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The aesthetics and poetics of the ars combinatoria

The exhibition “The thinking machine: Ramon Llull and the ars combinatoria” at the CCCB has an academic basis in this article by Amador Vega.

We suggest you read this article in full. It explores the aesthetic dimension of Lullian ars combinatoria through the notions of movement, combination, variation, permutation, network, analogy, connectivity, dynamics and interaction. These ideas allow comparisons with works of art and creative processes.

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Either explicitly or implicitly, the Lullian ars combinatoria has inspired authors such as Giordano Bruno, Agrippa von Nettesheim, Atanasius Kircher, Salvador Dalí, Juan de Herrera, Jorge Oteiza, José María Yyturralde, Manuel Barbadillo, José Luis Alexanco, Juan Eduardo Cirlot, Valère Novarina, Ralf Baecker, etc. Some of them pursued the aspects of logic and calculation, others took an interest in geometry thanks to Llull’s diagrams or his encyclopaedic breadth, others used the generative mechanism of the combination of formal elements… and all without losing the mystical background of Lullian inspiration and the poetic fundamentals of his work.

The article is divided into two sections:

  1. Logic, mysticism and geometry; and
  2. New cognitive paradigms: between art and poetry.

The first explores the legacy of the Lullian method as a universal grammar and meditative practice, from a logical, theological and philosophical perspective. The second section deals with the notions of difference, repetition, variation, coding and connectivity from a perspective of poetics and knowledge transmission.

The text leads us to suggest that Llull’s thinking and the world in which we live today are not so far apart. Llull’s philosophy is dynamic and relational and allows comparisons with our networked world, understood as a complex but unified weft.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Ramon Llull: ​Philosophy, Arts and Science through the Ars Combinatoria

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

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