Gift of the Past

Classic Valentine's Day Gifts: From Past to Present
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While the geographical detail makes this map more topologically convincing, it is still a classic T-O map with Jerusalem at centre, the Orient on top, Europe at bottom left, and Africa, bottom right, and spatial significance marked according to theological understanding. In other words, even when geographic space was known scientifically, Christians persisted in depicting the world in the eschatological terms of space as time.

This is the oldest surviving, Chinese world map. How backward Western Europe seems! But it would be wrong to limit our own historical understanding of the history of cartography in terms of a telos of scientific progress. Please note that on early Arabic maps of this type, South was placed at the top of the map.

This is actually from a Cairo manuscript dated one of the only known versions without climate boundaries. Six of original not known.

The Gift of the Past

From a Cairo manuscript dated This map image has been turned upside down to aid the viewer. Oriented with south at the top. Size of original not known. Here we see a variant that was produced two centuries later by a different tradition of Muslim map-makers, the Balkhi school, named after the tenth-century geographer Ahmed ibn Sahll al-Balkhi. Indeed, Islamic world maps with stylised spatial features similar to the T-O maps were produced by the Balkhi school.

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In short, the history of map-making does not fit the narrow conception of history as progress. In fact, none of the ordering binaries of modernity science v. Orient 16 enable us to grasp the empirical history of maps that had multiple traditions, and that were used simultaneously by theologians, court astrologists, imperial conquerors, traveling scholars, religious pilgrims and merchants of trade. The contrast being made here is a limited point of comparison. Star maps and land maps charted space in a way that allowed one to traverse space in time, as opposed to the theological approach whereby divine history—time—was mapped as the space of the world.

Seeing Global

Now to make this small point, why have I submitted you to all this cartographical data? It is to show you that the deeper one delves into empirical history and this is generally true of historical research , the more the material evidence overthrows unilinear narratives of cultural developments belonging to particular civilisations. When empirical facts are not presumed from the start to belong to the histories of different political territories or religious spaces, the findings go against the conventions of history as a discipline.

What I would like to propose is a different construction of history altogether—to cite the past, as one might sight the stars, bringing elements of it together within constellations of meaning that relate to our own time as the vanishing point.

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In August , the U. Of course, the timing, Christmas Eve, was not accidental. US President John Kennedy pressured the scientists to meet that deadline so that the crew of Apollo 8, orbiting the moon ten times, could make a Christmas Eve television broadcast in which they read the first ten verses from the book of Genesis from the King James version of the Biblical text.

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The challenge with imagining is that you can imagine both a desirable future and anticipate a future where you might fail. The past can be a tricky time frame. I mean, it is a very straight forward saying, it does not have many levels to it. Do I need to get something done? Nora's boundary areas 4. Okay, thanks!

So much for the so-called secular West! This was a triumph of modernity as the technological dream of human progress. But in a real sense, this culmination was also an ending. Rather than looking out into space, human beings look back from it, and see themselves. Images of the Earth are returned to us in the cosmic mirror and, for the first time, humanity sees its whole body reflected. It is a body in pieces.

Others were paying attention to this event of the birth of Globalization.

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One was the Taiwanese artist Liu Kuo-Song. Liu was inspired by the Apollo 8 space mission to paint a series of images depicting the newly visible realities by fusing the techniques of Chinese landscape painting with those of contemporary hard-edged abstraction. He was one of the co-founders of the Wuyue Huahui Fifth Moon Group a painting society of Taiwanese artists mainly active in the s.

Liu taught in Hong Kong in the s and 80s, and was a visiting artist and professor in the United States on several occasions. Invited to Beijing in the s, he has since become well known on the mainland. A second artist, the filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik, was a child at the time of the moon landing, living in a small village in the Philippines. In the film, Kidlat tells of his childhood enthusiasm when hearing reports from the Voice of America of Apollo 8 on his portable radio.

It was the time of the US military occupation and the dictatorship of Fernando Marcos , and the young Kidlat became founder and head of the village fan club for Werner von Braun, the rocket scientist whose brilliance made the space voyages possible. But that is not the whole story of von Braun. Before being recruited to the American space effort as director, he worked as a scientist in his native Germany. He joined the Nazi party in and served as a Germans SS officer during the war.

