Music of the Gods

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2008-04-21 06:11

"The emotion involved in art is not an emotion in the ordinary meaning of the term. It is experienced more as a 'sense' or a 'feel,' but it has two characteristics pertaining to emotions: it is automatically immediate and it has an intense, profoundly personal (yet undefined) value-meaning to the individual experiencing it.

"The value involved is life, and the words naming the emotion are: 'This is what life means to me.' Regardless of the nature or content of an artist’s metaphysical views, what an art work expresses, fundamentally, under all of its lesser aspects is: 'This is life as I see it.' The essential meaning of a viewer’s or reader’s response, under all of its lesser elements is, 'This is (or is not) life as I see it.'"

—Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto

Introduction

As often happens, I am in hot water—this time on the "RACH” thread—for fulminating against “headbanging caterwauling” and touting the superiority of Romantic music. I am in hot water with the fans of caterwauling for daring to diss their favoured offal, and with a serious music aficionado who insists “Romanticism” should include sundry post-Romantic meanderers and blowhards. He has ranked some thirty Romantic and post-Romantic works according to merit (according to him) in what looks suspiciously like a J. Evans Pritchard modus operandi.

Here I propose to deal only with the “arguments” of the caterwaulers; the case for or against including the likes of Mahler among the Great Romantics will have to wait ... except to say, paraphrasing Shakespeare: “Brevity is the soul of beauty.”

First, a preliminary question: why does this matter matter? Why do I get so exercised about it? Why can’t I just “live and let live” and leave empty heads and deformed souls alone to wallow in their frightful cacophonies?

My answer: I am perfectly prepared to do that—but they’re not prepared to leave me or any other decent, innocent human being alone. They shove their filth at us at every turn, and I am beyond fed up with it. As Rand might say, "These are the commandos of the haters' army, who crawl out of the sewer of centuries and shake themselves in public, splattering muck over the passers-by. ... The passers-by are the rest of us, who have to live, breathe and work in this atmosphere."

As I said in my RACH editorial:

“They do not rule the world officially but they have taken it over. They have taken over the shopping malls, the shops, the bars and restaurants, the gyms and rugby fields, the interludes between television programmes and even the programmes themselves. Nothing is uncorrupted by these aliens—even opera singers perform with them.

“It’s time to shame these aesthetic thugs into oblivion. Musical masochism is for consenting adults in private; it shouldn’t be sadistically imposed on unconsenting adults in public. Ideally its perpetrators should follow the logic of one of their number, the Slipknot drummer who, when told his was music to commit suicide by, said, ‘We must be doing something right.’ I would certainly encourage that alien and all its fellows to top themselves and leave the earth to human beings.”

Since it’s unlikely that they’ll opt for suicide, unfortunately, it is they who need to be admonished to “live and let live” (if you can call what they do living). They should not be averse to a campaign for the voluntary clearing away of their pollution from places where it’s unsolicited.

Rand said:

"I am not willing to surrender the world to the jerky contortions of self-inducedly brainless bodies with empty eye sockets who perform in stinking basements the immemorial rituals of staving off terror, which are a dime a dozen in any jungle—and to the quavering witch doctors who call it 'art.'"

Well dears, neither am I. When some skunk squirts its filth in my face without my consent, I will punch its snout. And I shall campaign against skunkery in general.

I should say that the reason this essay has taken a while is that it was becoming an academic-style treatise on Romanticism in music. Well, the Internet is replete with such treatises, by people better qualified than I. All I ever intended was an informed layman’s polemic against The Age of Crap as manifest in music, and against the idea that music is somehow exempt from the standard, healthy Objectivist strictures against cultural relativism. Realising I had departed from my brief, I had to start over to get back on course.

I have used Dr. Richard Goode as my foil in this essay because, like Everest, he’s there, and because, in this debate, he is perfect in his immorality (I say this in a caring kind of way). He is delectably quintessential!

Cutting to the chase

So why do I feel entitled to pile on value-judgments such as “sub-human,” “skunks,” “filth” and so on in the realm of music? Didn’t Rand herself say:

“Until a conceptual vocabulary is discovered and defined, no objectively valid criterion of esthetic judgment is possible in the field of music … No one, therefore, can claim the objective superiority of his choices over the choices of others. Where no objective proof is available, it's every man for himself—and only for himself”?

Yes, she did. And, I submit, she was wrong.

Note the practical implication of her dictum: that no one can claim the objective superiority of the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven posted on the Van Cliburn thread over the Slayer posted on the RACH thread. This is absurd on its face—but of course, “on its face” won’t do for those who seize on Rand’s statement as an excuse to remain in the sewer. So let’s keep going.

What did Rand mean by “conceptual vocabulary”?

She tells us. Such a vocabulary would explain how a work evokes the emotions it does. “Why does a succession of sounds produce an emotional reaction? Why does it involve man’s deepest emotions and his crucial, metaphysical values? How can sounds reach man’s emotions directly, in a manner that seems to bypass his intellect? What does a certain combination of sounds do to man’s consciousness to make him identify it as gay or sad?”

Why need we know these things in order to pass objective judgment? What difference would it make? That she doesn’t tell us. But she does reiterate:

“The formulation of a common vocabulary of music would require these answers. It would require: a translation of the musical experience, the inner experience, into conceptual terms; an explanation of why certain sounds strike us a certain way; a definition of the axioms of musical perception, from which the appropriate esthetic principles could be derived, which would serve as a base for the objective validation of esthetic judgments.”

Phew!

This, Rand goes on, means we need to do what we currently cannot do in musical perception--separate subject and object:

“In listening to music, a man cannot tell clearly, neither to himself nor to others—and therefore, cannot prove—which aspects of his experience are inherent in the music and which are contributed by his own consciousness. He experiences it as an indivisible whole, he feels as if the magnificent exaltation were there in the music—and he is helplessly bewildered when he discovers that some men do experience it and some do not. In regard to the nature of music, mankind is still on the perceptual level of awareness.”

Now, it is my contention that Rand has set the bar way too high here—we don’t need to know all that in order to judge—and that furthermore, my contention has her imprimatur:

“The deadly monotony of primitive music—the endless repetition of a few notes and of a rhythmic pattern that beats against the brain with the regularity of the ancient torture of water drops falling on a man’s skull—paralyses cognitive processes, obliterates awareness and disintegrates the mind. ... Primitive music becomes his narcotic [that of a modern man brought up as a 'mentally helpless savage']: it wipes out the groping, it reassures him and reinforces his lethargy, it offers him temporarily the sense of a reality to which his stagnant torpor is appropriate.” (Note, incidentally, what she is describing as primitive music is still a slight advance on rap, which was embryonic in her time: rap has no notes!)

If that’s not passing judgment I don’t know what is! So, is Rand seriously arguing that she would then baulk at the final hurdle and decline to pronounce primitive music inferior to Romantic? She already has so pronounced it!

And with good reason.

Romanticism vs. Headbanging

See, “the endless repetition of a few notes and of a rhythmic pattern that beats against the brain with the regularity of the ancient torture of water drops falling on a man’s skull” is a near-perfect description of, to cite a convenient example, the track, “Rain of Blood” by “thrash metal” band Slayer, linked to on RACH. (Apparently “thrash metal” is a sibling of “death metal.”) The piece is certainly melodically challenged. The rhythm is faster than water drops, to be sure, but the way it beats against the brain is definitely torture (which some clearly enjoy, but I’ll come to that). The description omits, since it wasn’t specifically what Rand had in mind, lyrics that are inaudible (and, on further investigation, unintelligible) rendered by a voice that is unlistenable, the voice of someone being tortured. It omits the seemingly deliberate over-amping of the guitars to effect distortion. It says nothing about harmony—but then, there’s not much to say anyway. Overall, the description could easily be of “Rain of Blood.”

By way of cleansing contrast, let us remind ourselves what makes Romantic music Romantic music, and what we know about music itself that permits us to judge.

We know that the primary components of music are melody, harmony and rhythm—and the greatest of these is melody, the ordering of tones. Melody is fundamental. As plot is to literature, so melody is to music. Whistle a tune, unaccompanied (no harmonies), each note equal in length (no rhythm)—it’s still music. No melody—no music. “It’s the toon, stoopid!”

We know that certain simultaneous combinations of tones (harmony), because of the mathematical relationship of their frequencies, are, as a matter of metaphysical fact, integratable by the human brain (consonant) and others are not (dissonant); that this is true for all human beings apart from the tone-deaf; that the resolution of dissonance into consonance helps give a piece suspense, sophistication and satisfaction, a sense of home-coming; and so we may rightly judge the deliberate refusal to resolve for the sake of refusal to resolve to be an act of sabotage and assassination.

We know that in the Romantic period (nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) composers and performers pushed the boundaries of every musical element, primary and secondary, achieving an unprecedented emotional expressiveness while avoiding the descent into the atonal anarchy that followed. New instruments, bigger orchestras; new forms, and the expansion of old forms; the coming of age of opera and ballet; virtuoso stars, like our modern-day “celebs” only with talent; the cult of the conductor; more inventive melodies using bigger intervals between notes; greater dynamic range—fff (fortississimo: very, very loud) to ppp (pianississimo: very, very soft); more daring harmonies (chromatic and dissonant, without recourse to the sabotage or assassination that became de rigueur later) modulating more frequently into other keys; more rhythmic variety, including greater use of syncopation, rubato (bending of the rhythm), accelerando (speeding up) and ritardando (slowing down), changing of the time signature within movements, etc. They honored but were not straitjacketed by the formalism of classicism, stretching but not eschewing the rules that make music cohere. They knew with their predecessors that coherence was integral to integration, and integration to harmoniousness, and harmoniousness to beauty. They exercised freedom within the rule of law—the perfect mirror of what was going on politically.

Thus did they bring individualism to music—they were each distinguishable from the other; each imposed his distinctive stamp upon the form without going out of it (at least not to the point of disintegration). They united the idiomatic with the idiosyncratic, reason with emotion, Apollo with Dionysus (albeit with a leaning towards the latter, via, it must be admitted, that villain Rousseau). They transformed the “universal language” into an individual language. As one commentary puts it:

“Romantic-era composers kept the forms of Classical music. But the Romantic composer did not feel constrained by form. Breaking through boundaries was now an honorable goal shared by the scientist, the inventor, and the political liberator. Music was no longer universal; it was deeply personal and sometimes nationalistic. The personal sufferings and triumphs of the composer could be reflected in stormy music that might even place a higher value on emotion than on beauty. Music was not just happy or sad; it could be wildly joyous, terrified, despairing, or filled with deep longings.”

We know that, in Objectivist terms, they projected as never before, if not for the first time, man the passionate valuer—their symphonies and concerti were “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” set to music and writ large. We know that Rand's description of Richard Halley's Concerto of Deliverance could only have been of a Romantic composition:

"It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up. They spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance." (Rach 3, anyone—how about the middle section of the second movement?)

