Tending toward the Arts

Win Wenger’s proposal for a Nine-Day Renaissance

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
published in The Stream, December 2004
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Some of us have seen Win’s poem in Beyond Teaching And Learning, “Pier,” cited as a protest at the human condition. Few of us have seen this poem of his, however, which he thought might make an appropriate seasonal item:

December Sun

Sleepy trees in December sun,
Luminous porcelain blue behind –
I hear you settling in…..

Did I only dream you bore
fluttering green,
Gold and green softly sighing?
The taste of sun in the air?

Wet bank, wet mud, wet leaves
Fill the air without ever leaving the ground.
Close in, I see your tops fall away to the sky
Only suntastedreams left behind.

— Win Wenger

A few of us know of Win’s involvement with music – some have tuned in to the excerpt online at http://www.winwenger.com from one of his Improvitaped pieces. Fewer of us know, however, of Win’s favorite Project Renaissance workshop to teach: the Nine-Day Renaissance, about which he writes:

“The Nine-Day Renaissance, in either art or music, is my very favorite to teach because it produces such beautiful work. Fun also – some very beautiful stuff is going on there besides the artwork. Some really incredible stuff was captured on video during our last such workshop, in 1984 in Philadelphia – the loss of that video, before we could copy it or use it, was one of several discouragements, the other being the sheer logistics of providing for such an experience in the arts for a group of people over nine days, back when we had no material resources to speak of, which led to our not conducting that workshop experience again.

” – But we would very much like to lead such a workshop again! With multiple videos, CDs, DVDs, etc. We need for this to be sponsored, by and in the set-up of either a school or department of art or of music. This workshop would be for training in either music or art, but not both simultaneously.

“In such a training, we want a broad admixture of participants, including skilled and creative artists (or musicians), ten-thumbed klutzes and tin ears, and the variety of levels of skills and backgrounds in-between. And in any case we want there to be enough interest in music or art to be motivating.

For the already-skilled, the emphasis in the training will be mostly on enhancing creativity. For the initially unskilled majority of us, some emphasis on skills and techniques will be added, though most such techniques will be learned directly from the higher-brain beyond- conscious resources of each participant, rather than formally taught.

“Such an adventure, in either art or music, belongs right alongside our work in improving intellectual and human abilities and understandings and, of course, qualities of experience. We see more and more evidence going by that the arts improve the development of the intellect, and of intelligence itself. Many of us also know personally that the numinous and affective qualities of a great piece of music or art are the same as the numinous and affective qualities which accompany experience of a great idea or understanding. Modern research is showing that the brain is physically changed by the experience of great music (and likely also by great art); that change is seen notably in those areas of the physical brain most identified with intellectual experience and ability; and that change is profoundly for the better.

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