Holiday Reprise: Why Catholicism Is Beating Objectivism's Ass ... Still

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Tue, 2008-12-02 07:20

There's no mystery whatsoever about this. Take this in:

Yes, even though the performance is fashionably homogenised and rushed, the beauty of Schubert's Ave Maria—glorious music set to evil lyrics—remains irresistible to anyone with a soul. Until it can answer this, Objectivism will languish. Until we have not just a bunch of Halley concertos, but an understanding of their objective necessity and superiority, we will get nowhere. Hate to sound like a cracked record, but we have not been found wanting in epistemology, economics or politics. It's the esthetics, Stoopid. As I've said so many times, it's time for Objectivists to take The Romantic Manifesto seriously. More than that—to affirm unabashedly the objective superiority of Romantic music.


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Fun Thread

Newberry's picture

What a fun thread to touch base again with.

Amore metallico!

Richard Goode's picture

Brother Cesare Bonizzi is a Capuchin friar belonging to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was (until recently) also the vocalist for the heavy metal band Fratello Metallo ("Brother Metal").

"Metal is the most energetic, vital, deep and true musical language that I know," said Bonizzi, adding that it allowed him to communicate "not religious messages, but themes of faith that have a bearing on life and which are experienced musically in a secular key."

"Heavy metal has given me the opportunity to meet a world of people of a unique beauty and tenderness," said Bonizzi. "Metal is the strength of music itself. Metal is a brother."

Bonizzi blames the devil for his decision to quit two years ago. "The devil has separated me from my managers, risked making me break up with my band colleagues and also risked making me break up with my fellow monks. He lifted me up to the point where I become a celebrity and now I want to kill him," said the metal monk in his farewell video.

He's not just a headbanger, though. Bonizzi has an extensive discography, spanning many genres. Catholic tastes? His official website is here.

Hallelujah, brother!

And now ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... the ultimate Mario performance of the Ave Maria: his last, with pics from it and his others, done in melting sotto voce:

44

Michael Hardy's picture

Geez, I posted to this thread in February and now I see it hasn't died yet, with a post by Ellen Stuttle in late May and another posted within the past 24 hours.

At one point in this thread Jonathan wrote:

> I can't begin to fathom the
> depths of moral depravity,
> psychological deviance,
> aesthetic malfeasance and
> other bad traits that a
> person must have in order
> to post a link to a Nena
> video that doesn't include
> images of Nena.

I partially atoned for this with some postings of videos in which we see her at various times between 1982 and the present epoch. I feel sure that, even though nobody cares (unless Jonathan is still here?), it must be my religious duty to give you people another chance to see what a 44-year-old woman looks like, with this item, from a performance on July 31st, 2004 in Berlin (it was on the occasion of the re-opening of the Olympic Stadium after remodeling).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

This next one isn't one of my favorites among her songs, but it certainly responds to Jonathan's comments. If I derive any thrills from the parts between 4:13 and 4:16 you'll suspect me of being a fool or a heterosexual, so I won't mention that part. OK, maybe I will:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

(Actually, I've been wondering for a year and a half whether someone might some day post videos of 31.7.2004 to youtube.)

Mr. Perigo

sharon's picture

We may not agree on many things, but we largely agree on music appreciation. In all fairness I would say my taste is perhaps more vast, but your passion for music is probably equal to mine. I know you are a music connoisseur and as such you appreciate it as something far greater than a background noise as you go about doing other things. I can see you throwing yourself into a given piece of music with heart and soul heading first.

I came across another site, Objectivist Living, where they have taken to ridicule some kind of “baton air-play” or something or other. Hell, I use to play air-guitar to some of my favorite rock bands but it isn’t something that dogged me later on. I don’t know why it should be such food for ridicule in your case. Ah well...

Noted, Ellen ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... thanks.

Linz, re J and your air-conducting

Ellen Stuttle's picture

You make a mistake if you presume that your friend reported in the sort of terms in which Jonathan tells the story. Jonathan specializes in spinning out parodies.

You yourself have spoken of your air-conducting in posts; thus your own report might be where Jonathan first heard of it. The subject has been cause for considerable mockery on OL.

I did a search on OL on "air-conducting." Unfortunately, posts with just the word "conducting" also show up. But if you look at some material starting about halfway up the 5th page of the search -- link to the search screen -- you'll find where the subject of your air-conducting probably started on OL.

Here and here are a couple of J's earliest OL references to the subject.

The second link, in response to a question from Rich Engles, directly quotes a post of yours. It also says:

"I've seen him [you] mention it before, and I've heard others (in evil, backroom, 'whispering campaign' chatter) giggle about a couple of incidents that are rumored to have happened. Personally, I don't have a problem with someone conducting along with a piece of music. It's just the vision of pompous Perigo doing it as a performance for others that cracks me up. [....]"

This isn't enough from which to conclude that a personal friend of yours described incidents using the kind of language Jonathan uses in describing them.

Ellen

One thing ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

This thread, in conjunction with more recent ones, has enabled me to resolve a certain mystery—Jonathan, who has LDS, on this thread, somewhere among the 1300 posts, said:

In addition to the above quote, I've heard stories of Pigero air-conducting for friends, with weeping eyes and jowls aquiver. It's said to be the most pompous and maudlin thing that you will ever experience, and gut-busting and pants-wetting hilarious.

When I first read that I was puzzled, not to mention appalled. I used to give informal conducting lessons in my Auckland apartment as part of the carousing that went on there. They were fun nights. So I thought, who among that lot would have reported this in the above terms to Jonathan, with his LDS, behind my back? What kind of low-life pretending to be my friend, enjoying my hospitality and drinking my wine, would do that?

I now know.

I'm not going to name him, but he will read this and know that I know, and know that I regard him as scum, and that he can expect to be treated as such by me from now on.

CPR

Brant Gaede's picture

Just in case this thread is resusitatable. Help, help, help!

--Brant

Jonathan

Leonid's picture

"Why do you think Rand rejected emotions as a criterion of objective judgment?"
Not at all. Rand said that emotions are automatic VALUE-JUDGMENT. This is the full statement of Rand's position:

"Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering. Emotions are the automatic results of man’s value judgments integrated by his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man’s values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him—lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss.

But while the standard of value operating the physical pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is automatic and innate, determined by the nature of his body—the standard of value operating his emotional mechanism, is not. Since man has no automatic knowledge, he can have no automatic values; since he has no innate ideas, he can have no innate value judgments.

Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are “tabula rasa.” It is man’s cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the content of both. Man’s emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer, which his mind has to program—and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses.

But since the work of man’s mind is not automatic, his values, like all his premises, are the product either of his thinking or of his evasions: man chooses his values by a conscious process of thought—or accepts them by default, by subconscious associations, on faith, on someone’s authority, by some form of social osmosis or blind imitation. Emotions are produced by man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly."

“The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 27.

Emotions

Jonathan's picture

Jeff wrote,
"The analogy overlooks a crucial distinction: emotions are not primitive sensory states, nor are they entirely or even primarily associational. They are, in important part at least, the consequence of evaluations. At bottom, this view denies volition and its importance in human selections and reactions."

I haven't claimed that emotions are primitive sensory states, that they are entirely or primarily associational, or that they can't be the consequences of evaluations. Consequences of evaluations, however, are not themselves conscious evaluations, and subconscious consequences of evaluations do not necessarily adhere to reality or conform to the will of their possessor.

Rand believed that emotions were subconscious and automatic. Do you think that such a belief is a denial of volition? Why do you think Rand rejected emotions as a criterion of objective judgment?

J

Essential Distinctions

Jeff Perren's picture

The analogy overlooks a crucial distinction: emotions are not primitive sensory states, nor are they entirely or even primarily associational. They are, in important part at least, the consequence of evaluations. At bottom, this view denies volition and its importance in human selections and reactions.

Culinary Art

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote, about my music/cuisine analogy,
"However, you are the one who is making the claim that the analogy is a good one. So let's turn this questioning the other direction about: Please attempt to justify the claim."

Cooking can be similar to the other arts in that it can use a wide variety of elements to achieve drama and expressiveness through similarities, contrasts and emotional and conceptual associations. Much as a musician chooses a key, or a painter chooses to selectively limit his palette to a specific range of hues and values, a chef can do the same with flavors, temperatures and textures.

A chef might limit her "palette" to a small range of flavors to highlight one contrasting element, and the style of contrast she chooses can be expressive. She might contrast, say, a "hot," spicy meat with a cold vegetable medley, resulting in a course that evokes feelings of lightness, naturalness, freshness and summer, feelings which might be reinforced by the similarities and contrasts of flavors of earlier or later courses. Or she might "cool" the spiciness with a warm, sweet, cream sauce, which might generally evoke feelings of heaviness, tradition, family, calm and winter. Or she might not "cool" the protein at all, but instead choose to modulate the "heat" with an unexpected complementary spice, which might generally evoke the feeling that the dish is very energetic, festive and new.

