Week 8 Events

Congratulations to Bill Urquhart, winner of our Hoody Design Competition! Hoody sales will open in the next few weeks, so make sure to keep an eye out.
Reading and Film Group
Monday, 7th November; 7 pmThe New Amphion, Teviot Row House (Map) [NOTE: not in Usher’s!] 
Reading: The Laugh of the Medusa, H. Cixous.

(Next week’s reading: Understanding Patriarchy, B. Hooks).

Discussion Group
Tuesday, 8th November; 7 pm, The New Amphion, Teviot Row House (Map)   [NOTE: not in Usher’s!]
Topic: Medicinal ethics: “Designer babies”
Academic Support Office Hours – General
Thursday, 10th November; 2 pm until 4 pm, Dugald Stewart Building (DSB), Room 5.01.
Guest Lecture
Thursday, 10th November, 6.15 pm, David Hume Tower, Lecture Theatre B. 
Speaker: Dr Dave Ward, University of Edinburgh
Title: ‘What is Artistic Vision?’
In his autobiography, ‘Chronicles’, Bob Dylan writes of recording with legendary producer Daniel Lanois in the late 80s:
‘I would have liked to been able to give [Lanois] the kinds of songs that he wanted, like “Masters of War,” “Hard Rain,” “Gates of Eden,” but those kinds of songs were written under different circumstances, and circumstances never repeat themselves. Not exactly. I couldn’t get to those kinds of songs for him or anyone else. To do it, you’ve got to have power and dominion over the spirits. I had done it once, and once was enough. Someone would come along eventually who would have it again, someone who could see into things, the truth of things…’ (Dylan 2005, pp.218-9)

Let’s suppose that Dylan’s mid-60s work qualifies as ‘visionary’, and that he accurately articulates both his experience of producing it, and what has changed for him since then. It raises the question: how can visionary art be simultaneously an accurate report of ‘seeing into the truth of things’, determined by one’s circumstances, and a genuinely creative act that imposes a novel interpretation on those circumstances? I will argue that we can only answer this question by seeing artistic Vision as embodied, embedded, enactive and expressive.

Like everyday vision, artistic Vision is enactive – poised between passively receiving information from one’s surroundings and actively constituting the visible object. Visionary art thus enacts and expresses new meanings rather than merely registering and reporting them. Following Merleau-Ponty (1948/1991), and drawing on further self-descriptions of creative activity, I argue that this is possible because what we see is determined by our embodied and active habits and the sociocultural scaffolding within which they are embedded. These habits bestow an inescapable capacity to experience the object of vision as something that essentially goes beyond our contingent and finite access to it. A 4E conception of visual perception thus affords resources to understand artistic Vision as involving both genuine discovery and creation.