Saturday, July 31, 2010

Solar Flares and Loony Tunes

This is just a ramble for Music Saturday. Feel free to comment on it or ignore it altogether and consider it an open thread on the subject of music and art.

Of the five senses -- sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell -- only the first two are associated with art and with aesthetic beauty. There are no olfactory artists who produce timeless smells, nor are there artists of touch.

Some might say that a gifted chef is an artist, but food is too closely connected to biological survival to qualify as art. Food may delight or entice, but it provides a kind of vital pleasure that is quite distinct from the pleasures of art. As Stephen Dedalus says in P of the A as a YM, eating provokes kinetic desire as opposed to aesthetic arrest. And there are some beautiful smells -- certain incenses, for example -- but they simply "are what they are," and don't point to or reveal anything else.

Why is this the case? First of all, how can two such diverse modes -- sight and hearing -- equally create the thing called "art?" Or, perhaps more to the point, what is art that it can express itself in two such diverse modes? Why are a painting and a symphony both called art? And why are the other senses excluded?

One of the classic definitions of art is that it combines, wholeness (integritas), harmony (consonantia), and radiance (claritas, which is similar to Plato's "splendor of truth").

Thus, painting and music can obviously embody wholeness and harmony, but it is difficult to imagine how the other senses could do so. For example, touch is inherently fragmentary; one cannot "touch the whole," nor can the fingers perceive radiance. And no one imagines that truth can be tasted or smelled (except in a subtle, analogical manner).

Let's go back to Joyce, who is speaking through Stephen: "An aesthetic image is presented to us either in space or in time. What is audible is presented in time, what is visible is presented in space."

The "mysterious instant" of aesthetic reception occurs when "the supreme quality of beauty... is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony." There is in "the silent stasis of aesthetic pleasure, a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which... [is] called the enchantment of the heart."

Schuon, who wrote extensively on the spiritual dimension of art, notes that of the five senses, the eye lends itself to a "particularly adequate correspondence with the Intellect," since it is more detached and objective, the least bound up with vital sensibility.

I'm not so sure about this, since for men especially, sight is the vehicle of the female form. 'Nuff said.

But in any event, he says that sight corresponds to the intellect in its "static and simultaneous" mode, while hearing reflects it "in its dynamic and successive mode."

He adds that the latter may be thought of as "lunar" in relation to the solar centrality of sight. This makes sense, since they say that females are more sound-oriented from the get-go. They are also more interpersonally connected, and yakking is the vehicle of this connection.

We all know that light and illumination are the universal symbols of divine knowledge and its acquisition, just as darkness connotes ignorance, stupidity, and tenure.

But here again, sound is not far behind. For example, in Vedanta they posit the primordial vibration of existence as AUM, while in Christianity it all begins with the Word. And this Word must be heard.

Perhaps vision conveys the image of eternity, while sound is the moving image of eternity. As Schuon says, aesthetics is "the science of forms," and music presents us with temporal form, or architecture in motion. But the form must convey what is non-formal, i.e., the supra-formal light -- and truth -- from another world. It is limitlessness expressed by a limit, or divine radiance expressed through wholeness and harmony.

Interestingly, Schuon writes that "ignorant and profane aesthetics places the beautiful -- or what its sentimental idealism takes to be beautiful -- above the true..." This leads to idolatry of beauty, and of "art for art's sake." But beauty should be for truth's sake. If it is not subordinate to something higher, it will be appropriated by something lower.

Without this element of truth, beauty has no intrinsic value. It is reduced to "subjective enjoyment -- a luxury, if one prefers" (Schuon). Contrary to postmodernism, which is the nadir of subjectivism, beauty "is objective, hence discernible by intelligence and not by taste."

This is no trivial matter, for if man's environment is filled with corrupt and deviated images, "he runs the risk of 'being' what he 'sees,' of assimilating the errors suggested by the erroneous forms among which he lives." In this sense, everything becomes pornographic, which simply means that it is drained of any and all spiritual content.

Sri Aurobindo says something similar in a letter to a disciple, that through sound or image, "in a moment mysteriously, unexpectedly, there is a Presence, a Power, a Face that looks into yours, an inner sight..."

However, "so long as one is satisfied with looking through windows, the gain is only initial; one day one will have to take up the pilgrim's staff and start out to journey there where the Reality is forever manifest and present."