Courses can be structurally selected to dramatically build to a climax. Then can, say, increase from mild flavors to more intense ones. The courses might offer structural variations on a theme -- different courses using the same wine as an ingredient, for example, or all of the ingredients used might be only those that are found naturally within a given region. A chef might start with established, traditional recipes, but bring his own unique variations to them, taking traditional German fare, for example, and putting a Creole spin on it, thus evoking certain associations and emotions. Those not familiar with the traditions and culinary associations won't "get" the complexity of the aesthetic drama or expressiveness involved.

Incidentally, similar to wavelengths of light and sound, certain flavors not only complement each other or clash, but cancel each other out. If you spend any time experimenting in the kitchen, you end up tasting combinations of ingredients constantly -- or at least I do -- and you make surprising little discoveries about their expressiveness or lack thereof. How do turnips with lemon and milk taste? Or Rosemary with peanut butter and tartar sauce? Chocolate with peas and marinara sauce? The odd thing is that combinations that you might expect to have a strong, distinctive flavor sometimes taste like nothing. An inexpensive example is to take two "opposing" flavors of Skittles, like a grape one and a lemon one, or a cherry one and a lime one, and put them in your mouth with one large barbecue-flavored potato chip. Depending on the amount of barbecue flavoring and the specific Skittles chosen, most people experience something of a nullification of flavors, and some people end up tasting no flavor at all.

J

Jonathan, re music/cooking

Ellen Stuttle's picture

I'm going to leave aside the issue of the nature of art. It's a bigger subject than I want to get into. I'm thinking, as I said, that we have some significant differences in our respective conceptions of art. I don't know if these differences have developed in recent years with your forming views which your didn't once have, or not. (I used to think that our views on art were pretty similar.)

I'll just address the section about music and cooking:

 

E: "Hence, for instance, you classify cooking as an 'art' in the same sense as music, painting, literature, etc., whereas I do not."

When I asked if you know anything about haute cuisine, I wasn't being a smart ass. When I asked if you have any experience inventing recipes and creating multiple course meals, I was sincerely trying to discover if you have any real knowledge of the balance, structure, contrast, drama and expressiveness -- the idiosyncratic formal potentials -- utilized by experienced chefs and recognized and enjoyed by gourmands.

I've asked the same type of thing of people who have no knowledge of photography but insist that it's not a valid art form. How can they make such a claim when they know nothing about the medium and have no interest in learning about it?

And just to be clear, I'm not saying that all cooking is art, just as all photographs are not necessarily art, and all writing and painting is not art.

 

You've made analogies in a series of posts between cooking and music. Apparently, from your persisting with these analogies, you think they're good ones. I don't, and I don't think that I need to have experience at "haute cuisine" in order to consider the analogies ones which rest on nothing more substantive than a loose use of language.

Music is the most precisely analyzable in form of all the arts. It's based on systems of tones. I see nothing in "the balance, structure, contrast, drama and expressiveness -- the idiosyncratic formal potentials -- utilized by experienced chefs and recognized and enjoyed by gourmands" which is similar except in a non-enlighteningly vague way.

Although I don't think the answer is pertinent, I'll answer your question about my "experience inventing recipes and creating multiple course meals." Once upon a time, I had a fair amount of experience at that, since I did a lot of the cooking for a family of eight (my mother often being ill). I was considered a good cook, but I was never partial to cooking for the sake of doing it and have mostly availed myself of restaurants, or of "thrown together" meals, since I moved to the East more than 40 years ago.

If my lack of pursuit of cooking disqualifies me in your books from having reason to say that the "structure" of a meal isn't well analogized to the structure (no scare quotes) of a composition, so be it.

However, you are the one who is making the claim that the analogy is a good one. So let's turn this questioning the other direction about: Please attempt to justify the claim.

Ellen

Idiosyncratic Formal Potentials

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,
"OK, with the above background, I'll now restate my original description of the romantic era (in music) thus: there was an unequaled (to date) explosion of idiosyncratic formal potentials utilizing tonal drama as the organizing principle."

I don't think that I have a problem with the above. The word "potentials" seems to eliminate my objections.

E: "It seems that you view the nature and purpose of art as basically expressive, whereas I agree with Rand in viewing the nature and purpose of art as basically cognitive. (I don't see eye to eye with her on details, but my views are pretty much 'in the same ballpark' as hers.)"

Actually, that's a little rigid for my approach to art. I don't like the idea of trying to put a wide, diverse category like art into a box and label it as being "essentially" one thing or the other. I think that it can be expressive and/or cognitive. It would depend on the art form, or even on the individual piece of art. I think that some works of art basically expressive and some are basically cognitive. Some are both.

Anyway, you and others on this thread have been discussing your views on the "drama" and "expressiveness" of music. The fact that I join the discussion and also discuss those things does not mean that they represent my essential view of all art.

E: "Hence, for instance, you classify cooking as an 'art' in the same sense as music, painting, literature, etc., whereas I do not."

When I asked if you know anything about haute cuisine, I wasn't being a smart ass. When I asked if you have any experience inventing recipes and creating multiple course meals, I was sincerely trying to discover if you have any real knowledge of the balance, structure, contrast, drama and expressiveness -- the idiosyncratic formal potentials -- utilized by experienced chefs and recognized and enjoyed by gourmands.

I've asked the same type of thing of people who have no knowledge of photography but insist that it's not a valid art form. How can they make such a claim when they know nothing about the medium and have no interest in learning about it?

And just to be clear, I'm not saying that all cooking is art, just as all photographs are not necessarily art, and all writing and painting is not art.

J

Here's some GREAT headbanging! :-)

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Folk ask me if there's *any* headbanging that I like. Try this for noise! Eye

Re_Basquiat

jeffrey smith's picture

Having seen this painting, I'm really angry at my mother now.

If she had saved all the crayon drawings I made when I was four and five, I could have sold them for 13.5 million!

The only reason

Brant Gaede's picture

to pay 12 mil for this painting is to resell it for 13.5.

At NBI in 1968 Ayn Rand was asked what she would do if she owned a Picasso. "As for what I'd do if I owned a Picasso? I'd sell it." Laughter from the aufience. I think she smiled too. Everyone was thinking she'd say, "I'd burn it."

--Brant

Rachmaninov

Brant Gaede's picture

is buried in the same cemetery as Ayn Rand.

--Brant

Some visual grunge to go with your Nirvana?

Lindsay Perigo's picture

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/arou...

I gather the "artist," who died of a drug overdose at 27, was a Hendrix fan. How incongruous! Eye

Rachmaninov's 2nd.

Olivia's picture

Here is an eloquent refutation of the reason/passion dichotomy.

…and a gentle reproach of the mediocrity-worshipping opinion that all eras are equal – Romantic and Post-modern alike.

The structure of this piece (and other Romantic works) is so sound and yet, so grand - it supports the overflow of so many beautiful melodies. It’s the very thing that is absent from modern classical, where structures are like wonky, flimsy buildings sprawling across ground level. They cannot support interesting variations on the melodies and the composers overcompensate for it by more gratuitous ramblings and add-ons.

This kind of work by a god as great as Rachmaninov takes an incalculable amount of mental effort and musical ability (even to play it, let alone compose it). To not give him the salute of a towering superior is arrogantly remiss of anyone who claims to know anything about music. And then there’s the Rach 3!

His Helping Hand I'll Lean Upon

Jonathan's picture

"Well said. And how vile is he who uses his mastery to promote an evil vision!"

Pigero, you really shouldn't be so hard on Mario Lanza for singing "I'll Walk With God."

J

Mr. Perigo

sharon's picture

"I strongly urge the headbanging dregs and filth to listen to this right through to the end."

Who would those individuals be?

To think, perchance to feel ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Michael says: That is the rub. Most artists want the freedom to express themselves, some try to find this by banging their heads up against the wall of mediocrity, but to function at their outer reaches of their visions takes tremendous mastery.

Well said. And how vile is he who uses his mastery to promote an evil vision!

Here is an eloquent refutation of the reason/passion dichotomy. I strongly urge the headbanging dregs and filth to listen to this right through to the end:

Walls of Mediocrity

Newberry's picture

Ellen: "What I was talking about, instead of a superiority judgment, is something which I think is thus far unique in music history to the romantic period of that history: a rapid flowering, an explosion, an opening of a new way of approaching form which was then taken up and exuberantly exploited.

If I could give a comparision from the history of technology: Once it was learned how to make an internal combusion engine, then there was a rapid development of many uses and types of such engines. The idea, once understood, opened technological frontiers which were eagerly explored.

Similarly, new ways of using form burst forth in the romantic period, as composers spied the potentials provided by employing tonal drama."

There are few major historical visual art turning points like this as well. The first that came to mind is Polyclitus' Canon of proportions, http://newberryworkshop.com/Tu... in which one joint of finger serves as unit then compares to the length of the finger, then to the hand, forearm and so on. The surprising thing that instead of looking like a dry mathematical exercise, the process opened up an era of beauty and a freedom in human representation. This enabled artists to explore the boundaries of dramatic, realistic figures such as the Boy Riding the Horse http://www.mlahanas.de/Greeks/...

But like many things in history, this knowledge and the ability to execute it can be lost. For example if an artist can't build a figure proportionately then they have limited options in how they express the figure: they can copy photos; they can express wacked figures; they could be naive artists like Grandma Moses. But in all cases without this knowledge their options are limited.

