The name of this shirt is Chaos and Cosmology, it displays and juxtaposes two aesthetic styles that possess a depth of philosophical meaning. Chaos and Cosmology are understood simply as disorder and order. The dynamics of these two phenomena are articulated in different symbols of the eastern culture such as the Ying and Yang and the primacy of either of these aesthetic values emphasized more at different time periods. For purposes here we will look at the Greek articulation in the gods Apolline & Dionysius. In classical aesthetics the god Apolline in ancient Greece reflects the symbol of aesthetic values analogically witnessed in a corinthian column displaying symmetry, structure, mathematical precision, order and unity. Ancient Greece is known for their philosophers high emphasis on human reason an instrument used to organize assemblies, establish the organization of a political democracy constitute a civilization and their orderly architecture is a mirror of the citizens values and activities. ‘Architecture shapes people as people shape their architecture’. The Jackson Pollock painting resembles Dionysius the loveliest colors at random articulate irrationality. Dionysius is understood as the wild ecstatic irrational, passion, intoxicated reality and chaos.
Furthermore, the two gods Apolline and Dionysius portray a dialectic of the human experience we fluctuate between in our lives from stability, order to disorderly chaos. These are temporary settlements we move from one to the other as a part of the inescapable conditions of existence. For instance a job is going well you have a routine, financial stability, clear path paved ahead for the trajectory of you’re career. Then all of a sudden Dionysius comes up to introduce that chaos of getting fired or the company falls under or a partner betrays you. Much of western art up until the romantic era emphasized the Apolline qualities of order meaning beauty that pleases , bestows consolation to the viewer, paves a pathway to the transcendent and remedies our sufferings. Now in modern art, theologian Paul Tillich points out , ‘ is a mirror of meaninglessness’. It could also be said now the modern art swerves toward Dionysius articulations such as Tracy Edmond’s disheveled bed, the sharks of Damian Hurst and this image by Pollock.
Friedrich Nietzsche in ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ articulates the aesthetic and existential role of these two forces. He notes, art solely focused on Apolline nature is an superficial reality on the surface of purity, order and only half the story of our experience. My former aesthetics professor Ben Quash further intimated in a lecture, ‘Really to live in touch with the sources of life you must lend yourself actively to the depths. Great art brings you into contact with something more truthful’. Art lifts the illusion of this reality makes contact beneath the pure perfect orderly facades of existence and penetrates the frightening chaotic depths we are all so acutely aware of yet so often suppress. When one experiences tragedy, chaos , and suffering a clear systematized rational account of attempting to make sense of suffering fails and escapes the confines of limited logic. For Nietzsche, ‘art is justification in the face of suffering because it makes direct contact with the experience of reality in its genuine shape’. ‘We have art so that we shall not die of reality’.
See our tribute to the depth of existential meaning in our Chaos and Order Tee.
For further investigation see ‘ The Birth of Tragedy’, by Friedrich Nietzsche and Ben Quash, Idea of Beauty in the Western World.