The Arts in the Service of Life in Permaculture

Permaculture Designers Manual




Section 4.25 –

The Arts in the Service of Life in Permaculture

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Art, in the forms of song, dance, and sculptural, painted objects, or designs, is an ancient preoccupation of all peoples.

There is little doubt that most (if not all) tribal art is intended for quite specific ends; much of tribal art is a public and ever-renewed mnemonic, or memory-aid.

Apparently simple spiral or linear designs can combine thousands of bits or information in a single, deceptively simple pattern.

The decorative function is incidental to the educational and therefore sacred information function in such patterns.

Decoration” is the trivial aspect of such art.

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Much of modern art is individualistic and decorative; some “motif” art is plagiarized from ancient origins, but no longer has an educational or sacred function.

Entertainment and decoration is a valid and important function or the arts, but they are minor or incidental functions.

Social comment is a common art form in theater and song, and spirited dances and songs are cheering or uplifting, but I know of no meaningful songs or patterns in my own “monoculture”, based as it is on the jingles of advertisements and purely decorative and trivial patterns of art and on education divorced from relevant long-term observations of the natural world.

The induction of moods and the record of ephemera are not the primary purposes of sacred or tribal art, which is carefully assembled to assist the folk records of the function and history of their society.

Some modern sculptural forms, such as the “Flow form” systems of the Virbella Institute, Emerson College, Kent, UK (Figure 4.33) are modeled on older Roman water cascades and serve both an aesthetic and a water-oxygenation function, assisting water purification.

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This is a small step towards applied art as patterning in everyday use, as are some engineering designs.

We could well reintroduce or evolve pattern education, which gives every member of society access to profound concepts or specific knowledge.

Art belongs to, and relates to, people. It is not a way to waste energy on resources for the few.

Sacred calendars melted down to bullion or objects d’art are a degradation of generations of human effort and knowledge, and the sacred art of tribal peoples hidden in museum storerooms are a form of cultural genocide, removing knowledge from its context, and trivializing objects to decorations or loot.

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