A few weeks ago the world lost a giant. Arthur Corwin helped me find, recognize, and define my world view. Nobody could link such an incredibly vast number of points into such a lyrical explanation of the entire span of human existence the way he could. He often accomplished this over a very long arc: Bits of ideas tossed out over the course of days, weeks, or even an entire semester accumulated and eventually came together to reveal a much bigger picture.
Corwin taught me how to think within the context of thousands of years. He was a kind of Rosetta Stone for visual thinking. He taught me that old ideas don’t just go away. Things build on other things. And he taught me that complexity doesn’t always have to be simplified down to a few summary sentences. He taught me that things have reasons, and that these reasons often have deep mythological roots. He taught me that we’re all Prehistoric.
And he did all of this in that bulky sweater, with that wry smile. (The smile that was worth more than any grade I ever got.)
From the 1983-84 Course Listings at Cooper Union:
Art in Mathematics.
This course will cover the prehistoric development of cognitive thinking, the origins of the abstract languages of the arts and sciences and their lingering influence on the symbolic perception of modern man.
3 General Studies credits. Fall semester only. Corwin
Advanced Sculpture/Symbolic Perception.
A continuation of the prehistoric Art/Math course to probe further into genetically transmitted symbols known as “Archetypes.” A mixture of lectures, discussion, and individual investigative presentations in areas of art, architecture, literature, cinema, sports, politics and advertising.
3 credits. Lecture/Research seminar. Spring semester only. Prerequisite: Art in Mathematics. Corwin
And he taught me that there’s a great mill that churns the whirlpool at the bottom of the sea.
Goodbye for now, Arthur.