In short, we know that in every important aspect of it one can name, music—demonstrably, empirically, as a matter of fact—reached its apogee in the Romantic era. Romanticism was the culmination of what preceded it, and the transcending of it; it was the high point of musical evolution to date; it was the “total height”—and it remains so. (What came after was disintegration into vagueness, gratuitous dissonance, ostentation, random plinkety-plonk, silly silences and traffic noise.) Not knowing the physiology of how music evokes the responses that it does in us, not knowing how many parts object and how many part subject are involved, cannot gainsay this fact, the supreme stature of Romantic music, and its superiority over any modern throwback to “primitive music” such as that of Slayer, which it seems ludicrous to mention in the same breath.

This superiority can also be ascribed, I should add, to the myriad forms of what one might call “mini-Romanticism” such as operetta, musical comedy, jazz (the intelligible kind), pre-80s pop, movie scores, Ayn Rand’s “tiddly-wink music” and so on. The standard pop tune of my youth was a veritable miniature sonata with a clear theme, stated, developed then reiterated (A-B-A), value-orientated (usually about love!) with meaningful if unchallenging lyrics, audibly articulated. Any of the foregoing is superior to Slayer and all other headbanging caterwauling.

Romanticism and sense of life

Now at this point someone might object: “All this is very well, but you’re over-emphasizing the technical and structural aspects of the compositions and glossing over the business of one’s emotional response to them. After all, headbangers can be complex and clever too. And the fact is, whether you approve or not, Slayer hits my emotional spot and Rach doesn’t. End of story.”

And of course, it is the end of the story if you want it to be, if you’re content with that. Let’s just not continue to tout the relativist fiction that all music is created equal.

And let’s see what can be observed about the emotional response, since the objector is quite right: that is the whole point of the exercise, and music, like no other art form, gets to the point straight away.

I assume that what the objector and I seek from music is the same thing: what I call value-swoon: “This is life as I see it”—in my case, in the form of a spiritual orgasm born of orgiastic love-making between me, the artist, the composer and life itself. Value-swoon consummated by tears. If there are no tears, I haven’t fully value-swooned. Tears of joy, poignance, worship, “unclouded exaltation” in the presence of gods and the godly, of beauty inexpressible in words. The solemn gaze on Van Cliburn’s face as he looks up at his conductor at the conclusion of the aforementioned Tchaikovsky (Piano Concert #1, Movement Three), having thundered spectacularly up and down the length and breadth of the piano and pressed down the final home-coming tonic chord, says it all. Breathes there the man with soul so dead he cannot behold this and exult: “What a piece of work is man!”? This response, of course, is life-affirming, and so, by Objectivist standards, good. Moreover, it is the response the work and the performance are intended to evoke, so the subject’s reaction is consistent with the content of the object.

Now, it's true that one needn't seek the full monty every time, which would be rather exhausting, and there are less weighty but perfectly legitimate reasons one might listen to some types of music. "Objectively superior," after all, implies an answer to the questions, "Superior to what, in what respect and for what purpose?" Country is best for a good laugh (who can resist the hilarity of some retard yodelling about his wife leaving him for the horse?), for instance, and The Carpenters are great for getting to sleep. But it turns out metal fans do actually seek the full monty. Or at least, at first glance, they claim to. Dr. (PhD in philosophy) Richard Goode, Slayer’s cheerleader on the RACH thread, said there:

“Honestly, if you don't feel glad to be alive after a good pounding by Slayer, the Queens of the Stone Age or even Hayseed Dixie, then there’s something wrong with you.” (Note, there’s something wrong with you. Evidently it’s OK to say there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like Slayer but not OK to say there’s something wrong with you if you do!)

But hang on a minute! Pressed by me to explain just how a “good pounding by Slayer” made him “glad to be alive,” Dr. Goode responded as follows:

“Anger. Energy. Passion. Defiance. Catharsis. Slayer are musical genius.”

So, is it anger, etc., that makes Dr. Goode feel glad to be alive, that gives him his value-swoons? I tried to find out:

“Anger about what? Passion for what? Defiance of what? Given that ‘catharthis’ is the release of pent-up emotions, why are your emotions pent up (I did warn you that pomowanking makes one passionless)? Wherein lies Slayer's ‘musical genius’?”

Alas, my inquiries elicited no further response.

Which entitles us to assume, I think, that the anger is not a justified, discrete anger about some particular injustice or other, else Dr. Goode would have mentioned it; it is a generalised, metaphysical anger at life itself that makes Goode feel good!

Now, remember what Rand said about the way music affects us:

“Psycho-epistemologically, the pattern of the response to music seems to be as follows: one perceives the music, one grasps the suggestion of a certain emotional state and, with one's sense of life serving as the criterion, one appraises this state as enjoyable or painful, desirable or undesirable, significant or negligible, according to whether it corresponds to or contradicts one's fundamental feeling about life.”

In the case of Dr. Goode and Slayer, he perceives their music, grasps the suggestion of anger and defiance and appraises it as enjoyable, desirable and significant, since it corresponds to his fundamental feeling about life. He says, “This is life as I see it.” Which, I respectfully submit, taking it at its own word, is anti-life—and the anti-life, need I point out, is, according to Objectivism, bad! Calling it and what evoked it “inferior” is letting it off lightly!

Inferior Music and Philosophy

None of this occurs in a vacuum. It’s no coincidence, but rather entirely congruent, that among Dr. Goode’s other pin-up boys is the philosopher David Hume, who taught that concepts, the means by which human beings make sense of reality, have no basis in reality; there are just brute facts, and the act of integrating them into concepts is entirely arbitrary.

Here’s Rand on Hume:

“When Hume declared that he saw objects moving about, but never saw such a thing as ‘causality’—it was the voice of Attila that men were hearing. It was Attila’s soul that spoke when Hume declared that he experienced a flow of fleeting states inside his skull, such as sensations, feelings or memories, but had never caught the experience of such a thing as consciousness or self. When Hume declared that the apparent existence of an object did not guarantee that it would not vanish spontaneously next moment, and the sunrise of today did not prove that the sun would rise tomorrow; when he declared that philosophical speculation was like a game, like chess or hunting, of no significance whatever to the practical course of human existence, since reason proved that existence was unintelligible, and only the ignorant maintained the illusion of knowledge—all of this accompanied by vehement opposition to the mysticism of the Witch Doctor and by protestations of loyalty to reason and science—what men were hearing was the manifesto of a philosophical movement that can be designated only as Attila-ism.”

Here’s Goode on the significance or otherwise of philosophy, in a SOLO exchange with James Valliant:

Valliant: As a philosopher, can you tell me what the practical upshot of your work is, i.e., its implications to human life?

Goode: Hahaha. You're kidding, right?

Stretching too long a bow?

Hume was a destroyer. Slayer, whose headbanging has included “songs” sympathetic to the 9/11 terrorists and Joseph Mengele, are destroyers. And all other headbangers. They are Hume’s chickens come home to roost. Richard, who claims there is no basis in reason for freedom, is an enabler of the destroyers (I grant he’d be horrified to think so). All three are archetypes. Hume, the clever/stupid philosopher, for whom logic and facts ne’er will meet; Goode, the modern “cool” sophisticat, monotoned and sardonic, getting his kicks from clever-dick nitpicking and word games; Slayer, the ugly reality behind the philosophers’ pseudo-civilized veneer, like so many “metal” bands of whichever variety—“thrash,” “death” or otherwise. It’s useful and instructive to see them all appropriately aligned—all nihilists together in this post-modern Age of Nihilism.

Conclusion

Nihilism is as objectively bad in esthetics as it is in any other realm—and in music as in any other part of esthetics, Rand notwithstanding. Appraising a positive response to musical nihilists as good, as Goode does, is bad. These animals intend to purvey ugliness and mindless rage and like nothing better in response than the perverted value-swoon of the nihilist, the pomowanker’s snicker of approval, perhaps more accurately called the "anti-value swoon." Again, the subject's response is congruent with the object's content.

We all hear the same thing. We all recognise deliberate ugliness and rage for ugliness’s and rage’s sake, just as surely as we all hear a minor chord as somber and a major chord as cheerful. It’s our responses to the ugliness and rage that differ, and the issue here is: evaluating the responses. It’s a question of values, not physiology. Life-affirming values = good; life-negating values (anti-values) = bad. So, if you respond with approval to deliberate ugliness and gratuitous rage, if you seek out and wallow in the anti-value swoon, then, in Dr. Goode’s immortal words, “There’s something wrong with you.” And that’s a fact.

I’m reminded of a painter friend from years ago who read The Fountainhead. He got it. He understood it as well as I. But he chose to blank it out, because, “If I take it seriously it’ll turn my life upside down” (his life being in thrall to axe-through-head tutors).

In his exceptional SOLO essay, “Something Better than Rage, Pain, Anger and Hurt,” Peter Cresswell exhorts:

“Music is our food of the spirit. So do try to be careful what you eat.”

(This admonition, by the way, doesn’t mean we all have to like the same music any more than we have to like the same food. It means we should eat food rather than feces.)

Musically speaking, we have whole generations eating poo and militantly relishing it. It ill-behoves Objectivists to tell them there’s no objective reason not to do so. Objectivism is nothing if not a command to rise. To those addicted to feces but wanting to rise from the sewer, I commend Mr. Cresswell’s essay. He knows whereof he speaks. He has himself risen!

Just these last few days on SOLO, artist Michael Newberry has recounted the story of someone who presented plastic-wrapped blood from her miscarriages as an artwork, and asked:

“Many of you here are freaked out about the possibility of radical Muslims taking over the world. But what is it that could weaken the West so much that it could fall victim to a primitive anti-modern society? When I see America, I see and experience many great things, lots of freedoms. It's much easier to do what you like here than in the other countries I have lived in. But, I also see the postmodern art world everywhere, with its cynical, disintegrated, anti-conceptual mind-set, and pathetic sense of life. That is America too. What if art plays a major role in the health, flourishing, and spirit of country or a culture? If that is so, aren't we more in trouble from the inside than the outside?”

We’re certainly in trouble from the inside. I quote finally from my inaugural speech at SOLOC 1 in 2001. The "jungle cacophony" alluded to is Eminem—I had just compared Johann Strauss and Eminem as exemplars of two contrasting cultures, antipodal pop icons, one danced to by human beings, the other jerked to by the eyeless-socketed ones:

“ ... get out there in the marketplace and promote good art as zealously as you promote good philosophy, both being necessary for the preservation of freedom. The tide is against us at the moment—wherever we turn our ears are assaulted by jungle cacophony of the kind we've just heard. In the visual realm … well, we've just been reading on the SOLO Forum about the Canadian artist I alluded to earlier who won a prestigious award for ejaculating into vials; there was the Turner Award in Britain, recently bestowed on someone whose ‘artwork’ was a room with an electric light in it. These abominations are a dime a dozen right now; it is, as I often say, the Age of Crap. I want SOLO to wage an intellectual war on it every bit as relentless as the physical War on Terrorism.”

That war should include the unabashed proclamation of Romantic music’s objective superiority.

Romantic music is composed and performed by the heroes in our midst. It speaks and appeals to the best within us. It awakens our capacity for rapture. It is appreciated and adored by the passionately enlightened. It is inspired by and inspires the most intensely life-affirming value-swoons possible to man. If the expression, "total passion for the total height" means anything, it finds that meaning in Romantic music. In terms of what went into it and what can be taken out of it, Romantic music is simply the best.

