Religion Color and Sound Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1133 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Religion -- Color and Sound

Music, Proportionality, and Religious Experience

Within the dominant strains of the Western Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious tradition, the experience of mystical communality or community with God is often considered, ineffable or inexpressible in words. Even in verbal theological terms such intense communality or harmony with God is thought of as untranslatable into relative verbal terms. Because the mystical experience is defined as a loss of ego, and a coming together or oneness with the divinity, the spiritual ideal is most often expressed through the imperfect metaphor of visual or aural harmony. However, because of the naturally divisive nature of debate and verbiage, there has been great debate since the Renaissance exactly how to define such 'harmony' and if a definition harmony is possible on a musical or a visual level on a cross-cultural level.

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For the Renaissance astronomer Kepler, visual or aural harmony was virtually commensurate. Harmony was defined as when things worked together mechanically and existed in a state of mathematically perfect balance. Through harmony, l apparent opposites, like the mortal and the earthly and the divine and the unearthly could work together in a state of mutual understanding. They might not merge, but together they could, in balance form 'one entity.' The mathematical, emotive yet physical, and balanced system of music most perfectly embodied such perfection, in Kepler's view. Unlike the often-unbalanced nature of a material and purely mechanical function, or the physical mechanical demands required for human, temporal survival, musical pleasure was simply the perfect, physical reflection of existing natural proportions and was thus common currency and commonly understood, on the same terms to all peoples. This was why music was the perfect metaphorical expression of mystical harmony, and in music there was no possibility of translation, in either music or, its 'perfect' counterpart, mathematics.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Religion Color and Sound Assignment

Kepler may have subsumed the concept of musical and visual harmony into a discussion of proportionality, but Hazrat Inyat Khan of the Islamic rather than the Protestant tradition, bifurcated the musical and the visual, stressing that music was superior because it did not create reflections or misrepresentations of life in one's head, it simply 'was.' Like life, music was of motion rather than fixed and of stasis like art. Of course, the Arabic and Islamic tradition forbids physical representations of the divine, hence the greater predominance of music in the tradition.

In contrast to this harmony of Khan that denied the ability of art to provide visions of balance, Aldous Huxley stressed the physicality of images to give a sense of the mystical and communal experience. Huxley expressed his concept of the visual and the mystical with an example of a vase of flowers. In his vision, each flower was important simply because each flower simply exist, each flower was unique and separate, yet in balance, along the lines of Kepler's vision of perfectly balanced oppositional forces in a state of harmonic discourse.

It should be noted that there was an aural as well as a visual component to Huxley's vision. Huxley stated that during his mystical sense of harmonic vision he could both hear and see the flowers breathing. Huxley, during his experience felt that his life was in continuity with the life of the perceived flowers. In the visual apprehension of the flowers that created his sense of 'oneness', Huxley found a kind of 'religious experience' for a moment -- but unlike Kepler,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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