemingly did not intend to offer a comprehensive account of the origins of the systems view, his book, published in 2011, misses a great chance to connect the systems view to art, experience, experiment, materiality and embodiment by failing to mention Capra’s in-depth study, published three years earlier, of the way Leonardo DaVinci employed the 4systems view. Instead, Kagan plunges ahead, groping to find ways that might someday connect the systems view to the sustainable art of the future.Then, in his next chapter about the aesthetics of sustainability, Kagan follows Bateson, arguing for a sensibility to the “patterns that connect” (225) us to the ecological web of life, and unite nature and culture. This sensibility is the outcome of aisthesis, “the teaching of sensual perception and cognition” (222). Citing John Dewey, Bateson and Morin, Kagan discusses sensibility to “patterns that connect,” sensibility to complexity, sensibility to transdisciplinarity and Abram’s “phenomenological and animistic sensibility to a more-than-human world” (246). Following Morin, Kagan recognizes the “union of opposites” and “complementarity of antagonisms” in Heraclitus and Nicholas of Cusa (237), yet entirely misses their role in the development of systems thinking, not to mention the role played by Greek aesthetics in what Capra has called DaVinci’s systems view. In fairness, though, Kagan’s omissions seem intentional, because he explicitly rejects representational art, calling the claim of objectivity naïve (266), while recognizing the same naivety could describe Abram’s “belief in an unmediated relationship with natural reality” (267). It is here, ironically, that Kagan most reflects the values of modernism that he has condemned, in his rejection of the representation of nature, the role of nature as model in art, and in a general disregard for the knowledge of past ages, opting instead for a belief in progress that will bring us “new” connections.  THE THESISKagan proposes a hypothetical sustainable culture of the future that would incorporate systems thinking and complexity, without acknowledging that, prior to modernism, systems and complexity played an essential role in mimetic artistic practices—Heraclitus’ idea of the “unity of opposites” became essential to both art theory and the emergence of General Systems Theory. 5Systems thinking and complexity are what the mimetic arts have always done. In their quest to unify opposites, artists followed mental pathways analogous to present-day complexity theorists, centuries beforehand. So Kagan’s project, explicitly about Reenchantment, should involve restoring to art what it has lost. I will offer evidence for my claims above by addressing the following interconnected themes:1. How the “union of opposites” was essential to the arts—a recurring theme in practice and theory over centuries, a tradition of holism, covered in Chapter 4.2. Correlations between art theory, artistic practice and the current sciences of systems and complexity, addressed in Chapters 5, 6 and 7.3. The origins of General Systems Theory in Ludwig Von Bertalanffy’s study of Heraclitus’ “unity of opposites,” as well as his training in art history, detailed in Chapter 7.A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO HISTORYThe above themes will be presented in relation to the idea of rootedness, in contrast to the rootlessness that resulted from a history of alienation. By rootedness, I refer to premodern traditions of practice and knowledge that began in cultures immersed in nature. David Abram’s book about phenomenological and sensuous engagement with nature traces mankind’s estrangement from the more-than-human world to the development of non-pictographic, phonetic alphabets. I contend that mimetic art practices are ways in which western culture preserved pictographic experience, sensuous immersion in nature, and sense-based ways of knowing. I will argue for the value of rooted premodern mimetic traditions of practice and knowledge, offering various non-western as well as western examples. 6Though it might seem improbable that a historian of religion would play a key role in a thesis about art and sustainability, I have found the work of Arthur Versluis, a specialist in the history of Western esoteric traditions, essential. The histories of Western art, science and philosophy have rarely existed in isolation from the strands of knowledge Versluis studies. Much more significantly, however, his complex and nuanced analysis of modernity, tradition and counterculture is the best I have seen and he contends in “The Counterculture” (36-43), that reconnection with roots has a nourishing and revitalizing influence on culture, an assertion that holds well beyond the confines of his discipline, that can be seen in the genesis of environmentalism, sustainability, systems thinking and complexity theory. Severance from roots, in contrast, deadens environmental awareness. Abram’s description of the distancing or estrangement from the nonhuman is just one of dozens of narratives that find the cause of environmental decline in distancing and severance from roots. “Antimodernism, Environmentalism, and the Recurrent Rhetoric of Decline,” a paper by political scientist Andrew Murphy published in Environmental Ethics has proven extremely useful in that it aggregates these dozens of narratives of severance and distancing. I refer to Murphy’s paper frequently for convenience, due its superb and accurate aggregation of the narratives, more than his disciplinary point of view.ART AS KNOWLEDGEThis thesis intends to make a strong case for artistic practice, as it existed prior to modernism, and as it still exists in the atelier tradition, as a highly undervalued and largely unexplored path of knowledge. This approach is unusual, yet not unprecedented. European research centres specializing in the history of science seem to be taking the lead, and have expressed the idea with 7the most clarity to date, as can be seen in this description from the University of Ghent’s “Art as Knowledge” research cluster at its Sarton Centre for History of Science:Within this research cluster we investigate the role of artists in the development of modern knowledge society by focusing on artists as knowledge makers […] We look at how artists developed bodies of knowledge in response to the necessity of innovation and invention and how they changed concepts in traditional fields of knowledge, such as anatomy, optics and perspective, alchemy, and natural philosophy. We also investigate the consequences of artists’ involvement with these various bodies of knowledge for the definition of the scope and boundaries of the traditional disciplines in which artists situated their knowledge. Artists’ knowledge is embodied in art objects or reflected in writings such as art theoretical treatises. We also investigate how artists re-defined epistemic categories and concepts associated to their artistic practices, such as experience and experiment, or evidence and demonstration” (“Art as Knowledge”).Sven Dupre, a former member of the Ghent research group, also recently concluded a project called “Art and Knowledge in Pre–Modern Europe” at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin that used similar wording:The production of objects of art is based on diverse fields of knowledge, from history to theology, from knowledge of materials and techniques to mathematics, from natural history to anatomy, from optics to alchemy. This research group is writing an epistemic history of art that focuses on the mediation of the circulation of knowledge within the artist’s workshop and beyond as it travelled in other domains more familiar to historians of science, medicine and technology. By focusing on the epistemic dimensions of the production and consumption of art this project readdresses the long-standing question in 8the history of science on the contribution of the arts to the emergence of early modern science. The research group considers both the visual and the decorative arts. The main characteristic of its approach lies in dealing with material objects, paintings and other visual depictions not primarily as images, but as processes (“Art and Knowledge”).Dupre’s work is characterized by an understanding of the value of art as knowledge, as is mine, but there is a fundamental, and perhaps complementary, difference between our approaches. Dupre’s current project, a collaboration between Utrecht University, the University of Amsterdam and the Rijksmuseum, focuses on artistic technique to establish a new field called Technical Art History, founded on the premise that the history of technique is an unexplored area that has been largely ignored by art historians. Dupre concentrates specifically upon artists’ recipes. Painters typically kept recipes for the production and use of pigments, oils, resins, binders and mediums. I also am interested in recipes, but in this thesis I focus upon recipes that are not directly related to the production and use of materials—recipes that are also transmitted from generation to generation, but are more generalizable and more about the mysteries of perception, cognition, epistemology and ontology than specific materials, yet equally scientific and just as essential to the craft of painting—recipes for mimesis: formulas for ways of seeing, understanding and representing nature. This approach, I believe, is unprecedented in the 20th and 21st centuries, though artists’ writings in previous centuries frequently allude to it, and the body of knowledge I wish to convey formed a very essential, though recently much neglected, part of the knowledge that was orally transmitted from generation to generation.RESEARCH METHODI apply my familiarity with the knowledge preserved orally within the atelier tradition, as defined in the Glossary, coupled with my previous research into the roots of the ideas contained within the 9tradition, to the problems of severance, continuance, mimesis, sustainability, and systems thinking. Because the atelier tradition preserved pre-modern sensuous ways of knowing, bypassed 20th century philosophy, and is largely unexplored by the academic world. I am able to identify important gaps in current scholarship.The research presented here builds upon my published paper entitled “The Artist’s Study of Nature and its Relationship to Goethean Science,” which finds parallels between atelier methodology and Goethe’s scientific method and documents seven atelier principles, as well as establishing the atelier tradition as a distinct tradition and lineage of knowledge. THE BODY CHAPTERSBecause the thesis aims at filling a historical gap spanning 2500 years, it necessarily must be selective by referring to just a few interconnected events, involving a few intertwined streams of knowledge. Due to this interconnectedness, the three themes listed above are woven in amongst a broader narrative, more or less chronologically, pointing out the connections as they emerge.CHAPTER 2: “Severance, Continuance and the Annihilation of Distance.” Since the thesis investigates the role of art and image-making in relation to knowledge and rootedness, it is first necessary to consider narratives of “severance,” and resulting descriptions of the world as characterized by constant change and flux. The severance from roots creates vast physical distances that separate most people from the sources of sustenance. The physical distance makes us vulnerable and dependent, but the psychic and cognitive distances are just as significant. Having established a condition of change, instability and a severance from roots, this chapter turns towards a variety of responses. The chapter will discuss antimodernism and alternative modernities as possible responses to distance, severance and alienation. Mimesis is introduced 10with an anthropological account describing a collapse of subject-object differentiation. Gregory Younging’s definition of indigeneity collapses physical distance and mimesis collapses cognitive and psychological distance. The discussion of roots, distance and collapse of distance will become important in my analysis of Kagan’s work.CHAPTER 3: “Mimesis and the Chinese Poet” begins with a broad definition of mimesis as an essential concept in the arts, education and the learning and reproduction of culture leading into a definition specific to art. Mimesis will be explored in relation to anthropological theories, theories of media and contemporary critiques of visuality. The chapter closes with an example of mimesis that results in useful and widely applicable knowledge—the Chinese concept of yinyang.CHAPTER 4: “The Union of Opposites and the ‘Intertwined Strands of Knowledge.’” Using the concept of yinyang as a point of departure, this chapter will explore one principle of mimetic practice, the reconciliation of opposites, a western tradition of holism, and its relationship to the history of philosophy and current theories of systems thinking and complexity. It will show the relationships between mimesis and natural philosophy, aesthetics, art theory and mysticism prior to the age of specialization and highlight the reciprocal exchange of knowledge between these fields. I attempt to show the prevalence and universality of one principle of artistic practice which will become essential to the emergence of systems theory and complexity, central themes of Kagan’s work.CHAPTER 5: “Sight-Size as Mimetic Science,” gives a brief history of the atelier tradition, explains atelier methodology and shows how ideas from the previous chapter function in atelier practice. The chapter concludes with some observations about the value of pre-modern traditions of sensuous knowledge.11CHAPTER 6: “Mimesis, the Struggle against Severance and the Origins of Environmentalism.”Galileo separated primary properties from secondary qualities, appearance from reality, exiling science from sensuous ways of knowing. Nonetheless, mimetic art traditions continued to seek knowledge by way of sensory data, exemplified by John Ruskin’s science of aspects, a way of knowing based on visual appearances. The emotive nature of sensuous knowing led Ruskin to oppose the aesthetic and environmental destruction of the Industrial Revolution, resulting in the antecedents of the current environmental movement. Abram argues that our sensuous immersion in nonhuman nature was compromised by the shift from pictographic to alphabetic writing. I suggest that western mimetic traditions arose as a means of retaining immersive “pictographic” experience. The chapter shows how a way of seeing and a science of appearances imbedded in artistic practice led to the birth of the first wave of environmentalism, and ideas of sustainability in the late 19th century.    CHAPTER 7: “Ludwig Von Bertalanffy and Coincidentia Oppositorum” will find the roots of systems thinking and complexity in Von Bertalanffy’s investigation of the “intertwined strands of knowledge” that surrounded and interacted with mimesis practice. Von Bertalanffy consciously demystified the thought of Heraclitus and Nicolas of Cusa, the idea of reconciliation of opposites presented in Chapter 4, presenting the secularized version as science, and bringing a western tradition of holism back to science.CHAPTER 8, CONCLUSION: “Filling the Historical Gap in Kagan’s Theory” reconsiders the gap from 500 BC to 1900 AD. It will suggest that the gap points toward the importance of origins. The bulk of Kagan’s work, for example, focuses on complexity and systems thinking as important elements of future “cultures of sustainability” without locating the origins of those streams of thought in mimetic artistic traditions. Kagan considers contemporary art in relation to current 12environmental thought without finding important antecedents of environmental thought in mimetic artistic traditions, as Guha did (18-25). Filling in the gaps could shift the focus of Kagan’s thesis from imaginary or hypothetical future cultures based on “patterns that connect” to an analysis of how and why the connections between culture and nonhuman nature have been lost and a discussion of how they might be rebuilt in an entirely new way. Mimetic traditions tend towards perennial re-emergence, because nature yearns for expression. Today’s biomimicry trend is just the latest incarnation and one example of what the restoration of lost connections might look like. The idea of nature as model for the things people make is worth recycling.DEFINITIONS—GLOSSARYThere is a need to define terms that I use throughout this thesis, and sometimes the meanings diverge from common popular and disciplinary definitions. Especially problematic are the terms that center on the word “modern”—modernity, modernism, postmodernism, etc. Since my concept of “modernity” is best understood by way of contrast, I will not start in alphabetical order:Pre-modern refers to cultural practices and modes of thought and experience that existed prior to the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. Some pre-modern traditions of practice have survived to this day. This thesis holds that the period of naturalism in art, that began with Giotto (1266-1337), though it had older roots in Greece, and lasted as a predominant movement in Western art until the rise of modernism in the late 19th century, also is a pre-modern mode of practice and experience. Art historians might argue that this broad period covers diverse styles and movements, but, relative to the pluralism of modernist art, the period of naturalism can be seen as one cohesive phenomenon that involved an accumulation of knowledge passed down from generation to generation, resulting in progressively more accurate depictions of visual experience. 13The crux of this thesis maintains that pre-modern traditions are mostly pre-machine, and thus retain and transmit a level of sensuous immersion in the environment as described by Abram, a different and embodied way of knowing. Pre-modern traditions of practice can be seen as antidotes to the disenchantment described by historian Morris Berman and art historian Suzi Gablik.Modern, then, and modernity refer to the current period of history influenced by the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, as well as the rise of capitalism, which grew out of the Renaissance. The modern era is characterized by types of philosophy, thought and experience that reflect a progressive distancing from nonhuman nature, describing a world that is increasingly human-made and human-centered. These terms are broad, spanning centuries, and inexact, yet they convey meaning. In contrast, contemporary and contemporaneity refer specifically to these times in which we live. Because this era is still industrial and still characterized by a progressive alienation from nonhuman nature, I would argue that it is still part of the larger period that could be called modernity.Modern philosophy of the same modern period is marked by increasing secularization, with philosophers struggling in order to describe the world in the absence of the sacred, when, for my purposes, Abram, Armstrong, Heraclitus, Lao Tzu and Plotinus describe the world accurately enough, and with sacredness in mind.Modernism, in this thesis, almost always refers specifically to art, a period of Western art that began in the late 19th century and early 20th century and rejected the naturalism described above. The birth of modernism was much influenced by theosophy, so, in its otherworldliness and reluctance to represent nature, it has much in common with medieval art. Because periods of art 14reflect the spirit of the age, I may, perhaps, sparingly refer to parallel “modernist” modes of thought, or “modernist philosophy” to mean ways of thinking that are parallel to the artistic movement, such as an overvaluation of novelty, or the deification of progress, for example.Antimodernism describes an array of intellectual and cultural reactions against modernity, as described by Lears and Versluis, only rarely referring to modernist art. Antimodernist tendencies are seen in phenomena as diverse as Thoreau’s back to nature experiment at Walden, and Ruskin’s medievalist revivals, to religious fundamentalism. Antimodernism is usually concerned with the preservation or reconstruction of pre-modern modes of practice, thought and experience.Postmodernism will not be a very useful term in this thesis. It refers to a diverse set of recent cultural and intellectual developments. I refer to the term only sparingly. In the realm of art, I do not believe that postmodernism represents any kind of serious break with modernism, so I propose that postmodern philosophy is only a continuation of modern philosophy. In general, I see the prefix “post” as often overly optimistic. The use of terms like “post-industrial,” when no end to industry is in sight, and “post-colonial” when the current phase of neoliberalism is accelerated neocolonialism, makes no sense to me. I would guess that “postmodernism” is another such deception.Naturalism describes a tendency in art that the general public usually refers to as realism— “an approach to art in which the artist endeavours to represent objects as they are empirically observed, rather than in a stylized or conceptual manner” (Chilvers). Naturalism is the more descriptive and proper term, but because this thesis is addressed to specialists in other fields, I use the terms “naturalism” and “realism” interchangeably, most often opting for “realism.” Naturalistic art is mimetic. In contrast, the capitalized term “Realism” refers to specific movement in 19th century art that focused on the gritty reality of peasants and workers during the 15Industrial Revolution, and a rejection of idealization, as noted by Ian Chilvers in The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists.Mimesis, in the simplest and broadest sense, refers to the practice of imitation in the arts. Mimesis was visual art’s primary link to sensuous engagement with the environment. Mimetic art and the idea of nature as model were rejected, to a large degree, by modernism. An in-depth definition is offered in Chapter 3.Art, in the context of this thesis, generally refers to traditions of drawing and painting with pre-modern roots that survived until the birth of modernism, and even into the present. Modernist art, to me, is a very different phenomenon with distinct aims and methods, and, when I refer to it, I use an adjective, like “modernist” or “contemporary” to be more specific. I frequently mention the arts, usually in a pre-modernist context, recognizing that poetry, literature, music, and other art-forms are parallel systems of knowledge that hold many methods in common with drawing and painting.Atelier tradition, and atelier method, refer to a method of training painters that was common in 19th century France, and linked by transmission of knowledge to the Renaissance. It was revived by R.H. Ives Gammell and his students in the second half of the 20th century, and is currently proliferating around the world. The atelier method has little to nothing in common with the modernist methods of educating artists currently used in universities and art schools. The reasoning behind Gammell’s revival of the atelier method in the mid-20th century is thoroughly documented in his Twilight of Painting, an erudite assessment of the evolution of different methods of art education from the 18th-20th centuries. Gammell was responding to what he saw as a near total failure of art education in the mid-20th century. His vast store of painterly knowledge, as well as his desire to preserve existing knowledge and recover lost knowledge is apparent in his 16Shop Talk of Edgar Degas. 20th century atelier methodology is outlined in Richard Lack’s On the Training of Painters.Nature is the biological unity of which humans are a part. When I refer to nature in this thesis, I mean the biosphere. Thinking of the biosphere as a single organism, as in James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis, or as a single cell, as proposed by Lewis Thomas in Lives of a Cell, may help the reader understand my viewpoint, though I take neither metaphor as literal truth.Nature as a traditional artists’ term is similarly non-dualistic. It refers to the entirety of the visual world: people, the things people make, and all visible nonhuman nature. This definition is remarkably consistent across European cultures from the pre-Renaissance to the advent of modernism. I see the processes that damage nature as the same processes that damage culture, so I wish the English language had a word that allowed us to refer to nature and culture simultaneously. In an effort to avoid human-nature dualism, I will follow David Abram’s usage of “nonhuman” and “more-than-human” to refer to subsets of nature that do not include people.Systems, systems-thinking, and systems view, as well as General Systems Theory (GST) refer to a way of dealing with interrelated problems without isolating each, by looking at the ways parts interact with other parts and the whole, understanding the interdependence between parts and the whole, and seeing how different wholes interact with each other, and how they too might be parts of a greater whole. A system is greater than the sum of its parts because of the way the parts interact and how novelty emerges from the interaction. The systems view holds that relationships are more fundamentally real than the parts, things or individual beings in isolation.17Chapter 7 shows that GST has ancient roots. Its re-emergence in the 20th century influenced many academic fields and evolved into many strands of thought, such as cybernetics, chaos theory, and complexity.18CHAPTER 2: SEVERANCE, CONTINUANCE AND THE ANNIHILATION OF DISTANCEAt the simplest level, sustainability can be defined as “the ability of a thing to persist” (Bender et al 306). One might consider cultures that have the ability to persist and those that do not, as Kagan does, or resilient ideas that last for centuries versus passing fads. The history of ideas can be viewed through the lens of persistence versus extinction; severance and continuance; resilience and fragility; and sustainable ideas versus unsustainable ideas. The history of the roots of our environmental problems almost always involves revolution, frequently referring to the Scientific Revolution and Industrial Revolution, when one idea, way of life or mode of experience is replaced with another, as is evident in Murphy’s paper (79-98). Usually at least one strand becomes extinct, while other more resilient strands continue.My inquiry into mimetic practices in the visual arts led me to realize that mimesis preserved ways of knowing and experience based in the sensuous immersion described by Abram, centuries after the rise of mind-body, self-other and appearance-reality dualism often associated with the Scientific Revolution. I became interested in the variety of narratives describing the schism.  Murphy has compiled and analyzed dozens of the most prominent narratives that describe a progressive distancing from nonhuman nature at the roots of our current environmental problems, identifying common denominators. From a growing awareness of environmental problems emerged a natural and urgent desire to pinpoint the exact moment when Western civilization went wrong and lost its spiritual, philosophical, intellectual, sensual, ethical and/or emotional connection/s to nonhuman nature. Most accounts seem to try to identify a singular cause.  19The problem with pinpointing the exact moment of schism is that Western civilization has never been a monolith—it is a complex, diverse and resilient array of interacting strands. To be more exact, sense-based traditions of knowledge and practice are described by the current fields of history of philosophy, history of science, natural history, history of aesthetics, history of art, history of religion and indigenous studies. Perhaps more importantly, differences based on culture, ethnicity, class and gender brought about differences in the retention and transmission of knowledge. Any single explanation of a cause might account for the severance of one or some of the strands, but, fortunately, at no point in history have all the strands been cut.Table 1: Versions of the Human-Nonhuman Split Leading To Environmental ProblemsTheorist Cause Year of SchismYear  of TheoryDaniel Quinn The shift from hunter-gatherer societies to agriculture. c. 8000 BC 1992Lynn White The Judeo-Christian worldview leads to the domination of naturec. 500 BC 1967David Abram Phonetic writing systems lead to loss of sensuous immersion in naturec. 