That is the rub. Most artists want the freedom to express themselves, some try to find this by banging their heads up against the wall of mediocrity, but to function at their outer reaches of their visions takes tremendous mastery.

Ellen

Jonathan's picture

Thanks for the detailed post, Ellen. I'll digest it an respond when I've got some free time once again.

Best,
J

Ellen, Another couple of

Newberry's picture

Ellen,

Another couple of excellent posts.

I came across this Rand quote recently and I think it is applicable here: "Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone."

Cheers,

Michael

Unequaled peak

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Ellen, if there's any confusion between us, I think it's based on your use of the words "unequaled peak" when saying, "The subsequent era was an unequaled peak in realizing music's potentials of dramatic form and personal expressiveness."

 

Jonathan,

When I read your post, I groaned and felt an emotional response which might be stated in some such words as, "Oy vey! The pitfalls of language!"

Of the three descriptions in the brief statement you quote -- "dramatic form," "personal expressiveness," and "unequaled peak" -- only one, maybe, came through to you with the meaning I meant. The one which, maybe, did get through is "dramatic form." You haven't said anything indicating that you didn't read that one as intended.

Specifying, however, trying to be sure my meaning is clear: What I'm referring to would better be called "tonal drama" and is also called "the sonata principle," as discussed in the webpiece I linked in my last post. Briefly, it's a musical method of producing a sense of tension and resolution by first establishing a tonic key, then modulating away from the tonic to a related key, then (optionally) taking variously long and complicated key excursions, then modulating back to the tonic.

This principle was developed in the classical period, made much use of by Beethoven (who more than any other composer showed "how to do it") and then extensively explored and exploited in the romantic period and following.

It's a principle which makes possible highly individualized uses of form -- which is what I was talking about with "personal expressiveness." The words were ill-chosen, because they invite misinterpreting. I'd have better said "idiosyncratic form." I'll substitute in a re-write of the statement momentarily.

First the wording "unequaled peak," which also caused trouble. I did not mean by that the idea that there's any inherent superiority either aesthetically or morally in the music of the romantic period as compared to the music of any other period. I don't agree with Rand in assigning moral superiority to certain art types or genres. I'm not convinced that the idea of "evil art" even makes sense. Maybe, very narrowly, but I have strong doubts. As to aesthetic superiority, I think there's been great music and not-so-great music in every musical period and tradition (including non-Western).

What I was talking about, instead of a superiority judgment, is something which I think is thus far unique in music history to the romantic period of that history: a rapid flowering, an explosion, an opening of a new way of approaching form which was then taken up and exuberantly exploited.

If I could give a comparision from the history of technology: Once it was learned how to make an internal combusion engine, then there was a rapid development of many uses and types of such engines. The idea, once understood, opened technological frontiers which were eagerly explored.

Similarly, new ways of using form burst forth in the romantic period, as composers spied the potentials provided by employing tonal drama.

This development couldn't occur again -- using the same organizing principle -- because it's already happened. It was a once only, for that organizing principle. In the music which followed, and continues to follow, there couldn't be the same exuberant new burst, because by the time of the post-romantics "how to do it" was too well known; finding new tricks became increasingly difficult.

As a result, there was the attempt deliberately to create a new formal principle, the 12-tone attempt. This didn't work, since it was contrived; it didn't grow organically from the way human hearing works; it didn't take hold.

At this time, I sense that there's an embryonic period in which some kind of new form potential is growing. I have intimations of what might happen next -- but barring rapid developments in medical science, I don't anticipate being around to find out if my intimations are right.

Meanwhile, an important part of the exploring is the utilizing of new ways of sound. I agree with you that there's terrific inventiveness going on with sound potentials. I don't doubt that those potentials will be exploited in a new formal development. But formally, at this time in music history, I think there's a relative low. (I realize that there might be stuff I don't know about in which there's more formal adventurousness than is present in such current pop music as I've heard.)

OK, with the above background, I'll now restate my original description of the romantic era (in music) thus: there was an unequaled (to date) explosion of idiosyncratic formal potentials utilizing tonal drama as the organizing principle.

With which...I hope you're understanding what I meant.

I'll say just a couple concluding words about a discovery which has dawned on me during the course of this discussion: It's that you and I have different conceptions of the fundamental nature of art. I hadn't been aware of the difference in conception when we were talking about visual arts on OL. I thought we pretty strongly agreed on basics. Possibly you've meanwhile firmed up in your own thoughts an approach to the nature of art which was only nascent then.

It seems that you view the nature and purpose of art as basically expressive, whereas I agree with Rand in viewing the nature and purpose of art as basically cognitive. (I don't see eye to eye with her on details, but my views are pretty much "in the same ballpark" as hers.) Hence, for instance, you classify cooking as an "art" in the same sense as music, painting, literature, etc., whereas I do not.

I haven't time to search back through your posts for quotes to show why I've concluded we're coming at the subject from a different conception. Nor have I time to discuss the issues now. Maybe later. They'd be interesting to discuss when/if the current man-made crisis in which I find myself an actor is weathered (ha! groan at the pun).

Ellen

Joe

Jonathan's picture

Thanks for posting the McCloud page, Joe. When I have more time, I'll try to find and post something similar from Disney and his old crew.

J

Unequaled Peak

Jonathan's picture

Ellen, if there's any confusion between us, I think it's based on your use of the words "unequaled peak" when saying, "The subsequent era was an unequaled peak in realizing music's potentials of dramatic form and personal expressiveness."

J

Jonathan/Expressiveness

Jmaurone's picture

Jonathan, given your post on expressiveness, I thought you might appreciate this, from Scott McCloud's UNDERSTANDING COMICS. (Click picture for full size.)

Jonathan, clarification (I hope) re "expressiveness"

Ellen Stuttle's picture

There's a serious miscommunication because of your using a different meaning of "expressiveness" from what I meant in speaking of "personal expressiveness." I meant a possibility of idiosyncratic structural features which was opened up.

And please notice that I spoke of this development as continuing to this day.

Here's a webpiece which -- upon my glancing through it -- coveys an idea of what I was talking about. I haven't read the item carefully. I'm just citing it as indicative: Link.

As I said, I haven't time to pursue the subject of aesthetics. If the article I linked doesn't help with clarifying my meaning, I'll just leave things at communication impasse.

Ellen

"Expressiveness" Isn't Measured Objectively

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,
"I'm wondering, however, what would happen if Linz were to content himself with merely presenting the positive half of his thesis. I'll encapsulate the positive half in my own words thus: There was a flowering of Western music which followed upon Beethoven's showing the way, starting especially with that watershed work "The Eroica." The subsequent era was an unequaled peak in realizing music's potentials of dramatic form and personal expressiveness."

I replied,
"I have no problem with the above statement if it was written with the recognition that the last sentence is a subjective opinion. If not, Ellen -- if you think that it's an objective evaluation -- I'd like to hear which criteria you'd propose to objectively measure and evaluate musical 'expressiveness.'"

Ellen replied,
"No, I'm not talking about a 'subjective opinion.' I'm talking about an historic development in musical form, a development which you could find talked about in any good history of music. It's a development which might be compared to painters' learning how to convey a sense of perspective on a flat canvas. This was a major technical opening of possibilities which weren't possibilities previously. I think you'd understand what knowledge of how to render perspective made do-able in painting."

Yes, perspective opened up possibilities. That doesn't mean that paintings which include accurate perspective are more "expressive" than those that don't, just as it doesn't follow that paintings which use complex color and compositional theories, accurate anatomy, and high value contrasts are more "expressive" than those that don't.

Walt Disney once said something to the effect that he began to realize the full artistic potential of animation when he recognized that a simple, subtle movement could be more powerfully expressive that sweeping gestures. He realized that making a cartoon character slightly shift an eyebrow could more effectively show surprise or anger than having the character wildly toss his arms into the air and leap around with mouth agape. The same is true of any art form. Contrast, dynamics and gesticulation don't necessarily equal "expressiveness." In fact, they can be perceived as maudlin, corny, overwrought, trite, etc., much like you perceive the Warsaw Concerto.

E: "Likewise, the development of classical forms, especially the all-important sonata form -- plus development of instruments which could utilize equal temperament (the pianoforte first and foremost, with its making possible a range of dymanics and drama not possible in earlier, more fragile and less dynamically variable keybord instruments, but other instruments as well) -- enabled ways of writing music and means of idiosyncratic use of form which weren't available before then."

If technical advancements equal "expressiveness," then the modern era is objectively the "apogee" of music, since it employs a much larger range of vocal and instrumental timbres, textures, dynamics and effects than any music from the past. Rock vocals are much more individual -- Corey Taylor sounds much less like David Lee Roth or Chris Daughtry than Maria Callas sounds like Anna Moffo or Kiri Te Kanawa -- and classical instruments are quite limited when you consider all of modern effects that are available to rock musicians, from distortion and wah pedals to flangers, delays, pitch benders, etc. And it's not just guitars, keyboards and vocals that have vertured into new territory, but percussion as well. Modern drummers like Joey Jordison and Neil Peart are doing things that classical percussionists wouldn't dream of being able to do.

