The Two of Me: The Rational Outer Me and the Emotional Inner Me

By John Birtchnell | Go to book overview

18

The arts

The earliest art work, found in a cave north of Verona, Italy, dates from 35,000 years ago (Willan, 2000). In evolutionary time, this is recent. It is a sobering thought that art did not exist before that time. Presumably, the early humans who did this work realised that certain marks and shapes that, by chance, resembled real things, excited them; so they started to create such marks and shapes intentionally. The realisation and decision to make marks and shapes would have been the outer me; so the outer me thought up the idea of art; though, as we shall see, the role of the inner me in both the execution of, and the response to, art is crucial.

The arts are a means of creating replicas of reality, such that, when I experience them, I respond to them as though they were the real thing. The replication may be only slight and suggestive or extremely detailed and elaborate. A likely explanation for this effect is that the inner me cannot discriminate between reality and replicas of reality. There are enough cues in the replica to trigger off the response. Part of the fascination of the arts is the awareness that what is being experienced feels like the real thing, and affects me as the real thing would, even though it is not the real thing. Through the arts I am able to feel as though I am experiencing reality in the absence of true reality. Even in the partial replication of reality I am able to have the subjective experience of attaining my objectives, which is sufficient to satisfy the inner me.

Reality can be replicated through the entire range of the senses. Touch, taste and smell play a minimal role because they have such a simple input. Vision and sound predominate because their input is so much more complex. Although the representation of reality is central to art, the straight-forward representation of something is not necessarily art. Reality is sometimes represented simply to show to others what something looks like. Since the straightforward representation is not necessarily art, what is the extra component that makes it so? Taking something out of context, placing a frame around it and hanging it on a gallery wall can in itself sometimes be aesthetically effective. Putting something in a gallery that is not normally in a gallery can have an aesthetic effect, similar to the mere exposure effect (Zajonc, 1980); but at the end of the day, what makes the representation aesthetic is its power to evoke emotion.

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The Two of Me: The Rational Outer Me and the Emotional Inner Me
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Part I - The Outer Me/Inner Me Dichotomy 1
  • 1 - The Birth of an Idea 3
  • 2 - The Outer Me 15
  • 3 - The Inner Me 28
  • Part II - Other Conscious/ Unconscious Distinctions 41
  • 4 - Psychodynamic Distinctions 43
  • 5 - Cognitive Distinctions 57
  • Part III - The Human Objectives 71
  • 6 - Survival 73
  • 7 - Reproduction 86
  • 8 - Relating 99
  • Part IV - The Receptive and Responsive Me 113
  • 9 - Sensory Input 115
  • 10 - Emotion 128
  • 11 - Memory 141
  • Part V - The Active Me 155
  • 12 - Motor Action 157
  • 13 - Communication and Language 169
  • 14 - Mental Activity 182
  • Part VI - The Complex Me 195
  • 15 - Deception and Self-Deception 197
  • 16 - Delusions and Hallucinations 211
  • 17 - Dreams 224
  • Part VII - The Social Me 237
  • 18 - The Arts 239
  • 19 - Humour 251
  • 20 - Religion 264
  • Bibliography 277
  • Author Index 293
  • Subject Index 299
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