500 BC 1996Val Plumwood Platonic Dualism c. 400 BC 1993John Ruskin Corruption associated with the advent of capitalism and a spiritual poverty leading to the removal of nature as model for the things we make (techne).c. 1400 AD 1858Carolyn Merchant “Progress,” the dominant worldview, leads to the exploitation of people and nature1500-1700 AD1980Charlene Spretnak Scientific Revolution leads to mechanistic worldview c. 1600 AD 1997Morris Berman Cartesian dualism: humans not seen as part of living naturec. 1640 AD 1981Jacques Ellul Technology leads to alienation from nature c. 1900 1988Rachel Carson Industrial Society and material consumption 20th century 1962William Ophuls Consumption exceeds planetary limits/carrying capacity 20th century 1997William Morris A way of thinking: people see nature and humans as separateNot specified 1890Source: Adapted from Murphy. 20The table above is by no means exhaustive, but it offers a rough sketch of various views of the schism. All the diagnoses seem correct to me—I do not see them as being in conflict with each other. Rather, the aggregation of the narratives of schism points to an incremental and progressivedistancing from the nonhuman. The chart demonstrates agreement about the most critical eras—the birth of civilization, the birth of philosophy, the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. These eras identified as likely periods of history in which our environmental crisis began paradoxically coincide with the broad periods in which holistic and organismic thinking blossomed most prolifically. The apparent contradiction points out that, at every step of the way, damage to the holistic worldview usually was met with a backlash and countermovement. As well, severance may have occurred for some people, in certain cultures and locations, while for others, older practices continued relatively undisturbed. This understanding is key, if humanity is to reclaim what it has lost and repair severed strands.My aim is to draw attention to the fact that the necessary urge to pinpoint the origin of our environmental problems usually leads to identifying a single point of origin, always involving some kind of severance from a previous, more desirable, state of being, living or thinking, as described by Murphy. As a result, few recognize the continuance of some strands of rooted culture after the schism. Each valid approach describes the severance of some, but not all, of the cultural strands that connected us to a previous and more sustainable state. Only when this is recognized can a proper discussion of the relative resilience and importance of the remaining strands take place, as well as a discussion about how we might recover the severed strands. Only then will the remaining strands be properly valued and the efforts to recuperate lost strands will be seen in better light.21The focus upon single causes tends to obscure the realization that the distancing from nonhuman nature is incremental and progressive. Also, a denial of continuity extends in both directions. For example, Kagan misses the strands of culture that stretch back in time and connect to premodern traditions of knowledge and practice rooted in a sensuous immersion in the environment, just as Abram, like most authors who have worked to explain our alienation from the more-than-human, does not address the nourishing strands of knowledge and experience that stretch forward in history beyond the point of schism he identifies.  So the chart shown above, a collection of single causes converted into a picture of multiple causes, is incomplete and somewhat reductive. By affirming multiple causes it implies strands of continuity extending beyond points of schism, but it does not identify those strands.As I pondered the question of severance and continuance, while sitting on my porch in Mexico, I could not ignore the bougainvillea that had been blown over by a hurricane, and subsequently pruned, a matter of great concern related to my aesthetic appreciation of my surroundings. The rooted bougainvillea at first reacts with shock when pruned back, seemingly dead, but soon literally explodes with new life. This brought to mind a rooted and pruned tree, with new shoots rising up and emerging from below the various points of severance, rather than asingular, linear or binary model of history. The tree is rooted in the sensuous immersion Abram describes. The shoots are propelled by a life-force that strives for the continuity of the premodern experience. According to Versluis’ paper “The ‘Counterculture,’ Gnosis, and Modernity,” the vitality and fecundity of 1960s counterculture was an affirmation of this life-force, embodied in the “archaic wellsprings of culture” (40)—an urge to get beyond the self-other dualism that defines our culture in order to “relate to nature in more ancient ways” (40).22The pruned tree model is not without flaws. It equates pruning with severance, yet pruning is an ancient form of husbandry—a kind of engagement with nature. The model also leads to a kind of dualism, contrasting rooted culture with severed culture, and the modern with the premodern. This dualism is not resolved until the conclusion of this thesis.Despite its flaws, the pruned tree model can act as a provisional lifeline, until a better model is discovered. It allows for a very important realization—that the tree is alive with new buds, but the process of severance still continues in the present. The model shows how it is always possible to propagate new growth by connecting with sources back beyond a point of schism, as Bertalanffy did. The history of Bertalanffy’s reinjection of holism back into science will be told in Chapter 7.ANTI-MODERNISM IN OPPOSITION TO SEVERANCEIt is unsurprising that some people rebelled against severance when they began to see negative environmental changes. Antimodernism was a reaction to environmental decline and what some saw as cultural decline in the wake of severance. Cultural historian T. J. Jackson Lears’ No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920,  first published in 1981, is still perhaps the most comprehensive study of anti-modernism to date. He undertook the study because he shared anti-modernists’ “discontent with modern culture: its crackpot obsession with efficiency, its humanist hubris, its complacent creed of progress” (Lears xx). “At its most profound,” Lears wrote, anti-modern thinking “represented a chastened skepticism about humankind's power to reshape the world in its own image, an antidote to the hubris that powers our world-destroying march of progress” (xiv). Lears aimed at correcting official histories that “failed to account for the myriads of thoughtful Americans who, by the 1880s, had begun to question the very basis of industrial capitalist society: not merely the unjust 23distribution of wealth and power but the modern ethic of instrumental rationality that desanctified the outer world of nature and the inner world of the self, reducing both to manipulable objects” (xi).Lears' book finds many schools of anti-modernism in American society between 1880 and 1920, including the quest for medieval, Oriental and ‘primitive’ alternatives to modernity, a reinvigorated aesthetic Catholicism, and the Arts and Crafts ideology, set into motion by William Morris and John Ruskin (62). More recently, in his paper “Antimodernism,” Versluis paints a vivid picture of antimodernism as a response to the destruction wrought by technological-industrial development on nature, culture and religion (97-8). He finds its roots in the 19th century with Henry David Thoreau, Ruskin, Morris, and Orestes Brownson, followed by T. S. Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, René Guénon and W. B. Yeats in the 20th century (“Antimodernism,” 97-8). Versluis says that it was not until the early 21st century that people generally recognized a “pervasive, all-encompassing decline in all three realms of nature, culture and religion1” (“Antimodernism,” 98). However, according to Versluis, people began to sense the gravity of the situation by the latter half of the 20th century, leading to a personal sense of helplessness in the face of what Lears has called the “world-destroying march of progress” (xix).Antimodernism as defined by Versluis is fascinating in that it redraws the primary lines of tension in today’s world, replacing those drawn during the Cold War, which described a narrative that is perhaps obsolete. Both communism and capitalism involved heavy state-sponsored industrialization and militarization, so the old schism does not express current environmental realities. Versluis instead proposes that today’s lines of tension are about antimodernism vs. modernity. The antimodernists are engaged, he says, in a “great refusal” (“Antimodernism,” 128), 24an unwillingness to go along with environmental destruction, secularism, and/or the dissolution of local and regional cultures, evident in the current struggle at Standing Rock, South Dakota.Like Lears, however, Versluis notes that antimodernist movements often become part of modernity itself, strengthening the very system they rebel against. Modernity generates antimodernism and environmental extremism, Versluis holds, so these phenomena become inseparable and permanent features of modernity, in a process that will accelerate in what he calls hypermodernity. The violent resistance of “hard antimodernism,” Versluis points out, has been ineffective and only provides an excuse for further state repression. Nonetheless, he thinks antimodernism has something “vital and urgent” to tell us (“Antimodernism” 123). The “battle between modernism and anti-modernism,” severance and continuance, “really is the underlying dynamic of our era” (Versluis “Review” 186-7).  Because some strands of antimodernist thought and activity help to preserve traditions rooted in sensuous immersion, antimodernism holds some potential, but it also becomes subsumed in hypermodernity. The varied and sometimes violent assortment of potential allies also seems unpromising, so I will consider “alternative modernities” as another possible solution to the problem of severance.ALTERNATIVE MODERNITIES AS POSSIBLE ANTIDOTES TO SEVERANCE“Modernity” is a sort of “North Atlantic Universal,” as defined by Michel-Rolph Trouillot,meaning a Eurocentric description of a Western idea that claims universal applicability, framed in a manner that asserts Western superiority. In Questions of Modernity, Timothy Mitchell contends that the non-West played an important and under-recognized role in the development of “the modern.” The dawn of the capitalist system that allowed the growth of colonial empires, and thus 25the emergence of “modernity,” was born in Caribbean systems of plantations and slaves (Mitchell 3). Mitchell argues that our “modern” concepts of sexuality and race are actually products of the colonies, the edges of empire where different peoples, cultures and practices collided (5-6). The word “modernism,” as well, was “coined in 1890 by a Nicaraguan poet, writing in a Guatemalan journal, of a literary encounter in Peru” (Mitchell 6).  Mitchell's account of the construction of the myth of modernity suggests that the fiction depends upon first appropriating and later denying the contributions of non-Western peoples. A picture begins to emerge—many of the features considered integral and indispensable to a shared concept of modernity originated outside of the Western world. In some cases, at least, these places of origin had the means of “development” and “modernization” prior to the West, but chose to evolve on a different path. Perhaps the most obvious example is to be found in the Islamic world, birthplace of “modern” astronomy, navigation, arithmetic and algebra, where the philosophy of ancient Greece percolated for nearly a thousand years after the sack of Rome before it came back to Europe. In Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Roland Michaud show how the Islamic world was well equipped to pursue the path of modern science centuries before Europe did, but ethical and spiritual concerns intervened. Specifically, the desacralization and disenchantment of the material world was not the path chosen in the Islamic world, nor was it chosen in China or India, as Nasr demonstrates in Man and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man (86, 93, 97-8).Such cases portray “other” paths of development, opening up the possibility of “alternative modernities.” Instead of proposing that modernity is inevitable and suggesting that “alternative modernities” are just about local color or unique national manifestations of the same modernity, I propose a radically different idea—the idea that some societies have been in possession of 26advanced scientific knowledge and subtle well-developed philosophy, but they consciously chose not to develop on the same path that the West has taken, most often for ethical reasons. I believe that Dennis Martinez implies the more radical idea when he says that: “Non-Western knowledge systems are alternative modernities, even though they are associated with cultures that Western thinkers have been relegating to inevitable extinction for the past 200 years. This kind of multicultural affirming paradigm blurs the conventional traditional versus modern dichotomy and calls for the reformulation of knowledge relationships in a multicultural world” (393). Martinez's thinking is just the sort we need if we are to escape the perils of the world in the wake of severance, and requires re-visioning and re-imagining what modernity could be, opening the possibility of a future without severance, a direction I will propose in Chapter 8.THE ANNIHILATION OF DISTANCENot unlike Martinez’s view, Syilx activist, educator and author Jeannette Armstrong holds that “Increasing Indigeneity in all peoples is the way that environmental damage can be altered. Indigeneity describes a state of living within an environmental ethic based on the knowledge of what the local ecology requires of human behavior to maintain its full regenerative capacity in perpetuity” (“Indigeneity: A Necessary Social Ethic” 53).When asked for a definition for indigeneity, Gregory Younging, an Indigenous Studies professor and member of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, said “Everything you need to live a good life is right where you are,” adding that globalization is the opposite of indigeneity. Armstrongand Younging both say that indigeneity is about a relationship to the land and not about race or culture.2   I cannot overemphasize the extent to which Younging's assertion both defines globalization and begins to heal the multiple instances of severance. If modernity could be defined as a progressive and incremental distance from nonhuman nature, apparent in the vast distances 27that separate us from the production of our food, then Younging begins to construct an entirely different world, removing all distance between the human being and his or her source of sustenance. Younging's definition of indigeneity foreshadows the healing of severance and distance. His is not a solitary voice, nor a singular vision. John Mohawk has called for the “re-indigenization of the world” (qtd. in Armstrong “Indigeneity: A Necessary Social Ethic” 52). So the concept of indigeneity annihilates3 distance between humanity and the more-than-human, between food and its source, knowledge and its source. Modernity is characterized by all sorts of distancing, following Mitchell, “rupture and separation, whether of the rational self from a disenchanted world, of producers from their means of production, or of nature and population from the processes of technological control and social planning” (18). Mitchell speaks of the distance between representations and what they represent as the defining characteristic of the “European modern” (16). It is the age of the simulacrum and simulation as proposed by Jameson and Baudrillard, which is defined by the distance between the representation and the “real” (Mitchell 16-17). My favorite examples are serialized and endlessly reproduced photographs of Andy Warhol's paintings of Marilyn Monroe, painted from movie stills, in which Monroe was an actress playing a fictional part, after first painting her face. Each photographic image of Warhol's paintings is many steps removed from anything that could be called real or original—the representations are characterized by their distance from any sort of reality. The distance between the sign and what it signifies is a defining quality of the contemporary world (Mitchell 16-7).Mitchell tells of French colonial psychiatrists in North Africa who “diagnosed the pathology of the indigenous mentality as the inability to symbolize. Unable to produce abstract representations, the colonized mind was said to be trapped in the mimetic faculty, the prisoner of images from which it could not obtain a spectatorial distance and thereby establish itself as a 28subject” (Mitchell 21). This racist colonial interpretation, claiming superiority, nonetheless uncovered a prime quality of the non-Western mind—the blurring of subject and object. Just as indigeneity annihilates the physical distance between humanity and nonhuman nature, between sustenance and its source, mimesis annihilates the psychic, cognitive and perceptual distance between subject and object.29CHAPTER 3: MIMESIS AND THE CHINESE POETTo arrive at a concise definition of mimesis that approximates the full scope of the concept, I consulted five sources. The first, and perhaps the most important, was a program description of the University of Munich’s Doctoral Program for Literature and the Arts: MIMESIS (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München). As far as I know, it is the world’s only program that offers a doctoral degree specifically in mimesis, and the program description attempts to address the full interdisciplinary breadth of the concept. The second source was Mike Mowbray’s entry for “Mimetic Faculty” in the glossary for the online version of David Howes’ The Sixth Sense Reader. Howes is a recognized leader in the field of sensorial anthropology and Director of the Concordia University Sensoria Research Team. Next, I consulted Michelle Puetz’s well-documented entry for “Mimesis,” in the University of Chicago’s Media Studies Keywords Dictionary. Then, I consulted anthropologist Christof Wulf’s academic website, where he summarizes his work. Finally, I read Gunter Gebauer’s entry, "Mimesis," in Oxford’s Encyclopedia of Aesthetics. Gebauer is a philosopher and linguist noted for the book Mimesis: Culture, Art, Society, coauthored with Wulf. In searching for sources, I looked primarily for authors whose descriptions of mimesis overlap and resonate with my own experience, the primary selective filter in my research. Here, however, I try to show the full breadth of the concept of mimesis in the academic world, well beyond the overlap, by weaving the five sources together in a single paragraph:DEFINING MIMESISMimesis is a very broad concept that resists simple definitions. It may be understood as imitation, emulation and/or representation, referring to both processes (of observing and representing) and products (representations). Mimesis is one of the most basic ideas upon which the arts and 30literature were founded, but because it involves representation, it applies to many disciplines, if not all. Though some art is not mimetic, the very idea of the arts would be unimaginable without the concept of mimesis. Mimesis is also intrinsically tied to processes of learning—children learn to speak by imitating sounds, and language itself, in onomatopoeic theories, is said to have arisen in imitation. Children often develop self-awareness in a mimetic encounter with a mirror, later developing a relationship with the world by mimicking dogs, cats and airplanes. This relates to assimilation —the children take on some of the aspects of their world, becoming similar to it, rather than expecting the world to conform to their abstract ideas or preconceived expectations, just as immigrants gradually learn to blend in with their new environments. The important distinction here is that mimesis yields to nature, adapting to it, like a chameleon, rather than trying to dominate it —the process absorbs ideas rather than imposing ideas. As such, imitation often implies a kind of humility, a recognition that some qualities outside oneself are worth acquiring. Children imitate people they admire and mimesis frequently involves role-playing. It is about an encounter with “the other,” and can involve taking on some of the aspects of the other. So mimesis is about how we find our place in the world by becoming more like it. Mimesis is essential to learning and reproducing cultures—cultural life is largely mimetic learning. In addition to being essential to adaptation, and the most basic levels of education and self-awareness, mimesis is associated with our capacity for higher thinking. Puetz tells how Aristotle held that mimesis is something that nature and people have in common, inextricably linked to creative processes, a way to learn about the nonhuman and get closer to reality. Drawing upon the work of the philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce, anthropologist Eduardo Kohn has pointed out that semiosis is an essential characteristic of all life. Kohn states that all species learn and communicate through three types of signs, one of which is called “iconic,” involving mimesis 31(5-6). 20th century philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin defined mimesis as a faculty that involves recognizing and producing similarity, the very basis of cognition: “There is perhaps not a single one of his higher functions in which his mimetic faculty does not play a decisive role” (333). The act of observation, the first step in mimesis, is intricately wrapped up with cognition according to Henri Bortoft, a writer on physics and author of The Wholeness of Nature (1-23). Representation, the second step of the process, involves application of the acquired knowledge and confirmation via comparison with nature, in an iterative process that alternates between observation and representation. Mimesis offers some hope in relation to the world situation described in the previous chapter. It is a practice that is accessible to all that can be practiced anywhere, even in the midst of a metropolis. Mimesis is also an important part of our Western cultural tradition, and that of the East as well, and for many it is a defining characteristic of the experience of indigenous peoples.  David Abram asserted that our environmental problems began when we lost our sensual and emotional experience of being part of and immersed in an animate natural world. In The Spell of the Sensuous, Abram says that our senses began to be distanced from nonhuman nature with the development of phonetic alphabets that replaced earlier pictographic systems. Pictographs were mimetic, referring to concrete phenomena in nature perceived by the senses: the sun, the moon, stars, wind, air, water, animals, plants, people and places. Mimesis refers to the familiar idea that “art imitates nature,” and the original Greek word is used because it does not contain the negative connotations associated with the current usage of the word “imitation.” Mimesis is more about the emulation of nature.According to art historian Erwin Panofsky, a profound and mysterious process is at work.4  Art imitates nature in its mode of operation—it works in the same way as nature creates, he said 32(Panofsky 42). Panofsky quotes Plotinus as making the same assertion: “Artists go back to the principles in which nature itself found its origin” (Plotinus Ennead V.8.1: 377; trans. Panofsky 26). Thomas Aquinas followed suit: “Art brings forth objects in precisely the same way nature does” (trans. Panofsky 90). It could hardly be otherwise, because artists necessarily work at balancing the same stuff from which the universe is made: order and chaos, unity and diversity, light and shadow, repetition and variety, and rhythm and rest, etc. In more recent theory, mimesis is explained “as an adaptive capacity predicated on a weak separation between subject and object, a primordial basis for reason which is denied and repressed in modernity” (Mowbray). Due to the repression, according to Benjamin, “The perceptual world of modern man contains only minimal residues of the magical correspondences and analogies that were familiar to ancient peoples” (334). For example, in some indigenous cultures, hunting required identifying with the animal and getting close to the animal’s ways of sensing and seeing.  Through “ritual identification and mimesis,” the hunter developed a thorough knowledge of the animal’s habits (Abram 140). Mimesis played a vital role in such cultures and we can still see vestiges of these traditions in the Yaqui deer dance as I have seen it performed, just one of manypossible examples. According to Mowbray, “the mimetic faculty is posited as a kind of pre-modern, embodied ‘imagination’ that works against the divide between subject and object and underlies possibilities for understanding and recognition.”In Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, anthropologist Michael Taussig describes mimesis “as invoking an optical tactility, plunging us into the plane where the object world and the visual copy merge” (35). Taussig called the mimetic faculty “the nature that culture uses to create second nature, the faculty to copy, imitate, make models, explore difference, yield into and become Other. The wonder of mimesis lies in the copy drawing on the character 33and power of the original, to the point whereby the representation may even assume that character and that power” (xii).Mimesis is all the above, and more. Both Wulf and the Munich document portray mimesis as a focus of inquiry without clear boundaries.OPPOSING VIEWS: CRITIQUES OF OBSERVATIONThese traditional or indigenous ways of employing the mimetic faculty have been lost in the 20th century, according to Taussig, who holds that Western capitalistic civilization has replaced mimetic modes of being, suggesting an “organized control of mimesis” (215-17). Theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer went as far to say that mimesis has been outlawed:Uncontrolled mimesis is outlawed. The angel with the fiery sword who drove man out of paradise and onto the path of technical progress is the very symbol of that progress. For centuries, the severity with which the rulers prevented their own followers and the subjugated masses from reverting to mimetic modes of existence, starting with the religious prohibition on images, going on to the social banishment of actors and gypsies, and leading finally to the kind of teaching which does not allow children to behave as children, has been the condition of civilization (180-181).So repressed and forgotten are mimetic practices today that observation, the first step in visual mimetic practice, has often been criticised for distancing the observer and observed, while mimesis actually collapses the difference. For example, Constance Classen, a prominent figure in the field of sensorial anthropology, speaks of “the detachment of sight, distancing spectator from spectacle, makes the cherished objectivity of the scientist possible” in Worlds of Sense (6).Classen’s statement is situated within a broad critique of the undeniable centrality of vision in the 34contemporary Western world, and her fascinating inquiry into how Western people of the past and non-Western people of the present experienced the other senses—hearing, taste, touch, smell and others—before sight became predominant, arguing that these other senses have become devalued, separating us from important sensuous ways of knowing (The Color 1, Worlds 1-10). Taste and touch, at least, require close proximity and suggest intimacy. Classen critiques what she sees as the cold rationality of vision, in an attempt to recuperate the stature of ways of knowing via the other senses, and questions scientific understanding of perceptual systems, by seeing perception as a cultural, rather than physical phenomenon (Worlds 1-10).According to Julian Reiss and Jan Sprenger, in their entry about "Scientific Objectivity" in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, objectivity depends, as much as possible, on the “view from nowhere.” The viewer is erased. As noted anthropologist Tim Ingold said in a 2013 lecture at the Institute of Northern Culture, such ideas of objectivity are in effect “taking us out of the world” (Ingold). The scientific method aims to remove human bias, to “look” at nature without being swayed by emotions, ethical considerations or “unreliable” sensory data. As much as possible, it tries to represent the world “as it is,” unmediated by the human mind (Reiss and Sprenger). Because, according to science, color is perceived only within the human mind, the view from nowhere describes a colorless rainbow, a gray world of particles and wavelengths, as if human beings do not exist, as explained by physicist Arthur Zajonc (17-8). In other words, in such a scenario, there is no spectator and the spectacle is mutilated beyond recognition. Describing the world as if human beings do not exist may have dehumanizing or catastrophic results if scientific imaginaries lead to technological deeds, and they do.  