E: "Beethoven, more than any other composer, showed the way with his exploiting of the formal developments the earlier classicists had adumbrated. What I'm talking about isn't personal taste but instead a discernable, documentable change in the way music was conceived -- a change the results of which continue to this day."

I don't disagree that there have been changes in music, and that new techniques, methods, structures and styles have been developed. I simply disagree that whichever styles you happen to like are not "objectively" more "expressive" just because you, personally, find them to be the most expressive.

Add to that the fact that you don't really have much knowledge or interest in music outside of your preferred tastes. You don't listen to or create rock, blues or rap, so you're really not in a position to judge what is the apogee of music.

Speaking of modern styles of music, I saw Eminem's film "8 Mile" for the first time the other night on TV. It's actually quite a romantic film in the Randian sense. In certain ways, Eminem's character could be seen as something of a Howard Roark of rap. The rap showdowns in the film are electrifying, and the song "Lose Yourself" is very positive and inspirational.

J

Norman Granz, Impressario

Jeff Perren's picture

By the way, the man who introduces them is Norman Granz, founder of Verve records and the hero who boosted the career of Ella Fitzgerald and many others.

A man of eminently good taste and class whose name should be much better known.

Now, a snippet about the - not only epitome of panache, but - morally brave Mr. Cole:

"In 1948, Cole purchased a house in the all-white Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. The property owners association told Cole they did not want any undesirables moving in. Cole retorted:

"Neither do I. And if I see anybody undesirable coming in here, I'll be the first to complain."

The Ku Klux Klan, still active in Los Angeles well into the 1950s, responded by placing a burning cross on his front lawn."

Mr. and Mrs. Cole, by the way, did not move.

Today, by contrast, the so-called rap 'artists' would be the ones lighting the torch. Neither of these two facts is coincidental.

Superb, Jeff.

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Nat King Cole was panache personified.

Not to be mentioned in the same breath as the assault-and-battery filth.

Rap? No. Nat King Cole, Yes

Jeff Perren's picture

When the unjustly rewarded rap 'artists' lay down their evil and become even a little closer to this superb musician (and the other gentleman who accompany him), I'll give them a listen.

Until then, no thanks. I prefer not to soil my soul. Count me among the Truly Pious with a Proper Sense of Life.

La danza delle ore

Michael Hardy's picture

I liked the Dudley Moore piece too.

 

OK, so I've noticed some people mentioning _music_ in this thread.  Dunno anything about that, but I like this piece, la danza delle ore, by Amilcare Ponchielli (Is "Amilcare" a Punic name?):

I won't mention that I wondered for several minutes whether Letizia Giuliani was wearing underwear or anything else besides that gold dress, since then you might think I thought about that, but she has other physical attributes---legs and muscles and leg muscles and other parts (is one allowed to use words like "parts" here?).

 

Grinning - the Dudley Moore parody

Ellen Stuttle's picture

He did a wonderful job of it. He was a good player, and he understood what makes the Beethoven style work.

I think that the Beethoven segment is on the recording of selections from "Beyond the Fringe."

Another of my favorite segments is the take-off on a conversation between philosophers G. E. Moore and Russell:

"'Moore!' I said, 'have you ~any~ apples?' And we were friends for life."

Ellen

Sonata

reed's picture

webhost101.net - Websites made easy.

Jonathan, addressing one detail

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Jonathan,

For at least the next month, I anticipate being too heavily involved in anti-AGWA * issues to have any time left over for issues of aesthetics. There's a pending bill, an enabling bill, which if passed will have detrimental results for the life of every human on this planet. Efforts are being made to prevent passage. I can't directly contribute to those efforts, but I can contribute to a more long-term goal of couteracting the suborning of science. I'll post about my anticipated project on the Vaclav Klaus thread when next I can come on-line. (I'm badly in need of sleep, but I'm still keyed up with conference aftermath.)

There is one segment of your "Roundup" post which I particularly want to address, while I remember.

It's this:

 

~~~

E: "I'm wondering, however, what would happen if Linz were to content himself with merely presenting the positive half of his thesis. I'll encapsulate the positive half in my own words thus: There was a flowering of Western music which followed upon Beethoven's showing the way, starting especially with that watershed work "The Eroica." The subsequent era was an unequaled peak in realizing music's potentials of dramatic form and personal expressiveness."

 

J: I have no problem with the above statement if it was written with the recognition that the last sentence is a subjective opinion. If not, Ellen -- if you think that it's an objective evaluation -- I'd like to hear which criteria you'd propose to objectively measure and evaluate musical "expressiveness."

~~~

 

No, I'm not talking about a "subjective opinion." I'm talking about an historic development in musical form, a development which you could find talked about in any good history of music. It's a development which might be compared to painters' learning how to convey a sense of perspective on a flat canvas. This was a major technical opening of possibilities which weren't possibilities previously. I think you'd understand what knowledge of how to render perspective made do-able in painting.

Likewise, the development of classical forms, especially the all-important sonata form -- plus development of instruments which could utilize equal temperament (the pianoforte first and foremost, with its making possible a range of dymanics and drama not possible in earlier, more fragile and less dynamically variable keybord instruments, but other instruments as well) -- enabled ways of writing music and means of idiosyncratic use of form which weren't available before then.

Beethoven, more than any other composer, showed the way with his exploiting of the formal developments the earlier classicists had adumbrated.

What I'm talking about isn't personal taste but instead a discernable, documentable change in the way music was conceived -- a change the results of which continue to this day.

I hope that clarifies on the formal-development issue. The rest I'll have to wait to address until/unless...

Ellen

 

* At this point a new acronym is needed, since the battle cry has been shifted to "climate crisis," the "AGW" thesis having fallen into mostly non-mentioned non-acceptance amongst even its own former advocates.

Rap & Patter Song

Jonathan's picture

I was thinking that "Ya Got Trouble" is loose enough in style as to be closer to rap than other examples of patter song that I'm aware of, but I'm not a big enough fan of opera to know for certain that there aren't examples of operatic patter which is as loose and free as "Ya Got Trouble" and modern rap music. But now that you mention it, Ellen, I really don't think there's a significant difference between rap and patter anyway. It's essentially the same thing.

 So, I think we've identified yet another item to put on the list of types of art that Truly Pious Objectivists with Proper Senses of Life should fight against in their heroic cultural war: any opera or musical which contains patter song is pure Eeeeevil, and Objectivists should openly and proudly express their heroic rage over it every chance they get.

No time now, J.

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Tomorrow is when for the start of the Heartland conference, and I still have some chores to finish before then. Plus, I wouldn't be able to sit at a computer screen long enough to reply to you today, even if I were blessedly all packed and ready to go, since I'd mess myself up for tomorrow if I did that much e-screening today.

I'll get back to you as soon as I can, when/if I can following the conference. The only time-factor prediction I can make with near certainty is that there will be a large amount of conference aftermath to attend to.

Ellen

PS: I see you've subsequently added a query to Linz re "Right Here in River City." You classify that as "rap"? Are you then thinking of "rap" as a subvariant of patter song? Maybe so from your saying that most "rap" you've heard has a harmonic structure. My sample is admittedly limited. I haven't noticed a harmonic structure in the stuff I sometimes hear the kids play around the neighborhood, but maybe it's there if one gets up close. Eye

Right Here In River City

Jonathan's picture

Pigero squealed,

 "Rap and all the other crap is not just interesting stuff that the young folk find "cool"; it's evil."

 

 This is one of the earliest pieces of "rap" that I'm aware of:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LI_Oe-jtgdI

 Is it also a work of "evil" which doesn't qualify as music?

 J

Roundup

Jonathan's picture

Ellen wrote,

 "Cooking isn't even an 'art' in the operative meaning in which painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, music are arts."

 Says you. I think that anything that can be expressive to someone can be art, and it doesn't matter if a thing expresses itself through sight, sound, taste, touch or smell. Your, or anyone else's, lack of knowledge or interest in the culinary arts is not the basis on which I would decide whether or not cooking can qualify as an art form.

 E: "I know there's a whole history of debate as to what qualifies as 'an art form,' and that there's a history of referring to, e.g., the art of medicine, of teaching, of cooking -- even of reasoning -- etc.

"But whoever might analogize the 'structure' of a meal to that of a musical work...is stretching language. Can you transpose a meal into a different key? Expand and contract the time value of 'the theme' of a meal? Play it on a different instrument? Write down the score? Ascertain if there's an exact repeat of a section? Etc., etc. If a chef adds just a dash more pepper on one occasion of preparing a dish, is this like a 'wrong note' in music? If the dish is prepared milder-spiced on one occasion, is this like the singer or the instrument being flat?"

 Well, the purpose of an analogy is to compare some similarities of things that are otherwise dissimilar, not to expect the things being compared to be identical or to correspond in every way. We can make an analogy between, say, winter driving and playing the position of halfback in a football game: Getting behind a snow plow or other large truck in a storm can be a smart move because the truck acts like a "blocker." It would miss the point if one were to object to the analogy on the grounds that winter drivers don't carry footballs, wear helmets and padding, huddle up or run plays.

 The point of the music/food analogy was that our subjective tastes override our attempts at objectivity. How would we objectively judge the experience of eating a simple, natural strawberry compared to eating a complex, nuanced, structured casserole if we love strawberries and detest the flavor of the ingredients in the casserole?

