Post by Faustus Infinitus Post by JonLorPro
Consider the Mozart Requiem as contrasted to a kid playing "Happy
Birthday" on a toy piano- which is "better" at a childrens birthday
party? Not an apt comparison? How about as compared to the chants and
Asian shawms of a Tibetan funeral rite?
So much to respond to, but I have time only for the above. Mozart's
Requiem will always be better; however, on that occasion the latter
would be more appropriate - more appropriate, not better.
Throughout this thread, you can see that I'm happy to be conclusory;
that is, I'm not arguing. To do so would be a complete waste of time,
as I've learned in other threads about this. Better now to simply lay
"I'm happy to be conclusory; that is, I'm not arguing. To do so would
be a complete waste of time, as I've learned in other threads about
this. Better now to simply lay out conclusions."
You ascribe to "betterness" a universal quality, resting upon
idealized "eternal truths, objective truths, completely independent of
space and time." (Aug 13, 8:08 pm), yet look to discern it
comparatively amongst present particulars. What is the substance of
this ultimate "betterness" with which the things of this world are
heirarchically imbued, and what is it's realm? If it is a universal,
is then the "betterness" of Mozart over Slayer of the same stuff as
the "betterness" you cite of your simply laying out conclusions over
"the complete waste of time" of arguing, which is to say,
substantiating your conclusions? If so, than eternal truths of
"betterness" are something remote, removed from having quality of any
particular sort - something not only "completely independent of space
and time", but independent of this world as well, and upon
consideration, like Anaximander's "boundless" becomes- nothing.
Alternatively, if the realm of "betterness" is in the comparitive
particular qualities of things in this world, "betterness" is busted
up from one stuff into many, it becomes contextual, and emergent
through choice, judgment- and opinion.
Suppose you encounter someone who agrees with your positition that
"eternal truths, objective truths, completely independent of space and
time...exist in the realm of art." This makes you both happy, and you
discuss it- only to find that while you agree on the principle, you
differ as to what are those eternal, objective, independent truths.
Who is right? Do you compare to determine which conception of
principles whereby things are then to be adjudged better is better? Or
does this discovery constitute a prima facie finding that his training
or rigor of mind must be as deficient as are the debased tastes of the
hoi polloi you categorically reject? If so, what is the guiding
principle of this decision- objective universal truths, or your
subjective opinion of what are objective universal truths? If he
makes the same decision about you, is it a valid decision? Do you
finally settle it by duking it out?
Of your posited "..eternal truths, objective truths, completely
independent of space and time' that "...exist in the realm of art",
you've exhorted one and all to "Learn them" From whom? From youm?
Or do you refer all to the authority of Plato? Is this because it is
in Plato-of-whom-all-subsequent-philosophy-is-footnote that you have
found agreeable definitive articulation of principle? Which is in the
superior position here, Plato's exposition of objective Truth, or your
subjective opinion of Plato?
And why Plato? Why not Confucious? Is the ultimate approachable
mystically or rationally? Is it Appolonian or Dionysian? Platonic or
Aristitotelian? Byzantine or Roman? Wagnerian or Brahmsian? Blugrass
or Blues? Coke or Pepsi?
Here is a brief poem by Emily Dickenson:
Much madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
'T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,-you 're straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.
How do you see yourself in this? A lone discerning eye in the midst of
a benighted majority? Imagined as Philosopher King and(in you own
lights) benevolent dictator who has appointed his own to be the
"majority" voice in an idealized utopia, would you be the one handling
It so happens I agree with you about Mozart. I agree that there are
in the arts unifying principles, which are operatives transcendent of
the lives of the individuals and generations which carry them forward,
and to which objective discourse can be directed, which discourse can,
as per your injunction, be learned. But I do not cede that the
foundation of the principles of this aesthetic is in other than a
widely prevalent consensus in which I have a share. I hope and expect
this aesthetic will continue to have a life of its own- with all the
connotations appurtenant to life of growth, exploration, change, and
adaptation. The concept of there being an independent Platonic
essence of pure betterness floating around somewhere in the cosmos
forever and for all time irradiating the universe with its substance
for the benefit of Earthmen and Arcturians alike is not a concept that
works. I don't imagine that the stock of this utility would still be
rated very highly in the final stages of entropy- consider this
radiating "betterness" as the sound of the proverbial falling tree,
and invert the usual query- if a tree falling in a forest makes a
sound, is there someone there to hear it? And the practical
manifestaion of the ideal does seem to wind up eating its own tail.
The dictatorship of relativism against which you rail is nowhere near
as tyrannical and stifling as would be the dictatorship which you
prescribe. An existent principle whereby immutable, unassailable,
uncompromising standards are fixed by which all activity and
expression is to be measured ultimately would kill music, eradicate
art, quash all variety of human endeavor, and destroy life. It would
not be satisfied until the universe is reduced to an undifferentiated,
homogenous Parmenidian one. It would have forbade the growth of
harmonic practice in succession to the age of pure polyphony, the
progession from Ars antiqua to Ars Nova; the development of music
would never have attained even to chant or gotten beyond Boethius, it
would have halted at a single recitation tone. It would not have
allowed for the Mozart whom you now so highly praise in its honor;
that offering it would spurn as ungraciously as God rejected Cain's
offering of the fruits of his labor in the fields- which must have
been a damn lot of work! No wonder he got pissed off.
If anything is to be railed against and resisted at all costs, it is
the ossification that the mistaken assumption of such obdurate
principle imposes in exchange for the dependency it solicits as a
crutch. What is to be rejected is it's fostering of paranoic inability
to distinguish between one's own internal dialogue and the outside
world, whereby personal predilections and quirks are invested with
vaunted status as the new Divine Revelation of Authority, exhorting
claim not only over general aesthetics but descending to such matter
as dictating a literalist and picayune fundamentalism in score
reading, or expressing itself in messianically fervered unreasoning
and rabid jealousy of any approach to technical study other than
adherence to its own new testament.
So, what is your- opinion-- relative to any of this?