Monday, February 23, 2004

Yep, creating community sites means a lot of work. The categories on Salt Lake Sites have grown too large. So, I've been trying to figure out how to break things into subcategories. Today, I've been working on the photo section. I've decided to break the section into art photos, scenic photos, fashion and photographers. I have a feeling the process will backfire. I put the best galleries in the Salt Lake City Art Photo gallery. I am worried, however, that everyone will end up visiting the lower quality galleries.

In the culture department, I loved the PBS Series on the Medici. My work on mathematics starts with Brunelleschi's rediscovery of visual perspective. The Medici documentary does an excellent job showing the important role that patronage played in the development of Renaissance arts, and I was delighted from start to finish with the production.

The goal of the production was to give the world view of the Medici's. As such, it tends to overrate their contributions. The documentary gives the impression that the Medici's created the Renaissance. I see them more as a product of their time. For example, the Medici's were able to rise from obscurity to power because Florence was a republic. In allowing more freedom and active participation in the government and economy, Florence opened its society to merchants and bankers.

As for the patronage of the arts, again the Medici were very much a creation of their times. The patronage of the arts was not simply the Medici's being wonderfully generous. With the Catholic Church in a major cathedral building mode, art creation was an extremely vibrant part of the economy. Creating public art was like film making today. The Medici's came into the art and architecture world because that is where the money was. Buying and trading art work was the pinnacle of high finance in the 1400s. The documentary seems to imply that the Medicis created the republic in Florence and that they created the grand masters of the Renaissance.

I suspect that the real dynamics of the economy was much as it is today with the creative agents needing capital and bankers finding clever ways to snag the lion's share of the rewards from the creations. In other words, the Medici's were a leach with a symbiotic relation to the creators. In all likelihood any other banking family would have become rich. The fact that Florence was an open society that allowed Brunelleschi, Da Vinci, Giotto, ..., and the Medici's to pursue their own intellectual thoughts was the cause of the Renaissance. Add to that the work of Roger Bacon and St Augustine that helped promote the sciences of the ancients, and you have a formula for success.

In some ways, I dislike how the Catholic Church was portrayed as reactionaries throughout the work. I personally think a better description of the day is that both the CC and the people at large were finally in a position to recover from the invasions and plagues of the dark ages. The CC was the primary funder for the arts. It was trying to find a way to progress.

It is interesting to note that the conservative elements that persecuted Galileo got into power in raction to the corruption of the Medici popes. When you look at that ugly little nest of politics, you see a lot more going on than the rift between science and religion.

BTW, I was very pleased that the documentary did not go into the Machiavelli worship that is common in many modern universities. My personal take is that Machiavelli wrote the prince just as Scott Adams draws caricatures of pointy haired bosses. Machiavelli saw the collapse of the Republic that brought so much to the world. Machiavelli's The prince was not the recipe for subjegation that Mansfield falls over to worship, but a description of the horrible things that the powerful were doing to gain power.

The Medici's destroyed the republic that allowed the Medici's to rise to power. Just as Bill Gates seems to be doing everything in his power to destroy the economic foundations that allowed businesses like Microsoft to be born and flourish. It is called kicking down the ladder behind you. Nothing new there.

Anyway, the Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance is an absolutely supurb documentary.

In the burning up time department, I took a trial of the community. Wow, they've got a really cool site in the works. Basically, you are an avator and run around communing with others on a tropical island. I prefer this model to the dark shoot up worlds of unreal.

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