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I stopped trying to deconstruct poetry back in my undergraduate days, when I realized the analysis of art left me feeling hollow, and chose instead to be on the receiving end of that same analysis (as though that feels any better). But, as I thought about this issue of Art Practical, on the occasion of the 2015 AICAD Symposium—examining the place, purpose, potential, and role of science in contemporary [Art + Design] education, hosted by California College of the Arts—I kept coming back to these lines and wondering why. My irrational interpretation, and the one that serves our needs in this moment, is that a perpetual state of wonder, of not knowing (that “beautiful but bleak condition”), is absolutely integral to our health and well-being. In other words, without it the stars would collide and all life as we know it would cease to exist.
It can be argued that every discipline carries with it the potential for great wonder, but the arts and sciences scream the value of not-knowing from the rooftops, and I believe this is the reason that they have been considered kin almost as long as civilization itself. In Ancient Greece, worshippers in the Cult of the Mousai sought inspiration from the nine daughters of Zeus (the nine Muses), who each personified a distinct discipline in the arts and sciences. Euterpe, for example, represented and distributed knowledge of music and song, while Urania was responsible for astronomy.
As evidenced, art and science have been in conversation for a very long time, these essays are presented here as a means of moving us toward a future more like the past, when each discipline, like each muse, is related by birth. Together, these contributions create a contemporary arc cross-disciplinary exploration, leading us through a portal of potential into what the relationship of art and science has in store for us. —Selene Foster