Tuesday, January 31, 2006

James Jordan on the symbolic nature of everything

"What do we see when we go outside and look at the world? Has it become so familiar to us that we pay no attention to it at all? Or perhaps when we look at blue sky do we think of the refraction of light? When we notice the sun, do we think of a nuclear furnace? When we see a fox in a zoo, do we think of what we learned in biology class about bones and organs? And beyond this, when we step back and view the world, how do we see it? Blue grass, green fields, brown earth, blue water-does this set of images mean anything at all, or is it "just the way things are"? How do we view the world?"

and later: "...This raises the question of why God chose to fill up the world with all kinds of things. Why create geographical diversity: mountains, rivers, seas, wilderness? Why create animals, plants, bushes, trees, fish, and birds? Why create alternating days and nights,weeks and years, with sun, moon and stars measuring them? In other words, why this world?"

"Why this world with all this diversity? Why not just man and God interfacing together, with man growing and developing from this interaction? I believe the answer to this lies in the fact that God is infinite and man is finite. We simply cannot grasp God's infinite tri-personality all at once. For this reason, God chose to reveal the infinity of his personality in the diversity of this world. Various things in the world reveal various things about God. As we interface with these different things in the world, we are indirectly interfacing with God, who is revealed in them."


"All this can be boiled down to a simple fact: The universe and everything in it symbolizes God. That is, the universe and everything in it points to God. This means that the Christian view of the world is and can only be fundamentally symbolic. The world does not exist for its own sake, but as a revelation of God."

-James Jordan in Through New Eyes

Sunday, January 29, 2006

the arrogance of the Modern in Architectural Ornament

"Since the 1920s, modern designers have claimed that their work represents the "spirit of our times." The general public, on the other hand, who could recognize "our times" as well as anyone, has put up with modern design rather then embrace it. the reason for the difference in attitude between design professionals and the public are complicated and interwoven, but one face is quote clear: by rejecting the warmth and familiarity of traditional ornament, modernists ensured the alienation of the public whose tastes they were allegedly improving"


"Today all is well,we are told, for modernism's stranglehold on style is broken, and ornament has been recalled from exile. This is half-true. It is impossible to be completely at ease when breaking a century old taboo, and the self-conscious awkwardness of much of todays ornament attests to the still-intimidating power of modernism. Furthermore, the principles-that shield of moralistic ideology that modernists used so effectively-remain largely in place, a part of every designer's subliminal baggage, shielding them from the annoying task of being concerned with the taste of others."


"the new concept of genius put forth in the Critique of Judgement (Kant) had a profound effect on the status of the fine artist...for the first time in the history of western art, genius was declared to be the quintessential characteristic of the artist... Kant did not believe that genius was refinable through hard work or accessible to reason. (By contrast, Vasari said Verrocchio had become a great artist by improving his lesser talents through diligence and hard work.) To Kant, genius was a force of nature, beyond even the artist's own comprehension..."Originality (and hence unconventionality) was according to Kant, the most important characteristic of genius"

-Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return

That last part seems to be why people always assume drawing skill is something you have or you don't, you can't possibly learn it. (Thanks goodness no-one thinks that about reading and writing!)

Isn't it interesting, all this basically comes down to loving your neighbor and being humble. Self-worship and thus arragance seem to be at the heart of all modernist b.s. whether in science, philosophy, art or whatever.
While google searching for David Bentley Hart, I found http://millinerd.com/, which in turn pointed me to this (realaudio) lecture on Art and Imagination by N.T. Wright. That looks worth listening too. Also they have a post with great links on church architecture.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Intricacy and Ornament

"Intricacy is that which is given from the beginning, the birth-right, and in intricacy is the hardiness of complexity that ensures against failure of all life. This is our heritage, the piebald landscape of time. We walk around; we see a shred of infinite possible combinations of an infinite variety of forms." -Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Reading Architecture and Ornament (see 3 posts down) has made me think about why modernist have abandoned ornament. The world, the architecture of God, is incredibly intricate and detailed, the shape of a branch mirrors the shape of a tree and the shape of the 'veins' in a leaf. There is infinite detail all the way down. The shape of the parts reflect the shape of the whole. (they call this sort of thing a fractal in math) Ripples between waves look like the wave. Molehills that adorn mountains look like mountains.

The universality of ornament in all the various schools of pre-modern architecture reflect the way God made the world, there is beauty and detail all the way down. There was a mars hill audio tape somewhere where they talked about how if any architecture could be described as "puritanical" it would be Frank Loyde Wright's (see above). Ornament is submitting to the world God made, modern lack of it is to go against the grain of creation, and so it is ugly.

World-building and Story-telling 3

On Thursday I ate lunch next to two middle aged men talking about model railroading. I went through a brief stint of that as a hobby 7 years ago or so. Anyway, after thinking about it for a while, it seems that the interest is not so much trains and tracks, as it is world-building. Just as good baseball movies are loved because they are about people, not baseball, and good Sci-Fi stories are loved because they are about people, not technology. The two things that come pretty much ready made in model railroading are the tracks and the train, the bulk of fun and work is in building a world, a town, a landscape, a mountain side, a river, for the trains to live in.

