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2001 Dies Irae
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[ 12 year old girl's apocalyptic collage drawing (Image size: 86,281 bytes) ]
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Collage drawing, by 12 year old girl, from a secure and prosperous American family, 2001 (before "911"; Drawing size: 12" x 17-1/2"; green tint is artefact of fluorscent light -- in reality, overall tint/hue is gray -- sorry....)

The world -- not only ours -- is
fragmented [Le Monde morcelé].
Yet it does not fall to
pieces. To reflect upon this situation
seems to me to be one of the primary
tasks of philosophy today."
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(--Cornelias Castoriadis)

Le Monde morcelé -- world in fragments, perhaps but not necessarily even output of a fragmenting process? Dies Irae? Or just David Hume's a-causal "association, resemblance and contiguity"? Heidegger's Es Gibt ("without why"...)? Luc Besson's 1983 film Le Dernier Combat? "Yet it does not fall to pieces" -- at least not yet.

What is going on in the picture -- a picture which has interest for myself [and you, my reader?] in part because it was made by a 12 year old girl, not a 12 year old boy (boys stereotypically like to play "Bang! Bang!" shoot-'m-up...)? And not (e.g.) a Bosnian war refugee, but an up-scale New York twixteen suburban young lady.

Are cosmic forces smashing earth? Or are we just spectators to exospheric/stellar "fireworks" that don't affect us "down here"?

Who are the figures in the foreground, seemingly with their backs to us? [They are construction-paper cutouts; therefore they exist on a different and closer "plane" than the events going on in front of them.] Are they spectators watching a science-fiction movie at the local Multiplex? Are they witnessing the end of a world? If yes, what world? Ours? Theirs? Somebody else's or nobody's? In any case, what species are they? "Where are they from?" They look like "aliens", but maybe they are persons like ourselves, who have donned heavy rubber/lead protective suits? Or are they humans who have mutated into creatures able to survive in this Boschean hell on earth which makes Brueghel's "Truimph of Death" look like a respite?

"Yet it does not fall to pieces"? "Not yet and yet already"? "Not quite here, but yet at hand"?[fn.1a[ Go to footnote! ]] Pioneering hermeneuticist who gave a voice to infancy, British psychoanalyst-pediatrician Donald W. Winnicott, wrote that the catastrophe we as adults fear will befall us in the future already happened to us in early childhood, but we do not consciously remember.

I would not wish for childhood to regress again to neo-Victorian repressive distortion of the child's instinctual life (aka "childhood innocence" -- as I (BMcC), for one, was childreared in the split-level American 1950s...). But neither is the above picture an expression of honorifically civilized life: Matissean "Luxe, calme et volupté", securely at peace with itself in its world, as community permeated by straightforwardly delighting playfulness and play (for both children and adults!), to which each member can freely respond: "Yes! This is good!".

We do not know how much this 12 year old artist's future will resemble this picture she made. Insofar as it does, then Abel Gance's observation about coping with the losses brought on by aging hopefully applies here, too, that: to create can partly compensate for the goods one can no longer have.

Student: "Unhappy the land that breeds no hero."
Galileo: "No. Unhappy the land that needs a hero."
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(--Bertolt Brecht, Galileo)

Looking at the spirals in the picture, I speculate they probably were suggested to the artist by physicists' cloud chamber photographic plates. This brings to my mind a proposal:

Of course it is vitally important to research sub-atomic particles and supernovas and all the other things scientists study which at best are or can be made to be useful, but which will always remain irrecusably alien to us. But there is another area ("ontological domain") which is not alien, yet which scientists do not study: the conversation in which alone science exists by the scientist himself or herself participating actively as a principal in it. This field of research (Edmund Husserl's phenomenology, Jurgen Habermas and Karl-Otto Apel's "discourse ethics"...) just might prove to be a genuine, critical-reflectively defensible [not "sentimentally" pretending!] happy science (fröliche Wissenschaft). Such a meta-science of scientific praxis might in direct ways make the social world in which we live happier, e.g., by intelligently "rearchitecting" [architecture is art + engineering...] our shared communicative life.... Such a happier world should directly inspire 12 year old girls (and boys!) to make happier drawings, and, as a fringe-benefit, provide them with happier images -- images of free human cooperation, in addition to images of sub-atomic particles decaying and stellar bodies exploding -- to include in their creative work (aka play).

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Mystery Reuters photo (NYT on the Web, ca. 18:30EST, 28Feb02). Who or what is being set fire to by who or what via what ordnance or natural force(s)? Act of God? Act of war? Terrorist act? Good guys? Bad guys? Direct hit? Collateral damage? Other? [As a mathematician might say: You bind the variables!] [ ] [ Can you identify this act of violence? ]
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Return/Go  to 2001: Stanley Kubrick versus Osama bin Laden.
Return/Go  to Nazi German V-rockets bringing devastation from the sky down upon London in World War II.
Read  about "our century": The century of barbed wire.
Read thrilling story of real-life battle in cyberspace (Aug 2003)!
See  more benign and eco-friendly but still eerie vision of our future.
Leisure is the basis of culture
Read  Edmund Husserl's lecture: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity (1935).
Read  Husserl quote about how culture (philosophy, art...) depends on security of daily life.
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Copyright © 2002 Brad McCormick, Ed.D.
bradmcc@cloud9.net [ Email me! ]
22 March 2006 (2006-03-22 ISO 8601)
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