Attitudes to Culture

Social attitudes to which part of the cultural heritage can be regarded as private property and which cannot shift over time. Pictures, statues, and even architectural objects are generally regarded as legitimate private possessions, though most countries put constraints on their disposal. For instance, exportation of antiquities of a certain age is usually forbidden, and the reconstruction of historical buildings for modern use is subjected to severe control by antiquarian authorities.

Manuscripts too are regarded as legitimate private property, though keeping for oneself an original proof of Fermat's last theorem, or a seventh Brandenburg Concerto by Bach, modelled on his viol sonata in g-minor, the existence of which has been conjectured by some musicologists, would most likely be regarded as highly asocial behaviour, much more now than it was in 1926.

Once an idea has been initially liberated from its original embodiment it can live an independent life, but mostly the original is needed as a kind of "backup file" without which the public good may ultimately perish.

Those who very much dislike Platonic ideas, might be reluctant to concede reality to anything except the physically embodied cultural objects on one hand, and the individual experiences of beholding them on the other.

It is, however, undeniable that there is something in common in the individual experiences of, say, a drama or a scientific theory, having an objec-

Fig. 2.3: The Mandelbrot set; invented or discovered? Penrose claims that its discovery in no essential sense is different from the discovery of Mount Everest. This mathematical object was discovered by Benoit B. Mandelbrot, and it shows if and how fast the iterated process of squaring a complex number with a complex constant added diverges to infinity. The picture is an example of the set of geometrical objects introduced by Mandelbrot and called "fractals". Those pictures are characterized by fractional dimension measures and display amazing detail at every new level of magnification, among other an infinite number of miniature copies of the whole set itself Modern computer software makes it possible to explore the pictures to such detail that the original complete set becomes as large as the orbit of the planet Pluto.

Fig. 2.3: The Mandelbrot set; invented or discovered? Penrose claims that its discovery in no essential sense is different from the discovery of Mount Everest. This mathematical object was discovered by Benoit B. Mandelbrot, and it shows if and how fast the iterated process of squaring a complex number with a complex constant added diverges to infinity. The picture is an example of the set of geometrical objects introduced by Mandelbrot and called "fractals". Those pictures are characterized by fractional dimension measures and display amazing detail at every new level of magnification, among other an infinite number of miniature copies of the whole set itself Modern computer software makes it possible to explore the pictures to such detail that the original complete set becomes as large as the orbit of the planet Pluto.

tive existence quite apart from the paper and the ink of the original manuscript.

Roger Penrose in his suggestive book "The Emperor's New Mind", manages to convince even the most incredulous reader that mathematical concepts, such as the Laplacian Operator or the Mandelbrot Set, are discovered rather than invented, in exactly the same way as is Mount Everest or a new Elementary Particle.

A scientific theory, a literary work, or a piece of music can be used without touching the original, resting undisturbed in a library or an archive. In fact, it will only be necessary to return to the original manuscript on those relatively rare occasions when it is realised that its circulating contents have been distorted by too much editing to the purpose of filling in "missing" parts and correcting real or imagined "mistakes".

Fig. 2.4: Piranesi's engraving of Piazza Navona, located on the ancient racecourse Circo Agonale in Rome. In 1745 Giovanni Battista Piranesi published the 135 etchings in his famous work "Vedute di Roma" (Pictures of Rome), where the picturesque antique ruins of Rome in decay amidst the splendour of the new Baroque edifices were romanticized. Besides the engravings of the Fontana di Trevi and the Forum Romanum this is probably the most well known of the etchings. The work spread through Europe and became an appetizer for the "grand tour" to Italy. The dramatic touch with an extreme contrast between light and shade was even more pronounced in Piranesi's later almost science fiction like series of imaginary prison vaults, the "Carcere d'Invenzione".

Fig. 2.4: Piranesi's engraving of Piazza Navona, located on the ancient racecourse Circo Agonale in Rome. In 1745 Giovanni Battista Piranesi published the 135 etchings in his famous work "Vedute di Roma" (Pictures of Rome), where the picturesque antique ruins of Rome in decay amidst the splendour of the new Baroque edifices were romanticized. Besides the engravings of the Fontana di Trevi and the Forum Romanum this is probably the most well known of the etchings. The work spread through Europe and became an appetizer for the "grand tour" to Italy. The dramatic touch with an extreme contrast between light and shade was even more pronounced in Piranesi's later almost science fiction like series of imaginary prison vaults, the "Carcere d'Invenzione".

Likewise, printed reproductions of paintings in an art history book can nowadays transmit an even better impression of the original than the original itself hung on the wall of some museum amidst crowds and photo flashes. Note how fast things have changed in this respect. The crowding in museums is a recent effect of mass tourism, and modern reproduction technique too is of so recent a date that Bernard Berenson in his monumental picture books on Italian renaissance painting still refused to use illustrations in colour due to their inferior quality, though this was as late as in the years 19571963.

A solid copy of an antique statue, of the type the aristocracy used to adorn their houses and gardens with in times past, already, has a much stronger flavour of fake, and a miniature imitation of Piazza San Marco in some

Fig. 2.5: Picture of 18th Century Piazza San Marco in Venice painted by Canaletto, Antonio Canal (1698-1768). Canaletto was the most productive of the "vedutisti", with an almost photographic style very different from the more "impressionistic" painting by his contemporary Guardi. The Venetian townscape and civic life has been amply documented in pictures from Gentile Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio of the 15th Century to the 18th Century vedutisti. In this picture the visitors are few as compared to any tourist snapshot of today and the stress and strain put on the city very different. In the 18th Century the authorities of the aging aristocratic republic encouraged tourist income, though they were extremely watchful on citizens having any intercourse with the visiting foreigners. Many a noble senator made his way across the "ponte dei sospiri" or to the lead chambers on the slightest suspicion of such contacts. This ambiguity resembles that of today, though the motives were different, above all concerns of public security in a state whose secret waterways had protected it against invasion for centuries.

Fig. 2.5: Picture of 18th Century Piazza San Marco in Venice painted by Canaletto, Antonio Canal (1698-1768). Canaletto was the most productive of the "vedutisti", with an almost photographic style very different from the more "impressionistic" painting by his contemporary Guardi. The Venetian townscape and civic life has been amply documented in pictures from Gentile Bellini and Vittore Carpaccio of the 15th Century to the 18th Century vedutisti. In this picture the visitors are few as compared to any tourist snapshot of today and the stress and strain put on the city very different. In the 18th Century the authorities of the aging aristocratic republic encouraged tourist income, though they were extremely watchful on citizens having any intercourse with the visiting foreigners. Many a noble senator made his way across the "ponte dei sospiri" or to the lead chambers on the slightest suspicion of such contacts. This ambiguity resembles that of today, though the motives were different, above all concerns of public security in a state whose secret waterways had protected it against invasion for centuries.

Disneyland borders on the verge of the ridiculous, in particular if put side by side with the Taj Mahal and Neuschwanstein.

Nevertheless in a certain sense there even exists a disembodied idea of Venice, communicated in the numerous "veduti" by Canaletto, Guardi, Tiepolo and others, and in literary work by, for instance, Casanova, Ruskin, and Thomas Mann.

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