Additional notes - Spreading


Art can be a seduction into this reality


  • Where words fail, music speaks.
    • Hans Christian Anderson

Art history

  • Daniel Toker, @daniel_toker
    • Religious awe inspired the most soaring art. Today, science can be an unparalleled source of awe - our art should exalt the universe.
  • So much art throughout European history was religious. An attempt to solidify the power of religious institutions, but as art it is also a celebration if what they thought the universe was all about (since the two were merged together). As such it was truly grand.
  • Now the subject of art is human, and our much more accurate understanding of what the universe is about is not well represented in art anymore.
  • Perhaps it should be revived, and in the grandiose manner appropriate to its subject matter like these churches are.
  • Museums should be as awe inspiring as these old churches of Rome are. They should make people feel wonder down to the marrow of their bones.
  • Trouble is, people don't feel compelled to give money to museums like they do for churches and mosques. See if you can get them to.


  • C. V. Wedgwood
    • Without the imaginative insight which goes with creative literature, history cannot be intelligibly written.
  • (African Proverb)
    • Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
  • Can you as an artist create a scientific vision of the world, through the creation of the setting/vision not through technical dart?
  • Representation would be through characters, setting, and relationships.


  • Like put pictures of the sunset or ocean on their side.
  • Put everything on its side. This is the switch from the human to the cosmic perspective.


  • Jacob Bronowski, 1973, 42 years ago <https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jacob_Bronowski>
    • Fifty years from now, if an understanding of man's origins, his evolution, his history, his progress is not in the common place of the school books, we shall not exist.
  • Education centred on Big History. Without it, education is teaching car parts without discussing the car
  • The subjects of science and history are separated. Big history and the Vision are the cement that brings them together.
  • No, it's actually even better than that. It fits them together like jigsaw pieces, to form a cohesive picture.
  • Rumi
    • Little by little, wean yourself. This is the gist of what I have to say. From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood, move to an infant drinking milk, to a child on solid food, to a searcher after wisdom, to a hunter of more invisible game.
    • Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo. You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate. There are wheatfields and mountain passes, and orchards in bloom. At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding."
    • You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up in the dark with eyes closed. Listen to the answer.
    • There is no "other world." I only know what I've experienced. You must be hallucinating.
  • Rumi
    • You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?


  • Be matter of fact with Enlightenment.
  • Tyson etc. is too verbose. It might inspire short term amazement, but is paid for in long term fatigue.
  • Don't keep saying "we don't see ourselves as part of nature but separate". This is creating a negative. It's like saying 'It's not this.'
  • Instead, say the positive. And what does that feel like, what does it mean?
  • "We must see the truth: That we are as much a part of nature as a wave is a part of the ocean."

Spiritual leaders

What makes a spiritual leader is that other people believe that they have the answer.

But there's a danger here. As the great guru Jiddu Krishnamirti said, "The moment you follow someone you cease to follow Truth."


  • Mountain. Ring of fire. Half moon above like a third eye.
  • View from the top of the mountain, see the true shape of the whole world.
  • The mountain is an icon of spirituality.
  • Height, solitude, nature. Difficult to reach. Shrouded in mist.
  • It's our striving to see our true perspective.

Science resists an emotional connection

  • The religious analyse holy texts as the word of God. Scientists analyse a true of God which is much more complex: the great work of nature. But it actively resists the emotional connection.
  • And it's fair enough. Emotion is irrelevant to establishing the facts, and many scientists associate emotional appeals with marketing, charlatans, or worse, religion.
  • But the lack of emotional appeal makes science unsatisfying for many people, and its findings don't have the societal impact they deserve.
  • Science allows those who listen to understand nature at an intellectual level. But not really at the emotional level, and certainly not at the sensory level. Many individual scientists may feel this way about their work, but this comes as a consequence of their own hands on experience and deep understanding. It rarely transcends to the public.
  • It also doesn't deal with why, but only with how. This is philosophy.
  • This will always be the case, unless science and emotion are linked in a positive way, through art and storytelling. Examples include David Attenborough's *Life* and *Planet Earth* series, which combine naturalism and storytelling to move audiences.
  • Furthermore, it works. A 5 minute piece in one of these series will send tourists to the site, to see the natural wonders for themselves, for decades.

It’s best shown, not told

  • Pictures give context, music gives emotion.
  • Stephen Jay Gould, The Book of Life, p12 <https://www.icloud.com/applications/notes/current/en-us/index.html#>
    • To who persist in viewing iconography as peripheral or subsidiary to text, I can only respond with a primal fact of our evolutionary biology. Primates are quintessentially visual animals, and have been so endowed since the first tree-dwellers of earliest Tertiary reconstructions had to move nimbly among the branches, or fall to their deaths away from further scrutiny by natural selection. Humans, as legatees of this heritage, learn by seeing and visualizing. Confucius was not dispensing an oracular item of arcane Eastern wisdom, but epitomizing a central truth of primate evolution, when he proclaimed that one good picture is worth ten thousand words.
    • In this context, I have never understood why large-format volumes of illustrations are often contemptuously dismissed by academics and intellectuals (though usually by the posturers rather than the folks of substance) as "coffee-table books." I do not despise my coffee table as a low form of furniture (except in the strictly literal sense), and I regard beautiful and informative books of pictures as among the most sublime products of the publishing industry. For all these reasons — the marginal reputation of illustrated books, combined with the opposite theme of our deep propensity to be moved and influenced by images; the maximal display of social and cultural biases in a medium that we do not scrutinize for their presence and pervasiveness - iconography is a subject of enormous importance to scholars and historians of ideas. It is, in fact, my personal favorite of all disregarded and understudied themes in the chronicles of human thought (see Gould, 1987, 1993).
    • Iconography comes upon us like a thief in the night - powerful and remarkably efficacious, yet often so silent that we do not detect the influence. If I ask who was the man most responsible for setting our conventional concept (until recent years) of dinosaurs as grand but cumbersome, most respondents will search for the name of a leading scientist who defended this notion in words. But the question has an undeniable and unambiguous answer - Charles R. Knight (though many have never heard of him). Knight (1874-1953) was the greatest iconographer of dinosaurs at a time when his superb work formed a one man show without credible competition anywhere in the world. He painted all the great murals done before World War II in museums in the United States - New York, Chicago, Los Angeles. His elegant, anatomically accurate, ecologically detailed, and visually exciting paintings filled books and magazines. In the absence of alternative imagery, Knight created the canonical picture of dinosaurs for professionals and the public alike. I cannot think of a stronger influence ever wielded by a single man in such a broad domain of paleontology. Similarly, the most telling sign of our changing concept comes from the new generation of dinosaur artists who are finally superseding these grand conventions and providing alternative images for an astonishing range of products from kiddie books to cereal boxes to postage stamps. just consider the contrast between Knight's classic Brontosaurus, buoyed up in a swamp because even such elephantine legs could not support such a bulky body on land, and Mark Hallett's corresponding sauropods, nimbly marching forward with head and tail outstretched. Was Confucius right, or do you want another 20,000 words from me to explain the conceptual shift? "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25: 11).