I see science through the lens of perspectivism, recognizing that it is only one of many possible views of reality. Science begins with certain assumptions that are embedded in its 35method of investigation, so research that begins with different sets of assumptions, such as indigenous science, and artistic traditions of observation and representation, can result in equally valid and complementary information. In its present form, though, science is partial and it is biased in its removal of emotion, ethics and sensory experience. But science puts people back in the world when it investigates human perception, holding that reflected light wave patterns of distant images enter our retinas and are seen within our own brains, effectively minimizing distance, rather than extending it. In Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry Mander contends that we literally ingest what we see: “Like light, of which they are constructed, images are concrete. Images are things. We see something in the world, a river, and this river enters our bodies through our eyes, becoming ingrained in our brain cells. The proof that the river is ingrained is that we can remember it. We slowly evolve into the images we carry, we become what we see, in this case, more river-like” (219).  The eye can see for miles from some vantage points, but the images are seen inside one's body, collapsing distance to zero, the observer ingesting the world. We think of vision as projecting outwards, but it is the phenomena that enter our eyes and mind/bodies—in a process phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty referred to as mutual coition (320-2). Many scholars have told how long hours of observation result in intimacy and dissolution of distance, even pantheism and hylozoism.5In critiques of spectator-spectacle distance such as Classen’s, then, the distance might reside in the eye of the beholder. Her critique assumes a degree of subject-object separation that is, in many respects, illusory.6    The illusory nature of the split is described beautifully by Bortoft, a physicist. Imagine looking up at the night sky and seeing innumerable stars. People commonlythink of their “piercing vision” or “penetrating gaze” as extending out into the vast expanses of 36the universe, but just the opposite is happening. Countless stars emanate light in all directions and some photons travel lightyears, only to enter our pupils, never to come out again. The light is ingested:We see this nighttime world by means of light “carrying” the stars to us, which means that this vast expanse of the sky [we see] must be present in the light which passes through the small hole of the pupil into the eye. Furthermore, other observers in other locations can see the same expanse of night sky. Hence we can say that the stars seen in the heavens are all present in the light which is at any eye-point. The totality is contained in each small region of space, and when we use optical instruments like a telescope, we simply reclaim more of that light. If we set off in imagination to find what it would be like to be light, we come to a condition in which here is everywhere and everywhere is here (Wholeness 5).Bortoft’s last sentence urges us to imagine we are light. Then it becomes clear that “the whole is reflected in the parts, which in turn contribute to [or interact with or express] the whole” (Wholeness 6), a defining feature of fractals—self similarity, which is described by William Joseph Jackson in Heaven's Fractal Net: Retrieving Lost Visions in the Humanities (1). Bortoft shows how the split between spectator and spectacle is, at the very least, somewhat illusory. If we could agree that spectator and spectacle are both integral parts of an organic unity, then separating the two might amount to vivisection.A critic of visual observation might also take issue with “framing,” the way a view or representation is delimited and thus perhaps reductionist and unable to take relationships into account. But everything is framed by the limitations of our range of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Even on a clear night from a mountaintop, any view of the stars is limited by the range that falls between our peripheral vision. We can take in only a small part of the universe at a time, 37but in the slice of the night sky, bodies are seen in relationship to each other and to a background, just as they are when we observe a drop of dew on a blade of grass. The fact that the whole is reflected in the parts makes the frame somewhat irrelevant.7 The section below will describe how the whole was found in a small part of the world, on a mountain in China.VISIBLE KNOWLEDGE, PHILOSOPHY MADE VISIBLEIn many ways Benjamin’s assertion about the organized prohibition of mimesis is true. The work of Kagan and Gablik broadly acknowledges the rejection of nature and mimetic traditions that characterized modernism in the visual arts, and the schism can be verified by reading the early theorists of the 20th century in Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, theorists such as Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (147-9, 152), Kasimir Malivich (166) and Olga Rozanova (200). In focusing upon filling the historical gap in Kagan’s work, this thesis deals almost exclusively with naturalistic art prior to 1900, the approximate year of the schism. The schism itself is an unwritten catastrophe that belongs in Murphy’s collection of severance episodes, Table 1.The blurring of subject and object described by Panofsky, Taussig, and Mowbray was often experienced by artists who used methods that pre-date modernism. Here, it helps to turn to a standard text on aesthetics from the years immediately prior to the advent of modernism, William Angus Knight’s The Philosophy of the Beautiful, published in 1893, which details an aesthetics that was commonplace in the 19th century and, to me, seems more ecological than the current environmental aesthetics constructed to replace it. Knight describes a state, not uncommon in his time, in which the artist is not aware of self or the passage of time (214-15), just as Puetz describes the observer losing him or herself and “sinking into the surrounding world.” Gablik has criticised the diametrically opposed modernist view—that the artist is supposed to be a detached 38observer, emotionally distant from what he or she portrays (99). The merging of artist with environment was part of the mainstream definition of art as recently as 1893: “From this insight into Nature comes seriousness in artistic work. It may be added that it is by getting away from himself—or by a loss of self-consciousness—that the artist alone can be said to succeed in art”   (Knight 214-15).In the process of mimesis the subject and object merge, and knowledge is transferred in the process, as Mowbray, Puetz, and Taussig note. For the artist immersed in the study of nature, transfer of knowledge towards the observer is certain. In the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Richard Parry tells how the Greek word techne, associated with the contemporary word technology, originally referred to art, craft, skill and the act of making or doing. Techne was associated with episteme, meaning knowledge. The two words were often used interchangeably, but techne referred to knowledge born from experience, as opposed to episteme, or theoretical knowledge. It follows that the former kind of knowledge is a natural by-product of making or doing.  In the aforementioned recorded lecture, anthropologist Tim Ingold has said that conventional analysis of archaeological artifacts assumes that the maker has projected his or her idea on the artifact. First the artist has an idea about the desired form, and he imposes the idea on the material, coinciding with the modernist notion of creator-genius. But in mimetic visual art, it is the visually observed material world that projects its idea on the artist—nature supplies the ideas and thus is the source of the knowledge transferred, just as children learn by mimicking adults they admire. This is why techne results in knowledge in the process of making. It is a kind of simultaneous making/knowing that used to be wrapped up in one word—techne.39Current technology (knowledge in the service of production) is a complete inversion of the original idea of techne (making in the service of knowledge). Ingold contrasts “thinking through making” with “making through thinking,” arguing against the imposition of pre-existing ideas on matter and for a more immediate, visceral, sensory experience of knowledge, not easy in a world where making is dominated by machines, robbing us of much capacity to generate new knowledge. The problem with techno-science, he believes, is that it places the knower outside the world to be known, the same “view from nowhere” as presented by Reiss and Sprenger. Ingold argues for “a kind of [sensually engaged] correspondence with the world,” and the need for art to challenge the foundations of techno-science.My favorite example of the kind of sentient conversation or dialogue with the world mentioned by Ingold considers the following diagram:Figure 1: “Yin Yang” by AJC1 is licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0If we asked about the meaning of this image, I think most would say something like, “It is a Taoist symbol that represents philosophical ideas about complementarity.” While that would be 40partially correct, there is a more interesting visual history. According to Robin R. Wang, Professor of Philosophy and Director of Asian Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University, the idea of yinyang began with a poet's mimetic description of light and shadow on a mountain(Wang). This suggests a progression:  1) The idea begins in the direct visual observation of nature. Some philosophers would say that the Idea exists in nature. 2) Sensually engaged with nature, an artist recognizes the significance of what is observed, and converts the visual experience into words, a process that could be described as techne. 3) Philosophy recognizes the philosophical potential of the poet's words. 4) The philosophical idea was then reconverted into a simplified visual symbol, a pictogram of the kind explored by Abram, above.It occurred to me that the experience of subsequent Taoist landscape painters must have been especially strong—they used inherited ideas about the structure of nature in order to represent nature, probably verifying knowledge from tradition via direct contact with nature. I turned to The Art Institute of Chicago’s Taoism and the Arts of China website, where I learned that peaks and valleys, streams and rocks were understood as embodiments of yinyang energies, and all of nature a manifestation of qi—nature’s vital energy. The artists could see the ideas in nature and compare their representations with nature. The yinyang symbol above, called the Taiji, was a schematic simplification of early artists’ observations. In the kind of analytic observation essential to their craft, they must have noted that some rock faces caught sunlight and created light spots within the shadow side of the mountain, and that rocks cast shadows, creating dark spots within the illuminated side of the mountain. The above is an example of how philosophical ideas can be visual, and how they can originate in the direct visual observation of nature.Mimesis takes us outside ourselves and the “power of the mimetic faculty” is derived from engagement with nature and the larger world (Knight 214-15; Mowbray). This “radical 41displacement of self” (Taussig 39) is essential to understanding “the visceral bond connecting perceiver to perceived in the operation of mimesis” (39), so the “fundamental move of the mimetic faculty takes us bodily into alterity” (40). In the case of yinyang, sensual engagement with the world, as described by Abram, and mimesis gave birth to philosophical ideas about complementarity that influenced all aspects of Chinese culture for millennia, according to Wang, because the whole was reflected in just a small part of nature—the mountain. The idea is universally applicable only because a part reflected the whole.A plausible scenario emerges: In the East, influential philosophical ideas and proto-scientific concepts about the structure of nature emerged out of a sensually engaged conversation between artists and nature, a correspondence as Ingold would say. In the West, culture evolved in a parallel fashion, echoing yinyang.8 In History of Aesthetics, Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz et al offer two passages from Heraclitus, also quoted by Kagan: “That which is in opposition is in concert, and from the things that differ comes the most beautiful harmony,” and “But perhaps nature actually has a liking for opposites; perhaps it is from them that she creates harmony, and not from similar things. It seems too that art does this in imitation of nature.” The Western idea that art emulates nature’s mode of operation, natura naturans, as noted by Wulf and Panofsky, is not unlike the Taoist view of landscape as an expression of qi.By Heraclitus' time, about 500 BC, the idea of mimesis, a recognition of the unity of “opposites,” and the relationship between the arts and ideas about the structure of nature were already well-established. Heraclitus' ideas about the unity of opposites, akin to yinyang, are discussed by Constantine Vamvacas in Founders of Western Thought: The Presocratics and Daniel Graham in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and became an indispensable part of art theory for the next millennia and also influenced science, in the case of Ludwig Von 42Bertalanffy, the father of systems thinking and complexity, whose contributions will be explored in Chapter 7. AISTHETA, EMOTION AND ACTION:Ingold points out the vast gap between scientific knowledge about climate change, for example, and the ability to act, to respond appropriately. Science cuts knowing off from immediate visceral sensory experience, putting the knower outside of the world, he says. If the scientific method consciously removes emotion and moral judgements in the interest of objectivity (Reiss and Sprenger), one cannot expect an emotional or moral response to scientific information. Similarly, few are likely to be passionate about appearances when our whole culture tells us that they do not correspond with reality. In contrast, aistheta—sensuous cognition as described by Kagan (81-2), involves more emotion and certainty, because it is experienced bodily via direct engagement with nature, involving no rift between appearance and reality, as explained by archaeologist Henri Frankfort in Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man (12-13, 20-21), so it urges one to act. Although science cuts us off from sensory experience, it paradoxically investigates sense perception. In “The Brain’s Specialized Systems for Aesthetic and Perceptual Judgment” published in The European Journal of Neuroscience, T. Ishizu and S. Zeki have shown convincingly that aesthetic experience stimulates emotive structures of the brain and pre-activates centers of the brain that mobilize motor functions to prepare for action.The rift between science and aistheta, the distance implicit in modernity and the self-inflicted amnesia called modernism have cut Western culture off from its roots, distancing us from a history of experiential ecological knowledge that could help diminish the distance that separates us from the more-than-human world in which we live. However, some of our mimetic traditions are relatively intact.43CHAPTER 4: THE UNION OF OPPOSITES AND THE “INTERTWINED STRANDS OF KNOWLEDGE” Using the concept of yinyang as a point of departure, this chapter will explore one principle of mimetic practice, the reconciliation of opposites and its relationship to the history of philosophy and current theories of systems thinking and complexity. It will show some of the relationships between mimesis and natural philosophy, aesthetics, art theory and mysticism prior to the age of specialization and highlight the reciprocal exchange of knowledge between these fields. I show the prevalence and relative universality of one principle of mimetic practice which will become essential to the emergence of systems theory and complexity, central themes of Kagan’s work.Initially, I intended to avoid any discussion of religion in this thesis, but the theme is virtually impossible to avoid for a few reasons. First, Western art theory, in the period of history I cover, roughly from 600 BC to 1850 AD, was rarely, if ever, secular. Secondly, current ideas of systems thinking and complexity, upon which Kagan bases most of his argument, originated partly in mysticism, as I will demonstrate in Chapter 7. As Seyyed Hossein Nasr notes, the roots of our environmental problems are religious (81-106), which is one of the reasons why the problems are so difficult to address effectively within the secular academic world.9   In Man and Nature, Nasr shows convincingly, with much erudition and in great detail, how philosophical systems10 in China, Hindu culture and the Islamic world conceived of nature as a sacred and integral part of religious and mystical belief systems, as well as an ethical guide. In these cultures, the emergence of a secularized science that profaned nature was unthinkable. Nasr also 44demonstrates, with rich elaboration, that this was also true of much Christian philosophy, before the Scientific Revolution. Only a kind of desacralization of nature, beginning in philosophy, could allow people to investigate nature for purposes more utilitarian than spiritual. Against this historical backdrop, he does not fail to mention the “American Indian,” who carries “the most precious message for the modern world, that of walking lightly on the Earth” (Nasr 98).From the point of view of resilience, a key feature of sustainability, the picture painted by Nasr is important. As Daniel Eisenberg explains in an essay published in Solutions Journal,redundancy is an important element of resilience (76-87), and one sees how redundant traditions of the sacredness of nature in Taoism and Hinduism carried on for centuries after the Scientific Revolution began, some surviving to this day in the East, in indigenous traditions and in Nasr’s areas of expertise—the Traditionalist school and Sufism. This chapter presents the notion that similar traditions of union with nature have survived in Western artistic and mimetic practices. Abram tells how pictographs were mimetic expressions of sensuous immersion in nature, superseded by alphabetic language, but mimetic artistic traditions provided redundancy, thus resilience, forestalling for centuries a complete loss of that immersion. That is to say, mimetic art carried on when pictographs were replaced by alphabetic language, when religious philosophy, according to Nasr, departed from a study of nature, and when the Scientific Revolution separated knowing from sensuous immersion.VARIATIONS UPON TWO THEMES: CREATION AND UNITY OF OPPOSITES Virtually every human culture has a creation myth—the monotheistic religions, thousands of indigenous cultures and even contemporary science, with its story of the Big Bang. Here I will discuss only those myths that relate directly to the Greek and Christian ideas that became central to mimesis in Western art theory. Thinking very broadly and simply, without falling into minutia, 45the basic ideas about cosmic and artistic creation were quite similar in Ancient Greece and the Christian world, in a motif mentioned frequently throughout De La Croix, Gardner and Tansey’s Art through the Ages: God created the universe—nature. Because humans were created by God, they have the capacity to create too. People learn how to create things by studying nature—God’s creation. Human creations are modelled on nature, and people can approach divine knowledge through a study of God’s handiwork—nature.Western art theory was based upon this central theme of creation for 2500 years, from Ancient Greece until the advent of modernism. Over the centuries, endless variations emerged, but the basic idea remained the same. This idea often resulted in a kind of fervor surrounding the exhortation to study nature, evident in artist’s writings through the centuries, 11 and in practice frequently led to pantheism.12  The intense sensuous proximity required by the study of nature led some artists to simplify the recipe above by equating nature with God.During this period,13 questions about how to make art never strayed far from ideas about how nature is “made.” Artists and philosophers were curious about the structure of nature, how it was “put together,” and how it managed to keep all sorts of seemingly divergent forces in balance. For starters, people wondered how multiplicity could be held together in unity, and how seemingly incompatible parts somehow form a whole.For this reason, this double tradition of art theory and natural philosophy was always concerned with what it called the union of opposites or the reconciliation or coincidence of opposites. Countless variations of this theme emerged over the centuries, some referring to concordia discors,14 and others to coincidentia oppositorum,15 for example. Much of the literature over the ages refers to apparent opposites, because some perceived opposites are not opposites at all—darkness is only the absence of light, for example.16 In a multistep process, the artist or 46philosopher sees in nature, or in life, forces that seem binary or contrary, often learning that they are, in one way or another, mutually interdependent, complementary or reconcilable.17 They see that these apparently opposing forces are held together in nature, often using words like tension, conflict, a field of force,18 or eternal strife (originating in Heraclitus) or friendship, harmony or love (originating with Pythagoras) to describe the relationship (Vamvacas et al 105-6). They see the contrary forces in nature, how they are connected, balanced, reconciled or in tension, and then, when they create art or philosophy, they actively work, through effort, to resolve, dissolve, reconcile or highlight the sometimes illusory, but often quite real oppositions or tensions,19mimicking nature’s mode of operation.20 As such, the process is often one of overcoming dualism—the artist or philosopher sees something that looks dualistic and works to get beyond the dualism. So many variations upon the theme of opposites, however, echo throughout the course of Western art and philosophy, that the numerous permutations probably run the gamut from clear dualism to extreme holism. In this thesis, I address what I understand to be traditions of Western holism.21One must keep in mind, however, that too much holism is not good. As Edgar Morin pointed out, holism and reductionism arise out of the same epistemological error—that of oversimplifying. Overemphasizing the unity of the whole at the expense of the parts is just as bad as exaggerating the separateness of the parts at the expense of the whole. The former has grave consequences for the autonomy of the individual,22 the latter endangers the integrity of the whole. Both errors have a negative impact on both the parts and the whole, because the integrity of the parts impacts the health of the whole and vice versa. The trick is to find the right balance between the two poles.  47Art is one way to practice balancing the integrity of the whole and the individuality of the parts in a low stakes scenario, as well as a very good way to experience this mutual interdependence. Artists frequently subordinate parts in the interest of the whole, or, alternatively, emphasize some other parts with the greatest care, so as not to lose the impression of the whole. ARTISTIC WAYS OF KNOWING, EAST AND WESTThe previous chapter explored the way in which the idea of yinyang originated in visual observation. Philosophical ideas can be seen and experienced visually. I would go as far as to suggest that the idea is not entirely human in origin—the idea originates in nature and becomes complete in collaboration with human sense perception and cognition, a view also held by Goethe, according to philosopher Ronald Brady (83-109). Nature’s knowledge can be seen. In this way, nature literally “speaks” to us visually. In the case of yinyang originating in the artistic observation of light and shadow on a mountain, stone “speaks.”  