12 Comments

  1. do you have a fb fanpage

    1. Scott Patrick O'Rourke

      We do. Find us on Facebook at:
      http://www.facebook.com/OrthodoxArtsJournal

  2. Laura

    I’m coming late to this essay, having just found this journal. Thank you for addressing the arts in Orthodoxy! I look forward to reading more.

    I am especially intrigued by this: “Techne is a form of knowledge of principles that is turned toward doing. In the ancient world, art and craft (or technologies) were not separated the way they are now, but rather techne was a more encompassing notion that was attributed to any form of applied knowledge. As such, it was often opposed to episteme, which is “pure” knowledge. In certain respects it was looked down upon by the philosophers as a low form of imitation, a kind of “dead matter”.”

    If techne is, for all practical purposes, “doing” and episteme is, again for all practical purposes, “knowing” (in a pure sense), might this be at the core of the hyper-intellectualism found in Reformed and Calvinistic constructs? I ask this because it’s an important discussion in my Parish right now. We’ve recently had a sort of “mini-exodus” from a local Orthodox Presbyterian Church that prides itself on its highly intellectualized faith; being a member there is akin to having attended seminary! And the tension is often felt between those who do and those who know (i.e., mechanics vs engineers, for example). Where this is most evident is in the treatment of the arts (or lack thereof). Nice to look at, to hear, to entertain, but no practical value in the Kingdom of God since there is nothing intellectual about them; it’s all “fluff”…and worldly fluff at that.

    Of course, since modern Western art is all sturm und drang, storm and fury (“disorder passions” perfectly describes this), I agree to a large extent. But can it be that with Calvin’s rejection of the arts, particularly music, that the rift between techne and epistime became codified in the Protestant West? That an almost gnostic pursuit of “the oracles of God” (a Calvinistic expression) that decries matter as having worth became normative to the point that the Real Presence, iconography, music, and so on, took a back seat, at best, to the accumulation of pure knowledge and understanding…leading to the disordered way in which Western Man sees himself?

    Just some random thoughts as I’ve read this essay and thought about the years I spent in Reformed and Calvinistic circles as a trained musician…having been raised in a very artistic home.

    Again, thank you for this journal. Forgive my lack of scholarship; I do, however like to read.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Although Episteme and Techne should not be too easily made into knowing and doing, since they are two modes of knowledge, I agree with your general point about Calvin. A close approximation of the type of difference there is between techne and episteme is in the Biblical (mostly in Proverbs) between Wisdom and Understanding. Wisdom is knowledge that comes from experience while understanding is knowledge that is theoretical or mental. It is not completely equivalent but it is close none the less.

      When looking at the Renaissance, the Reformation and what it opened for Europe, there is almost a permeating sense that something very basic was changing, that the very way in which we experience the world was being transformed. Calvin’s rational Christianity, his radical opposing of faith vs works is a fruit of that change. But we can see it happening all over the place, a “deincarnaton” if there is such a word. It is as if the very basic truth in Christianity, of the sacramental reality of the world, of unification of all things in Christ was being subverted. This will be even stronger in the puritan tradition where any “form” was seen as idolatry, as if Christ did not Himself have a body!

      some of the main results of this “deincarnation” process in Europe is both the physical sciences in the modern sense, but simultaneously the “speculative” spirituality one sees appearing during the Renaissance (and esp. the 17th century) with the proliferation of secret societies, spiritualists and the like.

      Orthodox like to blame specific people, usually Aquinas or Occam, for what happened to the west, but I think that is difficult. Whatever the source is, there is definitely a split and that split sadly still creates much of our perception of the world today.

  3. Thanks for a thought-provoking introductory article. I especially liked learning about “aletheuein” and its philosophical understanding of “revealing.” When first studying iconography a teacher told me that drawing on the board by hand (not tracing) was important because it helped to bring the image out of the panel, to reveal it, if you will. She compared it to a sculptor finding his image in a piece of stone and revealing it through that medium. I think you are right that there is a theological component to the creation of liturgical art which is uniquely life-giving and spiritually penetrating.

    1. It is actually a bit of a relief to read your comment. I was a bit hesitant in quoting Heidegger for the first article of an Orthodox Journal. I just felt he captured the notion so well and was very in tune with what I believe is an Orthodox experience of the arts. So now I know at least one person found that useful. Thanks, and I am looking forward to reading your future posts on the journal!

  4. GREAT GREAT JOB ! Great way of tackling the problems of art today. This is my favorite concern because the practice – the making – the role and function of art is the heart of the correctness of the relation of man to the body of Christ. I thank you for this work.
    You can find my translation of your text here http://orthodoxe-ordinaire.blogspot.fr/2012/06/voir-le-journal-des-arts-orthodoxes.html

  5. Please forgive a rather superficial question, but my daughter is intrigued with the icon. What is it called? Source?

    Thanking you in advance …

    1. Thank you for your question, Fr. It is a lesser known western type called Christ the Geometer, from around the 12th and 13th century. It mostly appears in manuscripts.

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