Wednesday, March 4, 2009

(Art vs. Science) vs. (Art & Science)

I don't really know where I'm going with this, so bear with me.

In high school, I used to be friends with this kid named Jimmy, or at least, we used to talk to each other. By our senior year, we didn't get along very well, and for some reason, when I dropped Calculus BC, 9 weeks into the second semester, he got really antagonistic, culminating in what some of my friends called "The Great Debate".

Academically, Jimmy and I were exact opposites. I excelled in English and history and he definitely owned me math and science. And boy, did he like to point that out. He would start epic arguments with me over the merits of science versus the merits of literature and we never did reach an agreement. I always considered the arts as different from the sciences. Not better, but incomparable because they're on a different plane.

Frye's introduction forced me to rethink this. After all, for a girl who was captain of her school's UIL literary criticism team (which in no way has been a good knowledge base for this class and is something I now consider to be little more than a nice resumé adornment), the idea of literary criticism as a science is unnatural and against everything I've ever been taught in during my entire public education.

Like Miku, I had to step back and look at my definition of science, or in the absence of a true definition, the principles of it, which have turned out to be nearly as squirrelly as definitions of literature, for surely it goes beyond the scientific method (although PS 303 begs to differ--super easy science credit if you need it)? So while I'm not sure I've come to a conclusion about that just yet, I do think I have to seriously consider literary criticism as a possible social science, as Frye claims it is for the very reason that I believe that the arts and sciences are so intertwined they cannot exist without each other.

Undeniably, science has influenced art on numerous occasions; look at science fiction. In the same vein, art has influenced science.

Take Niels Bohr's complementarity principle. The idea that all matter exhibits both wave-like and particle-like properties was supposedly heavily influenced by Bohr's fascination with cubism and its basis of how a single object can be portrayed as several different entities just by viewing it from a different perspective or angle. Without the creativity that artistic endeavors promote, science loses its power to advance.

And I'm beginning to think it goes the other way too. So because of this symbiotic relationship, I can accept that the lines I traditionally thought were so clear-cut have become blurred.

Literary criticism as a science? I'll take it.

Edit: I definitely wrote and published this after Miku. I don't understand why it says it was posted before her.

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