A six-month-old child is in the process of mastering certain distinctions. He picks up a cloth toy and strikes it against his head; then he does the same thing with a wooden block. The child has experienced the distinction between soft and hard.
Nothing clearly delineates hard from soft. Most people probably would say that wood is hard. Yet some woods are said to be soft, as opposed to others that are said to be hard. In science, the distinction may not even correspond to common understanding.
In this model, we are describing distinctions as they correspond to human experience. This makes considerable sense in a model that offers a Way of ethical and religious living. Homo sapiens is a species that employs distinctions as a means of orientation: good and bad, good and evil, wisdom and folly, courage and cowardice, love and hate, and love and indifference, etc.
We are nearly halfway through a model that proposes a framework for a set of such distinctions. My intention is to offer a complete and systematic framework for a religious life grounded in a commitment to the worth and dignity of all persons, and scientific naturalism. All constructive suggestions and criticisms are welcome.
- Georges Braque, The Blue Jug (1946)
- Wassily Kandinsky, Contrasting Sounds (1924)
- Joan Miró, North-South (1917)
- Kazemir Malevich, Suprematist Composition (purple rectangle over blue beam) (1916)
- Kazemir Malevich, Suprematist Painting (1917)
- Georges Braque, Violin and Glass (1913)
- Pierre Bonnard, The Red-Checkered Tablecloth (1910)
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Béla Bartók composed numerous short pieces for piano, each piece expressing one musical idea. To most ears, Bartók’s music is far from simple, yet in their brevity and succinctness, Bartók’s piano pieces capture the idea of gaining knowledge one small step at a time.
- Mikrokosmos, Sz 107 (1926-1939) (and performed by the composer)
- 4 Dirges for Piano, Sz 45, BB 58, Op. 9a (1910)
- 7 Sketches (Vázlatok) for Piano, Op. 9b, Sz 44 (1910)
- 8 Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, Sz 74, BB 83, Op. 20 (1920)
- 9 Little Pieces for Piano, Sz 82 (1926)
- 10 Easy Piano Pieces, Sz 39, BB 51 (1908)
- 14 Bagatelles for Piano, Sz 38, BB 50, Op. 6 (1908)
- 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs for Piano, Sz 71 (1918)
- Dance Suite (Táncsvit, or, Tánc-suite) for Piano, Sz 77, BB 86b (1925)
- Out of Doors (Szabadban) for Piano, Sz 81, BB 89 (1926)
- Romanian Folkdances for Piano, Sz 56 (1915)
- Suite for Piano, Op. 14, Sz 62, BB 70 (1916)
- Kelemen, Archetypon II, “Für Anton,” for orchestra, “is a summary of all the arthetypical elements of the ‘Akkord des Eindrucksvollen.” (Per the composer.)
- Roger Reynolds, Kokoro (1992), including twelve distinctions
- Kodály: Hungarian Folk Music (Magyar Népzene)
- Glazunov, Stenka Razin, Op. 13 (1885)
- Glazunov, Une Fete Slave (Slav Holiday), Op. 26 (1888)
- Vella, Fine Line
- Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad & Third Coast Percussion, “Archetypes” (2020): “There is no set number of archetypes; the list of twelve featured in this project resonated with the artists because they represent distinctly different characters who feel very familiar from stories, myths, legends, and our shared and personal histories.”
- Roger Eno and Brian Eno, “Mixing Colours”: each track is titled as a color.
- Matthew Shipp Horn Quartet, “Strata”
- Abel Selacoe, “Returning Home” (2022): “The genre-blending album harnesses an intimate emotional energy that is disrupted by regular fiery outbursts . . . In recent years, Selaocoe’s ability to float above rigid genre categories has resulted in a growing influence among a classical music community increasingly conscious of its deference to longstanding traditions.”
- We can identify musicians by their distinctive sounds. The music ensemble Toasaves is complex in this way because it “brings together artists with different backgrounds, including Early Music (trecento, Flemish polyphony, Sephardic music) and music from Greece, Turkey, and Afghanistan”. Adding to the appeal, the group exhibits “a fascination for archaic Flemish folk songs and their relationship to early music and Eastern music”. Their album “Zwerver” (2022) (57’) is engaging for that reason, and because of their skills and musicianship.
When I died, the circulating library
Which I built up for Spoon River,
And managed for the good of inquiring minds,
Was sold at auction on the public square,
As if to destroy the last vestige
Of my memory and influence.
For those of you who could not see the virtue
Of knowing Volney's "Ruins" as well as Butler's "Analogy"
And "Faust" as well as "Evangeline,"
Were really the power in the village,
And often you asked me,
"What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?"
I am out of your way now, Spoon River,
Choose your own good and call it good.
For I could never make you see
That no one knows what is good
Who knows not what is evil;
And no one knows what is true
Who knows not what is false.
[Edgar Lee Masters, “Seth Compton”]
I - Opusculum paedagogum. The pears are not viols, / Nudes or bottles. / They resemble nothing else.
II - They are yellow forms / Composed of curves / Bulging toward the base. / They are touched red.
III - They are not flat surfaces / Having curved outlines. / They are round / Tapering toward the top.
IV - In the way they are modeled / There are bits of blue. / A hard dry leaf hangs / From the stem.
V - The yellow glistens. / It glistens with various yellows, / Citrons, oranges and greens / Flowering over the skin.
VI - The shadows of the pears / Are blobs on the green cloth. / The pears are not seen / As the observer wills.
[Wallace Stevens, “Study of Two Pears”]