Quantum mechanics requires an “observer” of some kind—whether conscious human or not, it’s unclear—to collapse what’s called a wavefunction (a collection of probabilities) into a single reality.
Whether in science or art, a fundamental question is whether we are discovering or creating. Or are they ultimately just the same thing.
Are we revealing inevitabilities or petrifying randomness?
The fact that we can entertain two opposites is perhaps significant.
At Night, Jean Michel Basquiat.
False Start (1959), Jasper Johns.
Many of the great problems we face today, as far as I understand them, have their origin in the fact that this global civilization, though in evidence everywhere, is no more than a thin veneer over the sum total of human awareness… This civilization is immensely fresh, young, new, and fragile, and the human spirit has accepted it with dizzying alacrity, without itself changing in any essential way. Humanity has gradually, and in very diverse ways, shaped our habits of mind, our relationship to the world, our models of behavior and the values we accept and recognize. In essence, this new, single epidermis of world civilization merely covers or conceals the immense variety of cultures, of peoples, of religious worlds, of historical traditions and historically formed attitudes, all of which in a sense lie “beneath” it. At the same time, even as the veneer of world civilization expands, this “underside” of humanity, this hidden dimension of it, demands more and more clearly to be heard and to be granted a right to life.
And thus, while the world as a whole increasingly accepts the new habits of global civilization, another contradictory process is taking place: ancient traditions are reviving, different religions and cultures are awakening to new ways of being, seeking new room to exist, and struggling with growing fervor to realize what is unique to them and what makes them different from others. Ultimately they seek to give their individuality a political expression.
Bohemia is neither progressive nor reactionary, more random and idiosyncratic.
In his late twenties, John Sherman finds a new fondness for cigarettes, despite everything he was ever taught about them.