This sort of knowledge that is accessible directly from nature via sense perception is very important in this era of increasing abstraction, specialization, and fragmentation of knowledge, as well as the estrangement of people from their lifeworlds. My view is echoed by, and perhaps to an extent derived from, the work of Lears and historian Morris Berman’s Coming to our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West. In our age, in which “knowledge” is too often composed of second-hand abstract ideas divorced from personal experience and sense perception, mimesis and the origin of yinyang remind us that we can always go back to the source, the mountain, and obtain knowledge directly from nature.It is important to note the opposition implied in the paragraphs above—nonhuman nature’s ideas may be brought into the human-made world and act upon it, or abstract human ideas 48formulated in the absence of nonhuman influences may be imposed on the nonhuman. This gets to the crux of art as material human creation and its sustainability or unsustainability.The idea of yinyang, of course, refers to complementarity and the unity of opposites. By no means has it been strictly an Eastern phenomenon, as shown by the quotations from Heraclitus in the previous chapter. The idea of the unity of opposites has a long history in the West. It would be fascinating to navigate the intricate pathways of the history of ideas. Did Taoism somehow make its way to Ancient Greece? Although there are indications that there was cultural interchange between Greece and China, connected by trade routes in the era of Heraclitus and Pythagoras,23 clear answers to this question, if there are any, would require additional research beyond the scope of this thesis. What we do know for sure is that when the first written records of the idea of the unity of opposites emerged in Heraclitus and Pythagoras, the same documents were the very first records of the birth of Western art theory. Perhaps more importantly, we see a concurrent interest in science and art. Consider the words from Heraclitus in the last chapter: “But perhaps nature actually has a liking for opposites; perhaps it is from them that she creates harmony, and not from similar things. It seems too that art does this in imitation of nature.” Heraclitus shows a simultaneous curiosity about natural processes and how art comes into being.CREATING THROUGH THE RECONCILLIATION OF OPPOSITESVery early on in Western culture, nature was often seen as having been created by a sacred intelligence, so people believed that human creations—artistic creations—might follow the same procedures. Pythagoras is generally understood to be the founder of Western music theory, from which, I would say, a theory of visual art grew. The idea of the reconciliation of apparent 49opposites was already present in the thought of Pythagoras’ teacher, Pherecydes, a Greek thinker from the island of Syros of the 6th century BC: 24 “Zeus, when about to create, changed himself into Love; for in composing the order of the world out of the contraries, he brought it into concord and friendship, and in all things he set the seed of identity and unity which pervades everything” (qtd in Weil 139). Centuries later, Theon of Smyrna, a follower of Pythagoras from the 1st century AD, builds upon the themes of friendship and reconciliation: The Pythagoreans, whose sentiment Plato often adopts, therefore define music as a perfect union of contrary things, unity in multiplicity, accord in discord. For music does not only coordinate rhythm and modulation, but puts order into the whole system; its end is to unite and coordinate, and God is also the orderer of discordant things, and His greatest work is to conciliate among themselves, by the laws of music and medicine, things which are hostile to one another (qtd in Homage to Pythagoras 142).The lack of disciplinarity in Theon’s thought is remarkable, as he addresses theology, systems, polarity, music and medicine at once. Note also that Theon mentions work. In Western culture, complementarity and the union of opposites is never seen as a static state of equilibrium. It requires effort, as Zeus made the effort to change himself into Love, and God worked at conciliation.In artistic processes, the term most often used to refer to this effort is the reconciliation of opposites. It is hard work. Those fortunate enough to have frequented places where live improvisational jazz is played may find Theon relatively easy to understand. The musician often starts out with a melody, then unexpectedly introduces discord, and only through conscious effort finds “accord in discord,” making the transition back into harmony. Bolder masters of discord and reconciliation like Charles Mingus or Miles Davis might begin with discord and somehow, 50amazingly, turn it into harmony. So the reconciliation of opposites makes transitions through effort. A musician of meager ability might be able to start with discord, stop, and launch into melody. What makes Mingus and Davis so special is in the barely perceptible and ingenious transition. Again, following Plotinus, Aquinas and Panofsky, art uses nature’s modus operandi of reconciling opposites through effort. In turn, Mingus and Davis bring a touch of natural process into the social world—“medicine,” in Theon’s words.So there is little difference between what Theon said and what Mingus played. The art theory set in place by Pherecydes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus and Theon, and later perpetuated by Plotinus and Aquinas, among many others, encompasses all the arts and spans millennia. Nature, ideas about the structure of nature and ideas about natural processes were at the very core of this cultural movement, and were often associated with the sacred. Artistic activity in this vein, in its conscious alignment with what are taken to be the creative and/or sacred forces of the universe, has usually, through the ages, been accompanied by a sort of foment or fervor, seen frequently in artists’ writings over the centuries. In the 20th century the poet Octavio Paz said: “The poetic image is the embrace of opposite realities, and rhyme a copulation of sounds; poetry eroticizes language and the world because its operation is erotic to begin with” (qtd in Hirsch 51).In Paz, Pherecydes’ focus on love and friendship and Theon’s preoccupation with accord and conciliation turn into eroticism, yet the central idea remains much the same, as does the apparent fervor. This conscious alignment of artistic practice with the fecundity of natural forces and processes, so central to the making of art over centuries, as well as the accompanying fervor, seems oddly and tellingly absent in Kagan’s work, sterile in comparison, which, instead, appears to be an inconclusive search for ways in which art might somehow be connected to nature.51THE INTERTWINED STRANDS OF KNOWLEDGEAnother way to look at it is that the origins of Western art and music theory, poetics and prosody, always existed in conjunction with an intense interest in and curiosity about natural processes and structures. From the beginning, art theory was married to natural philosophy. As we have seen, the thinkers in question had no concept akin to our current ideas of disciplinarity, but if they had, we could say that art and science were married at birth. Both art theory and natural philosophy adopted ideas about the unity and reconciliation of opposites because the ideas were useful. As in the quotes above, these ideas were also associated with theology and mysticism. I originally intended to demonstrate that the origins of current ideas about complexity and systems theory can be found in the work of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, who borrowed the ideas from artistic practice and art theory. I realized that this assertion is not entirely correct, because artistic practice and art theory, from about 600 BC to around 1850 AD, rarely existed in isolation from theology, mysticism, aesthetics and natural philosophy. That is to say, the relevant ideas in art theory and artistic practices were also found in the other fields, and the exchange of information between the fields was reciprocal and mutually reinforcing, making the flow of ideas hard to track. For the purposes of this thesis and for lack of a better name, I will refer to the Intertwined Strands of Knowledge as the body of knowledge, originating in the West with Pherecydes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Theon, Plotinus and Aquinas, among others, that, before the age of specialization, was shared amongst what we would call the fields of art theory, artistic practice, theology, mysticism, aesthetics and natural philosophy. The idea of the reconciliation of 52opposites is just an example of one idea among many contained within the Intertwined Strands of Knowledge. Looking at the sheer prevalence of the idea offers clear evidence that the Intertwined Strands of Knowledge exist.  The text above only scratches the surface by providing a few examples of how the idea of the union of opposites has expressed itself in various fields over centuries. An exhaustive account would fill volumes. It may not be an exaggeration to say that reconciling unity with multiplicity, one such pair of opposites, became the central problem of philosophy. Many sources suggest the centrality of the problem of multiplicity vs. unity in philosophy, including historian Henry Adams’ Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres; Ardalan and Bakhtiar’s exploration of Sufi philosophy of art; and Landau’s survey of Islamic philosophy. “The attempt to bridge the chasm between multiplicity and unity is the oldest problem of philosophy, religion, and science” (Adams 142). This central problem of philosophy is about our most basic ways of understanding the world. As I look at my surroundings, I see fruit trees, birds, clouds, bricks, a garden hose, built structures and what Taoists call the “10,000 things.” Are they not somehow connected? Maybe philosophy’s central question is also the primary problem of ecology and sustainability. Kagan repeatedly emphasizes that sustainable cultures of the future will be founded on “patterns that connect,” an idea he borrows from Gregory Bateson.The concept of “opposites,” however, raises the question of dualism. The beginning of this chapter demonstrated that the union of apparent opposites pertains to a Western tradition of holism (see note 21), taking into account Morin’s warning about too much holism. This stance could raise objections, so examining possible accusations of dualism might help to clarify the main points of this chapter.53Consider an extreme form of dualism, like Manicheanism,25 in which only good and evil exist as polar opposites, with no middle ground. The two poles never meet, and in the Manichean view, they have never been reconciled and will never be unified by man, nature or God. In contrast, the idea of the unity of opposites is decidedly not dualistic. The mimetic union of opposites is entirely different from the Manichean viewpoint, which says, basically, “The world is made of polar opposites. What could we possibly do about it?” The visual artist sees the tension between chaos and order, for example, in nature, and the way nature holds that tension in balance. This is both the content and process of art. The effort at reconciliation and the perception of balance and tension is what distinguishes the artist’s view and experience from dualism. The effort is about overcoming dualism.After ideas about the union of opposites emerged with Heraclitus, they were soon dismissed as irrational by mainstream Western culture. According to Sabelli, “two-valued logic was made synonymous with rationality, [and] the union of opposites was dismissed as contradiction” (“Union” 430). S. Marc Cohen notes that the principle of non-contradiction was well entrenched in Aristotle’s time.That is not to say that reductionism never happens in the process of the union of opposites. The yinyang diagram is clearly an idealized simplification, barely reminiscent of the natural phenomenon it represents and the infinite shades of gray between black and white are entirely missing. Some non-Western traditions, known for high levels of sophistication and complexity in their philosophies and a complete lack of dualism, also practice the reconciliation of opposites. The Syilx process of enowkinwixw, for example, a procedure for community dialogue and conflict resolution, invites the most diametrically opposed views to be expressed in a non-judgemental 54atmosphere, within a structure that highlights change vs. stability and independent action vs. community responsibility. The people holding the diametrically opposed views are asked to carefully consider the views of the other and to learn and change in the process, thus making a transition. Resolution is achieved through effort, by making sacrifices as offerings to the community. The opposite views are thus reconciled, accord found in discord. Balance is restored and dualism overcome (Armstrong Constructing 178-189). The Syilx enowkinwixw process simultaneously reconciles two pairs of opposites—change vs. stability and independent action vs. community responsibility, and the combination of pairs can get even more complicated. Artists like Mingus frequently reconcile multiple pairs. A typical Mingus piece, for example, may balance harmony and discord, rhythm and rest, loud and soft, sound and silence, high pitch and low pitch. Both the Syilx chiefs and Mingus work with these pairs of opposites because they have little choice—they are simply dealing with the stuff of life and the universe as they are. So enowkinwixw is nothing less than the application of a nearly universal theory and process of art to the social sphere. Artistic practice, in this context, becomes one of the most important things in the world—it gives everybody the chance to practice reconciliation in a low stakes or no stakes scenario. It expresses and reveals the stuff of life and the universe as they are, contributing to the overall balance.Chapter 7 will show how the union of opposites became central to the development of current systems thinking and complexity theory, upon which Kagan bases most of his argument and nearly half his book. While the roots of these current disciplines are anything but new (Pouvreau and Drack 282), Kagan approaches systems and complexity as if they arose out of thin air in the mid-20th century, calling for hypothetical sustainable cultures of the future that would incorporate them, when, in fact, it would be more accurate to claim that systems and complexity 55were always central elements of artistic practice prior to modernism, and that the “new” disciplines grew out of their artistic origins.First, however, Chapters 5 and 6 will address in more detail how artistic observation is scientific, in a way, how artistic practice incorporated proto-systems-thinking and proto-complexity-theory, bringing nature’s visible ideas into the human-made world, and how these traditions of practice led directly to the environmental movement which defined the need for sustainability.56CHAPTER 5: SIGHT-SIZE AS MIMETIC SCIENCEIt is quite extraordinary. The visual observation of the way nature reconciled light and shadow on a mountain in China in 600 BC, led to an understanding of the complementarity and essential union of opposites that could be applied to Taoist thought, Greek philosophy, the music of Mingus, the poetry of Octavio Paz, the theories of Jung and Freud, the paintings of Monet, the quantum mechanics of Niels Bohr, and the Syilx process of enowkinwixw. Why does a visual idea seemingly apply to everything? Perhaps we have discovered one aspect of Pherecydes’ “seed of identity and unity which pervades everything.”   At this point, however, it is important to cut though the mysticism. Mysticism, by definition, is about direct experience with the sacred, unmediated by doctrine or institutions, so it is mere abstraction, its opposite, unless it originates in practice and personal experience. In the daily studio practice of a working artist, the reconciliation of opposites and the idea of Coincidentia Oppositorum are only tools. The process of reconciling apparent opposites can be as simple as making a sandwich or as complex and labor-intensive as writing a symphony. The artist can make the process as arcane or mundane as he or she likes. Most working artists today consider the process just another tool in their toolbox, no more remarkable than a paintbrush or a pencil. Since the process of unification is hard work, it is just a routine aspect of their workaday existence.By using yinyang as a device, I have told my story backwards. Thirty years ago, I formulated a question when I was an art student engaged in daily observation of the visual world:  How and why could it possibly be true that the structure of the visual world applies to…..everything? This is the question that drove my intellectual curiosity for three decades. 57I propose an extension of or complement to Younging’s definition of indigeneity. It is admittedly a stretch, but is too beautiful not to be articulated:  Everything you need to know is right in front of your eyes. The acts of visual observation and mimesis collapse the distance between subject and object, between nature’s intelligence and human knowledge. In order to demonstrate this, I would like to share some of my personal experience as a student and teacher in the atelier tradition, with some ideas about artistic observation and practice, but first offer a brief history. THE ATELIER TRADITION“Atelier” is simply a French word meaning studio or workshop, referring to a method of instruction in drawing and painting, and might best be defined as “teaching studio.” In an atelier, a number of aspiring artists study with a master painter in a working studio, a variation of the apprenticeship method. Studio or workshop training was the norm in Western art since the late medieval period until the late 19th century.The practice of training painters in studios was prevalent, from the 14th to the 19thcenturies, and though variations have existed in a number of different countries, the continuity of the knowledge transmitted is greater than might be generally assumed. It was broadly and primarily an oral tradition of practical tacit knowledge, but widely read technical treatises such as Cennini’s and Alberti’s provided some continuity, and will be discussed in greater depth in the chapters that follow. The tradition passed through various periods, such as the Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque and Neoclassical periods, that were more about reorientation on the scale between idealism and realism than significant breaks in the kinds of painterly knowledge transmitted.2658The current resurgence of the atelier tradition began in the mid-20th century, largely due to the efforts of R.H. Ives Gammell. His book, The Twilight of Painting, written shortly after the end of World War II, is an erudite analysis of various methods of training painters, from the 17th to 19th centuries, leading to conclusions about what he saw as a crisis in the continuity of the transmission of knowledge in the 1940s. In Twilight, Gammell proposed a return to the atelier method as a means of rescuing what was left of the painterly knowledge of the past, and reconstructing the knowledge that had been lost.The atelier tradition’s emphasis on recovering the technical skills of the past led to a focus on mimetic representation that is unparalleled and has not existed since the 19th century. The tradition holds that technical skills in representation must be mastered first, before creative and expressive possibilities are explored. The nearly single-minded emphasis on mimesis means that atelier education is organized to maximize practice and minimize theory. Theory is transmitted via critiques, once or twice per week. The theory is about ways of seeing, the structure of nature and methods of observation and representation—ideas that have been distilled over centuries and retained according to their effectiveness. The prioritization of sensually immersed practice makes ateliers somewhat monastic—standing apart from the hectic pace, multitasking and myriad distractions of the contemporary world. The intention is to provide an environment that allows for slow, patient and careful observation, with minimal distraction and maximum concentration, a goal made explicit while I was a student at Atelier Lack. In an atelier, all learning and all experiments are assessed by means of exact comparison with nature. Nature is seen as the teacher. Human instructors are only guides who point out facts in nature.59ATELIER BASICS  The account offered here is based upon my personal experiences at Atelier Lack, from 1984-1987, as well as my experiences teaching at my own studio, Atelier Sonorense, from 2004-2009.Most ateliers organize students around three hours of drawing or painting in the morning and three in the afternoon. The high level of concentration required is exhausting, so more structured time is not recommended, though students are generally free to continue working after hours and work on weekends. Imagining the exercises of beginning students in a music conservatory helps to put atelier training in the proper perspective. In the conservatory, students might devote much time and effort to mastering musical scales and etudes. In an atelier, students focus on mastering the basics of observation and representation. Just as the scales could not be considered music, atelier studies are arguably not art—instead they are exercises that aim to give students the means of expression. Atelier education is based on the assumption that a student’s innate creativity and imagination can withstand years of discipline. Likewise, the success of a classical musician might require putting creativity, imagination and expression back into the music after prolonged discipline.  This chapter, and most of this thesis, is more concerned with mimesis than art, with observation and representation more than imagination, creativity and expression. I also try to look at atelier study as a scientific endeavor. To an extent, questions of art do not apply—Gammell’s project, like Giotto’s, has been a conscious multigenerational effort towards reconstruction in the hope that someday in the future, art of high quality will be possible.Ateliers are the heirs of a pre-modern tradition of knowledge about mimesis and the development of “a skill-set that pre-dates written language by thousands of years,” a phrase I borrow from F. Scott Hess. Practitioners feel they are doing something as old as time. Mimesis 60has been a basic human instinct since the caves at Lascaux were painted, but it is also a pre-human instinct, as noted by Kohn.MIMESIS IN DEPTH:Figure 2: © Kelly Borsheim, Borsheim Arts, used with permissionAll current ateliers employ the sight-size method, illustrated in Figure 2, in which we see two nearly identical images. On the left is nature, in the jargon of the tradition—the visual world. It is a plaster cast of a statue chosen to emphasize human anatomy. On the right is the student’s representation of nature—a charcoal drawing on white paper. The use of the term nature is simple 61to understand—people are a part of nature, so the things people make are too. The world is visible, as well, only because of the natural phenomenon that is light.To do a sight-size exercise, the student stands at a fixed distance from the setup, kept constant by marking the position of the student’s feet on the floor. This allows the student to draw the cast at exactly the same size as it is seen in nature. From the fixed position, the student rapidly flicks his or her eyes back and forth between the two images. Any difference will register as movement, like two consecutive frames of animation film. From the observation point, about eight feet away from the paper in this case, the student must remember the alteration they plan during the few seconds it takes to walk up to the paper to draw, challenging and building the power of the visual memory.The sight-size method and its history has been meticulously described by Nicholas Beerand Darren Rousar. There are a few reasons why the method could be considered scientific. In fact, a very similar method has been used by astronomers at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, to develop an instrument called the Blink Comparator, used to look at two photographs of the same segment of the night sky, taken at different moments, in order to detect and changes that would indicate movement of celestial phenomenon, indicating perhaps a planet, an asteroid or a comet (Rousar).Cast drawing is one of the first exercises undertaken by beginning atelier students, as part of a program that, in the tradition, is referred to as “training the eye” and “learning to see.” From the point of view of the science of perception, neuroscience and phenomenology, of course, something much more complex is happening, involving the eye, the brain and what is observed. Many scholarly sources, such as E.H. Gombrich’s Art and Illusion and McLaughlin and Coleman’s Everyday Theory (4-7), would argue that “learning to see” is impossible, since there is no objective seen reality that is not a product of culturally-influenced ways of seeing. Figure 2 62poses a challenge to their point of view—why is the inanimate machine, the camera, seeing nature in a way very similar to the way a sentient human sees it, though the human is influenced by cultural bias? The student may be influenced by a lifetime of exposure to photographs, but her drawing does not differ much from drawings done before the invention of photography. Students from non-Western cultures study at ateliers, but their renderings do not express a significantly different way of seeing. Could they be influenced by previous exposure to photographs and Western art? There are no easy answers, but the most plausible, I think, is that the atelier method explicitly asks students to avoid preconceptions and intellectualizing, a goal which requires much discipline and training in itself. The interference of preconception is very clear in the struggles of some beginning students, and a few never completely overcome the problem. Most atelier students use mirrors to see the sight-size setup reversed, both horizontally and vertically. This helps them to see the image anew and overcome the mind’s tendency to impose expectations on what is seen. When I was a student, I was told to avoid visualizing the project when not in the presence of nature. A level of self-discipline and control is necessary to come into the atelier in the morning without anticipatory visualization, in order to cultivate a “fresh eye” that enables one to see as if seeing for the first time. It takes years of practice and is very difficult to achieve.Despite my mention of the camera, this atelier exercise has nothing in common with photorealism. Photorealists draw photographs while atelier students draw nature. The student who did the drawing in Figure 2 might be taken aback, or even offended, if somebody suggested the drawing looks like a photograph. The eye-mind nexus is a living, sensitive and reactive instrument designed to detect depth. Atelier students learn how this depth is perceived in the visual world, and how to “push” the illusion on paper, something a camera cannot do and photo-manipulation can do only clumsily. As a result, even the best large format photographs with high depth of field look flat next to an exemplary atelier study.63THE ATELIER AS LABORATORYI am interested in the atelier as a scientific laboratory more than a studio for training artists. If you imagine beginning to draw nature in Figure 2, starting with white paper and a stick of charcoal, a good beginning strategy would be to lay in the tone of the “background” in order to delineate the light statue. The “object” on the right comes into being only in terms of relationship with its environment. The gives very strong experiential knowledge that “objecthood” exists only in relationship. In the painted or drawn world, nothing exists except in relationship, and existence always depends on relationship. This gets quite a bit more complicated when representing multiple objects in full color. Instead of the idea that the interaction of the black charcoal and white paper is primarily one of opposition or duality, it is more about mutual coming-into-being and relationship.  