 Complexity of structure doesn't necessarily make for better food or more expressive music. Hearing a composer's multiple variations on a theme might make one music critic ecstatic, and yet to another critic, the composition will sound like a dry academic exercise in which the composer appears to be doing nothing but make a technical, mathematical transition from one variation to another. Such judgments always seem to come down to subjective tastes.

 But, hey, if you don't like or get the food analogy, or if I've miscommunicated my point, then ignore it and focus on the musical examples to which I've been comparing it. Do you disagree with my view that someone who has spent at least a decade expressing unadulterated rage about the sound of electric guitars isn't going to be able to objectively judge music which includes electric guitars? Do you disagree that a "square" person who looks like he could be Fred MacMurray living in the 50s and gleefully marching around to R&B as if it's a John Philip Sousa piece isn't going to be able to objectively judge R&B, no matter how much he knows about music and music theory?

 E: "Jonathan, seriously, I can't take the analogy seriously. I have to think that if you do mean it seriously, you don't understand the nature of music, even if you've taught music."

 Well, then explain the nature of music. If it's something that can be objectively evaluated, without being tainted by our subjective tastes, then please define "objective aesthetic judgments," and identify objective criteria by which to judge music.

 Do you think that Pigero is making an objective judgment when he says here...

 http://www.solopassion.com/node/1673#comment-21054

 ...that Sibelius's 2nd Symphony is "crap" which is "utterly devoid of musical merit"? Is it an objective judgment to say that Sibelius is "complete rubbish" and "pomo-bombast" for "tone-deaf," "dyslexic empiricists" like Jeff Riggenbach?

 Ellen, you and Pigero disagree in your evaluations of the Warsaw Concerto. Which of you is being objective? Both of you?

 E: "I'm wondering, however, what would happen if Linz were to content himself with merely presenting the positive half of his thesis. I'll encapsulate the positive half in my own words thus: There was a flowering of Western music which followed upon Beethoven's showing the way, starting especially with that watershed work "The Eroica." The subsequent era was an unequaled peak in realizing music's potentials of dramatic form and personal expressiveness."

 I have no problem with the above statement if it was written with the recognition that the last sentence is a subjective opinion. If not, Ellen -- if you think that it's an objective evaluation -- I'd like to hear which criteria you'd propose to objectively measure and evaluate musical "expressiveness."

 E: "Would anyone be upset by this claim?"

 Not me. Nor am I "upset" by Pigero's claims about the music that he hates, or his judgments of me and others who enjoy it.

 E: "Consider analogous claims:

-- There was a flowering of art in the high Renaissance.-- There was a flowering of English literature in the Elizabethan era.-- There was a flowering of science (science proper, as we think of it today, began) in the "Age of Enlightenment."-- There was a flowering of Greek philosophy with Plato and Aristotle.Would anyone by upset by those claims?Would anyone participating on the thread, except maybe Jonathan, argue that any of them aren't true?"

 Where did you get the idea that I would argue that there was not a flowering of those things? I agree with the statements, unless by "a flowering" you mean that there was an unequaled peak in the dramatic form and personal expressiveness in Renaissance art and Elizabethan literature, and that the Age of Enlightenment was the apogee of science, unequalled to this day.

 E: "Would anyone participating on the thread, except maybe Jonathan, argue that the claim, as I've stated it, about music isn't true?"

 Are you claiming that your opinions about the "expressiveness" of music are not subjective? If not -- if you recognize that evaluations of levels of "expressiveness" of music are subjective -- then I wouldn't object to your opinions.

 E: "I'm curious, since I suspect that it isn't the positive half of Linz's thesis with which most of those posting even quarrel. It's that Linz insists on adding corollaries about personal likes and dislikes; most important, he insists on dissing the "sense of life" of anyone who likes the sorts of music he describes as "headbanging caterwauling." Suppose he left all that part out. I'm not imagining he will leave all that part out. He believes it. But suppose he did leave out the negativity toward those who don't share his own tastes. Would there then be any objection to the positive thesis?"

 Would his positive "thesis" include defined terms and clearly identified criteria? Depending on the definitions and criteria that he would present -- depending on what he could prove or objectively demonstrate -- I might even agree with his thesis.

 E: "Re the 'cultural war': I think there is that. I even agree that the attempt to deny that there's any objective basis for judgment in the arts is an important part of it -- of a piece with calling science a bias of 'dead white European males.'"

 Will you cite examples of people who "deny that there's any objective basis for judgment in the arts"? To say that we can't eliminate our subjective biases is not to say that there is no objectivity involved in our judgments.

 E: "In point of fact, I have addressed it (in brief remarks; I've told you I haven't time for anything lengthy until mid-March, if then). I've also said that you make the 'sound nugget' in your thesis hard to find with the way you go about the presentation. There's no mystery as to why people keep interpreting you as saying this, that, and the other which you then deny having been saying. I recommend re-doing the piece."

 The problem is Pigero's refusal to define his terms. Much of the fuss on this thread doesn't seem to be about people ~interpreting~ Pigero as saying one thing or another, but ~asking~ him if he's saying one thing or another. They're asking or probing for clarity, and since Pigero has none to offer, he prefers to whine that he's being misunderstood and misrepresented. Apparently it's a big surprise to Pigero that his refusal to define his terms and identify his criteria would result in people not being able to understand or apply his "objective" methods of aesthetic judgment.

 Ellen asked Jeffrey,

 "I'm curious as to whether or not you would consider 'rap' properly classifiable as 'music.' I tend toward thinking, no, it isn't really 'music.' It lacks the mathematic/formal characteristics I've spoken of in some posts to Jonathan."

 I think it would depend on the individual work of rap being performed. Most rap that I've heard conforms to a time signature and has specific notes (pitches and durations). Most of it is an integration of a rhythmic vocal line, percussion, bass, guitars, synthesizers and sampling in a harmonic structure. The fact that it is rhythm/percussion-dominant doesn't mean that it's not music.

 Jeffrey wrote in response to Ellen,

 "Rap and heavy metal are not intrinsically nihilistic; the fact that nobody has written rap/metal songs that are beautiful and attain full emotional expression to date (to borrow from Ms. Olivia's formulation) does not meant it is impossible to write them: that as genres they are inherently nihilistic.

 Beautiful or emotionally expressive to whom? I've heard rap songs that are very expressive, and which include brilliant use of lyrics and rhythm. I think Eminem and Snoop Dogg, for example, are quite clever and expressive wordsmiths and rhythmsmiths. There are many, many metal songs that are very powerfully emotionally expressive to me, and I'm not drawn to them because of any "nihilism" that you interpret them as containing, just as Objectivists aren't drawn to religious music for its religious content.

 Scott wrote,

 "None of this is about converting anyone to any particular musical taste. You know that. It is about your unwillingness to credit the great as great, and to grant equivalence (or superior) artistic status to lesser art.

 As I alluded to earlier on this thread, I've seen a lot of Objectivists going gaga over artworks created by their Objectivist online pals which by any objective technical standards or by any traditional standards of collective subjective tastes doesn't come anywhere near to being great art. Yet the Objectivists speak of it as if it's the greatest art in existence. Where is the concern about granting equivalent or superior status to such lesser art?

J

Mr. Newberry

sharon's picture

 

For the rest of your query, I don't think it is asked in good faith.

However you wish to take it, my point has been made.

 

Jeffrey

Ellen Stuttle's picture

You probably know that Rand attempted the argument that the "essence" of Romanticism was as she described, despite the explicit philosophic views of the practitioners. I've always felt that she was "kinda" onto something in discerning a spirit of extolling individualism, but that her argument doesn't succeed because of how much she had to ignore as "nonessential" to get the pieces into her pattern. The issue she was talking about might have been clearer if she'd used a different term, but I don't have a suggestion as to what term!

You mentioned Odysseus. I'd choose The Odyssey as the archetypal literary work of which sonata form is the musical parallel: the journey from home, the encountering adventures, the return.

Ellen

Ellen, Another excellent

Newberry's picture

Ellen,
Another excellent point.

She wasn't saying that each and any work of literature which might be classified as "Romantic" was therefore aesthetically better -- i.e., that it was better executed, more masterfully done -- than each and any work of literature which she might have classified as "Naturalist."

 

www.NewberryGallery.com

A paradoxical choice

jeffrey smith's picture

When Rand said of Romantic literature that it's the "best" form, she
meant philosophically -- since she thought of Romanticism as based on
the premise of volition. She was making a moral judgment.

Frankly, I've always found her view on this to be somewhat paradoxical, because to me the essense of Romanticism is subjectivity: Kant applied to literature, so to speak.  It's full of anti-life and anti-reason, "heroes" who wallow in their emotions (as opposed to passionately defending their values).  What was the first Romantic best seller? The Sorrows of Young Werther, which featured for its "hero" a young man who kills himself because he can't marry the girl he loves. And inspired a spate of real life imitators, no less. (But I won't be too hard on Goethe: after all, there's Faust.)  And from that subjectivity rose all the dreck that we find in anti-life Romanticism, Naturalism, twentieth century literature and art, and post modernism.  

