Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!

Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
From: bill thompson (
Date: Mon Aug 01 2005 - 18:49:27 EDT

hi mike,

that was a great post, thank you. i would have
responded immediately but it reminded me so much of a
certain chapter i've just read that i wanted to
compare notes as it were.

it has a few sentences that practically mirrored
yours, particularly the part about an art object
having qualities that stand the test of time etc. the
chapter (in the routledge companion to aesthetics)
deals with hutchenson and hume, who both were
interested in finding where the experience of beauty,
or the pleasure of beauty, being
their version (or similar) to our idea of the
aesthetic...they were interested in whether it was in
the object or the individual (mind.)

the long and short of it is (in their views) that it's
not just in the object but also in the individual.
the object has certain qualities that would inspire
the 'idea' of beauty (experience of the aesthetic) to
occur in us (since there is no 'primary' quality of's not a color or a shape, but rather an
experience we feel inside us as a reaction to certain
qualities (such as balance, form, variety vs. unity
etc) but we would have to be sensitive to these
qualities to experience it as art or be able to
distinguish it from something that didn't have
them....we would have to have 'taste'.

and thus if an object has these qualities, and to the
extent that it does, then it can become a 'classic'
etc. of course to know if an object has these
qualities, you'd need a judge with really really good
sensibilities, no defects of taste, and then you can
measure yourself against him...otherwise, you're just
relying on your own experience (as locke would have
it) and it's completely subjective etc...

but then hume concedes that there are two caveats to
his theory...the different temperaments of
individuals, and the differences in culture..thus,
what i like as an individual may differ from you
simply because we're different, so even though we
perceive the same qualities, some cause me to feel the
pleasure of beauty more than you etc..and more
importantly i think-what i would be cultured to like
as a north american white male of the 21st century
could be very different than someone from a vastly
different culture. that's where i think the main flaw
in the idea of 'universal qualities of art' found in
an object, can often be found. also, i find it
personally too literal to simply be looking at the
objective qualities of an object rather then my
reaction to it and why i'm reacting that way...but
that's very much my bias and i part ways with many
people here.

and all this being said, i of course still listen and
study the greats from Beethoven to Xenakis...and very
much as a composer as well as a music lover...i can't
help but want to learn from them as much as enjoy
their work. but i don't think it's just a matter of
tallying up what qualities this or that piece has
(whatever those would be...golden ratios, proportions
of high notes to low etc...) but rather something much
more ambiguous behind the music/art...

and that brings me back to my point of view that even
though yes, an art object, by definition is a thing,
the experience of it 'as' art has much more to do with
me, then it.

that's not to say there isn't bad art, but that's
another post i think ;)

thanx if you made it this far,


--- Michael Gogins <> wrote:

> Thanks for your comments, which I read with
> interest.
> I'll respond only to one. Here I depart from what I
> think is generally held. This my own personal
> opinion, but I think I can make a good case for it.
> Art is a thing, or a physical phenomenon at any
> rate, even if fleeting. The reason I focus on this
> is to oppose the kind of thinking which seems to say
> that everything is "subjective" in the sense that a
> given work of art, even a "classic", has no
> intrinsic worth and no stable basis of value. In my
> view, if there is no art with a physical basis, then
> the art experience is constrained by that basis in a
> very serious way -- no doubt there are many ways,
> many fruitful ways that it can be experienced, but
> successful artists succeeded in fashioning the
> object in such a way as to create a desired
> experience or, at least, a desired range of
> experiences and very much to exclude undesired
> experiences (e.g. fidgeting, inattention). Of course
> if the experience of the art has a physical basis,
> then the experience of the art has an objective
> basis. And of course, if the experience of art has
> an objective basis, then what it is interesting
> about it is to some considerable extent contained!
> in that, where of course it is much more amenable
> to study.
> I sympathise with those who oppose "canons" and who
> suspect claims of objective worth in the arts as
> being merely the claims of party spirit and special
> pleading, e.g. "imperialism", because I think this
> very much does happen. But I have no interest in
> throwing out the baby with the dirty water. It's no
> accident that we're still playing Bach and still
> going to see Euripides, and it's not because we have
> a certain subjective taste, either.
> Hearing music in one's head -- I do that sometimes,
> I think all composers do, some more than others. I
> do not regard this as art. With luck and skill, I
> may be able to use this experience to make some art.
> This is by no means to deny the worth or intrinsic
> interest of this kind of experience, which is well
> worth studying. But if it ain't a thing, nobody's
> going to attend it but me so it's pretty hard to
> talk about and, for sure, nobody else can use it to
> use to make more art. I think it's more like
> shamanism or, again, like creative work in any field
> (I do enough math for my music that I know that
> mathematical creativity can achieve the same vivid,
> almost physical power of experience).
> Regards,
> Mike
> -----Original Message-----
> From: bill thompson <>
> Sent: Aug 1, 2005 11:50 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
> hi michael,
> i don't know about disputing them, but i'll discuss
> them if you want ;)
> i think your comment about it being human to make
> art
> is true, but there's research that it's not
> exclusive
> to humans. i've been looking for the article that i
> read and of course can't find it, but i did find
> this
> article which illustrates some of what i remember
> reading:
> and as to art having to have a physical component,
> common sense says you need a 'thing' to get the ball
> rolling i guess but i think often people get caught
> up
> with the art existing in the object instead of in
> the
> experience of the object...sounds nit-picky but to
> me
> it's very significant because it means that the same
> attention we give to 'great works' of art, could be
> paid to other parts of our lives and we could have
> aesthetic experiences related to the level of
> attention that we lend out...this works for
> me...something about paying attention makes things
> seem beautiful. actually, i often think that that's
> the point of galleries/ give us a place
> to
> practice paying attention...i often leave galleries
> and can't stop myself from being awed by the
> surrounding objects i encounter afterwards.
> so as much as we are physical beings that live in a
> physical world, i'd say art has a physical component
> yes, but it's the experience that counts and not the
> object, and not every object will create the same
> experience for every person, or the same person each
> time they encounter it (this is discussed quite a
> bit
> by ingarden btw, much better then i'm doing)..or
> choose to encounter/interact with it...for me, it
> doesn't necessarily come 'from' the object as much
> as
> the person chooses to go towards and engage with
> it...when i'm not into a show, it doesn't matter how
> good it is, it sucks for me (lol))
> and as to 'no private experience of art'...i think
> every experience of art is private...but i don't
> think
> you meant it in this way (?) but what about the
> experience of your own art before others hear it? or
> when you hear a piece in your head before you've
> manifested it? i've had a few of those experiences
> that were quite intense and exciting (and only a
> couple of times been really successful manifesting
> them physically)...well, maybe they don't count as
> art, but they feel quite the same at the time. i
> think i might be being nit-picky here maybe, but i
> get
> weird about absolutes.
> i don't have any issues with art being confused with
> engineering or physics or politics (or religion) but
> all these fields can inform art (for me)...i
> couldn't
> 'do' my art with out the engineers that created the
> hard/software i use, the research the physicist did
> into sound that i read, or the, well i don't really
> take religious/political considerations into my art
> consciously, so no problems there...but others do
> use
> 'art' to promote politics, as they do religion...and
> skills from art to illustrate points/concept of
> physics and engineering (there's a good book 'art
> and
> physics' that discusses this...some feel it's too
> light but i liked it)...and is there 'an art' to
> programming, or good math, or anything else an
> extremely high level of skill and finesse can be
> applied to? but yes, i agree, the point of art isn't
> physics or engineering or a political message, but
> the
> aesthetic experience...which for me feels, not
> religious, but spiritual, transcendent etc...
> and as to art outlasting its maker and informing
> other
> cultures, that's why i'm doing it! (ok, just
> kidding,
> well, not really)...there is that wanting to create
> something that will live on, away, and after, you.
> i
> think actually that is a huge part of the creative
> urge. but also, some of the most beautiful art is
> the
> most ephemeral...great improvisation...yes, it can
> be
> recorded and (re)experienced way, but nothing like
> being there at that moment. also the work of andy
> goldsworthy comes to mind, who creates impermanent
> sculptures who's 'temporariness' seems to make them
> more precious to me (here's a link:
> but these aren't contradictions to your statement,
> just a few asides.
> b.
> --- Michael Gogins <> wrote:
> > What a wonderful can of worms.
> >
> > The definition of art depends upon one's theology,
> > politics, and probably even one's brand of
> > metamathematics or computer science. That much I
> > think we can agree on! But I think there are
> other
> > things we can agree on.
> >
> > I think another thing we can all agree on, is that
> > every human society known to us has made and used
> > art. So, I think it's fair to say one can't be
> fully
> > human without it.
> >
=== message truncated ===

"The more you think about things the weirder they seem." -Calvin

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