On the other hand, black and white are indeed opposites and nature teaches the student how to reconcile them. The reconciliation of opposites might suggest a kind of dualism to some, but in Figure 2, two things are going on. “Opposites” are already reconciled on the left, in nature, leaving no reason to think of them as opposites, but rather elements working together to achieve a unity. On the right, the artist begins with just black and white as raw potentialities, in completely unreconciled form, with nothing to do but achieve unity. Rachel Martens’ term, “reuniting dualities,” aptly describes the process (56), and it applies to all of the arts. This is why process and effort are stressed in Chapter 4.The reconciliation is extremely hard to understand without experiencing it. Imagine setting up a blank canvas outdoors next to a landscape view you intend to paint. In nature, in the landscape, all sorts of complex elements are already reconciled and the white canvas is a unity. As soon as you make a single brushstroke on the canvas, however, you have glaring disunity—the dualism of a dark stroke on a white field. A lot of work will be necessary to achieve the unity you 64see in nature. Maybe human creations, as they come into being, tend towards dualism without a struggle to resolve the duality. As such, talk of “opposites” does not assume duality in nonhuman nature.Perhaps the best way to understand is to try is to imagine you begin the exercise and fail badly at producing an “object.” This would most likely be due to a failure to reconcile black and white—the opposition of the two commanding more of the viewer’s attention than the illusion of object-hood. Successful experiences cultivate increased sensitivity to tone—the infinite range of greys between black and white. In this sense the exercise is very analogous to a musician’s ear training.The student had to reconcile other pairs of opposites simultaneously. The contour, or outline, of the human figure in Figure 2 is a medley of hard and soft edges, like permeable, semi-permeable and impermeable membranes, to a large degree responsible for the three dimensional effect achieved in the drawing. The shadow under the armpit and pectoral muscle on the left side of the photo, for example, is nearly as dark as the dark background. The low contrast along that edge registers as a “soft edge.” If the tone of the shadow were the same as the background, it would be called a “lost edge”—the outline disappears due to an absence of contrast. The top of the head is an example of a high-contrast “hard edge.” An analysis of contrast at each point along the contour leads to a careful rendering of the whole range between lost and hard, leading to the illusion of depth. In this sense, the object is not really an object, and the student will struggle more if he thinks “object” instead of “relationship” in which sometimes one thing is indistinguishable from another and at other times the two are sharply demarcated. Simultaneously, as well, the student did a superb job of navigating the extremely complex reconciliation of straight and curved, in the way human anatomy is expressed by the contour. Some broad lines can be seen approximately as relatively straight, as in the forearms and shins, 65but instead are composed of multiple minute curves that express particular anatomical features. Conversely, straightness within curves determines the character of curves.Completing the exercise well also requires an ability to understand and perceive wholeness. In Gammell’s tradition, wholeness is referred to as “the big look.” It means a unified impression of the entire scene in nature taken in by the eye. In this case it says something like “statue, seen in its environment in three dimensions,” but the perception of wholeness is entirely nonverbal. The final success of this well-done drawing depended upon seeing the wholeness in nature and reproducing it on paper, with every part in proper relationship to the other parts and the whole. The drawing is finished through a series of minute interventions on the paper based on sight-size observation. A single intervention might detract from the whole, by forming a spot of overly high contrast, for example, that distracts the viewer’s attention from the whole effect and sends it instead to a single part. Interventions can also reinforce the impression of the whole by overcoming obstacles to the whole effect—a series of corrections. As the most serious obstacles are overcome first, the impression of the whole in the drawing gets more refined, so that smaller obstacles “pop out”—drawing the student’s attention and requesting correction, and so on, in a feedback loop.When I was a student, I found this finishing process to be revelatory. I was astonished by how the process of correcting ever more minute obstacles seemed endless. For me, it led to very strong experiential knowledge about how nature is held together by the finest threads, and how the most minute intervention in the tiniest part can make or break wholeness. I was astonished by the amount of information required to achieve unity and contained in wholeness. For me, the understanding produced by the experience was orders of magnitude above my previous intellectual understanding of how, in an ecosystem or on a planet, everything effects everything else and one’s very existence depends upon the whole.66THE COLOR LABTo some, ateliers are like coal mines—they are dimly lit, so students can control their own lighting, black curtains separate cubicles, and the walls are painted grey to avoid excessive reflected light and to interfere as little as possible with color perception. Disciplined workers sharpen charcoal on sandpaper all day long and the dust becomes airborne, so a fine film of carbon covers everything in the studio. They walk back and forth incessantly, between their point of observation and their easels, engaged in the drudgery of mimesis. The perceived dullness and drudgery of black and white cast drawing had much to do with the modernist backlash that rejected the practice. Actually, it is a great deal of fun. Anybody can do it and I highly recommend it as a challenge, like climbing a mountain, or a beneficial meditative process of sensuous immersion, like yoga practice.There is, however, an element of sensory deprivation while working in black and white, in a grey colorless world, and learning to see ever finer gradations of tone in the infinite scale between black and white. I have often wondered if the degree of deprivation was an intentional part of the tradition, to increase the appreciation of color. I loved it, because after three hours of cast drawing each morning, I would step outside for lunch, to find myself dazzled by color in a way I never had been before, as if I were seeing it for the first time.When the student has mastered cast drawing and a grisaille oil cast painting, they are free to begin a still life in full color. Figure 3 shows the first still life I did during my study at Atelier Lack. It depicts a collection of seemingly unrelated objects, though I was thinking of the four67Figure 3: © Daan Hoekstraelements when I chose them—Fire, in the firing of the brick and the bowl; Earth inside the bowl sustaining the plant, and in the brick; Water, symbolized by the seashell and in the bottle behind the brick, and Air; represented by the plant and its exchange with the atmosphere.68The painting is not without flaws, in fact, the drawing on the right side of the ceramic bowl looks all wrong, in retrospect. Capturing the form of the bowl was a challenge, since the strong contrast between the dark blue glaze and the off-white glaze on the bowl tends to flatten the effect, and the pattern of the glaze works against the form. A line of dark blue glaze was tangent to the outline of the bowl, on the right, complicating the drawing. Worse, the lip at the base of the bowl is partly covered by a ripple in the fabric it rests upon, and shadow obscures the base right above the lip, combining to make the drawing unconvincing. It is a great example of a failure to reconcile dark and light that mars the impression of wholeness.Though the objects depicted are tied together symbolically by the four elements theme, they still look more like a static collection or a bunch, rather than a system. A physicist might disagree, though, and say that instead we see a war zone, the objects bombarded by photons that collide with them and ricochet in every direction, some crashing into other objects and others barely managing to reflect back out of the shadow behind the brick—a system. Again, objects are defined only in terms of relationship, and I navigated all the complexities and pairs of opposites described in the discussion of Figure 2, plus the added complication of color, working with three primary colors and their three complements, plus the tertiary colors, and the infinite range possible by combining any of the above. Color vibration and depth are obtained by contrasting or reconciling warm colors and cool colors. Very importantly, each color mixed must coincide with a tone on the infinite range between black and white, as in Figure 2. Throughout the exercise, especially if the setup is illuminated with natural light, the tones and colors of nature change every minute, due to changes in the ambient light of the studio. The sight-size still life in Figure 3, involving much color matching, produced very strong experiential certainty that color is perceived only in relation and changing the color of a single 69brushstroke changes the color of the brushstrokes that surround it. It is an exercise in complexity, par excellence, within an exact method of comparison to nature.Figure 4: © Daan HoekstraIn the dynamic complex system shown in Figure 3, the plant was growing while I was painting it. Some of the new growth is seen in the detail, Figure 4. Throughout the duration of the exercise, about three months, the plant changed so much that I had to repaint it several times—any difference between the painted plant and the plant in nature would destroy the sight-size correlation and have a negative impact on the whole painting. I became so adept at repainting the plant that, by the time I painted this sudden new growth, I managed to paint a remarkable passage of which I am still proud, shown in Figure 4. Some razor-sharp edges on the leaves of the new growth, characterized by extremely high contrast, become the center of interest of the painting. Other edges on the leaves are extremely soft, and some of the edges are almost completely lost, 70indistinguishable from the background, as in the underside of the uppermost leaf at the right edge of Figure 4. Despite employing nearly the full range from hard to soft in the new growth, it clearly registers as the foreground, as does the bowl, though the left edge of the bowl is almost entirely lost. But the back edge of the brick is even softer, and the left edge of the bottle in the background is almost invisible, expressing its distance and its form with the subtlest variations in color and tone. The result is an illusion in which the new growth is clearly closer in space and the atmosphere between the foreground leaves and the bottle is mysterious and palpable. It makes for a good illustration of Boston School Impressionism, which emphasized a single center of focus, hard vs. soft, in-focus vs. out-of-focus and the resulting illusion of depth.Figure 4, also, is not just a metaphor, but a precise picture of how human knowledge works. One can foreground a particular idea or field, in fact, it is very hard not to. Focus shifts from one object to another, but the other ideas and disciplines need to be in the picture, to varying degrees, albeit in the background.I would like to try to express how much I loved atelier practice, the thousands of hours of observation and the deep sensuous immersion. I have tried many times to write about it from a place of love, only to get bogged down in the anticipation of objections and the prolonged explanation needed to introduce a practice foreign to the layperson; or by haste, the frantic pace of contemporary life and its intervening responsibilities. I will say that the experience changed me profoundly. This still life marked the beginning of my inquiry into pantheism and animism. After more than one hundred hours of observing the “objects” in Figure 3, I began to feel empathy and affection towards them. They did not seem mute or inert. Instead of subscribing to the binary concept of animate-inanimate, I started seeing things on a scale from not-very-animate to extremely animate.  71This experience differs very much from the perception that still life is still, motionless, and inert. The connotations, probably derived from the name of the genre, are even more pronounced in languages derived from Latin, in which still life is called “dead nature.” I think there may be another kind of sensory deprivation, in the progression of atelier studies, which may, again, have been an intentional device. The student alternates between still life, usually involving things lower on the scale of animation, and figure drawing, in which the model is vibrantly animate. I think it may develop increased sensitivity to the perception of aliveness.HUMAN NATUREThe experience of deep sensory engagement with the visual world leads to a kind of empathetic and emotional seeing, even when observing a brick, not unlike the experiences described by Abram. When the student considers a living being, the empathy, emotion and perception of aliveness are multiplied. The intimacy of the encounter between the artist and the model increases even more when the model is nude. Working successfully with the model requires courage, patience, vulnerability and generosity from the model, as well as respect and empathy from the student. The experience is extraordinary, because aliveness is seen as never before, so I tried to express it once in text for an exhibition of my nude drawings:An incomparable experience—staring for hours at a living breathing human being. You try to record the form on paper for hours, fall into a meditative trance and learn that everybody is beautiful. You stare at the nearly motionless model in your trance-state, then the model breaks the pose and moves naturally—even more alive!72The process leaves behind an artifact, a drawing or painting that describes the student’s level of humanity as much as it reveals the model’s form. In teaching studios, the figure drawings that emerge can render the students more vulnerable than the model, because the drawings demonstrate empathy and respect, or the lack thereof, to varying degrees.THE OUTDOOR LABStudents need to learn, as well, about how to reconcile chaos and order. Much has been written about the order of nature in relation to visual art. Snowflakes, for example, exhibit orderly geometry and numerous natural forms, like seashells, incorporate orderly spirals. Less has been written about the role of chaos and complexity in the representation of the visual world. While sight-size setups in the atelier involve controlled experiments in an orderly environment, the visual world outside is chaotic and messy. Atelier students are encouraged to pursue plein air painting on weekends and during the summer. I wrote about the messiness of nature once from my patio in Mexico:Fern leaves are a favorite example of natural symmetry. My patio is full of ferns, but I see little symmetry. The leaves twist and turn on their axis, they spring upward or droop. In order to get a fern leaf to be symmetrical, I would have to torture and kill it—cut it and press it between planes of glass. I cannot see the fern leaves without the light that filters through the mango tree above them, a cacophony of chaos in itself—a tangle of branches and leaves, though not without pattern. The light that reaches the ferns dapples them randomly, illuminating some parts and leaving others lost in mysterious shadow. If the light doesn’t reach them, they die. In order to paint a living fern, then, I need to paint random spots of light revealing parts of fractal forms twisted out of symmetry, 73simultaneously conveying their irregularity and imperfection while recognizing their fractal regularity. More often than not, the everyday phenomenal world is messy.Recently, I experimented at Woodhaven with a kind of mimetic observation that is new to me. Instead of painting my observations, I tried to write about them. I decided to observe a single patch of forest for 5-10 minutes at a time, a few times per day, for a few months:  At first the winter forest seemed dead. Then I started noticing all sorts of things. Looking out at the trees without foliage, I noticed that I could see dozens or hundreds of individual trees at a time. Nothing was seen in isolation. Everything existed in relation to numerous other things in the forest. Human vision has no mechanism for looking at just one tree, for example, removing others from the field of view, in a scientific kind of isolation. Instead, I took in many organisms at once and tended to see each in relationship with the others. Contrary to my first impressions of eventlessness, I soon noticed that what I saw changed every minute with subtle modulations in the character of the light. Gazing at countless lifeforms in the forest, sometimes the lighting conditions made it impossible to distinguish the boundaries between one tree and another. Species blurred together in shadow or divisions were lost in the sometimes intense sunlight. Clouds rolled across the sky overhead, casting mobile creeping shadows across patches of the forest, the sun highlighting different patches each second. Wet winter snow stuck to branches, uniting one with another, reflecting light in all directions, while the modulations in the sky changed the color hue of the reflected light every moment. In the summertime clouds rolled while leaves fluttered, scattering the light. The evanescent forms of light, shadow and color danced in my eyes. Taken in as a whole, the forest breathed, moved and lived each heartbeat. 74In nature we see things together, without isolating one “object” from another in a piecemeal fashion. This way of seeing things in relation becomes essential, in the next chapters, to the birth of environmentalism, sustainability, systems thinking, and even Gandhi’s revolution.MUSING ABOUT MIMESISWe are all intellectual products of the multiple instances of severance described by Table 1. Each instance extinguished, or drastically diminished, traditions of knowledge that were more rooted in a sensuous immersion in the world. The Industrial Revolution, for example, led to the replacement of the knowledge that had been used to create societies in which everything people used had been made by hand. The Scientific Revolution replaced previous ways of knowing about nature that were more closely tied to sense perception. As a result, people from traditions of knowledge outside of the hegemony of Eurocentric education, such as Marie Battiste and J. Henderson,suggest that Western assumptions about the natural world are deeply flawed (23-30), leading to modes of cognition that are unreliable. From within the system, it is impossible to know and understand the extent to which our understanding of the world is faulty.Although it is a European tradition, the atelier functioned for me as a time machine, taking me back in time, past the most damaging points of schism, allowing me to immerse myself in a practice-based tradition of sensuous knowledge, in which my daily activities differed little from those of a student in the 14th or 15th centuries. The experience shattered my previous assumptions about the world and became my new epistemological foundation, upon which I built my subsequent, and greatly invigorated, search for knowledge, perhaps escaping to a certain degree the cognitive impairment that Battiste and Henderson describe.  As a result, I believe I can see the dominant system as something of an outsider, somewhat like Battiste and Henderson, with whom I identify as carriers of sensuous knowledge, in part due 75to their account of unimpaired cognition relying upon “intelligible essences” (25, 36-7). At the same time, I am also a product of the mainstream system, to a degree I cannot guess, resulting in a kind of insider-outsider perspective that might be applied to contemporary problems.We face urgent problems of a global scale, such as sustainability and climate change. Arguably, these problems cannot be addressed adequately without intervening in complex social-ecological systems. Given our impairment, how do we prepare responsibly for intervention in the real world, where unintended consequences are a frequent occurrence? One could pore over numerous case studies and volumes of theory, but how can one experience wholeness, complex systems, and the consequences of intervention? I have never experienced any of these things in a conventional classroom, but I have in the atelier. As a teenager I practiced visualizing the Earth as a single organism, and understood interdependence—the web of life. I would have disagreed vehemently if anybody had suggested that my understanding could be vastly increased—I thought the intellectual understanding was sufficient. Nothing could have prepared me to believe how much greater my understanding would become in the atelier.Atelier study, accessible to anybody, offers the perfect laboratory for experiential learning about wholeness, complex systems and what happens when you intervene in a system. Producing unintended consequences has no negative impact beyond your canvas. In fact, you can do it over and over again, and still produce a good painting. Most importantly, seeing things in relation becomes an ingrained and permanent habit of eye and mind.Our understanding of complex socio-ecological systems seems to be advancing greatly. Populations can be surveyed, producing census-like data covering a wide range of socio-economic issues, resulting in a numerical description so rich it takes very advanced data visualization techniques to be able to interpret the data in many categories simultaneously. Good data sets have been assembled that describe every conceivable detail and nuance surrounding the flow of water 76in the Okanagan. Nonetheless, I cannot help but wonder what might be left undescribed between the numbers and between the categories. I may be wrong, but I suspect many scientists could not consider Figure 2 without a feeling a slight twinge of envy, wishing they could compare their descriptions with nature using a methodology as exact. My intentions in discussing the material in this chapter have been misunderstood over the years, so I should be more explicit. Many years ago, I became so enthralled with atelier methodology and the principles it taught that I realized I was more interested in the processes than the products. My interest in documenting atelier methodology is based on the hunch that it can be applied to other fields. In other words, I believe that the processes can be detached from the products, and the former repurposed. I see clear applications in phenomenology, philosophy, the study of perception and qualitative methods. In this thesis I am not concerned with atelier practice as art. Instead, I claim that it is science, inasmuch as there are as many sciences as there are sets of assumptions about nature. The results and findings of this science are not contained in drawings and paintings, but in the knowledge that has been transmitted orally and refined over centuries by each generation. In some ways, my claim is not new. The suspicion that a way of seeing can be applied to the socio-ecological world was already brought to fruition by John Ruskin and William Morris more than a hundred years ago, in opposition to the Industrial Revolution and Galileo’s Scientific Revolution.77CHAPTER 6: MIMESIS, THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SEVERANCE AND THE ORIGINS OF ENVIRONMENTALISMMimetic art practices preserved the pictographic experience and mode of cognition described by Abram, and were, in a way, a science of appearances. Science took a different path, that of the separation of appearance and reality, which removed human sense perception from the world described by science. This removal of people from the world was addressed in Chapter 2, but here I explore its origins, and juxtapose it, in order to shed light on a different tradition ofinvestigation into nature, with John Ruskin’s Science of Aspects, which revealed a strong belief in the meaningfulness of appearances. Perhaps the most significant product of the juxtaposition is the realization that mimetic art practices preserved pictographic experience and avoided the separation of appearance from reality for hundreds of years after science took another path. In other words, the Intertwined Strands described in Chapter 4 provided resilience and continuity by way of redundancy.GALILEO’S REMOVAL OF THE CREATUREThe rift between science and art deserves a place on Table 1 as one of the catastrophic schism events that played a role in the incremental and progressive distancing of human culture from the more-than-human. According to philosopher Filip Buyse, the rift was made apparent in 1623, when, some fourteen years before Descartes’ famous Cogito, Galileo made the distinction between what he called primary properties of objects (shape, size, location, number, and motion), not unlike Plato’s theory of forms and immutable things, and secondary qualities, known through sense perception: “Hence I think that tastes, odors, colors, and so on are no more than mere names so far as the object in which we place them is concerned, and that they reside only in consciousness. Hence if the living creature were removed [my emphasis], all these qualities would 78be wiped away and annihilated” (qtd. in Buyse 4). The difference, according to Galileo, is that primary properties belong to the object itself, independent of the observer, while secondary qualities, on the other hand, exist only in the mind of the beholder (Buyse 5). According to Buyse, Galileo’s distinction between properties and qualities had several consequences, such as the separation of mind from matter, and the removal of people (just “bundles of qualities”), and God (pure consciousness), from nature (19).  Removing the living creature from scientific ways of knowing and annihilating qualities, as Galilieo suggested, seems to predict a world in which technology is against life and sensuous experience of the world becomes obsolete. Galileo rejected qualities based on sensory databecause they “exist only in the mind,” but this judgement was the product of his mind. Clearly sense data does provide useful knowledge, especially local information about change, in contrast to the changeless, universal and eternal properties Galileo sought. A fruit’s color tells us when it is ripe, for example, and its aroma tells us when it is overripe.Galileo’s “banishment of man from the great world of nature” (Buyse 1) was not met with universal approval. Artists saw the separation of two valid ways of knowing about the world as an impoverishment of human cognition (Amrine 40). After Galileo took color out of the picture, according to Buyse (6), scientists learned to describe rainbows and sunsets in terms of wavelengths and particles in a grey colorless world, but not without a backlash from artists. Goethe, Keats, Blake and Thoreau bristled at the “unweaving of the rainbow” (Zajonc17-8). The desacralization of nature and human experience was the primary lament that drove Romanticism (17). In “Landscape Painters and Environmental Photography” environmental philosopher Eugene Hargrove notes that other dissenters included biologists, botanists and geologists—the practitioners of the natural history sciences, who developed close alliances with artists (33).  79By the 18th century, the idea of primary properties and secondary qualities had given rise to the distinction between higher and lower mental faculties, the latter being associated with the senses, indicating as loss in stature for sensuous knowledge, according to philosopher Paul Guyer. Guyer explains that the “science of aesthetics,” as formulated by Alexander Baumgarten in 1750, was an attempt to reclaim the scientific validity of sensuous knowing. Baumgarten’s aesthetics were not concerned with taste, but “a science of perceptible cognition,” seeing aesthetic experience as “a special form of the cognition of truth,” and concerning itself with the distinction between aistheta and noeta, between sensuous knowledge and abstract knowledge (Guyer).  Many artists strove to reclaim the status of sensuous knowledge. Goethe, for example,spoke of the “intuitive knowledge gained through the contemplation of the visual aspect” (qtd. in Bortoft Wholeness 21), and saw his scientific work as a contribution to Baumgarten’s project, stating that “the beautiful is a manifestation of the mysterious laws of nature, which, were it not for the beautiful phenomenon, would be hidden from us eternally” (Goethe qtd. in Stephenson 1). It was into this general atmosphere of severance, and a yearning for the continuance of artistic traditions of sensuous knowledge, that John Ruskin was born, in 1819.RUSKIN AND THE SCIENCE OF ASPECTS (APPEARANCES)Ruskin’s life is summarized on the Ruskin Center’s website. He was a well-known artist, art critic and social commentator. Ruskin’s writings inspired the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, and the Labour Movement. He was a fierce opponent of industrialisation, and his prophetic ideas about environmental issues are still relevant in the 21st century. Ruskin first published poetry and articles about geology when he was fifteen years old. His writings about art, nature and social issues were read across the world and influenced Gandhi, Tolstoy and Proust (The Ruskin Research Center at the Ruskin Library, Lancaster University).80Cornell University English professor Paul Sawyer notes that Ruskin was already an accomplished artist when he began his career as a prominent art critic at the age of 17, when he began to write Modern Painters, a five volume defense of the painter J.M.W. Turner. Turner’s paintings had been criticized as chaotic and sloppy, so Ruskin countered that Turner had done nothing less than assimilate the creative processes of nature and leave their traces in his work, as noted by another of the authors that I have found most useful in this thesis —Sheila Emerson, an English professor at Tufts. Her chapter, “The Authorization of Form: Ruskin and the Science of Chaos,” is a thoughtful analysis of Ruskin’s way of seeing, which she relates to scientific ways of understanding randomness and complexity, using frequent quotes from James Gleick’s well-regarded Chaos: Making a New Science. Emerson explains how Ruskin saw Turner’s assimilation of natural processes as related to a science of appearances, what Ruskin called a “science of aspects” (154). While science attends to the physical causes of phenomena, Ruskin held that art addresses the emotional, moral and aesthetic implications: “There is a science of the aspects of things, as well as of their nature; and it is as much a fact to be noted in their constitution, that they produce such and such an effect upon the eye and heart…as that they are made up of certain atoms or vibrations of matter” (Ruskin qtd in Smith 133). Like Goethe, Keats, Blake and Thoreau, Ruskin raged against the removal of sensuous experience from the realm of knowledge. According to John Rosenberg, Ruskin abhorred the “drift of science from the humanly observable and morally relevant toward the microscopic and morally neutral” (42).Ruskin’s science of aspects involved precise observation and description, involving a perception of pattern in apparent disorder (Emerson 154), a way of seeing based on the belief that a careful scrutiny of surface appearances reveals the indwelling nature or spirit of the phenomena observed (Sawyer; Smith 123), likened to an ability to perceive in metaphor (Rosenberg 46;81Emerson 163). In contrast to the dualistic notion of looking for essences behind appearances, Ruskin sought truth on the surface of things (Hanson). Ruskin’s way of seeing and experiencing the world stood in stark contrast to the separation of appearance and reality that had been proposed by Galileo and Plato.  