Or, one must follow the light to the sun and sound to the moon, for "in a certain sense, the sun makes known space and the moon, time" (Schuon).

*****

Any other Pharoah Sanders fans out there? Probably not. He's definitely among my top 10, desert island artists. Like Van Morrison but few others, he always plays from the Source. Audible and visible sOlar flares:

51 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

While we have an open thread, I will continue yesterday's conversation today.

Ben says:

"Aye! Which makes those who wanna empathise and "understand" evildoers for the purpose of "rehabilitating" them even more obscene."

Isn't there something in MOT about how in order to really understand something, you have to love it? So, you can only recognize evil as a jungle with a mryaid of species but no underlying metaphysical structure?

Although some "evildoers" really are psychotic. In that case, it's not evil you are understanding, but neruological error. In that case medication does work.

7/31/2010 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

Since today is music appreciation day, would like folks to remember "The Theme from Route 66" by Nelson Riddle. It was in my head when I awoke. Nice early 60s jazz piece. Truly sets an open mood.

7/31/2010 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

Here's something I've been thinking a lot about and especially as of late with the music Saturdays:

I have been perplexed by the psycho-spiritual motivations and effects of modern music. Something radically different happened to music in the 20th Century.

First came the "emancipation of dissonance" by the 12-tone/Schoenberg crowd. That alone is a major disruption in how humans have conceived and created music. With minor exceptions, precious to this one might say TONALITY = MAN AS SUCH.

That was put in question. Another radical shift came with the "emancipation of noise" starting with the futurists, through Edgard Varese onto Music Concrete and John Cage etc. This fundamental altered the classical notions of form, content, expression etc. It was an intentional wrecking ball to Classical notions of the same.

A similar trajectory can be traced through Jazz from early jazz ("dixieland" and early swing) on through Bebop and finally Free Jazz.

Rock music has been more cyclical but also very quickly moved from something akin to hillybilly blues onto something far more "Symphonic" and layered--at least at times.

A great book on the subject at least with regards to "Art Music" is "The Rest is Noise" by Alex Ross which goes into the cultural backgrounds, most interestingly Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, of the upheavals in 20th Century music.

7/31/2010 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

So I guess the question I am putting out there is something like this:

How does one account for all this from a "Raccoon" perspective. I suppose I am experiencing a form of cognitive dissonance between the appreciation of balance, elegance in Classical forms (or even the simple elegance and grandeur of Gregorian Chant) and the radical disruption that occurred in 20th century music from which we are still "recovering" or better yet attempting to absorb and integrate.

What does it mean?!?

7/31/2010 09:06:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

To an extent, scent can tell you something about the whole, but it cannot really be created as art.

For example, the scent of roses is connected with saints where as the scent of sulfur is connected with the demonic.

Odor could be considered a radiation from a specific entity. It cannot be created as art, because it's purpose is communication. It is also intensely personal, in that scents are associated with specific memories.

Scent is could be considered to be associated with both time and the vertical position of a specific being.

For example, scents of the past will bring back discrete memories of events, specific moments in time.

However, this cannot be made into art because it's evocation would require knowing the specific memories of specific individuals.

Scent, like music, is definitely associated with time.

7/31/2010 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

All art is tension and release; dissonance and resolution. Whether in music or graphic arts. This would follow the pornographic or sensual mode of understanding of the senses. I don't think you can get too far from this understanding. You can over think it with the result draining the vitality and energy of a piece. Art is the spirit flying.

I listen to sounds and not words. Words in a song are merely horns to my ear. When I hear great song and arrange it for myself, I am often disappointed by the lyrics once I read them. Some are so bad that they ruin the piece for me. Is this another "Shut Up and Play" moment? There are exceptions to this rule. The most notable for me is "Penny Lane". I have always found this piece to be a brilliant water color of words and music.

7/31/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Rusty Southwick said...

So maybe there isn't a fifth scents after all. Meanwhile, touch and taste could be considered more as sensations than pure senses. That the five all count as means of perception might betray their true classification. Taste involves both touch and smell anyway.

Sight and sound are the two currently known channels for interpreting beauty, and I'm guessing there are others yet undetermined, a la intuition.

7/31/2010 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

What I find interesting about sight and sound being vehicles for art and beauty is that they are both senses that are essentially about perceiving vibrations. The other senses have to do with physical contact - even scent requires that specific molecules come into contact with receptors in the nose, but sight and sound have to do with things that can be truly and completely apart from us. Maybe for that reason, perhaps more so than the other senses, sight and sound are directly related to communion. Or maybe I'm just completely off-base.

