Monday, July 27, 2009

Some thoughts on Bacon, Francis that is.

Amber and I made our way through an Exhibit of Francis Bacon at the Met Museum of Art this past Saturday.

I had a great time, but Bacon was a sick fellow. A very talented image poet, but ultimately, a sick chap. Of course, people have said the same things about me after hearing some of my "serious" compositions. It is no secret that I tend to gravitate to the macabre and I also happen to like scary movies. But there is a difference here. Bacon was an Atheist. I am not. And that really does make a difference. You can compose a macabre piece without nihilism.

I have long believed that sin is a kind of madness. It causes madness. I also believe that Judeo-Christian ethics have serve as the greatest moral compass that mankind has ever known. I also believe that man, though fractured, is capable of good things. This is because man was not totally ruined when he chose a path that was opposite to the will of his creator. This remnant of good is still a reflection of the goodness of our creator, as we were and are made in his Good image. I believe that man needed help to show him this path and he can chose again to take that path. That means, even at our absolute worst, we can still be compelled to do a good thing. Salvageable. Redeemable. Savable.

Good and Evil. There is a difference, we all know it exists, but we can't really explain it scientifically. Bacon tries to embrace a Darwin outlook and say: there is no good and evil, only animal. All Darwinian explanations break down at Stephen Hawkings. Hawkings should have been killed long ago as he is weak and drains the pack of resources. Therefore, I believe that every act of man to disprove the existence of God ends in a kind of pure nonsense. It never works out.

But like it or not, I also believe that Darwin was the most influential mind of our time. He is a great and magnificent peak in humanity's vast range of scientific minds. Sadly, his influence is responsible for more mass deaths than any man in the history of the world. Man is reduced to simply another in a line of animals, and what's good for the pack is good for the individual. This of course is contrary to the idea of Christian love. If we were to abide by Darwin's idea of a perfect world, the weak would die, the less intelligent would be killed, and unattractive would be exiled. Now, no matter how much my instinct says, "YES, YES!" at times - as far as stupid drivers go - this is a tyrannical mindset. And some would say that it is me at my most animalistic.

And what about those animals? Even the animals aren't totally mad.

But take a painting of Bacon: Man is reduced to a sack of meat and bloody teeth. Cool looking, but no beast or bird thinks so madly. Just the opposite. Only one or two monkeys in the pack will go crazy and eat a baby monkey. Only a rogue lioness will secretly kill other cubs in the night. These are exceptions. According to Bacon, we are all exceptions and a vision of the mutilated is at the core of our real thoughts. To be "animal" is to be savage. Well, excuse me, my wife's dog Cromwell is far from your kind of savage. That dog wouldn't bite a flea. And there is no beast or creature that willingly bathes in piss (because he likes his piss more than water,) fantasizes about bloody teeth emerging from slabs of mutilated meat, or revels in the homoerotic blood of man's animal desire. There are a few exceptions to this; they are called necrophiliacs.

There isn't space here to examine the atheism of Darwin and its contradictions, but no matter how badly Bacon wishes to cling to this idea in his art, I say here and now: No art can convince me of an absence of God. The very God-despair that a painting of Bacon is meant to inspire, brings me instead to a meta view his sanity and the knowledge that there is such a thing as sanity, or deterioration of it, beauty, and creation.


GreatScottBaker said...

Well said, sir. In the face of Art, Darwin makes a nice compliment or contribution, but a terrible end point.

Brian said...

Darwin was not an Atheist. An Atheist denies the existence of God. Darwin fluctuated on whether or not there was the need for an omnipotent ruler, but he did attend church off and on through most of his life. He never denied the existence of God. Darwin was against any "direct attacks on religion." He preferred to be thought of as an Agnostic and said "every man must judge for himself between conflicting vague probabilities."

Blaming Darwin for the ills of the 20th century and beyond is absurd. Is science only good when it does not refute or contradict the will of God? If that is the case and the reason evolution is a false hood, then should we not also avoid all forms of modern medicine? Is treating disease an attempt to change what is God's will?

GreatScottBaker said...

Brian, I wasn't offering criticism of Darwin's science at all. I don't think Seth was either. I was offering a criticism of the philosophical movement attached to a myopic worldview based on his theories.

I won't speak for Seth on any of this, but for my part I'm overjoyed with his scientific work and with all scientific work. I was just remarking the other day how similar I find science and Art and how mutually beneficial they are. Science isn't something you "believe" in or don't, and neither is Art. But basing a worldview on scientific theories alone that exclude the marvels of Art and theology is worth criticizing.

So when I refer to "Darwin" it's not so much the man, but the movement to which I refer. I apologize, I could have been more clear on that.

Seth Ward said...

I'm not blaming him..., or maybe I was a little lazy in my wording... I'm simply saying that he - whether he liked it or not- influenced some the great tyrants of our time, whether directly or indirectly. It was after Origin that the world looked to science for ultimate truth. Even philosophers and poets took a back seat. Science after Darwin became religion. Maybe that wasn't his fault, but I believe it is true. Many have tried to deny the link between verses in Mein Kampf and Origin, but Hitler was no stranger to plagiarism and wouldn't have quoted Darwin as he wasn't German enough.

However, the language speaks for itself and the philosophies are similar, though distorted by Hitler for his sick purposes, no matter how much R. Dawkins wants to say it ain't so. To say that Hitler wouldn't have known about Origin is truly wishful thinking. Again, that does not mean Darwin=Hitler. It just means for the first time science offered an alternative to "blessed are the poor in spirit" and "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth" and the "Meek shall inherit the earth."

But I am surprised to hear that he wasn't an Atheist. I know he wasn't always, but I recently read this in a Darwin biography at Barnes. The author basically said that Darwin was cryptic about his true religious beliefs because he was fearful for his life because of the stir he created. I could be wrong though, it wouldn't be a first!

Overall, I would like to clarify that I love Origin. I don't understand half of it... or even 3/4, but what an amazing feat! Tantamount to Newton's Principia.

I think that the Nihilism of the 20th century was primed by the Enlightenment and given full wind by Origin. Again, not his fault, but arguably undeniable.

Seth Ward said...

Brian, on a quick re-read... Perhaps I was a bit unfair to Chuck. What Scott said rings true as referring to a "movement." Darwin, the poor brilliant slob, has become synonymous with "evil" and "amorality." It's hard to avoid when people like Bacon are propagating their philosophies by claiming to see the world through a Darwinian lens.

Anyways, point taken.

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