And that’s a fact.


( categories: )

Rand's Making a Mountain Out of a Cold Sore

Jonathan's picture

There are paintings of beautiful people with blemishes or disfigurements that have nothing to do with being an "obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values." From what I've seen, such paintings are most often intended to be expressions of the rejection of superficiality or vanity, or expressions of compassion.

Here's a description that I wrote on OL of a painting that I had seen of a woman with a cleft lip that some of you might find interesting:

http://www.objectivistliving.c...

J

Mr. Perigo.

sharon's picture

"The howls of protest from the dregs are further circumstantial evidence that I hit the nail on the head."

Harrumph. Why can’t it simply be the case that we disagree with you?

the cold sore case!

sharon's picture

"...But a painting of such a woman would be a corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values—and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist."

And here we have a good example of the excitedly overstated hyperbole rhetoric so characteristic of Rand that statements like this belie the merits of her aesthetic philosophy (where there are merits).

As an aside, I think a painting of “beautiful woman with a cold sore” sounds hilarious, something wonderfully whacky. It sounds like something Eric White would paint.

More Pigeronian Tantrums as a Substitute For Argument

Jonathan's picture

Pigero grunted,
"... it seems to have escaped folks' attention that the last part of your Rand quotation, Marcus, heads up and sets the scene for Music of the Gods. The filth-worshippers hide behind Rand's statement re the lack of a conceptual vocabulary for music (by which she meant at this time; they'd prefer she meant for ever) to disguise their spiritual filthiness, even though, as I pointed out, Rand made it perfectly clear from her other comments ('primitive music,' 'eyeless sockets,' etc.) what she would have thought of them and their 'music.'"

Rand also made it clear what she thought of homosexuals. Her occasional subjective rants and irrational fits should not be confused with "objective judgments."

Pigero continued,
"My contention is that we have all the 'conceptual vocabulary' in the world necessary to demonstrate that Romantic is the greatest, the apogee, both in sense-of-life and technical terms, thus far."

Sense-of-life is not a valid criterion of Objectivist Esthetic judgment, and Rand thought that there was more to judging art than evaluating its mere technical merits.

Pigero continued,
"The howls of protest from the dregs are further circumstantial evidence that I hit the nail on the head."

No, the "howls" are nothing but people calmly pointing out that your howls and tantrums aren't very effective at distracting anyone from recognizing that you still haven't offered any definitions or identified any objective criteria of aesthetic judgments. It's been quite clear for some time now, Pigero, that you have no substance to back up your assertions. Throwing more of your little temper tantrums isn't going to change that fact.

J

Marcus

Jonathan's picture

I wrote,
"She believed that a sense of life was not a criterion for making aesthetic judgments."

Marucs replied,
"No, you only half quote Rand. She wrote that it was a criteria for 'asthetic merit', not judgement. Indeed what she says directly following that is about 'judgement'."

No, I didn't half quote Rand. I didn't quote her at all. I stated what her position was. But if you want a quote, here you go:

Rand, RM, page 42:
"Now a word of warning about the criteria of esthetic judgment. A sense of life is the source of art, but it is ~not~ the sole qualification of an artist or of an esthetician, and it is ~not~ a criterion of esthetic judgment. Emotions are not tools of cognition. Esthetics is a branch of philosophy—and just as a philosopher does not approach any other branch of his science with his feelings or emotions as his criterion of judgment, so he cannot do it in the field of esthetics. A sense of life is not sufficient professional equipment. An esthetician—as well as any man who attempts to evaluate art works—must be guided by more than an emotion.

"The fact that one agrees or disagrees with an artist’s philosophy is irrelevant to an ~esthetic~ appraisal of his work ~qua~ art. One does not have to agree with an artist (nor even to enjoy him) in order to evaluate his work. In essence, an objective evaluation requires that one identify the artist’s theme, the abstract meaning of his work (exclusively by identifying the evidence contained in the work and allowing no other, outside considerations), then evaluate the means by which he conveys it—i.e., taking ~his~ theme as criterion, evaluate the purely esthetic elements of the work, the technical mastery (or lack of it) with which he projects (or fails to project) ~his~ view of life."

As I said earlier, Marcus, you should think about actually reading Rand.
J

My contention is that we

jeffrey smith's picture

My contention is that we have all the "conceptual vocabulary" in the world necessary to demonstrate that Romantic is the greatest, the apogee, both in sense-of-life and technical terms, thus far. The howls of protest from the dregs are further circumstantial evidence that I hit the nail on the head.

Actually, you're the one who's come closest to howling around here. The rest of us are pointing out the fact that this particular emperor of yours has no clothes on.

To prove your contention, you would need to demonstrate all of the following:
1) that music has a single definable purpose and
2)that purpose is best fulfilled by what you call Romantic music
2a)with the further need of actually defining the category "Romantic music" so others will know what it is and what it is not.
3) that the conceptual vocabulary actually exists,
4)with the auxiliary necessity of actually setting out that conceptual vocabulary so the rest of us can judge whether you are correct or not.

You haven't come close to demonstrating any of those four things.

Go, now, return to your vomit.

Marcus

jeffrey smith's picture

But a painting of such a woman would be a corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values—and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist. (There are also those who would feel something like approval and who would belong to the same moral category as the artist.)

But what if the painter was attempting, for instance, to paint a morally corrupt person, and attempting to signal by the presence of the cold sore (more likely it would be presented as a syphilitic sore) the moral corruption of the person being painted?

What if the painter were called upon to paint the portrait of a woman who had a prominent birthmark? Would Rand think ill of him for including the birthmark? Is art actually required to be an idealization of life, and forbidden from acknowledging the existence of the ugly in the real world?--which seems to be the brunt of that paragraph.

And, although Rand would obviously disagree with this, the last two paragraphs of that quote ("the emotion involved in art..." hits the nail very squarely on the head why artistic judgments and values must always be at bottom subjective.

Oh, C'mon, LP

Brant Gaede's picture

"Most contemporary 'music,' both pop and classical is, however, filth ...."

That's silly. I had to choose between "silly" and "stupid." You aren't stupid.

--Brant
knife in, knife out; knife in, knife out; knife ...

Indeed ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... it seems to have escaped folks' attention that the last part of your Rand quotation, Marcus, heads up and sets the scene for Music of the Gods. The filth-worshippers hide behind Rand's statement re the lack of a conceptual vocabulary for music (by which she meant at this time; they'd prefer she meant for ever) to disguise their spiritual filthiness, even though, as I pointed out, Rand made it perfectly clear from her other comments ("primitive music," "eyeless sockets," etc.) what she would have thought of them and their "music." My contention is that we have all the "conceptual vocabulary" in the world necessary to demonstrate that Romantic is the greatest, the apogee, both in sense-of-life and technical terms, thus far. The howls of protest from the dregs are further circumstantial evidence that I hit the nail on the head.

Let me point out again that it doesn't follow that all non-Romantic music is "filth" - quite the contrary - just that RM is man's greatest musical achievement to date. Most contemporary "music," both pop and classical, is, however, filth, on whose behalf some of the dregs are mounting a rearguard action right here.

Jonathan,"She believe that

Marcus's picture

Jonathan,

"She believe that a sense of life was not a criterion for making aesthetic judgments."

No, you only half quote Rand. She wrote that it was a criteria for 'asthetic merit', not judgement. Indeed what she says directly following that is about 'judgement'.

Jeremy,

"...Other than when in dealing with what Rand referred to as technical factors"

What about the cold sore painted on a beautiful woman? Have a look at the following quote too.
........................................................................................................................................................

"If one saw, in real life, a beautiful woman wearing an exquisite evening gown, with a cold sore on her lips, the blemish would mean nothing but a minor affliction, and one would ignore it.

But a painting of such a woman would be a corrupt, obscenely vicious attack on man, on beauty, on all values—and one would experience a feeling of immense disgust and indignation at the artist. (There are also those who would feel something like approval and who would belong to the same moral category as the artist.)

The emotional response to that painting would be instantaneous, much faster than the viewer’s mind could identify all the reasons involved. The psychological mechanism which produces that response (and which produced the painting) is a man’s sense of life.

(A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence.)

It is the artist’s sense of life that controls and integrates his work, directing the innumerable choices he has to make, from the choice of subject to the subtlest details of style. It is the viewer’s or reader’s sense of life that responds to a work of art by a complex, yet automatic reaction of acceptance and approval, or rejection and condemnation.

This does not mean that a sense of life is a valid criterion of esthetic merit, either for the artist or the viewer. A sense of life is not infallible. But a sense of life is the source of art, the psychological mechanism which enables man to create a realm such as art.

The emotion involved in art is not an emotion in the ordinary meaning of the term. It is experienced more as a “sense” or a “feel,” but it has two characteristics pertaining to emotions: it is automatically immediate and it has an intense, profoundly personal (yet undefined) value-meaning to the individual experiencing it. The value involved is life, and the words naming the emotion are: “This is what life means to me.”

Regardless of the nature or content of an artist’s metaphysical views, what an art work expresses, fundamentally, under all of its lesser aspects is: “This is life as I see it.” The essential meaning of a viewer’s or reader’s response, under all of its lesser elements, is: “This is (or is not) life as I see it.”

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexi...

Marcus

jeffrey smith's picture

However, what has caused so much confusion on this thread is that you are arguing specific cases rather than categories. Not at all. When I mention a specific case, it's merely an illustrative example.

My point is two fold: Perigo has failed to give any objective basis for judging music, and I think in general it's not really possible. Or at least that no one has successfully set out an objective standard by which to judge music--more or less Rand's position. Perigo certainly hasn't. He just dresses up statements of his subjective opinion and proclaims they are objective standards. You've made a better attempt, but I think you haven't come close to achieving it.

You say, "I think song X is great. Linz says (or implies) that song x is shit. I am upset now."

Not in the least. I merely use the contrast between his evaluations and mine to bring out the point that musical evaluation is subjective. And I may be upset with Perigo, but it's a far more general contempt than simply what songs he does or not does not like.

You say, "Song Y is in category B. Linz says that category B is inferior to category A. Therefore, Linz thinks that song Y is crap." That's a statement of simple logic. If Y is in category B, then it is a member of the set of all members of category B. According to Perigo, all the members of that set have at least one common trait, that they are crap. Therefore Perigo thinks that Y is crap.

You say, "You cannot judge if song X is objectively superior to song y."
Other than when in dealing with what Rand referred to as technical factors, that is a correct statement of my opinion. And I would further argue that even those technical factors don't necessarily betoken artistic superiority. Beauty is very much in the eye and ear of the beholder, and therefore evaluations of aesthetic superiority are inherently subjective.

Does Marcus Now Own Objectivism?

Jonathan's picture

Marcus decreed,
"...that you are not an Objectivist, nor is Jonathan."

What is it that makes you conclude that I'm not an Objectivist? Is it my agreement with Rand's view that there are no objective criteria by which to judge music as art, and my agreement with her that a sense of life is not a valid criterion for making aesthetic judgments?

When did Marcus's views on aesthetics replace Rand's as official Objectivism?

J

Jeffrey, it has become obvious...

