WINSLOW HOMER - THE GULF STREAM 1899 detail|
With The Gulf Stream Winslow Homer may be alluding to Isaiah Chapter 33:21-23.
Isaiah Chapter 33
Look again. What is the object immediately forward of the broken mast? The "what it actually is" is a wooden cleat for securing the lines, but the "what it is not," a thing it can be seen as, is a wood cross. Since the real form is identical, this is not an illusion. The thing is functionally a cleat, but the cleat also has the actual physical form of a cross.*
This argument of Hume proves too much, and therefore proves nothing. It proves too much; for if I am to reject the strongest testimony to miracles, because testimony has often deceived me, whilst nature's order has never been found to fail, then I ought to reject a miracle, even if I should see it with my own eyes, and if all my senses should attest it; for all my senses have sometimes given false reports, whilst nature has never gone astray; and, therefore, be the circumstances ever so decisive or inconsistent with deception, still I must not believe what I see, and hear, and touch, what my senses, exercised according to the most deliberate judgment, declare to be true. All this the argument requires; and it proves too much; for disbelief, in the case supposed, is out of our power, and is instinctively pronounced absurd; and what is more, it would subvert that very order of nature on which the argument rests; for this order of nature is learned only by the exercise of my senses and judgment, and if these fail me, in the most unexceptionable circumstances, then their testimony to nature is of little worth.Not everyone has the same attitude about everything. If you were completely comfortable with Channing's argument, perhaps you do not have the typical cultural bias that I think exists regarding "illusions" we might see in Nature. For us here, this need not be an issue at all, because Channing is not talking about looking at a painting. We are looking the works of another human being, Winslow Homer, an artist, who happened to have an incredible imagination and who lived at a time, especially in his childhood, when people did not have such a strong bias against such illusions. When you look at the images of his works here, you are not looking at Nature. You do not have to be concerned that you might see a miracle, because you are only looking at an image of Winslow Homer's artwork. You are only looking at "illusions" he saw in his mind and expressed in his art.
* Related references regarding allusions in Homer's Gulf Stream.Chikovsky, Nicholai and Kelly, Franklin. Winslow Homer. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1995. p. 382ff. The cleat as a cross was noted, along with other allusions.
Wood, Peter H. Discusses other allusions to civil and historical issues.
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Copyright 1992-2015 Peter Bueschen
The presentation is available at The Obtuse Bard website http://obtusebard.org.