Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Dialogues of Enlightenment

Villa Twaklinilkawt has been digitally accessible to ordinary mortals since the Adelaide autumn of 2009.

Adélaïde Labille-Guiard (11 April 1749 – 24 April 1803) ethereally celebrated her 260th birthday in the Adelaidezone in 2009, just before the first blog-pamphlet posting of Adelaide Zone Twaklin was published.

Celestial negotiations were already well underway for the most famous self-portrait of that great artist and enlightened cultural leader to portray the Adelaidean genius loci.

Adélaïde completed her Self-portrait with two pupils in Paris in 1785.  She was then about thirty-six years of age.

Two years later, Mozart wrote a famous little serenade in Vienna.  He was thirty-one years of age at that time.

The third movement of that serenade, the minuet, has been used for a while now as an introduction to the work of the International Training Centre for the Harmonious Interplay of Beauty, Understanding and Magnificence within Villa Twaklinilkawt.

Both Madame Labille-Guiard and Mr Mozart came from middle class European backgrounds.

They were exceptionally talented individuals.

They were also exceptionally lucky:

Unlike most talented individuals, their careers were mainly supported by members of the highest echelons of the aristocracy, and even by royalty.

Who supports your career, and why?

Whose careers do you support, and why?

Before the 18th century, much history had obviously already occurred.  Yet most people, throughout history, have known the world only through oral history and aural history.  They have observed and absorbed the culture around them, and sometimes even the cultures of traders and invaders.

But what does culture mean to you?

How have you acquired culture?

And how does your knowledge of history express itself through your cultural pursuits?

There is no more enlightened middle class person of the Renaissance than Erasmus.  He has been assisting the Adelaide Adagia team since June 2009.

Have you ever had a fictional dialogue with Erasmus, or even a debate?

And what of other enlightened, relatively noble persons of the past, in character if not in social status?

During the Renaissance, the Reformation occurred.  That situation was influenced by the work of Erasmus though he had little direct influence on the events themselves.

Moderation is rarely respected by enthusiasts.

Another person whose work influenced the Reformation was Catherine of Aragon.

The results of her labours were, of course, not to the satisfaction of her megalomaniac second husband.

The above portrait has been displayed from time to time, within Villa Twaklinilkawt.

When, if ever, does art encourage your reflection on the influence and leadership of intelligent, well-educated, compassionate and popular women?

When, if ever, do you examine the constraints on people's lives as experienced in the past and present?

It is not known for certain if Catherine is portrayed in the above portrait.  Even so, the shape of the face is similar to earlier portraits of her by the same artist, Michael Sittow.

The jawline appears to indicate that the picture is not of the sister of Henry VIII, Mary Tudor, Queen of France, although there has been some academic debate in that regard.

If you are ever asked to provide a brief but enlightened dialogue for presentation in this ethereal theatre, what would be its essentially enlightening features from the point of view of reasonably well-educated. relatively enlightened audience members?

Who would be the characters?

What would be their main subject of discussion?

Would your dialogue be more in keeping with Western philosophy or Eastern philosophy?

How would your dialogue distinguish between philosophy, science and religion?

What would be the political features of your dialogue?

How would the presentation compare with The School of Athens?

How would you subsequently adapt your dialogue from speech to music?

What is your dialogue meant to convey, and how, and to whom, and why?

How will you know whether the dialogue has succeeded as you intended?

How will you respond to unexpected negativity or acclaim?

Dialogues of Enlightenment are never shallow.  Their presentation is never a veneer.  Their presenters are never pretentious.  Yet neither are they dull.

William Shakespeare, who died just over four hundred years ago, was influenced by many of the features displayed within last month's public presentation in this little theatre.

Mr Shakespeare was an expert in the art of dialogue, as well as the art of the non-monotonous monologue. 

Alas, poor Shakespeare.  He has always known how to grab attention, even to his own detriment.

Have you ever tried to dance a minuet?

It is always important to know when to change the subject.

Baldassare Castiglione is often thought to have combined elegance and discretion in the service of beauty and harmony.

His famous book was a bestseller throughout much of Europe for more than two centuries.

The main message of The Book of the Courtier in the present, however, is often lost on the uninitiated, unsophisticated reader.

The purpose of the book is to moderate the excesses of unenlightened political leaders, and all other unenlightened leaders, through the skillful guidance of good advisers.

In reality, the successful, tactful adviser becomes the true leader.  The figurehead becomes a mere conduit.

The key to beauty and harmony, however, is for the adviser to ensure the figurehead accurately reflects the best of society, especially in a democracy.

Moderating the power of unwise leaders is a skill most people can learn, at any age.