Marcus's picture

...that you are not an Objectivist, nor is Jonathan.

However, what has caused so much confusion on this thread is that you are arguing specific cases rather than categories.

You say, "I think song X is great. Linz says (or implies) that song x is shit. I am upset now."

You say, "Song Y is in category B. Linz says that category B is inferior to category A. Therefore, Linz thinks that song Y is crap."

You say, "You cannot judge if song X is objectively superior to song y."

But I have argued the point of musical categories being objective, not specific pieces.

For example, if I found a Marxist-industrialist who was a Multi-Millionaire, would you conclude from this that the Marxist doctrine cannot be proved objectively inferior to capitalism? Then would you start to argue the case about every individual you ever knew that adhered to some non-capitalist ideology and yet was successful and tried to conclude that ideological validity was merely a matter of opinion?

No, you would conclude that the Marxist was not consistent in his ideology. Get it?

Marcus

jeffrey smith's picture

Well, at least you are willing to have a rational discussion, unlike Perigo.

Why cannot melody be objectively evaluated? If you look up melody in the dictionary, it has a definition. Having at least one 'melody' is a good start for a piece of music, but obviously not the only one. You have even said some rap songs have a semi-melody. How can you tell if it's not an objective criteria?

It's more than just checking off whether a piece has one or more melodies. How do you compare melodies against each other, so you can say "this is a better melody than that"? I think that question can not be answered objectively.

Why cannot communication be objectively evaluated? The composer wishes to communicate something to the audience.

Absent an overt verbal component in the work (as in a song text or a program note written by the composer) you can't be sure of what a composer intends to communicate. Many composers didn't want to communicate anything that could be boiled down to words, and others seem to communicate, but people disagree over what they intended to communicate based on their own subjective reactions. For a precise example, take Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. To me (and many other people) it communicates a mass of overwrought sentimentality. To Perigo it communicates--well, I'm not sure what it communicates, but apparently it communicates something gloriously orgasmic, or at least something that's not overwrought sentimentality. You can solve that by one of two ways: by deciding that the Fifth is a failure at communication and therefore not great music, or by admitting that that subjective reaction is an essential element in listening to music.

The same problem also applies to what you are calling the spiritual result. Perigo and many others find the Fifth gloriously uplifting, whereas I and many others are merely ready to reach for our glucose meters. There might be an objective result on a particular individual, but expand it to a larger audience, and the result breaks down because everyone will have a different reaction. Some will be uplifted, some will downlifted (?--can't recall the actual antonym for uplifted), and some will be merely bored. Which means that it the spiritual result is inherently subjective.

Jeffrey, if you follow your line of reasoning to its logical conclusion - it pretty much negates the possibility any individual holding any objective moral or aesthetic values at all. It's more Kant than Rand.

First, I don't see how this applies to morality, then the obvious statement that the immoral should be ugly. (But if people consistently saw the moral as beautiful and the immoral as ugly, they wouldn't be anywhere near as immoral as they are, would they?) Second, beyond what Rand referred to as "technical factors", I don't think there is a way to objectively judge any art form. Reaction to art is inherently subjective. And even invoking those technical factors can lead to a false answer. There is plenty of music and plastic art produced in the eighteenth and nineteenth century which is technically perfect and emotionally barren--Canova and most of the "academic" art of the nineteenth century are good examples of this.

And just to make it clear, I'm not an Objectivist.

Olivia

jeffrey smith's picture

I don't believe this horseshit, but since you keep quoting it, I assume you think it is of value for interpreting what's being said on these threads. You're one confused sonofabitch methinks.

Actually, my point is that Perigo is the confused one. Trying to conflate a core mystical technique with Objectivist aesthetics seems rather absurd, and that's one of the things I'm criticizing him about. The equation of orgasm with mystical union with God has been a standard of mystical writing for over a millenium now, in Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism alike. Perigo takes over the equation and merely substitutes music for God. Reading that part of MOTG, I keep imagining some strange menage a quatre in which Perigo beds down with Tchaikovksy, Rachmoninov, and Van Cliburn. The other is the refusal or the inability to lay out what objective factors make music good or bad, and I think the second is a direct result of the first. I keep repeating the point because I think it's important: you shouldn't be using a mystical (in all senses of the word) technique to achieve the goals of Objectivism.

(And if you do use it, at least don't use it badly like Perigo does!)

It is absolutely true that I am not an Objectivist, and I've never gotten around to reading Romantic Manifesto (yet--it's on my to-do list, mostly because of this thread). So for all I know the confusion originates with Rand--but then, that would only be another of the weak points of her philosophy.

Marcus

Jonathan's picture

I think you need to actually read Rand, Marcus. Your views on music and aesthetics in general are opposed to hers. She believe that until an objective language of music is identified, there are no objective criteria for judging music, and that we must treat our tastes as a subjective matter. She believe that a sense of life was not a criterion for making aesthetic judgments.

Stop pretending that you're speaking for or defending Objectivism while directly contradicting Rand's official Objectivist Esthetics.

J

I disagree with you there Jeffrey...

Marcus's picture

"But out of those five you list, only two (level of sophistication and technical mastery) are objective; the other three are inherently subjective. And even level of sophistication is something that can be evaluated subjectively."

Why cannot melody be objectively evaluated? If you look up melody in the dictionary, it has a definition. Having at least one 'melody' is a good start for a piece of music, but obviuosly not the only one. You have even said some rap songs have a semi-melody. How can you tell if it's not an objective criteria?

Why cannot communication be objectively evaluated? The composer wishes to communicate something to the audience. Let's say the piece is called 'the Planets' during which you hear the sound of a beating drum and a toilet flushing. Has the composer communicated to the audience anything about 'the Planets'? Of course not!

In terms of emotional/ spiritual (SOL), you are objectively looking at the 'result' on the audience (yourself included).

Does the audience end up feeling - 'I hate my life. I want to work in McDonalds now in order to just live in the absence of death'.

Or do they end up feeling - 'My life has been enriched. I must always reach for the stars.'

If it's the first one, then it fails the SOL test.

Jeffrey, if you follow your line of reasoning to its logical conclusion - it pretty much negates the possibility any individual holding any objective moral or aesthetic values at all. It's more Kant than Rand.

In such a case you must ask yourself, 'why am I an Objectivist at all?' (If you are, of course.)

Mr. Scherk

sharon's picture

Thanks for the clarification. I enjoyed your creative approach to spelling it out to me. Yes, I was perturbed at the thought of Mr. Perigo gleefully applauding the complete deletion of entire catalogues of 20th century music of various genres-- in addition to welcoming the death of certain artists...um...so as to celebrate his “pro-life” posture.

Rock, rocks in head, rocking chairs, pop, poop, and so on . . .

William Scott Scherk's picture

Sharon, while I agree with Jeffrey, you, Joe Maurone, Jonathan Smith, Grace, Landon Erp, Matty Orchard, and other sick, slimy fucks -- that Lindsay doesn't actually put forward objective criteria to compare the music that gives him good objective orgasmic whatnot to music that gives others bad orgasmic whatnot, you are wrong in your parsing of what gives good whatnot and what does not.

Lindsay does not dismiss all rock and popular music as inexpressibly evul and awful and whatnot and so on. Headbanging caterwauling has a precise meaning, expanded here -- and the essay above makes clear what is and is not inside the romantic 'it makes me cry and swoon and throb and gives me orgasmic whatnot' circle:

[Superiority] can also be ascribed, I should add, to the myriad forms of what one might call “mini-Romanticism” such as operetta, musical comedy, jazz (the intelligible kind), pre-80s pop, movie scores, Ayn Rand’s “tiddly-wink music” and so on.

.
He even likes the Beatles, and so on.

Now, Sharon, you sick, slimy fuck, isn't that clear? Don't you understand what "and so on" means, for fuck sake?

I ask, because I had earlier asked of The Principal, the same sick, slimy fuck questions underlying your sick, slimy fuck insinuation, in the post "Hail Mary, full of shit":

-- what is 'Headbanging'? Is it only pop music, post 80s? Is it all rock music, and not only heavy rock/heavy metal and its derivatives? Is it Rush? Is 'tiddlywink music' (Rand's favourite pop music, primarily marches, ragtime and other 1920s songs) excused from being bad?

Which brings us to the questions about Rand, the musical ignoramus. If is was good enough for Rand to like not only the glorious Romantic compositions of the classical age, and if she accompanied her love of [some] classical music with a love and appreciation of tiddlywink [pop], what the fuck is the problem? Can one be a good, Linzoffian, Objectivist if one likes both pop and classical of the correct Sense of Life?

If not, why not?

Now, Sharon, you should know that my question and followup got a full, complete, extensive, reasonable and fully-objective answer from The Principal, which I roughly paraphrase:

I never said that operetta, musical comedy, jazz (the intelligible kind), pre-80s pop, movie scores, Ayn Rand’s “tiddly-wink music” and so on are superior. Never. Did not say superior. Didn't. Did not. Not. I said something else entirely. Any moron would know from what I wrote that I considered Rand's tiddlywink a lesser form of food, a distant offshoot of Romantic, but food (as opposed to shit) nonetheless.

There you have it, Sharon.

Distinct criteria, clear boundaries, objective standards, and fully-explained categories, including 'and so on' and 'etcetera.'

Jeffrey

Olivia's picture

Before the end of the Neoplatonic road, and the full abandonment of the ego (although it might better be described as a profound transformation into something else), there are plenty of middle stages, where the goal is very exactly bringing the mind and ego into full focus.

I don't believe this horseshit, but since you keep quoting it, I assume you think it is of value for interpreting what's being said on these threads. You're one confused sonofabitch methinks.

What are you? An Objectivist or a Neoplatonist?
If an Objectivist, then cut the pseudo-philosophical crap!

I doubt you've had a genuine emotional response to anything of any import.

gregster

sharon's picture

>>>You say Lindsay dismisses all of rock and popular music: "within rock (or popular music) and blithely dismisses the entire genre."

Cite where, or get your eyes checked.<<<

I’ll get my eyes checked if you look into cognitive therapy.

Okay, let’s grant this premise for a moment. If Mr. Perigo doesn’t blithely dismiss the entire genre of Rock N’ Roll, I would be very interested in knowing by what criteria he separates head banging caterwauling from redeemable music within the genre—and to do so objectively versus the expression of a personal opinion. A few concrete examples would help his case.

Cheers to that Good Soldier

gregster's picture

What will we have with that? I say a single malt, aged 18 years. Smiling

It will soon be time

Brant Gaede's picture

for the Music of the Brants.

Put all you mediocre-mongers to shame.

--Brant

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

Scarcely the abandonment of the mind and the ego, old boy, but rather, their consummation, in full focus.
From which we may deduce that either 1) you're fooling yourself about the nature of value swooning, or 2) (in concert with your reference to orgasm in the part you quote from yourself) that you've never had an orgasm.

I'll leave you to announce which is the correct alternative.

I also note that you did not read what I said very plainly in my reply to Olivia: that is one of the lesser states. Before the end of the Neoplatonic road, and the full abandonment of the ego (although it might better be described as a profound transformation into something else), there are plenty of middle stages, where the goal is very exactly bringing the mind and ego into full focus.

Now go, return to your vomit.