Ruskin’s science involved a focus on relationships. Rosenberg and Sawyer both contend that Ruskin tended to see things as ecologies and interrelated systems. The artist’s ability to represent nature truthfully depends on seeing proportional relationships across scales, a “language of relationships” (Emerson 150). Emerson points out that there is also a relationship between the mind and what the eyes see, which sees the same laws behind the phenomena of clouds, waves and color (152). As explained by Gleick, “Natural forms resonate with the way nature organizes itself, or with the way human perception sees the world” (116-7), so the human observer experiences what Emerson calls a “discovery of a pattern at once within and without” (160), also noted by Knight (14-15; 54-6). Emerson describes a drawing of a tree as a “picture of the relations between a mind and its objects, a statement about, not a mere imitation of, two things at once: about how a tree is composed and how an artist composes” (162). As Abram suggests, “the human intellect [is] rooted in, and secretly borne by, our forgotten contact with the multiple nonhuman shapes that surround us” (49).The coalescence of what the eye sees and how the mind works produces emotion, as noted by many artists and scholars27—aesthetic cognition works on the emotive centers of the brain, as demonstrated by Ishizu and Zeki. According to Rosenberg, mimesis, for Ruskin, involved a fusion of passion and fact (46). While it is thought that scientists are not supposed to be swayed by emotions and artists are expected to express more than mere facts, Sawyer contends that for Ruskin accuracy results in emotion, the sensation of energy in the generative forces of nature82communicated to the viewer.Emerson’s work, published in 1991, convincingly shows a clear link between Ruskin’s way of seeing and chaos theory. My approach is essentially different from Emerson’s—instead of trying to connect systems, complexity and chaos to a single artist, I see they connect to a multigenerational tradition of knowledge about mimesis, and Goethe showed me the way. According to Goethe, nature reveals only the most general truths in appearances (Zajonc 26). This claim goes far in explaining the experience of the Chinese poet, covered in Chapter 3. Artists need to look for the “generative principles” in things, the forces that made them28 (Emerson 153)—the cragginess of a tree reveals its history, just as geological forms tell of the origins of rocks. These histories are about the forces that created the phenomena29 (Emerson 162). Emerson and Sawyer both note that in order to represent these phenomena, artists need to assimilate ideas about nature’s creative forces. In order to work efficiently, in terms of time and energy, they need to catch simple patterns that can be converted into shorthand. They see small swirls among the larger swirls of water in a stormy sea, for example, and internalize the fractal pattern, facilitating the process of representation, a process that Mitchell Feigenbaum, one of the late 20th century’s leading physicists, observed in Turner’s paintings (Emerson 149).It stands to reason that broadest and most generalizable information is the most useful to the artist, principles arising from what Feigenbaum called “a perception that sifts the messy multiplicity of experience and finds universal qualities” 30 (qtd. in Gleick 165-6). Feigenbaum described the artist’s filter: “What artists have accomplished is realizing that there’s only a small amount of stuff that’s important, and then seeing what it was” (qtd. in Gleick 72). Neuroscientist Semir Zeki contends that the primary function of both art and the visual brain is to seek fundamental laws, essentials and constancies (“Art and the Brain 71-85,” “Artistic Creativity” 8352), discovering the broadest principles31 (“Neurobiology” 14). It stands to reason, also, that in the intergenerational transmission of knowledge within artistic traditions, the broadest information is much more important to impart than information pertaining to particulars. Artistic traditions distilled the broadest and most useful ideas about nature’s generative forces. The most useful ideas were retained over generations and lesser ideas were weeded out through a process of exact comparison with nature.Ruskin’s science of aspects—a science of appearances, answers the call of current scientists for a science of qualities—what Galileo called secondary qualities, known through sense perception, as opposed to what he understood as the primary and immutable properties of objects, such as shape, size, location, number, and motion. Capra calls for a science of qualities in Learning from Leonardo ( xii-8), as does the entirety of Seamon and Zajonc’s Goethe's Way of Science: A Phenomenology of Nature, as well as physicist Georg Maier’s Being on Earth. The artist’s study of nature involves a search for patterns, modes of organization, systems, networks and relationships, what Capra calls “seeking qualities instead of quantities and involving mapping instead of measuring” (Learning 8).RUSKIN AND THE PERCEPTION OF THE SOCIAL AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENTSawyer tells how Ruskin’s ideology began, when he was young, with the traditional Christian formula described in Chapter 4: Nature is the handiwork of God. The more one knows about nature, the more one knows about God. Christians in Ruskin’s time were urged to read two books, the bible and the Book of Nature. Ruskin spent most of his life reading the second, taking to heart the idea of nature as teacher and model. To Ruskin, art included all things made by human hands—art meant modifying things using nature as a model (Ruskin Eagles Nest 5). He defined the disciplines as follows:84SCIENCE……..The knowledge of things, whether Ideal or Substantial.ART…………...The modification of Substantial things. LITERATURE...The modification of Ideal things. (“Eagles Nest” 5).Note that today, technology, to a great extent, has taken the place of art (techne)—almost all consumer items are manufactured by industry. Ruskin defined the relations between the realms and saw himself as working in all three. His broad definition of art included artisanal work and the applied arts—the making of useful objects. He lectured extensively at institutions where the applied arts were taught, urging the students to use nature as a guide and help bring artifacts reflective of the natural order into human society. Sawyer explains how, in The Stones of Venice,Ruskin illustrated this idea by suggesting that the medieval artisans who built Saint Mark’s Cathedral had emerged from a more primeval existence in the forest, duplicating the mossy trees of their ancestral home in the columns of the church. Mimesis was culture’s antidote to civilization and urbanization.Because Ruskin saw nature as a primary source of knowledge, he was greatly distressed by the destruction of the English landscape and the pollution brought about by the Industrial Revolution. In this destruction of the countryside, he saw the demise of the model for human creations. Artisans, who held an important place in Ruskin’s cosmology as the bringers of natural order into the social sphere, were losing nature as teacher, losing their jobs, their autonomy and their traditions of knowledge rooted in sensuous immersion. The factory system began to mass produce goods such as textiles, undercutting the prices of handmade artisanal goods, forcing artisans into the drudgery of factory work. The quality of the goods became shoddy and the quality of the workers’ lived experience declined. In the process, the artisan lost contact with nonhuman nature, and creative joyful work. Society lost the impact of the associated happiness 85and creativity, as well as the input of the more-than-human. Industrialization also led to an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth. Sawyer tells how the situation led Ruskin to write Unto This Last, in 1860, a sharp critique of industrial society, the exploitation of labor, and the dehumanization of work. Mohandas Gandhi read it in 1904 while on a long train ride, later commenting in his autobiography: “The train reached there in the evening. I could not get any sleep that night. I determined to change my life in accordance with the ideals of the book.” (qtd. by translator in Gandhi 1). Gandhi later organized one of the most successful revolts against industrialization and globalization, urging people to take back their independence by spinning their own textiles.Ruskin held that the innocent and sincere desire to represent natural facts was an indicator of the health of a society. In the Stones of Venice, he believed he could pinpoint the exact date that Venice turned corrupt by surveying the comparative organic qualities of carved capitals and gargoyles. He applied natural philosophy to society, often in ways that were remarkably prescient. For example, Ruskin believed that loose carbon was pollution, an indication of a corrupt society in which carbon-based lifeforms had lost their proper bonds, not adhering together closely as carbon atoms do when they form a diamond. In order to document the problem of smog in London, he counted and recorded the number of daylight hours. He noticed what he thought to be abnormal melting of snow in the Alps (Sawyer).   To Ruskin, iron oxides were the blood of nature, commonly used for red artist’s pigments, but their extraction amounted to gaping bloody wounds on the land when mined for the essential material of industry. Rusted iron is living, Ruskin wrote, because it breathes oxygen and supplies the material from which all life is built. But iron is dead when polished—it is not for industry or silverware or scissors, Ruskin said, but for the service of life (Frost 378). Ruskin saw the human 86and nonhuman, the animate and “inanimate,” involved together in an intricate web, and noticed a feedback loop that many current environmentalists miss—the progressive degradation of nonhuman nature makes it incrementally harder to learn from nature and base our creations upon the more-than-human, while our human-made world becomes more and more artificial, desensitizing us to nature, in a vicious cycle. Ruskin could not separate the degradation of nonhuman nature from a parallel process of dehumanization, inequality and a decline in human values. He saw art’s links with nature as a lifeline for human society.Sawyer explains that when Ruskin saw the impact of industrial pollution and development on his surroundings, he saw a threat to his beloved nature, his teacher and model; to the English countryside he treasured; to the ancient architecture and ruins he revered; to the dignity, autonomy, equality, well-being and happiness of the worker; to the quality of the manmade environment; and to the fiber of society. He was incapable of seeing any of these issues or threats as separate. His unified view of simultaneous damage to nature, culture and society pervaded his writings, which had a broad impact on the public in England and abroad. This holistic view of nature/culture/society is in marked contrast to current fragmented narratives of concern for “nature,” “the environment,” “equality,” “happiness,” “social justice,” “cultural heritage” and “intangible heritage.”Sawyer notes that Ruskin’s holistic views were derived from aesthetic perception.  He rebelled aesthetically against the squalor of shoddy industrial products and the by-products of industrialization--pollution, ugliness and an oppressed workforce.  Ruskin’s visual field took in all these elements together—the human, the industrial, and the natural. The conventions of the representational art of his era involved seeing and representing things in relationship—no “object” or “creature” is depicted except in relationship to a “background.” “Things” or beings are 87represented only in relationship to each other. Relations and systems are portrayed more than things or “individuals” 32In part, this way of seeing and understanding the world stems from artistic jargon that was in place from the Renaissance to Ruskin’s time, and even today in traditional ateliers. When Ruskin, who wrote and lectured frequently about art education, spoke of nature as the artist’s teacher and model, “nature” is understood as the entire world of visual phenomena—nature, humanity and the works of humanity. In artistic jargon, a tree is nature, but so is a person and a brick. In a sense, Ruskin was programmed to consider these categories together, not separately.This kind of systemic thinking33 was also aided by Ruskin’s adoption of the Greek idea that art simply means artifact—everything humans make.Emerson and Sawyer both note that Ruskin insisted upon precise observation and representation of fact, in both his writing and his art. That is to say, he aimed at exact portrayals of the relationships and systems within his visual field. He would have thought it inexact to consider industrialization, pollution, social justice, happiness, nature and beauty as separate phenomena. All the above phenomena can coincide in everyday visual experience, but easily get separated in abstract thought.In this systemic or scientific nature of Ruskin’s way of seeing one can begin to see the roots of environmentalism, the roots of the current trend run far deeper. In his paper “The Historical Foundations of American Environmental Attitudes,” Hargrove holds that environmental attitudes “developed out of an intricate interplay between Western science and art over the last three centuries” (209). He contends that the split between primary properties and secondaryqualities, set into motion by Galileo, aligned artists and poets with the natural history sciences—biology, botany and geology. Unlike physics, natural history held on to the idea of aesthetic 88perception as a way of knowing, and still does, utilizing data from the senses in its quest for knowledge. Natural history, interested in observing and categorizing plants and animals in their environments, was also dependent upon artists, to some extent, to document their findings in the field, so a strong relationship grew between the two fields (220, 226). Hargrove does not mention, however, that in the centuries prior to the natural history explosion of the 18th and 19th centuries, many artists saw their study of nature as an essentially scientific endeavor, as is evident in Fritjof Capra’s studies on Leonardo Da Vinci.With Hargrove and Capra, I contend that the history of ecological thought is intricately intertwined with the history of art. One could say that Ruskin’s unified medievalist, anti-industrial, ecological, pro-labor socialist vision was an outgrowth of mimetic observation and representation and the blurring of subject and object, mind and nonhuman nature, phenomenon and representation described above. The mimetic artistic traditions cultivated and preserved a pre-modern state of perception that is similar to, if not identical with, that which Abram associates with pre-alphabetic oral or pictographic cultures.MIMESIS AS PICTOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATIONAbram speaks of the way in which pictographic and ideographic writing preserved “pictorial ties to the phenomenal world of sensory experience” and how the development of the Greek alphabet “effectively severed all ties between the written letters and the sensible world” (111), resulting in the “rational dissociation of the human intellect from the organic world” (95). He attributes our estrangement from nonhuman nature to this severance from a pre-modern sensuously immersed mimetic mode of cognition, noting that “Socratic dialectic” was “primarily a method for disrupting the mimetic thought patterns of oral culture” (109).  According to Abram, the shift from oral to written culture blocked the “exchange between the senses and the things that engage 89them” (131). When direct sensuous experience is blocked, thought becomes anthropocentric and self-referential (108, 138). “If we no longer experience the enveloping earth as expressive and alive, this can only mean that the animating interplay of the senses has been transferred to another medium, another locus of participation” (131), Abram concludes, stating that the written text is the new locus.What Abram misses is that, in this shift from oral to written, mythic to philosophic culture, the text was not the only new locus to which the “animating interplay of the senses” had been transferred. The shift was accompanied by the emergence and blossoming of the mimetic arts, which preserved the previous oral, mythic and mimetic modes of thought, as well as “pictorial ties to the phenomenal world of sensory experience” (111), retaining reference to a “more than human field of meanings” (97). Perhaps because modernism distorted these arts beyond recognition, Abram only makes one mention of art, 34 which he only relates to nonhuman nature and the sensory world by means of materials.But mimetic traditions were alive and well, even predominant, in Ruskin’s time. Both Abram and Taussig contend that mimesis preserves and transmits pre-modern modes of experience and cognition. This is clearly at work in Ruskin’s science of aspects, in which appearance and reality coincide. This state of sensuous cognition leads to knowledge that is more emotional than intellectual knowledge,35 as noted by many authors, stimulating centers of the brain that prepare motor functions for immediate or deferred action (Ishizu and Zeki 1413-1420), which may explain Ruskin’s fervor and is a fact that will become relevant in Chapter 8.According to Sawyer, Ruskin’s essentially pre-modern mode of cognition led to a profoundly anti-industrial and anti-modernist perspective that found expression in the medievalism of The Stones of Venice and his initiative to found a medievalist artisan’s 90community. Ruskin’s fervor inspired the pro-handicraft, anti-industrial and anticolonial actions of Gandhi, part of the first wave of environmentalism according to environmental historian Ramachandra Guha (28-34), as well as the medievalist Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, of which William Morris was one of the most influential members. Morris’ work set into motion a chain of events that led quite directly to the current wave of environmentalism and the concept of sustainability. I assert that 20th century environmentalism was, in part, a direct outgrowth of Ruskin’s level of Abramesque sensuous immersion in nature, a degree of immersion required by his science of appearances and the quality of his mimetic representations.WILLIAM MORRIS’ ECO-SOCIALIST UTOPIA AND THE ORIGINS OF ENVIRONMENTALISMIn the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Joseph Dunlap summarizes Morris’ life. Born in 1834and best known as a Pre Raphaelite poet in his own time, Morris devoted his life to art, literature, environmentalism and social justice. In the early 20th century, he came to be known chiefly for his work as a designer and the founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement. His own design work encompassed calligraphy, typography, printing, illustration, stained glass and architectural design. He was a pioneer in architectural preservation and landscape remediation. Despising ugliness, which he associated with industrialization and the economic exploitation of people and the environment, Morris, in all of his pursuits, was devoted to natural and artistic beauty. He worked towards the creation of a society in which domination would be replaced by fellowship. He wasalso a writer, translator and lecturer who devoted much of his energy to promoting socialism. It is curious that a person with such a wide-ranging and positive influence would say that the “leading passion” of his life was a “hatred of modern civilization,” a critique that came from the strong influence Ruskin had on Morris, documented by Peter Faulkner’s essay “Ruskin and 91Morris.” As a young man, Morris read most of Ruskin’s works, and struck up a friendship with him in 1856. In the 1870s, Ruskin and Morris worked together on the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, aimed at the conservation of the British cultural landscape. Through Ruskin,Morris came to grasp the connections between art, nature, industrialization, pollution, social justice and ultimately, sustainability. Morris’ reactions to industrialization were primarily aesthetic, according to environmental scientist Patrick O’Sullivan, one of the leading researchersinto Morris’ ecological vision (“Morris the Red” 23, 27, 28, 30, 33).Isolde Karen Herbert is one of the few researchers who has attempted to define the exact nature of Morris’ way of seeing. In "Nature and Art: Morris's Conception of Progress,” she explains that because Morris subscribed to the idea of nature as the artist’s teacher and model, he understood that “the destruction of the natural beauty of the earth is also the destruction of art” (5).  Morris believed that the competition embedded with the capitalist system “turns nature's rules of beauty, wholeness and order upside down” (5). This results in a vicious cycle, so that contemporary art can only reflect the ugliness of environmental destruction. Morris’ philosophy attributed these realizations to a way of seeing: “Morris combined keen ocular sight, visionary sight, and skill of hand and eye to open a 'window' which, through historical time, allows others (at least, those with sympathy) to ‘see’” (4). According to Herbert, Morris's idea of positive change “is a change in this perceptual point of view, a change that will, as he argues, give ‘people back the eyes we have robbed them of’” (4). Like Ruskin, Morris believed that art extends to everything in the human sphere. Because “the laws of nature are the laws of art” they “should be the laws of society” (5). Because “beauty originates in the forms underlying the organic wholeness of nature, everything made by man is beautiful if it follows these patterns and ugly if it thwarts them” (5). Morris asked for people to "use your eyes: your own eyes, you understand, in 92one way or other, and not other people's” (6). According to Herbert, “Hope for this perceptual progress leads Morris to plead for the arts to be the guardian of humanity's sense of reverence for nature; in turn, this reverence will counteract the contemporary reverence for luxury andugliness.” (6).O’Sullivan recounts how, in News from Nowhere, published in 1890, Morris described his vision of an ideal society free from industrialization and oppression, in which people live in harmony with nature—a complete rejection of modernity. Morris’ utopia is set in the future, and portrays what England could be like after a socialist revolution. Money and the profit motive have been abolished and replaced with an egalitarian means of exchange. The motto ‘Local productionfor local need’ guides the economy. Any surplus production is brought to the cities. Without competition and the profit motive, work has been made pleasurable—the role of art as the producer of all human goods has been restored. Workers are motivated by self-expression and the pleasure implicit in the creative process. The resulting society is unstratified. Food is grown by “more ‘sustainable’ techniques of land management such as coppicing, pollarding, and multi-cropping,” without monoculture. Technology consists of a “widespread revival of ‘sustainable’ medieval production techniques,” involving clean energy renewable energy sources. Innovation involves the invention of techniques to meet ‘local need.’ Governance is via town or district assemblies, making decisions by “consent of the minority,” and coalesced into a “Federation of Independent Communities” (O’ Sullivan “¡Homenaje” 103-104).Morris’ thought developed along lines amazingly parallel to contemporary environmentalism. He thought progress and capitalism would result in the complete destruction of nature, so he argued for the need for remediation of human-induced environmental destruction based on “aesthetic and humanitarian grounds” (Bartels 39). He worked against the reduction of 93humans to machines (Bacon 2-8), seeing that commercialism not only destroyed nature, but ravaged human lives (O’Sullivan “Morris the Red” 22). Morris thought that science should help in remediation efforts, but he saw that science was on the payroll of industry (I. Herbert 7), so instead he strove for “human-scale self-sufficiency” (Bartels 44). He “envisaged a society composed of small, self-sustaining and self-governing communes, each with gender parity and socially-useful, aesthetically-pleasing work for everyone. Urban blight and industrial pollution are replaced by green, sylvan landscapes” (Bartels 40).The humanitarian focus made Morris keenly aware of the environmental impacts of colonialism and globalization. Morris stated:It is clear that in the last age of civilisation men had got into a vicious circle in the matter of production of wares. They had reached a wonderful facility of production, and in order to make the most of that facility they had gradually created (or allowed to grow, rather) a most elaborate system of buying and selling, which has been called the World-Market; and that World Market, once set a-going, forced them to go on making more and more of these wares, whether they needed them or not. So that while (of course) they could not free themselves from the toil of making real necessities, they created in a never-ending series sham or artificial necessaries, which became, under the iron rule of the aforesaid World-Market, of equal importance to them with the real necessaries which supported life. By all this they burdened themselves with a prodigious mass of work merely for the sake of keeping their wretched system going (qtd. in O’Sullivan “Morris the Red” 31-2).Morris could not help seeing the human impact, similar to what I have witnessed in the “developing” world. He wrote:94The Indian or Javanese craftsman may no longer ply his craft leisurely, working a few hours a day, in producing a maze of strange beauty on a piece of cloth: a steam engine is set a-going at Manchester, and that victory over nature and a thousand stubborn difficulties is used for the base work of producing a sort of plaster of china-clay and shoddy and the Asiatic worker, if he is not starved to death outright, as plentifully happens, is driven himself into a factory to lower the wages of his Manchester brother worker, and nothing of character is left him except, most like, an accumulation of fear and hatred of that to him most unaccountable evil, his English master. The South Sea Islander must leave his canoe-carving, his sweet rest, and his graceful dances, and become the slave of a slave: trousers, shoddy, rum, missionary, and fatal disease – he must swallow all this civilization in a lump, and neither himself or we can help him now till social order displaces that hideous tyranny of gambling that has ruined him (qtd. in O’Sullivan “Morris the Red” 32)Isolde Herbert quotes Morris’ prophetic words: “progress, or mastery of nature, threatens to transform the earth into a ‘hopeless prison’ within which the population is condemned to poverty, servitude, and ugliness” (I. Herbert 6).  According to O’Sullivan, Morris’ humanitarian bent led to the development of his eco-socialist thought.  