Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!

Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
From: bill thompson (
Date: Tue Aug 02 2005 - 16:57:31 EDT

hi mike,

i hear what you're saying...but i confess an agenda,
or at least a certain perspective that i can't fit
within a world where art (or the experience of art) is
only due to an 'object' made by man.

if the object of art is to inspire the aesthetic
reaction, and i can experience that reaction by
observing such varied things as Beethoven, Rothko, a
building in the wind, the sea at dusk, cars blowing
their horns in a truck blockade, the sound of an
animal breathing in sleep etc. how much of that is
the 'object' and how much of that is me? especially
considering that some people don't 'get' Beethoven,
Rothko, or the building as being beautiful. it seems
the same object doesn't work the same for all people,
or at all for some the art really in the
object then? or just in some objects, for some people,
for some of the time? this experience of art seems to
shift quite a bit amongst objects, but not always
residing in the same object the same for all people
etc. so maybe we need an object to direct our
attention to, but it's not so much the object but the
attending that's the key(?)

for me, there are so many situations that are
unintentional, not intended as art, yet that inspire
the aesthetic in me...could they be art objects too?
or is it how i'm observing them, the manner in which
i'm lending them my attention? it's perplexing, but if
i can achieve the same aesthetic feeling by observing
the world around me as i can in a gallery, then i tend
to think (at least for me) that art, or the experience
of it, has more to do with what i'm doing then any
object's effect on me that isn't part of my own
self-directed way of
observing/considering/experiencing. in other words, an
object can't 'make' me feel anything that i don't want
it to, that i'm not sensitive to, that i'm not
interested in etc. even if the object was jam-packed
with 'art', if there isn't someone there who
experience it as such (and by saying so, i've just
posited that experience within the observer) it is
nothing more then perhaps some burlap with pigment
splattered on it or banging on wires etc.

well, who knows! maybe we've found that crevice
between the two (object/subject) that philosophers
have been staring across at each other for a long long
time...and i'm sure that it's not an either/or answer,
and more then just both probably. could be we're
focusing too much on if it's in one or the other. i'm
sure it has more to do with the relation BETWEEN the
two and how that's achieved/navigated/contemplated

thank you for the posts though, it was good for me to
search why i felt the way that i do and try to put it
into's one thing to think you know
something is true for you but quite another to try to
articulate it...not sure that i achieved that though



--- Michael Gogins <> wrote:

> Well, I guess my response is, to the extent you can
> conjure up the esthetic experience of listening to
> Beethoven without any Beethoven objects or sounds
> around, or even conjure up esthetic experiences of
> equivalent power without such stimuli, then the
> experience is in you not the object. To the extent
> you can't do that (and somehow I very much doubt
> that you can!) then it's in the object, isn't it?
> Of course both you and the object are required for
> there to be any experience at all, but lots of
> different people can have the Beethoven experience
> once you give them them the Beethoven disc or the
> Beethoven ticket, but not so many people can make
> the Beethoven disc or justify the Beethoven ticket,
> so I guess that's where the weight falls, where the
> esthetic power lies.
> I would say that you and I are equal partners with
> art objects in making esthetic experience possible
> and therefore in making it real, but we are NOT
> equal partners in giving esthetic experience shape
> or power.
> Regards,
> Mike
> -----Original Message-----
> From: bill thompson <>
> Sent: Aug 1, 2005 6:49 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: (More) Cool sounds from outer space!
> 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,
> b.
> --- 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.
=== message truncated ===

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

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