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Given how incoherent you usually are, that's usually impossible with your statements. If there is a meaning, one has to guess at it.

As to this bit, where for a change your meaning is clear:
Rap is usually just shouting (usually angry and profane) to a beat. There is no melody and a lot of gratuitous hatred. It is evil (anti-life) set to cacophony.
Even I know better than that, and I'm not a fan of rap by any means. There is plenty of rap that isn't shouting, has a quasi melody, and contains no gratuitous hatred, and can't be called cacophony.

Romantic overflows with melody, and the harmonies and rhythms ain't that shabby either. Romantic is good set to beauty.
Here we go back to the incoherence. You seem to be propounding a set of objective factors that on inspection are vague to the point of uselessness. And the phrase "good set to beauty" is the ultimate in meaningless verbiage.

The two genres are simply irreconcilable, mutually exclusive, polar opposites.
Since when is "romantic" a genre?
I affirm that it is easily possible to write a rap song that is life affirming and meets all the technical conventions of the genre at a high level. You don't even begin to make a plausible case that I'm wrong: you simply make assertions that are easily disproved.

Now, go, return to your vomit.

Oh dear, Mr. Smith ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I fear all that time in New Age must have addled your brain. Here's what I said about "value-swoon":

I assume that what the objector and I seek from music is the same thing: what I call value-swoon: “This is life as I see it”—in my case, in the form of a spiritual orgasm born of orgiastic love-making between me, the artist, the composer and life itself. Value-swoon consummated by tears. If there are no tears, I haven’t fully value-swooned. Tears of joy, poignance, worship, “unclouded exaltation” in the presence of gods and the godly, of beauty inexpressible in words. The solemn gaze on Van Cliburn’s face as he looks up at his conductor at the conclusion of the aforementioned Tchaikovsky (Piano Concert #1, Movement Three), having thundered spectacularly up and down the length and breadth of the piano and pressed down the final home-coming tonic chord, says it all. Breathes there the man with soul so dead he cannot behold this and exult: “What a piece of work is man!”? This response, of course, is life-affirming, and so, by Objectivist standards, good. Moreover, it is the response the work and the performance are intended to evoke, so the subject’s reaction is consistent with the content of the object.

Scarcely the abandonment of the mind and the ego, old boy, but rather, their consummation, in full focus.

Is there something you can take for your learning disability?

Funny, I'm typing this in a cybercafe - still not back on my own computer. There's some rap-crap playing. Thump thump thump thump thump and a lot of hollerin'. Can't hear the "lyrics" - have earplugs in for just this eventuality, protecting myself from filth.

Marcus

jeffrey smith's picture

Those factors being the melody, the level of sophistication, technical mastery, communication and the emotional/ spiritual 'result' (as Jeffrey might put it).

But out of those five you list, only two (level of sophistication and technical mastery) are objective; the other three are inherently subjective. And even level of sophistication is something that can be evaluated subjectively.

And furthermore, it's usually fruitless to judge the inferiority of technical mastery of one culture or genre compared to another, except to say if the piece of music is or is not superior in technical mastery according to the conventions of its genre. Is a Granny Smith apple superior to a Jaffa orange?

Olivia

jeffrey smith's picture

The difference lies in the stunningly obvious fact that neither Linz, nor myself (who gets him on this) believe in deities.

Olivia, I know a good deal on the subject of Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Tantra and the rest, possibly to the point that the old cliche about "I've forgotten more than you've ever known" is true in this case. But briefly put, it involves a set of techniques. One can be firmly atheist and use the techniques. And that is exactly what value swooning is--one of the most common techniques; and in fact in the lesser states, where the self is not completely abolished, your description is an exact statement of what occurs:
It’s not a mindless trance, it’s a surrender of love because the values of one’s mind and imagination have been intimately aroused. Feelings of intense gratitude, or worship, are the result. And it’s beautiful! It FEELS good – because it IS good!!

I'm not actually criticizing Perigo for this. I am simply bemused (to put it mildly) to find Objectivists solemnly propounding something straight out of Aleister Crowley and the rest of the New Age. Granted, there is a lot in Crowley that could be fruitfully utilized by anyone, including Objectivists, in the matter of training the mind and the will (with the details suitably adapted), but the basis of the Hermetic tradition is abandonment of the mind and the ego--not something I would think to be compatible with anything in Objectivism.

Oh god!

Olivia's picture

The only thing you do seem to specify is value swooning. I don't need to learn how to do that from you. That's simply something straight out of the Neoplatonic Hermetic tradition--the devotee uniting with the deity to which he is devoted. It's nothing more than the Hare Krishnas shouting Hare Hare Ram:

Absolute rubbish Jeffrey.

The difference lies in the stunningly obvious fact that neither Linz, nor myself (who gets him on this) believe in deities. The value swoon is the result of a combination of imagination, beauty, exaltation and intense emotional expression in the music, knowing it comes from – and is intended for – the best in man’s ego. Gods are the correct metaphor for this. You are what you worship.

Only difference is you use Romantic symphonic music and opera to reach the state of trance.

It’s not a mindless trance, it’s a surrender of love because the values of one’s mind and imagination have been intimately aroused. Feelings of intense gratitude, or worship, are the result. And it’s beautiful! It FEELS good – because it IS good!!
(Good in the Aristotelian sense.)

Ms Sharia

gregster's picture

You say Lindsay dismisses all of rock and popular music: "within rock (or popular music) and blithely dismisses the entire genre."

Cite where, or get your eyes checked.

Calm down...

Jeremy's picture

You may have noticed, Sharon, that while I'm largely indifferent to Linz's opinion on music, I also don't agree with it. Sticking out tongue

>>>....as it pertains to the

sharon's picture

>>>....as it pertains to the question of "superior music" when country, bluegrass, jazz, blues—music that is at the root of Rock N’ Roll (the very music that Mr. Perigo and company decry) is an American phenomenon?

>>>Any answer to this in particular? Why has the culture of the freest nation in history created such terribly anti-life music?

LOL. All of it?? Anti-life?? Too funny. This is really lame.

Do you need reading

sharon's picture

Do you need reading glasses?

Why be cryptic? If you have a point, make it.

Sharon's question

Jeremy's picture

....as it pertains to the question of "superior music" when country, bluegrass, jazz, blues—music that is at the root of Rock N’ Roll (the very music that Mr. Perigo and company decry) is an American phenomenon?

Any answer to this in particular? Why has the culture of the freest nation in history created such terribly anti-life music?

You're on to it Marcus

gregster's picture

I haven't had time to formulate my view properly. You brought up "cultural relativism" and you're on the right track, I believe.

There can be objectivity in pronouncing aesthetic superiority of music within genres. There can also be a subclass of a particular genre which could be objectively superior to all other genres and subclasses.

The objective criterions haven't been formulated.

Those who say otherwise use a false argument (?) similar to the old "we can be sure of nothing," or, "there are no absolute truths."

Even Wiki knows this.

 

 

As for you, again, Sharon: "from what I have gathered by observation, is that Mr. Perigo does not distinguish and discern the incredibly diverse styles, subject matter, etc, within rock (or popular music) and blithely dismisses the entire genre."

Do you need reading glasses?

Tut, tut...

Marcus's picture

"Marcus raises the philosophical ineptness by referencing primitive peoples banging skin drums before a fire—as if that would make the case for ‘Music of the Gods.’"

I wasn't talking about 'primitive peoples'. I was comparing the spiritual value of listening to it, to listening to Mozart. I was sarcastically writing it in the voice of a stoned University Student who thought it was cool, not primitive peoples. (Note, by spiritual I mean SOL.)

But Jeffery thinks that there are "...facts and objective factors which can be used to determine if a culture is technologically primitive compared to another."
Well, that's a start.

So why are there not facts and objective factors that determine if one type of music is more or less primitive and are therefore of lmore or ess value?

Those factors being the melody, the level of sophistication, technical mastery, communication and the emotional/ spiritual 'result' (as Jeffrey might put it).

“There is a good deal that

sharon's picture

“There is a good deal that both he and I would label headbanging caterwauling, but there is also a good deal which he would apparently label as such and I wouldn't…”

A crucial point, Jeffery, and that is where the subjectivism comes at hand. The fact of the matter, from what I have gathered by observation, is that Mr. Perigo does not distinguish and discern the incredibly diverse styles, subject matter, etc, within rock (or popular music) and blithely dismisses the entire genre. His entire modus operandi is to focus on one or two pickings, such as Slayer, to establish his case. Marcus raises the philosophical ineptness by referencing primitive peoples banging skin drums before a fire—as if that would make the case for ‘Music of the Gods.’

Return to the non-issue...

sharon's picture

Marcus, what is the relevance –or validity—of the subject of “cultural relativism”, as it pertains to the question of "superior music" when country, bluegrass, jazz, blues—music that is at the root of Rock N’ Roll (the very music that Mr. Perigo and company decry) is an American phenomenon? No wonder I had a brain freeze. Who wouldn’t in the face of philosophical ineptness?

Mr. Smith

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Not at all. I simply take people's words and draw rational inferences from what they say. (I realize that's a dreadful habit, and must blame the fact that I have intelligence and education.)

Congratulations. You hide it well.

Rather than drawing inferences, I'd recommend taking what folk here say at face value. It's an approach we encourage around here. Say what you mean and mean what you say. It's in the Credo. It saves all that trouble you get into when reading things into a text that simply aren't there.

Your idiocy is showing very clearly. The assertion that Romantic can not be written in rap is not at all self evident. And you've never even come close to making a case that it is true. You simply keep asserting it.

Well now, I'd seriously encourage you to put that vaunted intelligence to some use for a minute or so. Rap is usually just shouting (usually angry and profane) to a beat. There is no melody and a lot of gratuitous hatred. It is evil (anti-life) set to cacophony. Romantic overflows with melody, and the harmonies and rhythms ain't that shabby either. Romantic is good set to beauty. Even at its saddest, it is a hymn to life. For elaboration, re-read the essay that you still have not comprehended.

The two genres are simply irreconcilable, mutually exclusive, polar opposites.

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

Now he claims to know what you mean to argue rather than what you do argue

Not at all. I simply take people's words and draw rational inferences from what they say. (I realize that's a dreadful habit, and must blame the fact that I have intelligence and education.) If they can't write well, and write things that have rational inferences they don't intend, that's not my fault.

anyone who thinks Romantic could be written in rap has to be a retard)

Your idiocy is showing very clearly. The assertion that Romantic can not be written in rap is not at all self evident. And you've never even come close to making a case that it is true. You simply keep asserting it.

From which behavior I draw the rational inference that you are a major fool who likes the sound of his own voice, and nothing more.

Marcus

jeffrey smith's picture

The implication was that the objection to the term 'primitive culture' in universities is akin to similar objections to Linz labeling modern music as 'headbanging caterwauling' or just 'shit'. Get it?