He felt it necessary to fight against pollution and environmental destruction by ending capitalist competition and the production of unnecessary commodities. This, he believed, would restore the cooperation between humanity and the natural world which was cruelly interrupted by capitalism. Morris focused on the “cultural-anthropological relation between human freedom and nature, environmental and social justice” (“Morris the Red” 27)95O’Sullivan has called Morris an “advanced ecological thinker,” who touched upon, more than a century ago, all of the themes belabored by the current wave of environmentalism: Morris anticipated many aspects of modern green thought – alternative technology, renewable energy, simplicity of lifestyle, community self-reliance, production only for need, prolonging the life of goods in order to reduce resource depletion, reduction of waste, and above all the key role of what is defined as ‘work’ (for both men and women) in allowing us all to express our essential humanity in a free and sustainable society. But Morris went further than most greens, of course, both then and now, and explained that the kind of restorative changes to ecosystems and landscapes they demand can only be achieved by abolition of the profit motive (“Morris the Red” 23).Morris also took into account the needs of future generations who would inherit the environmental damage he saw. He proposed sound solutions to problems of “carrying capacity” and “ecological footprint.” Morris’ thought predicted ‘back to the land,’ ‘back to nature’ and ‘bioregional’ aspects of contemporary environmentalism (O’Sullivan “Morris the Red” 23-33).All these elements of ecological thought in Morris’ philosophy were born in a way of seeing (I. Herbert 4-9).SUMMARYA number of elements of artistic practice led to the very influential environmental movement that emerged in Ruskin and Morris. First is the idea of nature as model and teacher, present in the Greek idea of mimesis and again since artist Cennino Cennini wrote Il Libro Dell'Arte around 1400 AD. The first idea was coupled with a second—the idea of techne--that art included everything people make. This configuration of ideas leads to a reverence for nature. Artists 96experienced the ugly effects of industrialization, then, as a terrible affront to the idea that everything people make is art—beautiful and modelled on nature.Furthermore, in the jargon of art, “nature” and “life” refer to the visual world. Artists, for centuries, have spoken of working from nature or from life. This simply means working from direct visual observation, as opposed to the imagination, or more recently, photographs. So “nature” really refers to the visual world—an inseparable triad of nonhuman nature, humans, and the things people make, undeniably natural because the three are unified in the visual world by a natural phenomenon—light. The artist most often considers the three together, not separately. Ruskin and Morris saw the Industrial Revolution affect each member of the triad, as it defiled nature, enslaved formerly free artisans, and made a mockery of the idea that everything we make is beautiful. They thought that both the factory and the goods it produced were ugly. So there is an artistic mode of cognition, a way of seeing, that tends to see things in relationship, minimizes the distinction between appearance and reality and catches broad patternsthat are similar across scales and domains of knowledge, as noted by Emerson and Capra. What Guha calls the first wave of environmentalism was born in this artistic mode of cognition.97CHAPTER 7: LUDWIG VON BERTALANFFY, COINCIDENTIA OPPOSITORUM AND THE ARTISTIC ORIGINS OF SYSTEMS THINKINGA concordance between the artistic mode of cognition, the way of seeing addressed in the previous chapters, and systems theory, first came to my attention when I was reading Gleick’s work in the 1980s and 1990s. In the early 2000s, a client gave me a scholarly paper about systems theory in relation to management. The paper contained a list of systems theory principles that agreed almost precisely with my list of atelier principles. Somehow I lost the physical paper and have been unable to find it with catalogue and database searches. My client did not remember the particular paper she gave me.The paper did leave me with the conviction that there must be a connection between the artistic tradition of knowledge about mimesis and the emergence of 20th century systems theory. That is why I began looking for connections in the life of Ludwig Von Bertalanffy, widely recognized as the founder of General Systems Theory, according to historian of science Debora Hammond  (436). The following sources have guided my research: First, I found David Pouvreau and Manfred Drack’s “Elements on the Origins and Genesis of Ludwig von Bertalanffy’s General Systemology,” in the International Journal of General Systems. I have also referred to a solo paper by Pouvreau, a historian of science, and a collaborative paper by Drack, whose dissertation was in biomimetics and eco-design. Mark Davidson’s biography of Bertalanffy, Uncommon Sense, has proved very useful, and the front matter written by Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Boulding adds much credibility. Thaddus Weckowicz’s working paper for the Center for Systems Research at the University of Alberta summarizes Bertalanffy’s contributions to many disciplines. Weckowicz was a social scientist and a colleague of Bertalanffy at Alberta.98Pouvreau and Drack offer a biographical account: Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972) was born near Vienna, Austria, and became known primarily as a biologist. Bertalanffy’s formal university training was in art history and philosophy, first at the University of Innsbruck, between 1920 and 1924, with a special interest in epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of religion and German mysticism. Then, at the University of Vienna, from 1924 to 1926, Bertalanffy studied arthistory, German literature and epistemology. This intellectual foundation places Bertalanffy within the Intertwined Strands of Knowledge described in Chapter 4. Bertalanffy also pursued an interest in biology on his own from an early age, but, aside from one botany course and a course in the “metaphysics of life,” biology was not a part of his university training. Drack et al even called him “well-informed autodidact” in biology (361). According to Pouvreau and Drack, Bertalanffy’s 1926 PhD dissertation was in philosophy, combining “the history of ideas, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, biological empirical studies and theory of knowledge” (284).Davidson describes how Bertalanffy held that General Systems Theory (GST), systemic thinking as an epistemological approach, can apply to any field of knowledge (32). Weckowicz states that Bertalanffy believed that systems provided the conceptual structure needed to reunite science with the humanities. Seeing societies and cultures as systems parallel to biological organisms, he believed general laws of systems applied equally to all. His belief that systems unify nature and have the potential to unify human knowledge was reflected in the multidisciplinary nature of his career. Weckowicz explains how Bertalanffy’s broad multidisciplinary application of a systems view led to important contributions. Subsections of his paper detail Bertalanffy’s contributions in a number of different fields not mentioned above such as cybernetics; thermodynamics; 99populations, ecology and evolution; humans as symbolic animals; cultures as symbolic systems; language and society; theory of history; relative categories of thinking; and perspectivism. A discussion of each falls outside the scope of this thesis, but it is interesting to see the breadth of the contributions.SYSTEMS THINKING IS NOT NOVELNowadays, systems thinking and complexity are often presented as new ideas, but, according to Pouvreau and Drack, “most of the time it goes along with the advocating of ideas of which the novelty is alleged only on the basis of an ignorance of their origins” (282). The authors refer to a paper published in 2003 that, without crediting Bertalanffy, claims the radical novelty of ideas that he developed in the 1930s and 1940s. While Pouvreau and Drack point to a very real phenomenon, the erasure of the deep roots of the systems view in much contemporary literature, a present-day scientist might contend that the systems view actually is a recent revolution after centuries of the “standard” approach of reductionist science. But the roots of holistic thinking andthe understanding of systems are not new, as is evident in Capra’s studies of DaVinci. “The concept of system as a fundamental structure of nature is not new,” notes Davidson (29). Gary Hampson lays out a long history of holistic and integrative thinking in Western culture, in his “Toward a Genealogy and Topology of Western Integrative Thinking.” Von Bertalanffy himself said the idea of systems is “as old as European philosophy” (407). The roots of these currents of thought can be found in ancient Greece. Drack et al show how they were revived from the 14th to the 16th centuries, resurfacing again in the 19th century with German Romanticism (350). Bertalanffy considered himself part of a long tradition of Naturphilosophie that began with Heraclitus and was perpetuated by Nicholas of Cusa, Paracelsus, Bohme, Leibniz, Schelling, Goethe and Fechner. Nonetheless, Bertalanffy was not out of step with his time—in Germany and 100Austria, a focus on wholeness was a general cultural and scientific trend that opposed positivism and mechanism during his formative years in the 1920s, as part of a project to “reenchant the world” (Pouvreau and Drack 287).Instead of claiming novelty, then, Bertalanffy frequently recognized his debt to what he saw as a tradition of Western holism, and in 1927, he defined his life’s work as an attempt to revive the tradition that originated with Heraclitus: The unity of object and subject, of nature and knowledge, of intuition and concept, as it is given in a naive way in antique philosophy, revives in Goethe’s ‘intuitive thinking’ and will, in a critical form be the basis of a new theory of knowledge. The modern philosophy of life will be nothing else than a return to the philosophy of Heraclitus on a higher level(Bertalanffy qtd in Pouvreau and Drack 301). Weckowicz points out that during this period Bertalanffy was still very much steeped in mysticism, writing a scholarly book about Nicholas of Cusa in 1928. His lifelong project, already articulated in his 1926 dissertation, was to suggest that all kinds of systems are organized in parallel ways, across different scales and throughout various, if not all, fields of knowledge. The dissertation applied this idea to “stratified levels of biology, psychology, and sociology, and he emphasizes the ‘perpetual recurrence of the same in all levels of integration’” (Drack et al 363). What is most significant to this thesis is the fact that 20th century systems thinking was born in the ancient ideas of Heraclitus, 36 who I presented as the founder of ideas essential to artistic practice in Chapter 4. In fact, ideas that had become central to artistic practice later played a large role in the development of Bertalanffy’s General Systems Theory. A prime example is “coincidentia oppositorum,” as conceived by Nicholas of Cusa, akin to the “unity of opposites” and “reconciliation of opposites” I presented in the same chapter.101Nicholas Krebs (1401-1464), also known as Nicholas of Cusa, was a 15th century German mystic, philosopher, metaphysician, theologian, mathematician, physician, and astronomer, according to Jean-Marie Bourgeois in the Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Both Weckowicz and Davidson note that Nicholas was Bertalanffy’s favorite intellectual precursor, whom he considered a “sort of father figure of holism,” due to his contention that “From every part, the whole shines forth” (Davidson 218). Bourgeois and Weckowicz note that all of Nicolas’ work was based on the improbability of knowing and the idea of coincidentia oppositorum, the “coincidence of contraries”— referring to the complementarity of apparently incompatible or contradictory facets of reality—harmony through contradiction. Nicholas believed that seeking truth requires transcending reason and appealing instead to intuition—visio intellectualis, which reveals a state of mind in which contradictions coincide. He placed more emphasis on speculation and contemplation than reason (Bourgeois).  Coincidentia oppositorum is understood as Nicholas’ challenge to Aristotle’s law of non-contradiction, according to Simon Blackburn, in The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. As such, it accommodates paradox, uncertainty and mystery, and has been associated with epistemological perspectivism, and the relativity of categories of thought, views central to Bertalanffy’s work. 37Weckowicz tells how Nicholas’ description of the universe as a system of systems within systems became a hallmark of Bertalanffy’s worldview. Bertalanffy saw coincidentia oppositorum as an ideal metaphor for paradox in contemporary science, as in the “contradictory but equally valid wave and particle models of energy and light” (Davidson 219). Bertalanffy explained his perspectivist view, derived from Nicholas, by discussing how various specialists might describe a table:  “The same table is to the physicist an aggregate of electrons, protons and neutrons; to the chemist a composition of certain organic compounds; to 102the biologist, a complex of wood cells; to the art historian, a baroque object; to the economist a utility of certain monetary value, etc” (Davidson 211). Bertalanffy’s perspectivist point of view led Davidson to describe him as “a scientist who denied that science is the truth but who insisted that science is a truth” (217). Bertalanffy saw art, mysticism and science as equally valid ways of knowing, so he applied coincidentia oppositorumdirectly to his scientific theories. For example, one of his first and most important contributions was in reconciling two opposing views that had plagued biology since the 19th century, the controversy between mechanism and vitalism, resulting in his organismic open systems theory of biology (Weckowicz). Bertalanffy did, however, distance himself from mysticism in his scientific writing, as noted by Davidson (219-20) and Pouvreau and Drack (330-1).THE ONE AND THE MANY: THE ARTISTIC ORIGINS OF BERTALANFFY’S GENERAL SYSTEMS APPROACHBertalanffy’s General Systems Theory can be understood as a reaction towards holism and against logical positivism and the “Cartesian-Galilean paradigm of science,” especially the reductionist tendency to study parts isolated from the whole. In response to Bertrand Russell's contention in 1948 that “analysis and artificial isolation” lead to scientific progress, Bertalanffy wrote “You cannot sum up the behavior of the whole from the isolated parts, and you have to take into account the relations between the various subordinate systems which are super-ordinated to them in order to understand the behavior of the parts.” Isolation of parts, of course, was especially problematic in biology, the field in which Bertalanffy had trained himself—parts within biological systems depend upon and are embedded within complex wholes, larger systems that sustain their survival (Weckowicz).  103It is important to recognize, then, that Bertalanffy’s primary objection to the scientific method is identical to Ruskin’s reason for opposing vivisection in the previous century. Ruskin believed that observing a living organism led to more reliable knowledge than that which could be obtained by cutting it apart, according to historian Brian Hanson. Investigating things by cutting them apart is a piecemeal approach, discouraged in the atelier with the simple suggestion “Avoid piecemeal observation,” which I adapted in my teaching to “Piecemeal observation results in inaccurate information.” Remarkably, Weckowicz explains Bertalanffy’s position using language nearly identical to the atelier principle: “The meanings of propositions cannot be established by piecemeal observations. They depend on their relations to other observations.” Davidson also uses the words “piecemeal approach” (21) to explain the methodological problems GST is intended to address. In an important sense, GST was founded by a student of art history and philosophy, who, consciously or inadvertently, applied an artists’ principle to science. Bertalanffy’s concern about the dubious results that could be expected from studying isolated parts echoes centuries if not millennia of art theory about organic unity—the relationship between parts and the whole. According to Gian Napoleone Giordano Orsini, in Comparative Literature, in ancient Greece, theory about the problem of how the parts relate with the whole was stated as the “problem of the One and the Many: organic unity is the union of several members or parts into a single whole, therefore it is a multiplicity within a unity” (2). The Greeks formulated the idea of organic unity as the closest analogy available for explaining artistic unity. The artwork was compared to a living organism, and artistic unity was conceived as a state in which various parts agreed, or related harmoniously, with each other and the whole in such a way that changing any part would change the nature of the whole (Orsini 2-4). The whole is understood as being prior to the parts, determining the parts and being more than the sum of the parts (Orsini 15-17), 104an idea from Aristotle that became central to the development of GST (Davidson 29). Apprehending an organic whole requires avoiding “scanning it piecemeal, splitting it up artificially into an assemblage of externally related parts,” according to H. Osborne, in the journal Philosophy (85), an assertion that relates ancient philosophy of art and artistic practice directly with the emergence of GST.The concept of organic unity, Orsini says, re-emerged in the Middle Ages with Boethius, Aquinas and Dante (28). Aquinas’ theories of beauty center on integritas, or wholeness, and consonantia or harmony, both implying the interconnectedness of parts and whole, according to Maurice Beebe (21-22). During the Renaissance, the study of organic unity and organic form was essential for artists, who, as noted by Fritjof Capra, explored the “tension between the parts and the whole,” recognizing the underlying natural processes that determined form while engaged in “systemic thinking” (Learning 6-8). Orsini notes that organicism emerged again, and with renewed vigor, in Romanticism, with Goethe, Kant, Schiller, Herder and Coleridge, “one of the great representatives of organicism” (29).The point I seek to make is that, in Ancient Greece, in the Renaissance and again in Romanticism, organicism, or the reconciliation of the One and the Many, was not rare, but instead widespread and mainstream. As noted above, it was present in Ruskin’s critique of science and vivisection. Apart from the cruelty involved, he did not believe that a study of isolated parts could yield useful knowledge. I reasoned that Ruskin’s epistemological stance originated in the long tradition of organicism in art theory, and could be found in his earlier work.Ruskin thought of nature “as an ecological, synergetic system of self-limiting interdependences” composed of “helpful, functioning parts” so his “ideal society is an organic hierarchy whose members function for the good of the whole” (Casillo 96). The roots of this 105organicism that led to his philosophy of science can be found in his earlier ideas about drawing instruction and artistic practice. Throughout the history of art theory, “the parts and the whole” are recognizable keywords that can lead one to recognize organicist literature. In Ruskin’s case, “unity” is the keyword that points to his most organicist ideas. Already by 1846, in his second volume of Modern Painters, later rearranged and repackaged as Volume IV, he included a chapter entitled “Of Unity” (Modern Painters IV, Part III, Chapter VI 92-112). Here, Ruskin spells out four kinds of organic unity: Subjectional, being the unity of forms acted upon by a force, such as sea waves; Original, meaning the unity of beings or creatures sharing a common origin; of Sequential, the unity of things following a causal sequence; and of Membership, which Ruskin describes with an analogy about the parts of a living body, much like Plato’s original formulation of organic unity, as described by Orsini (3). Ruskin states that unity of Membership is the most important of the four kinds, as it unites the four.Ruskin addressed the problem of the One and the Many more specifically in relation to practice in his 1857 Elements of Drawing, with simple practical rules such as: “The great object of composition being always to secure unity; that is, to make out of many things one whole” (164), with advice about how to achieve this unity, thorough repetition of similar natural forms (167), or the succession of a sequence (170). A beautiful passage describes how to understand the form of a tree as a unified and open organic system, stressing the way all the various parts of the tree radiate from common roots and share a common purpose, how the forms of branches and foliage display “wild” freedom, seeking light and precipitation, but only within the limits of growth and available nutrients, perhaps Ruskin’s first articulation of sustainability (185-88). Aside from being a very precise description of how to understand natural form, Ruskin asks the reader to ponder the moral implications of freedom and limits. He also demonstrates the whole reflected in the parts by 106describing the shadows cast by leaves on the ground, noting that the numerous spots of sunlight in between do not have the shape of the spaces between the leaves, but rather are circular, echoing the shape of the sun. Perhaps the observation of nature led Ruskin to wonder much as Heraclitus did when he asked: “Why is One reflected in the Many? What is that which is reflected, and what is the reflector?” (qtd in Vamvacas 127, see also endnote 7).Ultimately, the parts and the whole cannot be unified without tackling the problem of reconciling parts that seem to be in opposition to each other. Ruskin approaches the reconciliation of apparent opposites, what he calls “the unity of opposite things” (196), by showing how to weave disparate elements together (196-8).Aside from his unique ability for precise description and an unusual ability for seeing, understanding and describing organic form as the outcome of natural processes, there is nothing unusual about Ruskin’s theory—the focus on the interaction of the parts and the whole, and on the reconciliation of apparent opposites was standard, even rote, for the art criticism, connoisseurship and art theory of his era, as is evident in Knight’s aesthetics. One could say with some certainty that Ruskin’s critique of vivisection, and piecemeal science in general, stemmed from standard art theory.I have tried to express the sheer prevalence of attention to the problem of the One and the Many in art theory in order to propose that it is practically unimaginable that Bertalanffy, as a student of both art history and philosophy from 1920-1926, was unaware of this broader body of art theory that focused on the same topics that led to his GST. I would suggest that Bertalanffy’s systemic and organismic thinking arose from his simultaneous interest in art and biology. Also, the thought of Heraclitus, Nicholas and Goethe, to whom Bertalanffy often refers as precursors of 107GST, was inseparable from art theory. All were tangled together within the Intertwined Strands of Knowledge described in Chapter 4.CLARIFYING SYSTEMS IN RELATION TO ARTIn Learning from Leonardo, Fritjof Capra offers a clear description of what amount to two cultures:Throughout the history of Western science [and culture too], there has been a basic conceptual tension between the parts and the whole. The emphasis on the parts has been called mechanistic, reductionist, or atomistic; the emphasis on the whole holistic, organismic, or ecological. In 20th century science, the holistic perspective has become known as “systemic” and the way of thinking it implies as “systemic thinking” (7).While I have shown that artists like Ruskin reach towards the systems view, systems thinking also reaches out to art. Davidson’s explanations of what a system is may be the simplest and most lucid, and he frequently uses analogies from the arts. He says systems are defined by the interaction, organization and relationship between parts and the whole. A system is different from a collection or a bunch: “A system, like a work of art, is a pattern, rather than a pile. Like a piece of music, it’s an arrangement rather than an aggregate” (27). According to Davidson, “The same holistic magic occurs when a composer arranges notes to form a musical composition, when an artist arranges dabs of pigment to form a painting, and when a writer assembles lifeless words to form a work of living literature” (29). Patterns are apparent in systems and the “universe is a cosmos rather than a chaos, a symphony rather than a cacophony” (172). 108SUMMING UP A CONTINUOUS TRADITION OF SYSTEMS THINKINGI am interested in Bertalanffy due to the fascinating origins of his organismic thought, its wide impact, and its relationship with art. The One and the Many, or the whole and the parts, is just one pair of “opposites,” and has been called the central idea of systems thinking and complexity in the work of Hector Sabelli. Sociologist Alvaro Malaina, in his discussion of Morin’s complexity, calls coincidentia oppositorum the “dialogical principle:” The three fundamental principles that guide complex thinking are the followings [sic]: the hologrammatic principle (according to which not only the part is in the whole but the whole is also in the part), the dialogical principle (according to which two principles could be at the same time antagonistic and complementary), and the recursive principle (according to which, following a generating loop, the products and effects are themselves producers and causes of what produces them. Malaina states that this dialogical principle is one of the three main principles of complexity. Then he addresses two divergent views of complexity and calls for their reunification, suggestingthat reconciling “opposites” is the central idea of complexity: “This scenario of dichotomy and polarization seems to contradict the very meaning of complexity as the linking of opposing and complementary principles, and demands a reunification of both perspectives in the context of a comprehensive paradigm of complexity…” Almost certainly Bertalanffy was first exposed to theories about the One and the Many, the parts and the whole, through both art history and philosophy—they were common and necessary ideas throughout the history of both fields. Most likely, art showed Bertalanffy the way towards application of those ideas. Bertalanffy did nothing less than reinject holism and organicism from the Intertwined Strands of Knowledge back into science, after science, art and 109mysticism had been severed from each other as a result of the Scientific Revolution and theEnlightenment. I have confirmed that systems science preceded Bertalanffy in artistic practice, by discussing Ruskin’s ideas about drawing and piecemeal science in this chapter. A systems understanding of how the parts relate to the whole, a way of seeing and understanding nature was essential to artistic practice prior to modernism.  The most authoritative evidence that suggests that systems science was practiced by artists centuries ago comes from the work of physicist Fritjof Capra. Following Bertalanffy chronologically, Capra is a current proponent of the systems view. In order to make a few important points about continuance and the way the rooted artists’ tradition of sensuous knowledge has persisted, I would like to briefly address Capra’s significant work on Leonardo Da Vinci. At the same time, I should mention that I do not consider Da Vinci as exemplary of theartists’ tradition of holism. I have always viewed his fondness for dissection and his mechanical contraptions more as harbingers of the mechanistic and reductionist science that was to follow, almost diametrically opposed to Ruskin’s noninterventionist science of surface appearances.Apart from his science, though, DaVinci’s artistic education and painterly output is obviously an important part of the Western tradition of naturalistic painting.Capra’s book Learning from Leonardo is ground-breaking and laudable, on one hand, in that he precisely identifies ways in which Da Vinci’s thought was systemic. On the other hand, it is a bit piecemeal by failing to see Leonardo within a broader cultural system that was in the midst of reviving the organismic ideas of Greek philosophy, Hermeticism and Neoplatonism. The book attributes Leonardo’s systemic thinking to individual genius, rather than the organismic tradition.Capra’s other book about Da Vinci, The Science of Leonardo, written years before, provides much more cultural context, though it is evident in the thorough survey of Leonardo’s biography that 110the author is searching for clues in the life, personality, character and education of the artist—clues that could shed light on the genesis of the artist’s systemic thinking. For example, a section of a chapter titled “Relentless Curiosity and Intellectual Fearlessness” suggests that these individual traits might account for Leonardo’s genius (Learning 2). The next section, titled “Intense Concentration and Attention to Detail” proposes that these traits may be personal too (3). Instead, I would suggest that learning focus and concentration were necessary elements of the training and practice of any artist in Leonardo’s time—part of the artist’s job description and a natural outcome of studio practice.Because much knowledge in the studio environment was transmitted orally, information mostly not documented by art history, and because workshop/apprenticeship systems of training fell out of favor in the 20th century, a tale of multiple severance events in itself, Capra, without experience as a practitioner in the workshop/apprenticeship system, had virtually no way to access the information that would allow him to see Leonardo in relation to a tradition of knowledge, a multigenerational project that began with Giotto and was an attempt to represent nature accurately as we experience it sensuously. Throughout the two books, Capra attributes Leonardo’s systemic thinking mostly to the artist’s personal genius, without recognizing the role of inherited ideas about the parts and the whole, and how very indispensable they were for achieving the level of unity and accuracy that is clearly apparent in the artwork of Leonardo and other artists of his era. This knowledge is about a way of seeing that was noted by Leonardo: “The painter in his harmonious proportions makes the component parts react simultaneously so that they can be seen at one and the same time both together and separately; together by viewing the design of the composition as a whole; and separately by viewing the design in its component parts” (Da Vinci 140).111Da Vinci did not invent this way of seeing that considers the parts and the whole together;he inherited it. Rather obsessive consideration of the parts and the whole was common in his time, as in the aesthetics of Marsilio Ficino, a Renaissance philosopher who made important contributions to art theory. Ficino, born almost twenty years before Da Vinci, wrote that “the whole proportion includes the composite parts of the body and does not lie in them individually, but in them as a whole, and so the single parts will not be beautiful in themselves” (qtd in Zupnick 267). In De re Aedificatoria, published in 1452, the year of Da Vinci’s birth, polymath artist and philosopher Leone Battista Alberti defined beauty as “a harmony of the parts, in whatever subject it appears, fitted together with such proportion and connection, that nothing could be added, diminished or altered [without destroying the whole]” (113). 