And Classicism is full of true heroes, people who choose to live in the fullest sense of he word.  (Just think of two of the granddaddies of Classical literature--both Hector and Achilles in the Iliad; Odysseus in the Odyssey.)  Even the most rigidly bound constructions of the 16th and 17th centuries that operated under the Aristotelian rules have plenty of heros in this sense.   And, depending on how you actually define "Naturalism" in contrast to Romanticism,  Naturalism has its share of them too (Stephen Dedalus in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the first one that springs to my mind).

I know that Rand realized that not everything in Romanticism fitted the heroic mold, and not everything heroic was Romantic.  So perhaps she should have used another term, but she didn't, and Objectivists are stuck with it, apparently.

Grim?

Newberry's picture

Francis Bacon, Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1953

Sharon,

I think this Bacon presents a wonderful depiction of grim, emotional frustration. And this work is typical and consistent with the output of Bacon. 

For the rest of your query, I don't think it is asked in good faith.

Michael

 

 

www.NewberryGallery.com

  Mr. NewberryI am

sharon's picture

 

 Mr. Newberry, I am familiar with your work. Would you suggest that people should worry over their souls and censure your more grim work, of which, I believe, you have at the very least one work that communicates emotional anguish?

 

 

 

 Excellent post

Newberry's picture

 Excellent post Marcus.

 

...Ellen has reminded me of that perhaps
Sharon doesn't get. Rand meant by the superiority of Romanticism over
Naturalism, the 'ought' over the 'is'. That it is morally superior to
value art that looks to the stars, rather down in the gutter.

However this only applies if you are willing to take
‘it’ seriously. Many people will just not take it seriously
- be it music, literature...etc. According to Objectivism that is a
flaw in their philosophical premises.

So if 'Objectivists' don't take their consumption of that particular
'art-form' seriously (like they would their career choices for example)
they will be upset by those who do - if - they don't understand why
they should take it seriously in the first place.

 

 

www.NewberryGallery.com

  So if 'Objectivists'

sharon's picture

 

So if 'Objectivists' don't take their consumption of that particular 'art-form' seriously (like they would their career choices for example) they will be upset by those who do - if - they don't understand why they should take it seriously in the first place.

This is pedantic nick-picking nonsense. Rand’s esthetical theories were flawed.

 

Another thing...

Marcus's picture

...Ellen has reminded me of that perhaps Sharon doesn't get. Rand meant by the superiority of Romanticism over Naturalism, the 'ought' over the 'is'. That it is morally superior to value art that looks to the stars, rather down in the gutter.

However this only applies if you are willing to take ‘it’ seriously. Many people will just not take it seriously - be it music, literature...etc. According to Objectivism that is a flaw in their philosophical premises.

So if 'Objectivists' don't take their consumption of that particular 'art-form' seriously (like they would their career choices for example) they will be upset by those who do - if - they don't understand why they should take it seriously in the first place.

Two meanings of "best"

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Just a quick reminder of two different meanings of "best" in regard to art -- which I've been calling "aesthetic" and "moral."

When Rand said of Romantic literature that it's the "best" form, she meant philosophically -- since she thought of Romanticism as based on the premise of volition. She was making a moral judgment. She wasn't saying that each and any work of literature which might be classified as "Romantic" was therefore aesthetically better -- i.e., that it was better executed, more masterfully done -- than each and any work of literature which she might have classified as "Naturalist."

As Marcus said, I feel sure that she did believe that a similar proof would be forthcoming for the moral superiority of "Romanticism" in music to the one she thought she'd provided for "Romanticism" in literature.

Ellen

"Litrature. Not in regard to muisic."

Marcus's picture

Sharon,

Then why comment that it was her subjective opinion that romantic art was the best school?

As Ellen said here, Rand probably thought the romantic school of music was the best one too, but was hoping for someone else to objectively prove that. She didn't have enough musical knowledge to do it herself.

Sharon, Jesus!

gregster's picture

Give up the drugs!

Or is it booze?

It sure ain't reliable..

But you didn't notice Rand

sharon's picture

But you didn't notice Rand also said that it wasn't her subjective opinion, but that she could prove it objectively.

Litrature. Not in regard to muisic.

 

 

 

 

Sharon...

Marcus's picture

"Rand stated that "Romanticism is the best school of art, but not the only one”. This is ok, but it is a subjective opinion."

But you didn't notice Rand also said that it wasn't her subjective opinion, but that she could prove it objectively.

Olivia

sharon's picture

 

You'll find those contexts and reasons are not really all that different. All human beings, from infancy through to old age, have a deeply intrinsic desire to truly belong with another and to be loved. When a cute young lad sings with melancholy conviction about the theme of coming home, it's going to tug on many heartstrings around the world - I can see why you like it so much, it's quite nice.

The universality of art is a distinguishing quality of art que art. And that is the beauty of art, of music in particular, given that we are discussing that. What qualifies “good art” is the universality of it, for which Romanticism has perhaps achieved this superbly.  But Romanticism does not have a monopoly on this. The universality of a given art work can encapsulate not only “coming home” (which may in itself encapsulate the feeling of emotional intimacy) but a plethora of other human emotions that makes up Humanity’s template--all of which are legitimate themes if the individual artist deems it so. This is something that transcends genre or a given epoch.

In the Donahue interview, for example, Rand stated that "Romanticism is the best school of art, but not the only one”. This is ok, but it is a subjective opinion. If a given art work reaches a person in a significant way—a work of art that falls outside the barriers of Romanticism--there is no reason to tell that person he is “wrong” somehow, that he is “inferior” for preferring something other. When you claim objectivity in music taste—as you properly would in ethics—that is exactly what you are doing. It truly is a ridiculous outrage.  

Am I WRONG, in whatever way you wish to characterize “wrong”, in preferring Coming Home to the music you linked?  If not--why not?

 

 

 

Honey buns...

Olivia's picture

This song reaches me on a very deep level. It reaches thousands of other people too, and it does so perhaps because of very different contexts and reasons.

You'll find those contexts and reasons are not really all that different.
All human beings, from Andrei Taganov through to John Galt, have a profoundly deep desire to truly belong with another and to be loved. When a cute young lad sings with melancholy conviction about the theme of coming home, it's going to tug on many heartstrings around the world - I can see why you like it so much, it's quite nice.

This snot nonsense of “superior spirituality” is a stinking elitism of insecurity..... You feel yourself distinguished by your taste in music from the “unwashed masses”—wonderful for you! But I consider that hallow and inferior.

I take it you mean hollow not holy.
Judging from their ubiquitous outpourings of art how badly the Great Unwashed feel about themselves, it really isn't hard to feel distinguished from them by having *any* taste in anything. I wouldn't put the "inferiority" on my shoulders here Honey buns, that would be to ignore the pain of the poor old elephants in almost every living-room around the globe. How horribly heartless of you.

...wonderful as all this is, music is also about just having goddamn fun--an emotional pleasure. And that’s ok to

I believe this point has been made and agreed with many times. I'm surprised you felt the need to state it again - has anyone on Solo ever disagreed with you? This repetitive stating of the obvious is so dull, especially from one who has such terribly run of the mill tastes. Eye

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

Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

There's no mystery as to why people keep interpreting you as saying this, that, and the other which you then deny having been saying.

The mystery is that I haven't said those things.

I recommend re-doing the piece.

Certainly not. I stand by every word of what I did say, as I said it.

I'm amused at getting obverse-symmetric accusations from you and from him.

Darling, I don't accuse you of anything, let alone of kissing that entity's derriere. I know you have far better taste than that.

Point Counterpoint

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"The point [of MOG] was what I said it was, and no one has yet addressed it."

 

In point of fact, I have addressed it (in brief remarks; I've told you I haven't time for anything lengthy until mid-March, if then). I've also said that you make the "sound nugget" in your thesis hard to find with the way you go about the presentation. There's no mystery as to why people keep interpreting you as saying this, that, and the other which you then deny having been saying. I recommend re-doing the piece.

 

As to "worry[ing] about the opinion of a scumbag like [MSK]," I worry about his opinion exactly as much as I worry about yours: i.e., not at all. However, I'm amused at getting obverse-symmetric accusations from you and from him.

Ellen

Mr .Perigo

jeffrey smith's picture

an anal-retentive anarchist moron like Jeffrey

Mr. Perigo insults me!  This is indeed an honor!

I'm certainly not anarchist, not generally anal retentive, and probably one of the smartest people you've ever dealt with.  At the very least, I know enough not to go lobbing insults in place of actually answering the points raised in debate.  I have intelligence enough to know that such attacks don't actually rate as answers.  But if you want to engage in insults, then, Lucius Apuleius Perigo, you are desperately in need of eating the roses of Isis.*

*To those that don't recognize the allusion--I know GrecoRoman lit has fallen out of favor in these latter times--you are due for an extremely good read:

http://books.eserver.org/ficti...

or alternately

http://onlinebooks.library.upe...

Olivia

sharon's picture

 

Without a doubt, OneRepublic’s “Come Home” is tens times more touching, spiritual (in the secular sense) and entertaining than the plodding torture- rack of flesh mortifying monk music. But then, that is my opinion. At least, I have the good grace to call things by their proper names--opinion versus facts. It is my personal subjective opinion. (Subjectivism is not always a bad thing!).