Got that, and thank you for explaining. However, I think you are wrong about this particular point.
There are facts and objective factors which can be used to determine if a culture is technologically primitive compared to another, and in that sense it is fair to talk about primitive culture. (I merely object to the assertion, which I now realize you don't intend to make, that a culture that is primitive in that sense can also be correctly described as morally or aesthetically primitive.) Whereas there are no objective factors which can used to determine what is headbanging caterwauling in the Perigo sense of the term. Or at least, none that Perigo has ever actually laid out in a manner that is coherent and understandable. There is no predictive value to what he has said, no way in which to use it as a descriptive category which communicates actual information to other people (or at least, information other than the fact that Mr. Perigo subjectively likes or dislikes it). There is a good deal that both he and I would label headbanging caterwauling, but there is also a good deal which he would apparently label as such and I wouldn't--but I have no way of knowing ahead of time whether a particular piece of music would be labelled as such, and more importantly, why.
For instance, he objects to rap as nihilistic, but he seems to think that even if a rap song had life affirming lyrics, it would still be headbanging caterwauling. So why? Maybe you could understand him, but I certainly can't. And I've read his screed several times trying to figure it out.
There is the further absurdity that he focuses his aesthetics on valueswooning. In other words, exactly the sort of Neoplatonic inspired mysticism that Objectivism rejects.

BTW, in as much as cultural relativism denies that some cultures produce results that are morally or aesthetically inferior to another, or that we have no right to make such a comparison, I have no truck with it. So we are probably more on the same page than you think. But I do adhere to the original premise from which cultural relativism took off--the denial of the idea that technological inferiority is linked to moral and artistic inferiority. A technologically advanced culture can be morally and artistically inferior to technologically primitive culture.

Case in point:

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Marcus - note that after I alerted you to Mr. Smith's penchant for arguing against what he thinks one seems to be saying rather than what one is actually saying, the following exchange occurred between you and him:

You: That's not my formulation of the argument, it's yours.

He: It's the argument that you seemed to be making.

!!

Now he claims to know what you mean to argue rather than what you do argue. This is the deconstructivist nonsense so beloved of pomowankers, gender studies departments and their ilk, though in Mr. Smith's case I'm beginning to suspect it's more a matter of sub-optimal comprehension skills (anyone who thinks Romantic could be written in rap has to be a retard). Either way, you're right: not worth wasting time on.

It's no good Jeffrey...

Marcus's picture

...we just can't communicate.

The passage you quoted was an addenum to my post following Linz's query. The implication was that the objection to the term 'primitive culture' in universities is akin to similar objections to Linz labeling modern music as 'headbanging caterwauling' or just 'shit'. Get it?

I don't want to get into an argument with you about what you think about 'cultural relativism'. I thought everyone here was on the same page regarding that. I was wrong. Therefore this analogy is not going to work for you.

I said you need to learn clarity in writing

jeffrey smith's picture

Marcus, do you remember writing this:
However I would like to comment about Jeffrey's discomfort with the expression 'primitive culture'.
It is rife in Western Universities today where anybody who would dare use such an expression 'primitive' culture, religion or society would be labelled a racist imperialist fascist. Using the word 'savages' would probably get you expelled!

You referred to primitive culture.
I was stating the implications of the paragraphs above: you deem technologically inferior cultures to be aesthetically (and possibly morally) inferior.

Did you not mean that? Possibly. If so, you need to learn how to write better. Think out the implications of your words before you publish them. Or otherwise, you will end up like Perigo, saying things that mean the opposite of what you say they mean, if they have any meaning at all.

Jeffrey...

Marcus's picture

"Which shows only that you need to learn clarity in writing."

Let me clear. I never mentioned technology.

So why did you go to such lengths to prove to me that there is no link between technology and culture?

It's the premise behind 'cultural relativism' that's important, not all the baggage that you have attached to it.

Rand and esthetics

Which of Rand's statements are overstated opinions from the Romantic Manifesto? I'd invite you to comment here or in the threads we did on the chapters of the Romantic Manifesto a little over a year ago

Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

keeps on doing so even after one points out what one actually did say.

In that particular case, at least, it's because you don't say what you think you are saying.
Half the time you don't even say something coherent, so one has to guess.
Your manifesto here is a good example. You claim you are making an objective argument identifying objective factors that allow one to decide whether a piece of music is good or bad.

Well, you don't do that. It's a piece of utter FAIL. The only thing you do seem to specify is value swooning. I don't need to learn how to do that from you. That's simply something straight out of the Neoplatonic Hermetic tradition--the devotee uniting with the deity to which he is devoted. It's nothing more than the Hare Krishnas shouting Hare Hare Ram: Bhakti yoga and Tantra in the Indian tradition. Sex magick in the modern west. Only difference is you use Romantic symphonic music and opera to reach the state of trance. I don't need you for that, even if you didn't do a particularly poor job of it. If you want to do a proper job of it, then do yourself a favor and go read Magick in Theory and Practice, where you'll find it all explained by a man who thought better and wrote better on his worst days then you've done on your best days.

And he used actual sex to do it, too. No fake orgasms for him.

I came here thinking that I would find objectivists. Instead I get a man propounding stuff I learned, from better sources, twenty and twenty five years ago....

Mr. Perigo

sharon's picture

I was going to write a lengthy critique of your article but on a second read, I changed my mind. There’s no point to. It’s akin to writing a negative article about the Spice Girls in Rolling Stone. There’s nothing wrong writing a negative review about the Spice Girls, per se…but why? Least of all in Rolling Stone. Suffice to say this about “Music of the Gods”: The article is hardly philosophically rigorous—which is what it would have to be to push it as a scientific (or objective) principle when it comes to art. Rand had this penchant to do the same. Her work in epistemology is rigorous, but her esthetic theory suffered from overstated opinions being pushed as a philosophical universal truism. “Music of the Gods” (even the title is inflated hyperbole) might work as a polemic rhetoric device, a hyperbole prose to stress a strong opinion. The main problem, though, this was not your intention, which makes it even harder to take serious: you are pushing the objective fact card, which you failed at miserably. Such an essay may be written, or a book. But it won’t be yours.

That's not my formulation of

jeffrey smith's picture

That's not my formulation of the argument, it's yours.
It's the argument that you seemed to be making.

Besides that, you have completely missed the point I was making.
Obviously. Which shows only that you need to learn clarity in writing.

Sharon's brain shut-down and now Jeffrey is having an argument with himself!
And you also need to learn that inept mockery gains you nothing.
You're young, so let me give you a hint based on experience:
Disciples of fools learn only to become fools in their turn.
And Perigo is a fool.

Marcus

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You to Mr. Smith:

"...that a culture that is technologically superior is also culturally and intellectually superior."
That's not my formulation of the argument, it's yours.
Besides that, you have completely missed the point I was making.
Sharon's brain shut-down and now Jeffrey is having an argument with himself!
Linz. I'm sorry, I can't do anything with these people.

I learned a few weeks back that Mr. Smith doesn't argue with what one says but what he says one seems to say, and keeps on doing so even after one points out what one actually did say. If you trawl back through this thread (or it might be the Catholicism one) you'll see what I mean. And Sharon doesn't even know what an adverb is. Hopeless, I agree - but I was enjoying the pomowank self-revelations you were eliciting from them. Eye

"Linz. I'm sorry, I can't do

sharon's picture

"Linz. I'm sorry, I can't do anything with these people.

You can't do anything with 'these people' because we can't take Mr. Perigo's hand-puppet serious.

OK U GUYS

Brant Gaede's picture

I was hamming it up a little on my previous post. But FYI a few cases of whiskey will make for good bartering come Armageddon.

--Brant

Jeffrey...

Marcus's picture

"...that a culture that is technologically superior is also culturally and intellectually superior."

That's not my formulation of the argument, it's yours.

Besides that, you have completely missed the point I was making.

Sharon's brain shut-down and now Jeffrey is having an argument with himself!

Linz. I'm sorry, I can't do anything with these people.

One for me too!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I've absolutely no idea what Brant is on about when he's drinking this stuff, but at least I now know what he's on. Laughing out loud I figure if I go on it and reduce myself to such gibberish in future it'll at least keep me out of trouble for a change. Who can be offended by the unintelligible? Eye

Brant, does Babs know you're "befuddled by alcohol"? Evil

Before:

Classical music is the highest music art form with opera being a category of that. Nothing else is within a country mile. Arguing that it isn't is a queer way of objectifying musical esthetics while ostensibly saying it's all subjective. I'm afraid this thread is more about mixing up all musical categories which makes the triumph of the subjective, in this context, possible. But if you simply maintain the categories you'll get objective clarity unless you've never learned how to listen to classical, which takes work. As much as I like other types of music, I can only listen to a relatively small amount of it. The brain doesn't process these other types very well. It has to do with how the brain works. If you like certain classical music you can listen to it for hours and it does not wear you out. It is mentally energizing. It helps enormously with creative thinking. This is akin to reading a good book as opposed to magazine and newspaper articles or Internet postings. It's the rare classical rock song, for instance, that is longer than 3-4 minutes. If you like it a lot you might play it again, but that's generally that. The best popular music is not generally heard on the radio any more. Got Cole Porter?

A model of clarity and rationality. And I can forgive Brant anything after his cheerleading for Cole Porter.

After:

Not the cheapest but not good sippin'. The good stuff makes you drink more but the rot-gut makes you drink less but at the expense of ure self-esteem. If you have some you avoid crap. So mine's not so good and not so bad, the golden mean. If it costs more than 25 American dollars for 1.75 liters (or is that litters?) you're payin' too much for benefits to self-esteem and whiskey efficacy. This is an example of why I have so much self-regard, if not self-respected respect.

That's some befuddlement! Yup, I want some! Smiling

I see it has a lasting effect

HWH's picture

Please dispatch a crate of this stuff to me at your earliest convenience Brant

JS

Brant Gaede's picture

Not the cheapest but not good sippin'. The good stuff makes you drink more but the rot-gut makes you drink less but at the expense of ure self-esteem. If you have some you avoid crap. So mine's not so good and not so bad, the golden mean. If it costs more than 25 American dollars for 1.75 liters (or is that litters?) you're payin' too much for benefits to self-esteem and whiskey efficacy. This is an example of why I have so much self-regard, if not self-respected respect.

--Brant

Hilton, I deserved that.

jeffrey smith's picture

Hilton, I deserved that.

Brant, actually, in some ways, that particular post was the most intelligent comment in this whole thread.

And it left me curious to know which particularly fine potation was responsible for it Smiling

However I would like to

jeffrey smith's picture

However I would like to comment about Jeffrey's discomfort with the expression 'primitive culture'.

I have no problem with the idea that some cultures can be labelled primitive. But I do not agree with your apparent proposition--that a culture that is technologically superior is also culturally and intellectually superior. That idea can be justified only two ways--by subscribing to the belief that technological superiority is the only criterion that counts; or by subscribing to the belief that some humans are inferior to others solely by reason of the time and place that they live in. If it's the first, then I suggest you have nothing to contribute to a discussion of aesthetics. If it's the second, then I suggest that you have nothing to contribute to a discussion of morals--you have no more standing to speak of morality than someone who rejoices over the death of a musician solely because they disapproved of the music he produced (Yes, Mr. Perigo, that's you.)

Some art produced by technologically advanced societies is of little aesthetic value, and some art produced by technologically backward societies is of the highest aesthetic value. Compare if you will Jackson Pollack to the art produced in ancient Egypt or primitive West Africa, and tell me which is the greater.