A Gift from the Past

If we bring these three human beings into the same constellation under the sign of the moon landing, we get an idea of just how fragmented the now globally visible humanity was and, of course, still is. Hans Blumenberg, whose description of the moon landing is the climax of his lengthy philosophical history, The Genesis of the Copernican World , was a student in Germany during the Hitler years.

He neither credits, nor even mentions Werner von Braun in his book. Blumenberg was born in , Liu in , Tahimik in If we were categorizing them according to nationality, or generation, or the genre of their work, they would never come into contact with each other. I will take you to another location.

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The past tense of gift is gifted. The third-person singular simple present indicative form of gift is gifts. The present participle of gift is gifting. The past participle of. The third-person singular simple present indicative form of gift with is gifts with. The present participle of gift with is gifting with. The past participle of gift with is.

The time is Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or who says it. In April of that year Malcolm X made the Hajj to Mecca, an event that signaled his transformed understanding of politics, no longer a strategy of Black Nationalism and separatism, but one of transcending race through the universality of Islam. Ali Shariati, It was the year, too, that the Leftist intellectual Ali Shariati returned to Iran after exile in France, where he had corresponded with, and published in Iranian translation works by the Martinique-born Marxist psychoanalyst, Frantz Fanon, whose philosophy of liberation was foundational for post-colonial theory.

Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be. Malcolm X was assassinated in the United States in All of these historical actors were part of the s generation — a global generation, and this is the point. Seen from a global perspective, they can be brought together in the same constellation despite their differences. Rather than inserting each of them individually into a separate national story or religious tradition, history is imagined in terms of simultaneities in space, instead of sequential developments in time.

Such constellations mark the uncharted sky of universal humanity as a body in pieces. What might the implications be for a global history of art? The book, Is Art History Global? It debated whether the study and teaching of art could, or should be global in terms of its methods? Its contents? Its canon?

Elkins proposed using Western theory as the foundation of a global discipline of art as traditionally understood. He found exemplary the work of specific Western art historians: T. The Bal-Elkins debate will not concern us here. Rather than considering the relevance of theory for art historians, we will look at how looking at art , studying art, making visual connections and cross-references among artworks and artists, can help us in conceptualizing the global in a different way. Rather global aesthetic imagination, the capacity to apprehend artistic production in a new way, emerges at a particular time, marked by certain common historical experiences.

These experiences have their origins, not in the West, but in the post-colonial world, necessitating a conceptual break between the modern and the global.

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The sequel to Western modernity has been named post-modernity, a feeble term if ever there was one. Post-modernity as a stage in a teleological sequence can lead nowhere. But globalization allowed the emergence of a new, planetary imaginary and the discovery of a new temporality, one that belongs, potentially, to all of humanity — a humanity that, coeval and diffuse, appears to us now as a body in pieces. In the post-colonial world, as Elizabeth Giorgis has recently argued, aesthetic modernity was intrinsically bound up with national projects of modernization.

Even countries not colonised accepted the conceptual equation of modernity and West — which meant, of course, the conscious attempt to mimic the Western historical patterns of industrial development and nation-state formation. Moreover, by those standards, non-Western artists would always be found lacking, their modernity always belated, derivative, mimetic. At best, artists were able to catch up with an avant-garde that had already arrived at a future to which the whole world was heading.

Post-colonial artists were caught in a dilemma as a consequence. On the one hand, they were part of the national political project. They were relied upon to produce a separate, national identity as part of what it meant to arrive as a modernized, nation state. On the other hand, that national identity would need to be based on indigenous aesthetic traditions that were, by definition, not modern.

In the struggle to be both new and national, artists developed transnational strategies that rescued past traditions by subjecting them to a radical transformation.

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In the process, they opened up a common ground that now can be seen as the origins of a globalized aesthetic. Only as an international figure, who spent years in Spain and France, befriended and promoted by Picasso, Andre Breton, and others, did Lam come back to Cuba with a thoroughly modernist sensitivity to the African heritage that he sought to rescue from two fates. One was its dehistoricized appropriation by European modernists; the other was its erasure from Cuban national identity. Within Western histories of art, if he is considered at all which is rarely , it is within the Surrealist tradition, as dreamlike.

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Like Lam, Boghossian spent time in Paris, an experience that was less a pilgrimage to the European center for colonial artists than a meeting place with others in their situation. Department of State. Within this same historical constellation is Sadequain, who became the founding figure of Pakistani national art.