Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Putting Together

Ever get the feeling that somebody is sending you a message? In the space of a week, Harvey found these passages in books he was reading:

When Coleridge tried to define beauty, he returned always to one deep thought; beauty, he said, is unity in variety! Science is nothing else than the search to discover unity in the wild variety of nature, — or, more exactly, in the variety of our experience. Poetry, painting, the arts are the same search, in Coleridge’s phrase, for unity in variety.

— J. Bronowski, Science and Human Values, Pelican 1964

All design is synthesis — composition — the putting of forms together so that they conform to a demand which is made by the eye and the mind. Why this demand is made by the eye and the mind it will not profit us to inquire. But the demand asserts itself at every turn in life’s affairs. It is based upon some adoration of Order amongst Variety.
All people arrange things in orderly fashion. To do so is one of the most general of human actions. People can therefore be trusted, when they arrange, to arrange orderly.
Design is conscious arrangement. Spite of the objection that it sure to be raised by those critics who, not being producers, delight to find some paradoxical impasse to block the efforts of others — spite of their complaint that art must be artless, one repeats, what every productive artist knows, that design is conscious arrangement.

— Richard G. Hatton, The Craftsmen’s Plant-Book, 1909. Republished as Handbook of Plant and Floral Ornament from Early Herbals, Dover Publications 1960.

Toriawase means "taking and putting together." It is a guiding principle in many Japanese arts. For example, in haiku the poet attempts to unite two themes separated by kireji or a "cutting word." In chado, the host strives to put together utensils in such a way that, however different in appearance or mood, they unite in harmony without repetition or artifice.
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