This song reaches me on a very deep level. It reaches thousands of other people too, and it does so perhaps because of very different contexts and reasons. Maybe it would mean nothing to you, personally, and that is ok, because, we are—each of us—a unique individual with our own experiences and complexities. And sometimes we discover, to our great surprise and delight, a little more of ourselves through art. Sometimes not; it depends on the music and the person. Music can touch upon the universality of the human experience, but we --as individuals--do it privately, and in our own unique way, which is just as legitimate as the next person’s experience. Sometimes it is grand or dull, regardless of the genre. It all boils down to the individual.  

This snot nonsense of “superior spirituality” is a stinking elitism of insecurity.

 

You feel yourself distinguished by your taste in music from the “unwashed masses”—wonderful for you! But I consider that hallow and inferior.

Being moved deeply and finding out things about yourself; wonderful as all this is, music is also about just having goddamn fun--an emotional pleasure. And that’s ok too. That's all I'm interested in: my own selfish pleasure and enrichment--in my own way.

 

"Come Home": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-5dTrOhhBc

 

 

No, Rap is not music

jeffrey smith's picture

I'm curious as to whether or not you would consider "rap" properly classifiable as "music."

I don't, although I reach that conclusion through a different approach.

I don't think of rap as music, but rather as a performance art with one person doing the performing.  Take away the pseudo musical context and what you have is a person declaiming his own poetry in front of an audience. Not very good poetry, perhaps, but a person who writes rhyming couplets as badly as I do has no right to sneer at the efforts of others Smiling

Rap in fact started as improvised/extemporized performances in urban clubs, and that should have remained the ideal, with no two performances ever quite alike. To my mind there should never be a studio rap recording; it should always have been recorded "in concert". (In fact, just like stand up comedy, which is usually recorded at a live performance, although of course there have been exceptions--but those exceptions are becoming rarer and rarer.)

I have as little experience with rap as you.  I'm put off by the hype that invariably accompanies commercialization, and by the texts, which are either incredibly nihilistic (not to mention littered with words I'd be embarrassed to say in front of just about anyone) or limited to the joys of getting drunk and having sex with pretty girls. If I want songs in the latter category, I can listen to Van Halen, Hank Williams or Carmina Burana.  But I think the musical considerations are really just background to the texts, and could easily be dispensed with.  But I also think that  someone with a "romantic" attitude could write rap that expressed a true affirmation of life without any real problems.  But I still wouldn't call it music Smiling

You nice guy

Brant Gaede's picture

I hated the whole damn thing then and now. That Kilbourne would write it and that you would let it go forward and that Barbara came on with that post hers hoping you'd get help. I made all that perfectly clear at the time.

--Brant

Brant

Lindsay Perigo's picture

You disgusting slimebucket. You know the real story damned well, you craven apologist for that lying, smearing bitch.

For anyone confused or curious:

http://solohq.solopassion.com/...

Now let's get back to the music.

Lindsay

Brant Gaede's picture

You sanctioned the publication of "Drooling Beast" on your own SOLOHQ in 2005 thereby smearing yourself.

--Brant

It is about your

sharon's picture

It is about your unwillingness to credit the great as great, and to grant equivalence (or superior) artistic status to lesser art.

If I thought it was boring, how can I think of it as greater?

 

Not about converting

atlascott's picture

None of this is about converting anyone to any particular musical taste. You know that.

It is about your unwillingness to credit the great as great, and to grant equivalence (or superior) artistic status to lesser art.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Mr. Perigo

sharon's picture

 

My preference for that lively tune—which I qualify as having “spirit”-- over the dull, plodding religious piece (my opinion) is an indication of my intelligence? I also have a preference for strawberries over raspberries. What now is the state of my IQ or moral status?

And, to quote Miss Stutte:

"...I'm sure that bashing people for their musical tastes isn't the way to encourage them toward developing the tastes you'd prefer."

 

 

 

Sharon

Lindsay Perigo's picture

This has more spirit. Ten tons more.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8__EwAT8VM

Darling, you are deeply stupid.

Sigh again, Ellen

Lindsay Perigo's picture

As Jeffrey already said, because you seem to be expressing them; you strongly and often imply certain views, even if you don't outright state them.

So "seem" and "imply" now acquire the status of a direct assertion just because an anal-retentive anarchist moron like Jeffrey accords them that status? Ellen, I expected better from you. MSK ought to be reassured after all.

Again, if you weren't "precisely" arguing for a reversion "to the Romantic music of yore," then I think you haven't been clear that you weren't.

Again, that wasn't the point of MoG. The point was what I said it was, and no one has yet addressed it.

(Ironically, MSK meanwhile accused me of kissing your ass. Between the devil and the deep blue sea.)

Why would you worry about the opinion of a scumbag like that? They don't come any lower, apart from his lying, smearing mentor Babs, the kissing of whose ass is the basis of his whole phony career on the coat-tails of Brandroids clinging to the coat-tails of Objectivism.

Meanwhile: question re rap to Jeffrey

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Jeffrey,

I'm curious as to whether or not you would consider "rap" properly classifiable as "music."

I tend toward thinking, no, it isn't really "music." It lacks the mathematic/formal characteristics I've spoken of in some posts to Jonathan.

Something about the history of music is that there is a sort of logical progression, with one way of form leading to another -- analogously in a sense to the history of mathematics. It isn't precise developments of axiom systems, but there is that in the form itself which suggests the next "what can be done with it?" to the musical ear.

Rap, though, I don't see (hear) as properly fitting. It's more like American Indian chant. It uses rhythm and a type of form, but lacks a harmonic structure -- as best I can tell from my non-extensive acquaintance with rap.

I'm wondering what you think about this.

Ellen

PS: Thanks for your compliment. I'm enjoying your posts a lot.

Greg, re MSK

Ellen Stuttle's picture

"He has nothing going on on his site, it appears, except for what is discussed here."

That's not true -- and in fact I regret mentioning his comment re me. The quip came to mind, and I made it without stopping to think about irrelevant "cans of worms" being opened.

No one else there took him up on his charge; the thread died. He watches this site rather like a vulture waiting to pounce, but no one else there does. Much else is being discussed there -- though I haven't been following it, except to glance every now and then in case of something of particular interest to me (e.g., from Stephen Boydstun and a few others).

Ellen

What and where?

sharon's picture

 

"I don't know why I keep having to defend views I've never expressed."

What has been ascribed to you that you did not express? Why not state it? Does one have to go through every post to read what you in fact said and what is being ascribe to you improperly?

 

 

MSK

gregster's picture

He has nothing going on on his site, it appears, except for what is discussed here.

Does O-lying have any direction?

Hopeless

Sigh from me, too

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Linz:

"I don't know why I keep having to defend views I've never expressed."

As Jeffrey already said, because you seem to be expressing them; you strongly and often imply certain views, even if you don't outright state them.

I'm glad to see you describing Mahler and Wagner as "giants." Whether you've ever explicitly said that they weren't, I don't know, but I've seen a number of places where you've done sufficient knocking of both of them to leave the implication that you think of them as second-rate.

 

"I have not argued that we can or should revert to the Romantic music of yore precisely. My argument has been that the Romantic music of yore is the apogee of all music thus far. It's very clear now that folk are less interested in addressing the issue than in claiming Linz doesn't know what he's talking about. I should never have expected good faith from O-Liars."

Again, if you weren't "precisely" arguing for a reversion "to the Romantic music of yore," then I think you haven't been clear that you weren't.

I did address the "apogee" issue, albeit briefly, in a post the last line of which you quoted and answered.

I wonder if you even noticed what came just before the last line.

 

Repeating:

ES: "Re the 'cultural war': I think there is that. I even agree that the attempt to deny that there's any objective basis for judgment in the arts is an important part of it -- of a piece with calling science a bias of 'dead white European males.'

"So I'm not unsymathetic to the case you try to make. But I think you engage in enough overkill as to leave the sound nugget hard to find."

 

If not signing on to the full extent of your evaluations is bad faith, so be it.

(Ironically, MSK meanwhile accused me of kissing your ass. Between the devil and the deep blue sea. Eye)

Ellen

Linz's assessment?

Michael Hardy's picture

OK, Linz:Does this item appear to you to be

(1) Mallory's drooling beast; or

(2) The reason why Islam is kicking Objectivism's ass (BTW, he does write some explicitly religious songs these days); or

(3) Something in between; or

(4) Something else?

--- Mike Hardy

PS: BTW, Olivia, it's "John Chrysostom", not "John's Chrysostom".  "Chrysostom" is a surname (although not a family name).

Because you seem to express them

jeffrey smith's picture

I don't know why I keep having to defend views I've never expressed.

Mr. Perigo, you seem to express them.  Perhaps all you need is a refresher course in clear expository writing Smiling  

I couldn't bear listening to anything of his I had the misfortune to stumble upon and I don't propose to start now.