And also consider this: whose invention produced the greatest value for mankind:
The person who invented the wheel
or
The person who invented the automobile

The person who invented the means of producing fire at will
or
The person who invented the means of transmitting electrical power from one place to another

and even then, don't

jeffrey smith's picture

and even then, don't speak

Obviously, Marcus has never learned the Four Virtues:

To Know
To Will
To Dare
To Be Silent

Or even worse

jeffrey smith's picture

Go to school, Marcus, and take philosophy.

I wouldn't do that if I were you, Marcus. You might end up like Sharon.

Or even worse, like Lindsay Perigo.

Marcus

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Go to school, Marcus, and take philosophy.

I wouldn't do that if I were you, Marcus. You might end up like Sharon. Eye

Marcus

sharon's picture

"...but once I named the Elephant in the room, Sharon's brain shut down."

No, Marcus, I sat frozen before my screen dumbfounded by your philosophical ineptness. And your cherry pick of what to critique in Jeffery’s post (some side issue, not the main thrust of his post) shows that you hardly know how to refute his point regarding the subjectivity of music tastes and cultural relativism. I get the impression that you ran with an objectivist catechism (it’s rampage against what is called “cultural relativism”) and you tossed it against the wall of this subject to see if it sticks. Win the argument—at all costs. Even if it means bullshiting. Go to school, Marcus, and take philosophy--and even then, don't speak.

I admit

Brant Gaede's picture

Hilton, I deserved that.

--Brant

Silliest post of all time Brant

HWH's picture

The alternative is I ignore you too do! Ah, whiskey! Late nite whiskey! You ain't so bad, Linz, because you can't be that so very good, no matter how hard you try and I do believe you do that too, sometimes for slanderous reasons or not but reasons nevertheless. Sorry, man, but you can't get to where I am, from where you are, since you placed yourself there, where you are, forever and ever.

I enjoyed Linz's thread...great entertainment value..but your post above elevated it to a whole new level.

It may

Brant Gaede's picture

have more spiritual value--or just more fun. Depends. In fact listening to Mozart may have no spiritual value whatsoever. If anything could be labelled relativistic it'd have to be "spiritual value." Think of the spiritual value the Germans got at huge Nazi rallies in the 1930s. This has to be one of the absolutely silly threads of any length of all SOLO-time.

--Brant

Thanks Linz...

Marcus's picture

...but once I named the Elephant in the room, Sharon's brain shut down.

However I would like to comment about Jeffrey's discomfort with the expression 'primitive culture'.

It is rife in Western Universities today where anybody who would dare use such an expression 'primitive' culture, religion or society would be labelled a racist imperialist fascist. Using the word 'savages' would probably get you expelled!

Many people here have unwittingly bought into all that relativistic culture - PC rap crap. All art is subjective and equally valid. Rousseau and Kant's philosophy has poisoned everything.

"Hey man, dancing around a fire beating a drum and chanting has more spiritual value than listening to Mozart." They say.

Sickening!

Classical music

Brant Gaede's picture

Classical music is the highest music art form with opera being a category of that. Nothing else is within a country mile. Arguing that it isn't is a queer way of objectifying musical esthetics while ostensibly saying it's all subjective. I'm afraid this thread is more about mixing up all musical categories which makes the triumph of the subjective, in this context, possible. But if you simply maintain the categories you'll get objective clarity unless you've never learned how to listen to classical, which takes work. As much as I like other types of music, I can only listen to a relatively small amount of it. The brain doesn't process these other types very well. It has to do with how the brain works. If you like certain classical music you can listen to it for hours and it does not wear you out. It is mentally energizing. It helps enormously with creative thinking. This is akin to reading a good book as opposed to magazine and newspaper articles or Internet postings. It's the rare classical rock song, for instance, that is longer than 3-4 minutes. If you like it a lot you might play it again, but that's generally that. The best popular music is not generally heard on the radio any more. Got Cole Porter?

--Brant

Marcus

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Keep going! Smiling You are eliciting more from these freaks than I could! Eye

Scratch a cultural relativist and you find ... a cultural relativist!
 
It's been fascinating. Confessions of humanity-diminution, anal warts fetishes, unabashed relativism/nihilism, suicide-worship (if only the mongrels would act on it), lovers of headbanging too cowardly to show their faces, the serious pretence that Slayer is on a par with Rachmaninoff, the claim that anti-value swooning is on a par with value-swooning, the claim that swooning and objectivity are mutually exclusive (that ol' reason/passion dichotomy again - don't folk read the Credo?), the militant self-righteous swinery of unrepentant ignorance, the  constant distortion of what I wrote, and of course, the endless personal attacks on me for writing it by Brandroid boors who lack the breeding or impulse to behave with a modicum of decency in someone else's house.

Throughout it all, examples galore of the greatest of great music and the foulest of anti-musical excrement, just in case anyone was wanting for empirical instances thereof.

Wouldn't have missed any of it. Eye

sharon

jeffrey smith's picture

Heh.  But it's good to know we agree on some things

Jeffrey

sharon's picture

 

Well, there you go, you spoke for me. I didn't think Marcus's post was worth responding to, as it was the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. Life is too damn short.

 

 

Therefore, it also follows

jeffrey smith's picture

Therefore, it also follows - for example - western culture is no better nor worse than any other primitive culture.

If you judge it on the grounds of technological superiority,  and take as your guiding idea that technological innovation is the main sign of cultural superiority, then in certain periods Western culture was superior to any other culture.  But not all the time.  In what we call the middle ages, the laurels would have probably gone to China.

But beyond that, you can't go.  If you are comparing art between cultures, then you can only compare which produced the better result with what was available to them in terms of techniques and materials; but you can't rate the art of one culture as being inherently superior or inferior to another.  And always you have to account for individual tastes.  Chinese landscapes appeal to some people and not others; the same goes for 19th century EuroAmerican genre painting.  Personally, I would take West African sculpture over most 19th century art because much of it was simply an attempt to imitate what had already been done before (Canova is a good example of this), whereas West African sculpture ,while it adhered to a genre with many conventions, generally achieved some individuality.

You can only escape 'cultural relativism' if you purposely pick factors which ensure one culture--obviously, the one you favor and are most comfortable with--comes out ahead--itself an inherently subjective act.   Art is inherently subjective, and our reactions are only partially guided by what Rand referred to as "technical factors".

Therefore, it also follows - for example - western culture is no better nor worse than any other primitive culture. 

Interesting choice of words

Marcus

sharon's picture

 

Your philosophy skills are poor.

 

 

 

No nit-picking here Sharon...

Marcus's picture

"Only an anal uber-hyper nitpicking lefty-brain type would miss the point."

What you espouse here is cultural relativism. You've already said that if 'art' is good or bad is a subjective opinion.

Therefore, it also follows - for example - western culture is no better nor worse than any other primitive culture.

Classic cultural relativism.

Sneaking suspicions, criminal metaphors, and warty shite

William Scott Scherk's picture

Matty, Sharon may have used a metaphor, but the shit metaphor is restricted to describe non-romantic music. As anal warts is restricted to Nirvana, and as poomobonker is restricted to such soul-less creatures as lick Commie Obama butt and celebrate nihilism and wish to destroy Objectivism and everything good and sweet and noble and uplifting and fetching and uplifting and glorious and gawdlike and uplifting and crotch-swoony and spiritually orgasmatronic and so on . . .

Like you. According to the elders of Objective Esthetics. As the eldest of the eld declared, objectivishously, you are one of the "sick, slimy fucks, and lost causes."

So there. That is how Objectivishism advances, by putting the tokens in the correct slots. You sick, slimy fuck.

Incidentally, have you seen the symphonic version of Nirvana's anal-wart celebration of death, horror, Richard Goode, Slayer and Chavez-Obama?

As Lindsay might say, fashionably homogenised and rushed . . .



WSS

I have a sneaking suspicion

sharon's picture

I have a sneaking suspicion that Sharon was using a metaphor.

Yes, most certainly I was. Only an anal uber-hyper nitpicking lefty-brain type would miss the point

 

 

Marcus...

Matty Orchard's picture

"I've never heard of criminals looting sanitation plants for excrement."

I have a sneaking suspicion that Sharon was using a metaphor.

Really?

Marcus's picture

"But I maintain one man’s shit is another man’s diamond."

Only a cultural relativist could come out with a statement as stupid as that one.

I've never heard of criminals looting sanitation plants for excrement.

Jeffrey

sharon's picture

I enjoyed your post very much.

 

I must confess that I take a much more “right brain” approach to music. I can be rigorously logical in other areas of my life (and that includes philosophy) but when it comes to art (music) I like to let my emotions take flight. Psycho-biologist Roger Sperry surmised that the “Right brain” approach is more intuitive and looks at the whole picture then the details. Reading your post, I can see you take a “left brain” approach, which is more analytical. And that is fine. For me, instead of focusing my attention on any one artist—which has been the entire modus opernadi here—I look at the larger picture: if diamonds (of whatever genre) are going to be turned out than the price to pay, in a free society, is putting up with the shit. (But I maintain one man’s shit is another man’s diamond).

edit: Jeffrey, I was listening to the Doors and Nirvana as I wrote this. ;]

 

 

 Sharon, have you ever

sharon's picture

 

Sharon, have you ever truly indulged in music from the Romantic nineteenth century period?

I’m a music junkie, and if you recall I am rather eclectic. But perhaps you are more well versed than I. Still, if you saw my CD collection you could go from A to Z, and almost find everything in between.  

 

Let the primal urge burst forward unimpeded by being chained to the past.

 

My comment is not to be interpreted or extrapolated beyond anything other than what I said. The creative impulse must be left free from self-censure and external force that would seek to be the Van Guard of “enlightened taste” or what have you. Sure, conformity and ugliness will slip out, but the chirping bird of freedom sings the loveliest tune of all.  

 

I don’t think I’m saying anything that Howard Roark would disagree with.     

 

 

  

 

sharon

jeffrey smith's picture

But I’m telling you that there is no such thing as a superior genre of
music (or an epoch) that objectively trumps other periods comprising
those genres.

Not quite accurate.  The music of today builds on the music of yesterday, which built on the music of the day before, and the music of tomorrow will build on the music of today.

If Leonin, Perotin and their anonymous colleagues at Notre Dame and other churches hadn't decided to try writing musical lines for two voices sung simultaneously back about 1200 CE; if other more or less anonymous clergy hadn't thought of developing that and throwing in the modes into the mix, our whole ideas of harmony might have developed in a completely different way, and both pop music and "serious" music would sound entirely different.  The technical achievements of today were made possibly by the technical acheivements of the past.   But it does mean that in at least one sense, music of our era should be objectively superior to music of earlier eras.

But there is also a sense in which contemporary pop music doesn't do that: it just remains in the same rut.   Outside of the "symphonic rock" of the 70s/80s, I don't think any pop music has dared as much melodically and harmonically as Beethoven did in his late string quartets.   And in fact, the popular genre that does tend stretch those limited limits the most and innovate the most musically is the heavy metal that Mr. Perigo despises.  And that's one reason why I listen to classical music much more than I do to popular music: there is an intellectual engagement in classical music that is lacking in popular music.

