Saturday, February 23, 2013

Abstraction, Hallucinations and the Immune System

from Patrick McCaughey's review of the MoMA show "Inventing Abstraction 1910 - 1925":

I have never seen Malevich better displayed or better served as an artist. His excitement at his discoveries in abstraction becomes our excitement. At last we are shown, not just told, how right his boisterous claim was: "I destroyed the ring of the horizon and escaped from the circle of things, from the horizon ring that confines the artists and forms of nature." 
The Malevich wall comes hard on the heels of a well-chosen group of Fernand Léger's "Contrast of Forms" (1913). They are at once Léger's extension of Cubism and his major contribution to abstract art. They share the high seriousness of Picasso and Braque, the same intense investigation of pictorial form and the same sense of substance and matter. The power of their blue-and-white cylinders grinding their way through the painting, pushing aside the white-and-red rectilinear blocks, has the drive and conviction of an artist locating the basis of painting itelf, of unending conflict and tension between line and colour, form and space....

TLS Feb 8 2013


from Raymond Tallis's review of Oliver Sacks's Hallucinations:

Until the French psychiatrist Jean-Étienne Dominique Esquirol gave them their current name, hallucinations--seeing or hearing things that are not there--were called "apparitions". This captures their profoundly disturbing nature... 
Their power to terrify may be in part due to their content, but even the most benign hallucination is deeply unsettling precisely because, as Sacks says, there is no "consensual validation". Nobody else can see, hear, feel, smell or taste what you are experiencing. To be in the grip of such incorrigibly private experiences, adrift in a world populated with items that others cannot confirm, is to be sequestrated in the most profound solitude. Even before we speak, we will point our things that we see and desperately want to share with others. Joint attention to items that we all agree are before us is the basis of a common human world. The involuntary perceptual dissidence of the one who hallucinates reminds us how frail and transient is our occupancy of this world; and how, even when you and I are side by side in the sunlight, each of us may be sealed in the privacy of our minds. 
His [Sacks's] first attack [of migraine], when he was three or four years old, took the form of a shimmering light, which expanded to an enormous arc stretching from the ground to the sky and underwent a series of brilliant transformations before his left visual field emptied. He was lucky that he had a mother who recognized what this was -- a prodomal migrainous aura which in his case was not succeeded by a headache -- and was able to reassure him that he was not going either blind or mad.

TLS Feb 15, 2013


from Richard P Novick's review of Thomas Pradeu's The Limits of the Self: Immunology and biological identity:

This led to the formulation, by Frank MacFarlane Burnet, of the paradigmatic self/non-self rule which states that the immune system rejects any antigen that is neither a component of the self nor is identical to one, thus endowing the individual with a unique biological identification tag.... 
The novelty of Pradeu's Continuity Theory is his proposal that the (vertebrate) immune sustem is not, after all, primarily focused on defence against invading pathogens and foreign tissue; rather, it is central to the normal functioning of the organism -- including biochemical regulation, removel of absolete and aberrant cells, and repair of damaged tissue -- and is based more on tolerance (acceptance) of endogenuous ("self") antigens and of our essential microbial community than on surveillance for novel and potentially dangerous antigens. First described in a paper with E. D. Carousela in 2006, it proposed that immune recognition and rejection is based on the continuity of exposure to antigens: antigens recognized by the immune system are of two types -- those that were present at the time of birth and continually thereafter, which are tolerated rather than rejected and are regarded as "weak", and those that are novel, which are rejected on initial encounter rather than being tolerated and are regarded as "strong".

TLS Feb 15, 2013


Tanisha Christie said...

Hi Jee, that is a mesmerizing piece of art you have put up on the page. And some useful insight about it has also been slotted into the page. It’s a good piece for anyone to read if they are looking to learn something about art.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Hi Tanisha, I thought all three extracts cast a light on the Malevich self-portrait. Thanks for reading.