Dancing on a tightrope

Freddy Nock essentially doing something insane:

First off, I’m pretty sure I just wore those Puma’s yesterday…

Second, you know my love of amazing stashes.

But most importantly this spectacle has something to do with a recent work of art I commissioned from an amazing and dear friend Matthew Whitney, a Seattle based artist.

I asked Matt what the title of this piece should be and he said “Logische Takt”  This concept (logical tact) was coined by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant.  In order to learn about it with some minor depth, here is an excerpt from The Practice of Everday Life by Michel de Certeau.

Characteristically, Kant treats the relation between the art of operating (Kunst) and science (Wissenschaft), or between a technique (Technik) and theory (Theorie), in the context of an investigation that has moved from earlier versions on taste toward a critique of judgment.  He encounters art, on the road leading from taste to judgment, as the parameter of a practical knowledge exceeding knowledge and having an esthetic form.  Kant discerns in what he calls, in a stroke of genius, a “logical tact” (logische Takt).  Inscribed in the orbit of an esthetics, the art of operating is placed under the sign of the faculty of judgment, the “alogical” condition of thought.  The traditional antinomy between “operativity” and “reflection” is transcended through a point of view which, acknowledging an art at the root of thought, makes judgment a “middle term” (Mittleglied) between theory and praxis.  This art of thinking constitutes a synthetic unity of the two terms.

Kant’s examples concern precisely everyday practices: “The faculty of judgment exceeds the understanding…. The faculty of judging what clothes a chambermaid should wear.  The faculty of judging by the dignity appropriate to an edifice what ornaments will not conflict with the goal in view.”  Judgment does not bear on social conventions (the elastic equilibrium of a network of tacit contracts) alone, but more generally on the relation among a great number of elements, and it exists only in the act of concretely creating a new set by putting one more element into a convenient connection with this relation, just as one adds a touch of red or ochre to a a painting, changing it without destroying it.  The transformation of a given equilibrium into another one characterizes art.

To explain this, Kant mentions the general authority of discourse, an authority which is nevertheless never more than local and concrete:  where I come from, he writes (in meinem Gegenden: in my region, in my “homeland.”), “the ordinary man” der Gemeine Mann) says (sagt) that charlatans and magicians (Tashenspielers) depend on knowledge (you can do it if you know the trick), whereas tightrope dancers (Siltánzers) depend on an art.  Dancing on a tightrope requires that one maintain an equilibrium from one moment to the next by recreating it at every step by means of new adjustments; it requires one to maintain a balance that is never permanently acquired; constant readjustment renews the balance while giving the impression of “keeping” it.

So the work of the tightrope dancer shares space with the work of the artist.  Time never ceases, and it brings with baggage full of new ideas, new boundaries, new factors, and new relationships.  The artist (or tightrope artist) must do the nearly impossible feat of transforming the balance of the previous moment to the balance of the present moment.  The best musicians do this, especially when in an ensemble experience.  The best dancers do this.  The geniuses of every art-form do this.

I suppose the best thing to do is begin to think of living life (the art that it is) as a tightrope dancer, constantly seeking this logische Takt.  Balancing theory and praxis.  Balancing conjecture and reality.  Balancing what you think “should” be with what “is”.  Or seeing both, and taking the careful steps forward with arms out ready to transform the moment to a state of balance.

It seems to me this is how most of us move forward through life:

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