Tagged: cezanne

What I’m Reading.

A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway, about art and the writing life in Paris in the 1920s. Especially worth it for his reminisces of Gertrude Stein (“she does talk a lot of rot sometimes”) and the hot mess of a couple that was Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

P. 69 (Bantam Edition, 1965, found in an untidy little bookstore in Salta, Argentina):

You got very hungry when you did not get enough to eat in Paris because all the bakery shops had such good things in the windows and people ate outside at tables on the sidewalk so that you saw and smelled the food. When you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to go was the Luxembourg gardens where you saw and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the Place de l’Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard. There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were sharpened and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. I learned to understand Cézanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry. I used to wonder if he were hungry too when he painted; but I thought possibly it was only that he had forgotten to eat. It was one of those unsound but illuminating thoughts you have when you have been sleepless or hungry. Later I thought Cézanne was probably hungry in a different way.

 

What I’m reading.

Proust was a neuroscientist

Proust Was a Neuroscientist by Jonah Lehrer, a book about how some artists and writers unknowingly anticipated the biggest discoveries in the field of neuroscience.

P. 119:

A Cezanne painting admits that the landscape is made of negative space, and that the bowl of fruit is a collection of brushtrokes. Everything has been bent to fit the canvas. Three dimensions have been flatted into two, light has been exchanged for paint, the whole scene has been knowingly composed. Art, Cezanne reminds us, is surrounded by artifice.

The shocking fact is that sight is like art. What we see is not real. It has been bent to fit our canvas, which is the brain. When we open our eyes, we enter into an illusory world, a scene broken apart by the retina and re-created by the cortex. Just as a painter interprets a picture, we interpret our sensations. But no matter how precise our neuronal maps become, they will never solve the question of what we actually see, for sight is a private phenomenon. The visual experience transcends the pixels of the retina and the fragmentary lines of the visual cortex.

It is art, and not science that is the means by which we express what we see on the inside. The painting, in this respect is closest to reality. It is what gets us nearest to experience. When we stare at Cezanne’s apples, we are inside his head.

Lehrer also has a blog called The Frontal Cortex.

Posted by C-Monster.