Thursday, August 25, 2016

Another Range of Thought Dealing With "The Art Of"

When that well-worn phrase " the art of" enters my consciousness by way of my  giving or listening to a lecture; or general conversation; or in discussion with either a student or some other victim of circumstance ; or  simply absorbing the three words as a reader in whatever context - well, often it leads to my curiosity about this phrase's application.
It has more than once been a source of unanswerable questions concerning two of Man's more omnipresent bedfellows; that is, Music and War.
Take "The Art of War," supposedly written by one Sun Tzu, about 2500 years ago. It was read avidly and repeatedly by such powerful figures as Mao Tse-Tung and Douglas Mac Arthur. The power of the text has affected such pursuits as Law and Politics to this very day. The quasi-arcane and  exotic assemblage of words strung together, such as (to paraphrase) " successful War is to vanquish the enemy without doing battle, " or "War is always based upon deception"  will give one a taste of  human attachment to the art of choice as regards the spoken or written word, such  as, say, in the work of  Shakespeare.
Seems to me the word 'imagery' is what lies behind all  pursuits engendered by the creative process.
What prodded  George Patton  to create poetry? Or Eisenhower to give us the quite revealing (and little known) attachment to his  painting of   still-life?  Or Omar Bradley's need to work on  solving problems in trigonometry , even during the course of battle, such as during  the Battle of the Bulge?
What prompted Isoroku Yamamoto, one of the 20th century's great military minds, and creator of the plan to attack Pearl Harbor, to quietly murmur "all  we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve" during the attack on Pearl Harbor when he learned that neither of the two aircraft carriers he had hoped to destroy  were not at Pearl Harbor, but out to sea? Was he, in  brutal(to him) reality, stating that Japan had lost  the war on that first day?
Yamamoto  had twice, as a young man, lived in America, first as a Harvard student, then later as a naval attache in Washington. He had visited the Texas oil fields and the industries in Detroit, Upon his return to Japan he warned the militarists, almost a generation before Pearl Harbor "never to go to war with America." His great sense of imagery had already told him that the next naval war would be decided in the air, not on the water. He was the creator of the Pearl Harbor operation in spite of his convictions about America, simply because the ancient rites of Japanese history had created him as a "son of the Emperor" (his words) in spite of his vision of ultimate defeat, in eventuality.
A scant six months after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese suffered  annihilation of their ability, at Midway, to wage offensive war, primarily because the American airplane, not the battleship, had sunk four aircraft carriers - gone was Offensive Warfare.  After Midway, Japan could wage only a defensive  war, and it was  ultimately a matter of time  -  final defeat  occurred, of course, in 1945.
Talk about Imagery... Yamamoto gives us a great example.
Imagery - in  the summer of 1788, the three final symphonies were 'visualized' and committed to manuscript by that fellow named Mozart. Never again was  the composer to write a symphony, even though he lived on until 1791 - a long time for Mozart, without another symphony; after all, by age 31, he had written all but the  last half-dozen symphonies Was that thing called 'imagery' telling him that there was no need to attempt another composition in the symphonic form?
And Douglas MacArthur, that combination of obnoxious pomposity and egocentricity, merging  with one of military history's   most brilliant minds? As regards his brand of hubris, do remember  that Dwight Eisenhower, as a young officer, spent several years as an aide to the General . Eisenhower, years later , in answer to the question "did you serve under MacArthur?" gave a terse answer; namely, "did I serve under MacArthur??  I studied Drama under him for years!"
As American viceroy  to Japan after World War II, MacArthur gives us  as a result of his powers of leadership,  an example of "nation building" that, since that time, has never been equaled. Japan has been the leading form of Democracy in that part of the world since the days of   Douglas Mac Arthur in, perhaps, his greatest personal victory.
Imagery? Could be... 



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