One of the signs of a rational mind is a willingness to review past conclusions in the light of new information. Personally, I've always learned the most from people with whom I don't agree, and learned very little from the people with whom I agree the most, because with the former there is usually some sort of rational debate, which will yield data and perspectives that are new to me. You might benefit from listening to some of Zappa's music and asking yourself not whether or not it is good music but instead asking yourself why people who apparently have good musical taste think positively about Zappa's music--what do they hear that you haven't heard yet?

Romantic rap? Gimme an effing break

Why not? Rap and heavy metal are not intrinsically nihilistic; the fact that nobody has written rap/metal songs  that are beautiful and attain full emotional expression to date (to borrow from Ms. Olivia's formulation) does not meant it is impossible to write them: that as genres they are inherently nihilistic. (And if you think they are, please explain how and why.)  And if those are the kinds of music young people listen to, then that's the kind of music you have use to reach them, if you intend to use music.

Further bow in the direction of Ms. Olivia: I wasn't thinking of children so much as the 15-25 crowd whose taste in music is already formed.

And a further, and very deep bow, to Ms. Stuttle for saying some of the things I was trying to say much better than I said them.

Sigh

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I don't know why I keep having to defend views I've never expressed.

Mahler and Wagner were giants. I like but little of them. And whether they can be classified as Romantic is moot (and not the point of MoG).

I'm happy to accept the assurances of informed folk well-versed in Zappa that he knew how to write music. I couldn't bear listening to anything of his I had the misfortune to stumble upon and I don't propose to start now.

I have not argued that we can or should revert to the Romantic music of yore precisely. My argument has been that the Romantic music of yore is the apogee of all music thus far. It's very clear now that folk are less interested in addressing the issue than in claiming Linz doesn't know what he's talking about. I should never have expected good faith from O-Liars.

Romantic rap? Gimme an effing break!

What folk, chillingly, refuse to confront is that we *are* facing down Mallory's "drooling beast." Rap and all the other crap is not just interesting stuff that the young folk find "cool"; it's evil.

I thank Mr. DeSalvo, who gets it, for his "thank you."

"...all that is necessary for barbarism to triumph is for civilized men to do nothing: but in fact for the past few decades, civilized men have done worse than nothing—they have actively thrown in their lot with the barbarians. They have denied the distinction between higher and lower, to the invariable advantage of the latter. They have denied the superiority of man's greatest cultural achievements over the most ephemeral and vulgar of entertainments;..."

"...beans in their ears..."

Ellen Stuttle's picture

A little ditty from The Fantastics started playing on my inner track after I wrote my previous:

 

 

"Oh, why did the kids put beans in their ears,
Beans in their ears,
Beans in their ears?
Oh, why did the kids put beans in their ears?
They did it 'cause we said 'No.'"

Another:

"Whaddaya gonna do about the other generation...?"

(Flower Drum Song)

Ellen

Yes

Laure Chipman's picture

Good post, Ellen.

A couple points re aesthetics seconding Jeffrey

Ellen Stuttle's picture

Excerpting from Jeffrey's post titled "I hate inconsistency":

"I think a person who really understands music would understand that Zappa was a first rate musician, even if they don't particularly like the results. So that made me question ['Mr. Perigo's] real understanding of what music is (along with other comments I've seen about Mahler, Wagner, Hendrix, and Fischer-Dieskau)."

 

Linz, I question too because of issues like this. You do at least much of the time seem to conflate your likes and dislikes with issues of compositional skill. I have to think, for instance, that if you can't tell that Mahler and Wagner were very great composers whether you like their music or not, then you don't understand the musical features of the greatness displayed by the composers you like either.

Re the case of Zappa: I don't know if I'd ever heard any of his music before the recent past. Probably I had, but I wasn't paying attention. However, it took one work -- that "I Am the Slime" piece which Billy Beck posted -- to inform me that the man could write music; he had compositional talent. To what extent he consistently utilized his ability, I don't know. But he possessed skill, and at least in that one work used it. I have to wonder if you've never heard any work of his which should clue you in to his possessing ability if you could distinguish whether you like a work from the skill displayed in writing it.

 

 

"We can't go back to Romantic music; all that would result from that would be pastiches and imitations and works worthy of nothing more than being elevator music [...]."

 

There's another point which I don't know if you understand: The "Romantic" impetus in music -- the sort of form which was developed and elaborated and explored from every which way -- had ~run out~. Great composers had done with it what they could do. They needed something else; they were looking for new means. Hence the deliberate attempt to forge a new system basis -- the 12-tone attempt, which didn't work. At the current time there's a stage where composers are searching -- and exploring with new methods of producing sound, such as synthesizers. A new thrust will come out of this (assuming Western civilization survives), but it isn't there yet. It can't be deliberately pushed; it has to grow. It won't be a reversion to the Romantic Era, whatever it utilizes from that era.

Complexifying issues, simultaneously we are going through a cultural low. There's rampant subjectivity -- "The best lack all conviction, while the worst  [a]re full of passionate intensity." (Yeats, "The Second Coming"). The "esthetic vacuum" of which Rand spoke, and the correlative prevalent intellectual "vacuum," is real. It's a Bad Time. All the things you decry in the music you hate are there, and I agree that they're worthy of being decried.

However, the solution isn't pushing for a return to an earlier musical age. For instance, people today aren't going to be inspired by the stories of most of grand opera, a genre you especially like. The stories are out of date, for the most part irrelevant to modern concerns. The music, the singing -- yes, they're glorious; but what do the stories say which speak to young folk of our era? Of course the youngsters are going to turn to music which is talking about where they live, the concerns which they have today. To preach that they should do otherwise is futile -- and is only going to engender the sort of resistance you keep encountering. I don't know that trying to get people to write rap with positive lyrics would work either, but I'm sure that bashing people for their musical tastes isn't the way to encourage them toward developing the tastes you'd prefer.

Ellen

From the horses mouth...

Marcus's picture

Formerly it was argued that Linz was making claims counter to Rand. But here are two clips that show the same sentiments.

"Romanticism is the best school of art, but not the only one." At 6:00.

"They try to kill their mind in every way possible." At 1:00.

BRILLIANT quote

atlascott's picture

And brilliantly brought to our attention, Linz.

On this and other threads, you carry an important torch which casts light some pretend they cannot see.

Your actions and defense of the light is heroic, and it is much appreciated, even by those who do not say so often enough.

Thank you.

Scott DeSalvo

www.desalvolaw.com
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Pretty good, Sharon,

Brant Gaede's picture

but it was two minutes too long. I remember when it was on the radio and some idiot kept exclaiming "Wipe Out!" for the lyrics. At least this video didn't have that. 

--Brant

don't let the pornowankers wank you

Sure Honey Buns...

Olivia's picture

if you have one the size of a mosquito.
Doesn't do any justice to mine.

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

  This has more spirit.

sharon's picture

 

This has more spirit. Ten tons more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8__EwAT8VM

 

 

Anal consistency be damned!

Olivia's picture

Take what people actually listen to now--which means rap and heavy metal and contemporary "indie rock"--and look for people who can express the Romantic creed in those genres, and support them. I'm in no way an admirer of any of them: it's probably not possible to like rap less than I do--but if you want to reach people, you have to use the music they listen to, not the music you want them to listen to.

I can’t do that Jeffrey, for several reasons. One of them being that the Romantic creed was dedicated to beauty and full emotional expression. Note the word “full.”

One of my heroes, Victor Hugo, once said “"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." (The fact that Hugo lived during the Romantic period is noteworthy. I doubt he would say that about today's music.)

I believe that. And nowhere is it more apparent to me than in something like Rachmaninov’s Divine Liturgy of St John’s Chrysostom.

I don’t even fully understand the words that are being spoken, yet, it makes my hair stand on end and my mind and body submit to a worshipful state to something deeply private – exceedingly powerful and beautiful, something real, something pure, noble and fine. The friend of mine who introduced me to this piece sings in an excellent choir. He told me that when one has the experience of singing this with a choir, the feeling is utterly inexpressible – it is too moving to even try to find words for. I submit that that is music at its highest. That is art and the power it holds! If I can find words to fully encapsulate a piece of music, it doesn’t make the cut in my judgment. (Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy would also be in this inexpressible category.)

Before the Protestant church brought sermons into existence, people came together to listen and respond musically with cantatas, liturgies and the like. The masses were illiterate and music was the medium to direct people’s thoughts toward higher realms. That is what the religionists of the day got superbly right.

Today, music is like kitchen sink realism gone mad. Everything base, boring, needy and small is put into musical form and words – and people can’t get enough of it. To say that that is NOT a testament to what is going on in their own souls would be to not understand art’s place in human existence. The Kol Nidrei expresses, without understanding its religious context, a similar value to what I’m talking about regarding St. John’s Chrysostom, and it is that which lends it its beauty.

but if you want to reach people, you have to use the music they listen to, not the music you want them to listen to.

The other reason I can't do this Jeffrey is this; have you ever raised children?

One of my little hobby horses in being a parent is that you do not let the children expect you to always come down to their level, you stay an adult and expect them to eventually rise, since that is their sure destiny. I get that there are times when you have to remember that they are young and inexperienced in the ways of the world and one needs to speak to where they’re at. But on the whole, to set a standard is good for them to grow toward… they look to you to do exactly that and compromise is always the language of the devil that will not do them any favours in the end.

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

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