You can’t repeat the past – of course you can! (ack. to Fitzgerald&Dylan)

Artangel – from the 2011 Jem Finer’s ‘Longplayer’ annual talks. John Gray speaks with James Lovelock

Ideas spiraling around regulation and adaptation, anecdotal tales along with general scientific and social descriptions gives this event a level of basic interest. A bleak humanistic prospect is discussed calmly where a more radical technological mutation is seen as unlikely. Intelligent communities seem to be one of the leading optimistic solutions.  Population control and feeding people appears to be a central concern and there was agreement over the need for women to be leading the way globally in issues of childbirth. A sense of politeness prevented the essential contradictions of James Lovelock’s ideas and opinions to become more fully illuminated. When asked about the role of the Artist, it seems it is to keep people happy and the role of the Arts is to become understood through a broader context of institutional creativity that can be associated with the scale of impact of modern science. No mention of a political or social engagement for the Arts that will impact or resonate in ways that may change the way we ‘see’ the world. Maybe art is the entertainment to technocracy and should, subversively, decide to be so.

Science Friday – Connecting Science and Art, speaks to Cormack McCarthy, Werner Herzog and Lawrence Krauss

This is more discursive and a more accessible event where the presenter Ira Flatow engages the three guests in a round table dialogue around connections. The range of knowledge and enthusiasms is evident and the exchanges of interest deeply mutual and meaningful. Listening to Werner Herzog read an extract from – All the Pretty Horses – is memorable and you wonder why it isn’t Herzog himself, making a film about one of McCarthy’s stories. But if you want to taste the connections of science and art then there is much more here to inspire you. Lawrence Krauss’s book on Richard Feynman looks too good to miss and the listeners couldn’t help but reflect on the work of Richard Feynman in some relation to the Gaia principle, where putting humans on the outside of Gaia, firstly, trying to integrate and then co-adapt as an inappropriate contemporary narrative. It’s emergence with the rise of the Green movement may have been a useful one at the time.  If anything, as time has passed, the bongo playing Feynman has become more closely inclined towards the intention and imagination of the Artist and the Arts and McCarthy and Herzog are making significant contributions to the dialogues that are appropriate for constructing the humanistic narratives about long term futures.

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Letter from Southern France – First Impressions – What does the world’s oldest art say about us?
by Judith Thurman
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