The Connection Between Art and Being Self-Critical

Written by Dyami Millarson

Today is 19th May, my birthday, and so I want to dedicate an article to the man who has inspired me profoundly: My father, Kenneth Millarson, who is a modern kind of homo universalis. He can be called a philosopher-designer-artist because he combines art, design and philosophy. Seeing the link between everything is the basic assumption of his philosophy. My father is a man of action, and he believes in practising his philosophy of interconnection through his own hand labour, for he wishes to prove through action that his practical philosophy about intertwined reality has merit. He designed hand-painted wedding dresses in the past and he had developed a philosophy to support his unique style of design.

My father Kenneth Millarson.

He has focused on philosophy for many years since he discontinued his Operation X/Art Is Labour design. I believe this course of events or turn of fate shows my father has always been chiefly a philosopher, and action is his means of expression. Art and design are, therefore, the practical application of his philosophy. I must, nevertheless, be careful to note that my father’s philosophy sees a link between art (the action) and science (the research). To him, art is the ultimate manifestation of action and science is that of research. Thus, art is the action and science is the research. My father sees his own work as a combination of the action and the research. Philosophy he sees not just as a manifestation of thought, but as living a lifestyle in order to prove one’s thought. His past productivity is thus his evidence material for proving his thought.

My father appears to see philosophy as the origin of all things, for it is the reflection. He perceives philosophy as self-correcting and he believes philosophy is necessary for society, which is what he has sought to demonstrate through the action (art & design). Moreover, my father believes philosophy cannot be complete without introspection. He always decribes this with the long Dutch phrase naar jezelf kijken (looking at yourself). This makes his philosophy distinctly rooted in the Dutch language, and I know that it is a feature of his philosophy to make clever use of Dutch concepts to develop a new thought or lifestyle for the entire world. My father believes this firm rootedness of his philosophy in the Dutch language is essential, while he believes Dutch language has an important role to play for the future development of the world.

To further understand the purpose of my father’s philosophy, one must know the Dutch word wereldbeeld. This can be translated as worldview, but that is not quite what it means exactly. Beeld means image, and this shows, to my father’s mind, its intimate connection with art. Wereldbeeld can thus be translated as artistic image of the world, when one interprets in the way that my father is trying to teach or demonstrate to the world through art. My father’s philosophy can be called Millarsonian philosophy, and what makes his action-oriented wereldbeeld (artistic image of the world, “worldview”) unique is that it is distinctly Dutch while it is simultaneously explicitly universal.

The boodschap (message) of Millarsonian philosophy is that the world needs introspection (naar jezelf kijken) in order to improve itself. My father’s goal is not just self-improvement or the improvement of the individual, but he envisions societal or collective improvement, which may be called universal or world improvement. This necessitates everyone to look honestly at themselves and to judge themselves for the sake of human society. So being self-critical is what is vital for society. This is the ultimate practice or test of Millarsonian philosophy; honesty about and towards oneself is required for the survival of humanity and the progress of the world. My father sees both the future of mankind and progress of humanity as depending on sincere introspection or self-reflection. This is also why we are very self-critical on this blog, and we keep critising our own work, because we have a higher purpose; we wish to save many critically endangered minority languages by learning to speak and write them very fluently, and so we need to be highly critical towards ourselves.

Moral self-criticism is my father’s philosophy.


  1. This is very much my view as well, it’s great to see someone else with this view too. Werldbeeld and boodskap is the same words in afrikaans too. I think one of my main reasons for blogging is to inspire self reflection and people’s inate creativity. It was an interesting read.


  2. I rather enjoy the dichotomy that you referenced between art and science. Learning of “naar jezelf kijken” brought my mind back to my own thoughts on introspection. Also, what a reverent way to honor your father!


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