Saturday, November 10, 2007

janus at the de young

last night we went to the de young for their weekly friday night party. while browsing the collection, we came upon a wonderful depiction of janus, the roman god of beginnings and endings. above you see one face of janus. in this depiction, it's an outward face. now below, i give you the profile, and then the "back"

this work really resonated with me because it got me thinking about how we're all, in a way, two-faced, or perhaps of multiple minds. not necessarily in a bad way. i recall reading about people who would lose control of one of their hands, or say things aloud that they thought they didn't mean. the author of the book (i can't remember which book it was) discussed how certain centers of our brain seem to win out over other centers -- like when you reflexively react to something but then restrain yourself almost immediately upon receiving further information. the two janus faces got me thinking that the thoughts we inhibit subconsciously, and consciously, might be far more complicated than a reflex, but rather an entire train of thought that is suppressed, for some reason. there is a face to that thought. the encasing of the head on one side in this depiction emphasizes this enclosure, and the interior mirror helps us see what is inside there, as it's usually obscured.


daisy stanton said...

this is an incredible post. i love it. i love the pictures, i love your interpretation, i love the book you reference -- i love the whole thing. whole thing.

i've surprised myself by thinking about philosophy and consciousness a bit lately, and it's gotten me drawn towards john searle's books. he's a philosopher grounded much more in science who seems to write more about what we know, physically, about the brain, and how that view is somehow so different than this funny thing that we experience as "consciousness". for some reason his name looked familiar when i saw it in the bookstore and now that i he writes for the New York Review of Books, which may be where i saw an article of his...

daisy stanton said...

also i'm not sure how this happened, but for some reason your blog was kicked out of my reader feeds. which is why i haven't read any of these until now. :(