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from ezra pound

October 21, 2008

“Art or an art is not unlike a river, in that it is perturbed at times by the quality of the river bed, but is in a way independent of that bed. The color of the water depends upon the substance of the bed and the banks immediate and preceding. Stationary objects are reflected, but the quality of motion is of the river. The scientist is concerned with all of these things, the artist with that which flows.”

An art, Pound claims, is independent in its life from its practitioners, their historical situation, their works. We know this to be true, for arts have rules belonging to their practice which any artist or school of artists must confront if they are to practice at all. The life of an art is protected and hidden in this rule: it is when the fluent force of the river is felt within the pathways of rule, and this rule validated, qualified, and nuanced, and in this way held against a measure that surges and dwindles according to its secret principle, that the art is alive in any case. There is something that moves of itself, subject to its own governance, that an art follows and holds itself up against. So a sailor’s skill takes the measure of what wind is blowing, letting it enter and fill the bellying cloth, either tacking in against it, listing leeward, or leaning upright in the music of the gale.

One Comment leave one →
  1. rainscape permalink*
    October 23, 2008 5:30 am

    Wikipedia (on the physics of sailing); this is actually pretty amazing!

    The energy that drives a sailboat is harnessed by manipulating the relative movement of wind and water speed: if there is no difference in movement, such as on a calm day or when the wind and water current are moving in the same direction at the same speed, there is no energy to be extracted and the sailboat will not be able to do anything but drift. Where there is a difference in motion, then there is energy to be extracted at the interface, and the sailboat does this by placing the sail(s) in the air and the hull(s) in the water.

    Sails are airfoils that work by using an airflow set up by the wind and the motion of the boat. The combination of the two is the apparent wind, which is the relative velocity of the wind relative to the boat’s motion. The sails generate lift using the air that flows around them. The air flowing at the sail surface is not the true wind.

    The sail alone is not sufficient to drive the boat in any desired direction, as a sail by itself would only push a boat in the same direction as the wind. Sailboats overcome this by having another physical object below the water line. These include, a keel, centerboard, or some other form of underwater foil or even the hull itself (as in catamarans without centreboard or in a traditional proa). Thus, the physical portion of the boat which is below water can be regarded as functioning as a “second sail”. Having two surfaces against the wind and water enables the sailor to travel in almost any direction and to generate an additional source of lift from the water. The flow of water over the underwater hull portions creates a hydrodynamic force. The combination of the aerodynamic force from the sails and the hydrodynamic force from the underwater hull section allows motion in almost any direction, except straight into the wind. This can be likened, in simple terms, to squeezing a wet bar of soap with two hands which causes it to shoot out in a direction perpendicular to both opposing forces.

    Sweet simile dude!

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