Today I listened to a lecture by James Jordan called Knowing the Patriarchs (you can download it 2nd from the top here) He talks about how we were made out of earth, made out of world, and how we are (being made last) the fulfillment and pinnacle of God's world building. Interesting, so it seems the end and goal of worldbuilding (creation) is the beginning of storytelling (his-story)

He also points out that, because we are made out of world we go into darkness and sleep when the world does. Also, as God first made the world formless and void (and naked) and then caused it to grow, mature, etc. So man was made to to mature and grow. He points out the 3 main stories the Bible tells are:
  • Maturation and Development of the human race
  • Holy war against evil
  • Salvation from Sin


This post is sort of a continuation of these two posts: 1, 2

Friday, January 27, 2006

A new job

Yesterday I started my new Job at the "C-Store", so far it's great, I have alot of time to draw and design on the back of all the reciepts customers don't want: And I get paid for it, plus a free meal every time I work!

Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return

I just checked this book out through interlibrary Loan, I just read the introduction, but it looks like a great book, here's from the back:
"Not until our time has ornament become a subject of debate. In this provocative book, Brent C. Brolin explores why ornament virtually disappeared in the early 20th century. Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return details the fascinating interplay of art society, politics, and commerce that led to the invention of "fine" art, the elevation of artist above the artisan, and the establishment of originality as the defining characteristic of art."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

to do and be what we were made for

"But what we have not done yet we can now, what we have done badly hitherto we can do well hencforward, we can repent our sins and begin to give God glory. The moment we do this we reach the end of our being, we do and are what we were made for, we make it worth God's while to have created us. This is a comforting thought: we need not wait in fear till death; any day, any minute we may bless God for our being or for anything, for food, for sunlight, we do and are what we were meant for made for-things that give and mean to give God glory. This is a thing to live for. Then make haste so to live.

...It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to Communion worthily gives God great glory, but a man with a dung fork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, give him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should. So then, my brethren, live."

-Gerard Manly Hopkins in The Principle or Foundation

Monday, January 23, 2006

Original: back to the origin

Drawing by Santiago Calatrava
Peter Leithart just posted about how Santiago Calatrava (see my other post) is being criticized for being too natural, too conformed to the world God made, as it were, and not conformed enough to the world as we make it: "nature' too - is a human construct." Bleh, the postmoderns are more modern then ever.
Also, John Howe has a beautiful post on the Unbeatable Brightness of Seeing.
...and the folks at christianaesthetic.com pointed me to a great artical on cultural guidelines for artists by Cal Seerveld.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Added a few more photos

Infinite Incarnate
I added a few more photos to my flickr account:

This one looks like a textbook example of how to draw shadows in perspective.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Architecture and Music, Goethe and Augustine

"Architecture is frozen music" -Goethe

Ever since I first saw that quote I started to look at both in terms of the other. Over Christmas break when I was listening to the instrumental intro to Handel's Messiah, I could not help but draw a gothic church window, the repetition and variation and final aim of both seemed so similar. Today I was reading the Gothic Cathedral by Otto von Simson, which goes into detail in studying the aesthetics and theology behind gothic architecture.

He refers to an aesthetic treatise by Augustine that I didn't know still existed!

"Augustine was nearly as sensitive to architecture as he was to music. They are the only arts he seems to have fully enjoyed; and he recognized them even after his conversion, since he experienced the same transcendental element in both. For him, music and architecture are sisters, since both are children of number; they have equal dignity, inasmuch as architecture mirrors eternal harmony, as music echoes it."
-Simson in The Gothic Cathedral (you can get the version I have for a mere 0.15$ here, or a later one here)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I just listened to Psmith in the City by P. G. Woadhouse (from Librivox, the book can be found here) It was read by a number of excellent American and British readers (people would read a few chapters at a time), and was absolutely hilarious. I listened to the last three chapters while I painting those hills for pleasure and the first 24 or so while I painting a deck for money.

The Gnomon Workshop ("a library of DVD training for visual effects and concept design artists") has just put up 5 min. Video samples of all their DVD's, I've learned a lot about digital painting just from watching several of those samples. Many of their instructors have worked on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, like Dusso (who btw, just added to his website his beautiful hi-rez matte-paintings for Episode 3 )

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


I just discovered Librivox, a site where people record audiobooks and put them online. Great stuff, they have someone working on Chesterton's Orthodoxy. I may record something for them sometime.

Also, lately I've been listening to a lot of lectures by the catholic apologist Peter Kreeft
he's always quoting lewis and Chesterton and Kirkegaard and Augustine, great stuff.

Also, Leithart has a great post on Aesthetic Apologetics.