Author Archives: Peter Blake

Out of Thin Air


The thinking activity – according to Plato, the soundless dialogue we carry on with ourselves – serves only to open the eyes of the mind….Nous is an organ for seeing and beholding the truth.  In other words, thinking aims at and ends in contemplation.

                     Hannah Arendt, Life of the Mind


Thinking does not bring knowledge as do the sciences.

Thinking does not produce usable practical wisdom.

Thinking does not solve the riddles of the universe.

Thinking does not endow us directly with the power to act.

 Martin Heidegger, quoted by Hannah Arendt
as the epigraph to Life of the Mind.

 The Art as Experience radio show and podcast has from the beginning been based on the hosts’ experience of art. From the beginning, we decided to base our reviews and discussions of major art exhibitions on our subjective experiences, conversationally developed, rather than striving for the stance of authority.

Making this decision aligned us with several currents in modern philosophy, most obviously with John Dewey’s landmark work (our namesake) Art as Experience.
There have always been strong uncredited contributions from philosophy in our show, increasing in frequency and importance as the show continued through six years. Now that the radio show and podcast have become unscheduled and more rare, we’ve decided to try out a blog on philosophical reflections, centering on art.

The title, Out of Thin Air, comes from the image of painting as a form of thinking.  Sheila Blake has always described her fundamental viewpoint as the painter’s brush. Art concepts such as style, technique, purpose, and movements are not nothing, but before any of that is the artist’s urge to create a world “out of thin air”.