But you are correct that it's not really possible to compare genres.  You can't really even compare subgenres (for instance,  chamber music for string ensembles and concertos for solo instrument and orchestra) in many cases.  But there is no way to objectively claim that out of jazz, rock and classical music, one of them is objectively superior to the others: no more than you can say that of apples, oranges and cherries.  There are too many differences in musical form to make anything comparison useful.   Even when one genre influences another (as jazz influenced mid twentieth century "serious" music), you can point out the influences but you can't assign superiority to either one.

There's also one other thing that you don't comment on, but which I think should be addressed.  Mr. Perigo at least (and I believe also Olivia) seem to judge music by its emotional expressiveness.  I don't.   I get my pleasure from listening to the interplay of the music with itself, how a composer develops the music.  Does it suggest emotional content to me? Sometimes.  But that's not the primary criterion in my book.  For me it's beauty, both intellectual (how a composer develops his ideas musically) and aural (how well the music sounds to my ear).  If it achieves beauty, then I will find it glorious.  But it seeks to be glorious, usually it comes across as banal.  And if you use emotional expression as a criterion, then you are inherently subscribing to a subjective aesthetics, because emotional beauty is a very subjective thing.  Mr. Perigo loves Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony: I think it is overwrought.  I think Beethoven's late quartets are one of the most awe-inspiring creations of the human mind.  (There's a bunch of others on my list, but I'm mentioning the Beethoven quartets because that's what I have on my CD player even as I write this.)  Other people find them to be arid and convoluted.   Chacun a son gout, as Prince Orlovksy sings in Die Fledermaus.

With my sort of approach, there is an implied hierarchy in which classical music comes out "objectively" superior to popular music: but I think that's only superficial.  For one thing, I don't pretend that my taste in music is the only one worth talking about.  For another, I think it's important to judge music by the conventions of its genre: and you don't expect any sort of fugatos in popular music because that's not how its conventions run.  (The only two I can think of off the top of my head are Bohemian Rhapsody, which is of course a take-off from opera, and Michael Mann's arrangement of Spirits in the Night,  which has fugato episodes that weren't in Springsteen's original version.)  So when I listen to pop music, I don't judge it according to standards of classical music; I judge it according it to the standards of pop music. (Unless it's pop music pretending to be classical music, like Il Divo or most of the other music you might see on a PBS pledge drive special.  And then I generally dislike it because it's usually lousy when judged as classical music.)   Which is why I have no guilt feelings, and more than a little pleasure, when I listen to the pop music that I do like.  

Your comment...

Olivia's picture

here: Let the primal urge burst forward unimpeded by being chained to the past.

... is very telling. So thats how you see the Romantic period, the superior period, where primal urges burst forth unimpeded by ugliness, pessimism, conformity and monotony. Even though the past is behind us, it still offers us many lessons and treasures that relate to us today. One simply can't be "chained" to it - physical, mental and emotional impossibility. I don't even really know what that expression means, except for when people use it in a reactionary way when they feel thwarted by others who don't want to change.

Sharon, have you ever truly indulged in music from the Romantic nineteenth century period?

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Olivia

sharon's picture

 

So far the world has left us an amazing legacy of art. If you want to only experience the primitive expressions of it in music, that's your call Sharon, just don't try telling me there is no hierarchy of ability to combine beauty, melody, passion and skill within it all. That's just mind numbingly dumb.

I wouldn’t think of telling you that. But I’m telling you that there is no such thing as a superior genre of music (or an epoch) that objectively trumps other periods comprising those genres. I have already said this, including many others. Let the primal urge burst forward unimpeded by being chained to the past.    

 

 

Nope...

Olivia's picture

Primal urges to do things are one issue - how and what we do with them is another matter.

So far the world has left us an amazing legacy of art. If you want to only experience the primitive expressions of it in music, that's your call Sharon, just don't try telling me there is no hierarchy of ability to combine beauty, melody, passion and skill within it all. That's just mind numbingly dumb.

You certainly like to play the contrarian don't you.
Must be the anarchist in you. Evil

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Olivia

sharon's picture

Olivia: "...the vast majority of it is Jungle Bunny clap-trap, whether you find it uplifting or not. The sound is intended to be primal.

Me: "The need to create and/or experience art is primal."

Oivia: "I agree. So is our need for shelter, but imagine if architects contented themselves artistically with mud huts and thatched roofs?"

Oh come on now, Olivia, the nature of your post was to convey the word “primal” as a pejorative, and yet here you are now rescuing the word --but qualifying it. Your assertion of “superior music” remains only that—assertion. Neither you nor Mr. Perigo have met Jonathan’s challenge.

 

My dear lady Olivia

HWH's picture

Please spare me from the porter's lodge, and the taste of discipline there, and I shall give my foolery such license no more.

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

Sharon...

Olivia's picture

The need to create and/or experience art is primal.

I agree. So is our need for shelter, but imagine if architects contented themselves artistically with mud huts and thatched roofs?

Jeffrey, my Dear:

Shostakovich found the devil dancing all around him so he composed music for the devil to dance to.

If I think about it my point is, and always has been, by all means dance with the devil if it suits, but save your worship for the gods.

Hilton:

that you have truly "seen attack-ships burn on the shores of Orion" ("From Tears in the rain..Bladerunner)

If you're going to quote one of my gods, I insist you do it word perfect: Smiling "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe - attack ships on fire over the shoulder of Orion...."

"Do not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Linz

HWH's picture

The passion with which you defend your views about music suggests that compared to me (and many others) that you have  truly "seen attack-ships burn on the shores of Orion" ("From Tears in the rain..Bladerunner)

As for me, I've been so preoccupied with different challenges throuhout my life, and even though I have a deep love of music (my dad was a musician) , I've only managed to appreciate it while on the run, and furthermore only from that which has surrounded me.

Thus my favourites consist of an eclectic mix chosen from among many genres, but I've never seriously ventured into any of the classical stuff.

Judging from your passion for it however, I wish there was a way I could simply download your vast experience and appreciation for what you love and I know I wouldn't be disappointed.

When it comes to identifying those who genuinely seek to discover new values, Newtons words speak volumes for that particular sense of life "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem
to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting
myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell
than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
before me."

Far be it from me to psychologise but I think your answer re those who have reacted so vindictively towards your assumptions may be found in this piece from "ARL Selfishness without a self" by Ayn Rand..or on the other hand they may actually truly love Slayer. I have personally witnessed this phenomena firsthand.

 

The amoralist's implicit pattern of self-appraisal (which he seldom identifies or admits) is: "I am good because it's me."

Beyond the age of about three to five (i.e., beyond the perceptual level of mental development), this is not an expression of pride or self-esteem, but of the opposite: of a vacuum—of a stagnant, arrested mentality confessing its impotence to achieve any personal value or virtue.

Do not confuse this pattern with psychological subjectivism. A psychological subjectivist is unable fully to identify his values or to prove their objective validity, but he may be profoundly consistent and loyal to them in practice (though with terrible psycho-epistemological difficulty). The amoralist does not hold subjective values; he does not hold any values. The implicit pattern of all his estimates is: "It's good because I like it"—"It's right because I did it"—"It's true because I want it to be true." What is the "I" in these statements? A physical hulk driven by chronic anxiety.

The frequently encountered examples of this pattern are: the writer who rehashes some ancient bromides and feels that his work is new, because he wrote it—the non-objective artist who feels that his smears are superior to those made by a monkey's tail, because he made them—the businessman who hires mediocrities because he likes them—the political "idealist" who claims that racism is good if practiced by a minority (of his choice), but evil if practiced by a majority—and any advocate of any sort of double standard.

But even such shoddy substitutes for morality are only a pretense: the amoralist does not believe that "I am good because it's me." That implicit policy is his protection against his deepest, never-to-be-identified conviction: "I am no good through and through."

 

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

YOU! LINDSAY!

Brant Gaede's picture

You don't regret animadversion upon your remarks or even your soul or moral stature if not person (where I do believe you draw the line) as long as people, such as me, keep coming at you with fire and brimstone, if not tar and feathers; you revel in it, admit it. No! Don't do that! We need the illusion of something substantial to swing our bats at! I can't help it! I've gotta keep swingin' 'n you keep winnin'! J.H. Christ! U got me by the balls! Take that! And that! Let me hit you again and again! You love it more than I do. The alternative is I ignore you too do! Ah, whiskey! Late nite whiskey! You ain't so bad, Linz, because you can't be that so very good, no matter how hard you try and I do believe you do that too, sometimes for slanderous reasons or not but reasons nevertheless. Sorry, man, but you can't get to where I am, from where you are, since you placed yourself there, where you are, forever and ever.

--Brant

Hilton (not Paris)

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I reread it last night and have to concede that I've come around to your main point that there's a huge difference between a catchy tune and something that brings tears to your eyes.

Surely. But understand I'm not dissing catchy tunes. Au contraire. I do not argue that Romantic music is the only; simply that it's the best. And that there's anti-music like rap and contemporary classical that dispenses with "tune" altogether: faeces rather than food.

I also concede that true romantic music is probably exceedingly more likely to be found in the classical and operatic genres..and not in the pop and contemporary infused world most of us inhabit..but implore you not to summarily trash the tiny bit of exalted stuff that does make its way precariously into the mainstream, even if not from your favourite genres.

And I don't, if such "exalted stuff" exists. I've yet to hear it on the streets, where all I get is assault and battery from unabashedly malevolent headbanging caterwauling. But an occasional exalted nugget would scarcely undermine my thesis.

One issue I have with judgement is the challenge to seperate the core visceral experience the music envokes from the associated emotions a piece of music gathers and assimilates as one listens to it over time? Could this be the achilles heel in trying to establish an objective vocab for music?

Nah. And if it were it's not what Rand said it was. But there's nothing wrong with nostalgia spasms for that which one has outgrown - though you wouldn't want to go back to it fulltime and shrink your brain and taste to the size of Paris's (her brain and taste, I mean), now would you, Hilton? Evil

And Hilton, don't you think there's a telling significance to the venomous ferocity that has been directed at me over this, and by whom it's been directed? Eye

Linz

HWH's picture

Yes..I did get Lanza then..but not your argument. I reread it last night and have to concede that I've come around to your main point that there's a huge difference between a catchy tune and something that brings tears to your eyes.

I also concede that true romantic music is probably exceedingly more likely to be found in the classical and operatic genres..and not in the pop and contemporary infused world most of us inhabit..but implore you not to summarily trash the tiny bit of exalted stuff that does make its way precariously into the mainstream, even if not from your favourite genres.

I agree with your take that it's the melody that makes it great, and that arrangement, rhythm, artist, style, lyrics and accompanyment are secondary, yet crucial aspects of the total experience.

One issue I have with judgement is the challenge to seperate the core visceral experience the music envokes from the associated emotions a piece of music gathers and assimilates as one listens to it over time? Could this be the achilles heel in trying to establish an objective vocab for music? 

I admit that reason is a small and feeble flame, a flickering torch by stumblers carried in the starless night, -- blown and flared by passion's storm, -- and yet, it is the only light. Extinguish that, and nought remains.- - Robert Green Ingersoll

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