38  When Leonardo was a young man, he avidly read Alberti and “emulated him in his own life and work” (Capra The Science 33). Alberti’s treatise on painting, De Pictura, published 16 years before Leonardo was born, is full of exhortations to follow nature, such as: “Never doubt that the head and principle of this art, and thus every one of its degrees in becoming a master, ought to be taken from nature.” (91).The plea to take nature as teacher and model, common in instructional texts from the time of Cennini (15) to that of Ruskin, and even in today’s atelier training methods, means to put nature above the information that can be gleaned from studying other artists’ works or teachings, a call for the student to learn first from direct engagement and experience. Capra seems to imply that learning directly from experience was a sign of Leonardo’s genius (Learning 5; The Science69), which may well be true, but it was also the standard teaching of his era. While Capra recognizes Leonardo’s 12-year-long apprenticeship in Verrocchio’s studio, and that Verrocchio was an “excellent teacher” (The Science 71-6), he oddly claims that Leonardo was self-taught 112(29). This seems to devalue the roles of Verrocchio and his workshop, where Leonardo would have first been able to put all of Alberti’s ideas about learning from nature into practice. There, the oral transmission of knowledge was very likely. Ideas about the organic unity of the parts and whole were present in the theories of Alberti and Leonardo, those of Ruskin and Morris, and in my late -20th -century atelier training. Da Vinci was undeniably gifted in his ability to understand systems, science and art, and especially in his ability to communicate all of these clearly, both visually and in writing, but the systems approach was part of the teaching of a tradition, a way of seeing, that originated before him and continued through Ruskin’s time. To a practitioner, it is clearly visible in the integral unification of parts and whole in the artwork of the period. Capra calls Leonardo an “ecologist and eco-designer” (Learning x) and offers much evidence, suggesting these are a result of what the author calls “this attitude of seeing nature as a model and mentor” or “wanting to learn as much as possible from nature,” (Science 260). But Leonardo’s approach to nature, more than being about personal “attitude” or desire, was the doctrine, from the time of Cennini and Alberti to that of Ruskin and Morris, of a 600 year old tradition of naturalistic painting—a tradition of ecological and sensuous knowledge, a science of qualities based on observation and sense data regarding light, form and color that is still largely neglected by the academic world. Primarily a tradition of tacit practical knowledge, passed down orally from generation to generation in workshops and ateliers, whenever the uniquely hard to articulate knowledge has been written down, it comprises the greatest overlooked cache of relatively undiscovered, experienced-based, ecological literature in Western culture.  113CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSIONThis thesis explores a tradition of sensuous knowledge, a tradition of naturalistic painting, a resilient strand of knowledge that has survived beyond the multiple points of severance identified in Table 1. Each point of severance cut Western civilization off from previous modes of knowing and being that were based more in sensuous immersion. Abram described, for example, how the shift from oral cultures to written cultures and the transition from pictographic to alphabetic writing distanced people from deep sensuous involvement in their environments. Plato’s dualism enforced a separation of appearance and reality that questioned the reliability of the senses as means of knowing, a process continued  by Galileo’s removal of the living creature to rid the scientific method of sense data. The Industrial Revolution decimated previous traditions of knowledge that had made a world in which everything people used was made by hand. All these points of schism have been identified as probable sources of our current and urgent environmental concerns, each point extinguishing ways of being and modes of knowledge that came before. In general, writing that seeks to identify the origins of our distancing from nonhuman nature, the origins of our environmental problems, describes schism as the extinction of a previously more desirable and more sustainable states. Taken as a whole, this body of literature describes a series of events that progressively replaced sensuous knowing with other ways of knowing.Sensuous ways of knowing lead to knowledge that is more emotional and more concrete. This is not to say that the knowledge is necessarily more reliable or has overcome uncertainty, but rather that the knower is emotionally tied to the truth of his or her experience, and is sure that it was experienced. Thinkers involved in more abstract modes of thought, such as philosophy and science, also experience strong emotion associated with creative discovery, but these moments of 114excitement or awe tend to come when their abstractions coincide with experience, as Gleick acknowledges throughout his book. Scientific truths, however, are experienced by few and generally accepted by the masses who do not experience them directly. This may explain why broad public knowledge of species extinction or water scarcity, for example, does not necessarily result in broad public action, driven by emotions. Still, given the multiple points of severance from sensuous ways of knowing, we cannot know to what extent our modes of cognition have been fundamentally changed in the process, and perhaps impaired.39 We cannot easily go back in time beyond the points of schism to experience the difference. Living traditions of sensuous knowledge seem to be the only way we can experience something akin to the modes of knowing and being that were severed and replaced.I have a hunch that it may be futile to expect that post-schism problems can be solved entirely with post-schism modes of knowing and being. Furthermore, I suspect that human beings evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be able to survive only by means of sensuous knowing, in which appearance is not separated from reality, and knowing is not distanced from emotion.  All of the above are reasons why it is exceedingly important to identify and preserve the resilient strands, living traditions of sensuous knowledge that have continued beyond the points of schism. It is just as important to study and understand the serial nature of severance, and its modes of operation, and see how and why it still continues today. I suspect that we are in the midst of another great schism, yet unnamed, that is taking us even further away from immersion in the phenomenal world.This thesis shows how a living tradition of sensuous knowledge can offer access topremodern modes of cognition. It also shows how traditions of knowledge can be rehabilitated 115after points of schism, by going back beyond those points, picking up strands of knowledge rooted in sensuous immersion, and reintegrating them into culture. Bertalanffy picked up Heraclitus and Cusa to inject holism back into science. It was the medievalism of Ruskin and Morris and a premodern way of seeing that led to the first wave of environmentalism and helped inspire Gandhi’s revolution. Versluis has shown convincingly that the countercultural movements of the 1960s were a result of archaic influences (“The ‘Counterculture’” 31-43). Though they drew upon archaic roots, these global, essential and enormously influential movements were not perceived as reactionary. Instead, they helped define what was uniquely progressive about 20th century culture. These vibrant and transformative social, scientific and environmental movements that helped define our idea of contemporaneity in the late 20th century were born in a way of seeing that grew out of a premodern tradition of mimesis.What I find most disconcerting about the historical gap in Kagan’s Art and Sustainabilityis that the omissions, intentional or not, make it hard to see the amazing ability of culture to renew itself, and that the recovery of strands of rooted knowledge points the way to revitalization. Instead it conveys the illusion that post-schism problems might be solved entirely with post-schism modes of thought. Failing to recognize the premodern roots of systems thinking and complexity, Kagan presents these solutions as new, fortifying the illusion.  “THE WAY FORWARD IS THE WAY BACK”--HERACLITUSI understand Heraclitus’ statement in two ways. First, a continuation of the modernist ethos of novelty and the idea of unlimited growth could take us back to the Stone Age. Secondly, a proper valuation of modes of relating to nonhuman nature rooted in premodern origins could show the way to a viable future, in the sensory immersion of mimesis, for example, or other traditions of sensuous knowledge. As we face urgent environmental problems and a mass extinction that may 116involve our own demise as a species, there is a strong sense that the energetic transformative force of the environmental movement is not enough. Something more is needed, perhaps something reminiscent of the vigor, foment and fervor of the 1960s. I suspect such a revitalization could not happen without going to the source—the emotional power of sensuous knowledge.One way forward in the way back would be through further research into “Art as Knowledge” as it is defined in the introduction of this thesis, within the field of Technical Art History—the history of artistic technique. Technical Art History is a new subfield that fills a gap in Art History, a broad field that has generally covered all aspects of art and artists except in-depth work on how artists actually made art, what techniques they used, and the nature of painterly knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation. Now, scholars in the field of Technical Art History, like Sven Dupre, in his ARTECHNE project, are asking the simple question “What is artistic technique?” Two kinds of artistic technique have been identified by the Amsterdam Conservation Center --“Material-Technical Processes” and “Mental Processes” (26). Current research into the former centers on recipes for the production and use of pigments, oils, resins, binders and mediums, and constitutes the bulk of current research. The second aspect of technique, the investigation of the mental, intellectual, cognitive, and perceptual aspects of technique, is my primary research interest and, because it is largely unexplored, could expand the scope of Technical Art History. With this more intangible tradition of technique comes a research methodology called mimesis, which starts not with theory, but with sensuous immersion. Theory is visible, or otherwise discernable, in nature. Nature is the theory. Any theory inherited from the past can be confirmed in nature. The artist or student has the opportunity to work with systems and complexity and see how the creation compares with nature.117The principles contained in this tradition were passed down from generation to generation, refined over the centuries through trial, error, and comparison to nature. The knowledge and methodologies carried within the tradition of Western painting, from Giotto to the birth of modernism, constitute a six hundred year old phenomenological science that has barely been explored. As such, artist’s writings during the period form a largely un-researched body of ecological knowledge. These less tangible aspects of artistic technique also involved recipes—recipes not directly related to the production and use of materials, but more about the mysteries of perception, cognition, epistemology and ontology than specific materials—recipes for mimesis: formulas for ways of seeing, understanding and representing nature.  118ENDNOTES1. The mention of religion here may seem irrelevant, but I explain the importance and pertinence of the theme at the beginning of Chapter 4.2. Armstrong prefers the term “traditional knowledge” over the much-abused and too-general “culture.” The indigenous scholars cited in general seem to note that indigeneity is claimed by some who do not have a strong relationship with the land, so they say indigeneity has little to do with race or culture. See also Younging, "Traditional Knowledge Exists.”3. The word “annihilation” is currently most often used in a violent and negative sense, but the idea of “annihilation of ego” historically has been an important spiritual practice in Christian, Sufi and Hindu traditions—a way to approach God. Etymologically, the word simply means “to reduce to nothing.” In a world full of simulations of simulations, with vast distances separating us from the production of the goods we consume, annihilation of distance could be seen as a good thing.4. As explained in Hoekstra (348n46), Panofsky quoted Plotinus: “When someone looks down upon the arts because they are concerned with imitating nature, it must first be replied that also the things of nature, too, imitate other things; then you must know that artists do not simply reproduce the visible, but they go back to the principles in which nature itself had found its origin,” p 26. Panofsky reiterates the same concept on page 42: “Art…does not imitate what nature creates, but it works in the same way as nature creates.” Panofsky points out that in 1607, in L’idea de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti, Federico Zuccari, influenced by Thomas Aquinas’ theory of art, referred to a concept identical to that of Plotinus: “And if we wish to know why Nature can be imitated, it is because Nature is guided toward its own goal and towards its own procedures by an intellective principle. Therefore her work is the work of unerring intelligence, as the philosophers say; for she reaches her goal by orderly and infallible means. And since art observes precisely the same method in its procedure, therefore Nature can be imitated by art” (90).5. That artists’ long hours of observation result in intimacy and dissolution of distance is noted bySheila Emerson, who explains Ruskin’s “bond between all visible things and the human mind” as a “discovery of a pattern at once within and without” (162). Knight’s description or the artist’s loss of self-consciousness implies intimacy and dissolution of distance (214-15). Ruskin’s pantheism and hylozoism are addressed by Rosenberg (44-46).6. Consciousness means being conscious of something, i.e. there is no consciousness without something of which to be conscious. The conscious mind is intentional, directed towards something. So there is an “indissoluble unity between the conscious mind and the object of which it is conscious” (Bortoft Wholeness 54). The object enables the consciousness. The critique of observation erroneously assumes that the observer and observed are separate, and that there can be substantial distance. The ultimate distance might be in averting one’s gaze, as is so often the case in the contemporary world (J. Mander Four Arguments).7. The whole is reflected in the parts, as noted by physicist Henri Bortoft in The Wholeness of Nature (6). Davidson quotes Nicholas of Cusa, who said “From every part, the whole shines 119forth” (218-9). Bortoft and Holdredge speak of Goethe’s conception of “the whole that lives in the parts” (230, 278, 292). Jackson (1), Montouri, Morin, and Predborska also deal with the concept, and it is essential in Morin’s view of complexity.8. In the West, culture evolved in a parallel fashion, echoing yinyang, as discussed throughout the work of Sabelli and Trubshaw.9. An arts professor recently told me of being uncomfortable about saying the word “sacred” in the engineering department.  10. Nasr was more specific, using the word “metaphysics.”11. There are numerous examples throughout history. Here I provide just a few:  Around 1400 AD, Cennini, speaking of artistic training, wrote: “Mind you, the most perfect steersman that you can have, and the best helm, lie in the triumphal gateway of copying from nature” (15). And in a lecture in 1858, John Ruskin said: “The first element, we say, is the love of Nature, leading to the effort to observe and report her truly. Review for yourselves the history of art, and you will find this to be a manifest certainty, that no great school ever yet existed which had not for primal aimthe representation of some natural fact as truly as possible” [Ruskin’s emphasis] (“Two Paths” 18). These examples coincide with the beginning and end of the second period of naturalism described in note 13 below, but examples can be found in each of the intervening centuries.12.  Pantheism is a term used frequently by art historians. It is perhaps most frequently applied to particular artists within schools of landscape painting such as the Luminists and Hudson River School, inspired by American Transcendentalism and influenced by Emerson, Coleridge, Carlyle, and the German Romanticism of Goethe and Novalis, among many others (Novak 29, 120, 239n4). A study of pantheism among landscape painters would make a dissertation in itself. The history of literature, too, is replete with pantheists. In addition to many of the authors mentioned above, Wordsworth, Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence and Robinson Jeffers are associated with pantheism (W. Mander).13. “This period,” broadly referring to the 2500 years mentioned in the previous paragraph, from roughly 600 BC to 1900 AD, was actually more complicated. There were two periods of naturalism in visual art. The first was the Greco-Roman classical period. The second began with Giotto (1266-1377 AD) and ended, for the most part, around 1900. During the medieval period, between the two periods of naturalism, art did stray far from an interest in nature. The focus of interest was more otherworldly.14. Concordia discors, or discordant harmony, is the view that the cosmos is a reconciliation of opposites, was held by Ficino, according to Prins (40- 41). Also discussed in Jones (178). A symphony “presents to us the greatest confusion, which yet has the most perfect order at its foundation, the most vehement conflict, which is transformed the next moment into the most beautiful concord. It is rerum concordia discors, a true and perfect picture of the nature of the world which rolls on in the boundless maze of innumerable forms…” (Schopenhauer 235).15. Coincidentia oppositorum will become an important theme in Chapter 7.12016. False opposites: In the discussion below, I will often skip the word “apparent,” though in many cases I am referring to illusory or reconcilable opposites. In order to explain the concept well, the use of the word “opposite” gets quite repetitive, so adding the other word just exacerbates the situation.17. Heraclitus investigated the interdependency and identity of opposites, as well as their transitions through time (Vamvacas 106). Hampson recounts the role of opposites in the history of Western integrative thinking (46-66), noting their role in artistic creativity (62).Lu has written about the parallel tradition of holism revolving around “opposites” in Chinese culture. Peck explains the history of the idea of reconcilability of opposites, applying it to sustainability (151-66). Sabelli focuses upon the coexistence and complementariness of opposites in both the East and West (“Union;” Bios 46-7). Stephenson discusses the role of opposites in synthesis, in both science and art. In this sentence I emphasize process, in order to distinguish my thought from the idea of pre-existing “oppositeness” in nature. See note 19.18. In “Indigeneity: A Necessary Social Ethic” Armstrong, also, refers to “opposing forces held in place by positive counterbalance to each other” (180) and “The construct provides insight into the principle that opposing forces are actually two extremes seeking stability and as such are actually one continuum in which the only point at which no opposition occurs is the center” (183).19. Working with opposites: Here I emphasize work and effort in order to recognize that, while opposites are often held in equilibrium in nature, artists and philosophers frequently begin with raw materials on a blank slate. See J. Herbert, Jones, Peck, Sabelli Bios and “Union”, and Stephenson.20. “Nature’s mode of operation” is discussed by Panofsky (26, 42, 90), Sabelli (“Union” 429),and Stephenson.21. This holistic tradition of the “union of opposites” begins in Greece, where people considered themselves an inseparable organic part of a living cosmos “overflowing with gods” (Vamvacas 6). Vamvacas contends that the Greeks understood nature as an “unbreakable unity,” so the isolation of parts from the whole required for scientific experimentation was unthinkable (22). Heraclitus insisted upon “a total unity, in spite of the apparent plurality of all the opposing pairs,” according to Vamvacas (106), who traces the impact of Heraclitian holism on philosophy and science up to the present (124-134). According to Blakemore and Jennett, “Holism was the unquestioned orthodoxy of the Western tradition of practising medicine and investigating nature for the two millennia before the nineteenth century.” Sabelli notes a tradition of holism that begins with Heraclitus, with a parallel history in Taoism (as does Lu), and he traces the idea forward to current systems thinking (Bios 42-49, “Union” 429-30). The Pre-Socratic physiologists, according to Sabelli, formulated “three interlocking theories—dynamic monism, the union of opposites, and becoming,” which were later neglected, in the modern scientific paradigm, “in favor of dualism, logical no-contradiction and static models” (Bios 42). This holism is seen clearly the organicism of German Romanticism as described by Jones, McCort, and Stephenson. McCort also relates the “coincidence of opposites’ to Zen. Stephenson and many others trace the German tradition back to Heraclitus and Plotinus, among others. Kagan strongly implies that the history of the idea of “the 121union of opposites” is associated with holism (237). Hampson presents a detailed genealogy of Western integrative thinking which concurs in regards to the holism of the strands of knowledge and practice I present in this chapter, identifying “creativity, intuition, love, organicism, intimate relations between philosophy and spirituality, and syncretism” as the common factors generating integrative thinking in “Hermetism; Neoplatonism; Renaissancism; the nexus of German classicism, romanticism and idealism; and reconstructive postmodernism.” He refers to the role of the union of opposites as “nonduality” (50, 53, 58, 61-2) and relates it with syncretism (57).22. In the social and political spheres, subordinating parts in the interest of the whole can be a recipe for fascism and genocide (Blakemore and Jennett). Several authors have noted that German traditions of holism were coopted by Nazism (Blakemore and Jennett; Heilbron; and Venter, for example), which capitalised on the alienation and meaninglessness of modern existence leading to personal desires for wholeness (Berman 253-93; Lears 305-10). In “Mechanistic Individualism versus Organistic Totalitarianism,” Venter states that the primary architects of apartheid in South Africa studied in Germany, imbibing the holism of German Romanticism and the nationalistic idea of “volk” as organism (98).23. Vamvacas (127) and Sabelli (“Union”), among many others, note the parallels between Taoism and Heraclitus’ thought. Trubshaw’s excellent book, though not scholarly, cites several scholarly sources that have dealt with the parallels between Heraclitus and Lao Tsu (19). Trubshaw (18) also cites the work of Guthrie (29-30, 251-5) as evidence that trade routes connected Pre-Socratic Greece to China.24. There are many indications that Pherecydes was the teacher of Pythagoras, in Joost-Gaugier (19, 22, 46, 49, 53, 57, 80, 147).25. “Manicheanism” is relevant here, because Edgar Morin uses the term frequently in his discussion of complexity (Montouri 2, Morin).26. For example, my knowledge of the broader tradition, and its essential continuity, allowed me to find evidence refuting Capra’s claim, related in Chapter 7, that DaVinci was exceptional due to qualities, habits, and practices attributed to personal genius and individual personality, when these qualities, habits and practices were intrinsic parts of artistic training documented prior to DaVinci. Similarly, in Chapter 6, my knowledge of the atelier tradition led me to suspect that Ruskin’s stance on the relationship between vivisection and scientific reductionism came from drawing principles, which Ruskin in fact articulated prior to his stance on science.27. The “coalescence of what the eye sees and how the mind works” produces emotion, as noted by many artists and scholars. Emerson tells of the emotional quality of Ruskin’s absorption in nonhuman nature (149-166). Knight’s aesthetics equate Nature with “the language of the human mind and heart,” speaking of the union of the inner and outer worlds (55-6). The emotional nature of this union is also found in the work of Hoekstra, Sawyer, and Smith.28. The “generative principles in things,” the forces that made them. Also noted in Capra (Learning, Preface x, 8).29. This is the “nature’s mode of operation” referred to by Ardalan and Bakhtiar (10) and Panofsky (42).   12230. The arrival at universal qualities is also noted by Capra (Learning 249); Knight in relation to aesthetics (19-20); and Rosenberg in relation to Ruskin. 31.  Knight recognizes this also and states that the process is inductive (19-20). Smith describes an inductive process as well.32.  Capra notes this in relation to Da Vinci in Learning (7-9).33. Abram speaks of “a style of thinking that associates truth not with static fact, but with a quality of relationship” (264).  Capra refers to “systemic thinking” in relation to art throughout Learning.34. Abram only makes one mention of art, in note 22 on page 278, which offers an insightful and accurate description of the role of natural materials in artmaking, without finding a non-material role for nonhuman nature in art.35. In Before Philosophy: The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, Frankfort et al describe the emotional nature of sensuous knowledge prior to the appearance-reality split (13, 20). Rosenberg speaks of the emotional nature of Ruskin’s sensuous animism (46).  Ishizu and Zeki have demonstrated that aesthetic judgements activate centers of the brain responsible for emotions (1413-1419).36. 20th century systems thinking was born in the ancient ideas of Heraclitus, noted by Davidson(29, 83, 93, 219) and Pouvreau and Drack (301).37. Coincidentia opositorum accommodates paradox, uncertainty and mystery, and has been associated with epistemological perspectivism, and the relativity of categories of thought, views central to Bertalanffy’s work (Davidson 211; Drack; Pouvreau and Drack 297; Weckowicz).  38. The bracketed passage is explained by Spencer in Alberti, De Pictura, page 90, note 8.39. Marie Battiste and J. Henderson, for example, suggest that Western assumptions about the natural world are deeply flawed (23-30), leading to modes of cognition that are unreliable. 123WORKS CITEDAbram, David. The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. New York: Pantheon Books, 1996. Print.Adams, Henry. 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