Tigtog, re. listening to sounds and not words, I often do that as well, though less so in recent years. I've had some songs memorized without ever thinking about what I was saying as I was singing along; then when I finally do pay attention, sometimes the results can be amusing.

7/31/2010 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

a great massager is not doing art of touch?
or a highest-priced courtesan?
--though they may not be in museums nor mass-producible. 10
years ago i was surprised by the last 2 quick public massages i had: maximally-satisfying with zero genital contact...from both sexes --believe me they were artists! i didnt know whether to call the vice squad or send roses!

[the there's the art of -lethal- touch...

7/31/2010 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

ge - I was thinking about that earlier, or that some might argue for perfume as the art of scent. Maybe just me, but I don't think they're in the same category. Maybe it's the distinction between the intimate (touch, taste, smell) vs. the universal (sight, sound).

7/31/2010 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, as the senses become increasingly separate and distant from the object of perception, they gain in objectivity.

7/31/2010 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Probably also explains why movies are so successful, but feelies remain a gimmick in sci-fi stories. Also, I know some people keep trying to develop scent systems to go with their movies, but I can't see it catching on for a whole host of reasons.

7/31/2010 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Two musical pieces of note I came across recently. Barry Manilow used Chopin's Prelude in C Minor, Opus 28, Number 20 as the basis for his 1975 hit Could It Be Magic.

Dave Brubeck's Blue Rondo A La Turk (which was actually a hit in '59) is arranged in 9/8 time!

7/31/2010 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I believe that the sense of smell is primarily located in the more primal parts of the brain and perhaps therefor more bound up with survival. Even as subtle and complex as Cooking and Perfumery can be they are still intimately connected to *survival* to qualify as Art.

Though there may be a confusion using the word "Art". I think when we speak of the "Art of Cooking" or the "Art of Massage" we are speaking somewhat analogously i.e. as if it were music etc.

(Of course in my mind ALL things aspire to being music...be that as it may.)

One could speak of the "Art of Plumbing" and be speaking with a certain degree of accuracy in that a great plumber can do a highly skilled job and even have (or must have) an intuitive sense of how it all fits together that is akin to being an artist.

But that doesn't make it "Art" in the sense that music is art.

So then...what is art?

7/31/2010 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon: "Art has a function that is both magical and spiritual: magical, it renders present principles, powers and also things that it attracts by virtue of a “sympathetic magic”; spiritual, it exteriorizes truths and beauties in view of our interiorization, of our return to the “kingdom of God that is within you.” The Principle becomes manifestation so that manifestation might rebecome the Principle, or so that the “I” might return to the Self; or simply, so that the human soul might, through given phenomena, make contact with the heavenly archetypes, and thereby with its own archetype.

"The essential function of sacred art is to transfer
Substance, which is both one and inexhaustible, into the world of accident and to bring the accidental consciousness back to Substance. One could say also that sacred art transposes Being to the world of existence, of action or of becoming, or that it transposes in a certain way the Infinite to the world of the finite, or Essence to the world of forms; it thereby suggests a continuity proceeding from the one to the other, a way starting from appearance or accident and opening onto Substance or its celestial reverberations."

7/31/2010 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

GB-

Wow.

Is that from "Art from the Sacred to the Profane"?? If so, you wouldn't happen to have the page number? I think that I would need to read that one a few more times at least.

This ties into my earlier comment about the Transcendent nature of music and the radical innovations of the 20th century. How does what Schuon say in that quote square with modern music? Or does it?

7/31/2010 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I would guess that both quotes are included in that particular book.

7/31/2010 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Schuon would not have been a fan of modern music. Magnificent as he was, that was one of his blind spots. He's like someone from another time.

7/31/2010 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger RegretTheSin said...

Life from the Dead
A Sermon
It is a divine spark, a light from the great central Sun of light, the great Father of Lights. Is it so with us? Have we had a divine touch, a superhuman energy, a something which all the learning and all the wisdom and all the godliness of man could never work in us? Have we been quickened from above?
http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2267.htm

7/31/2010 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

well maybe there'd most accurately be public---private, 1-on-1---utilitarian subcategories of Art.
Take music---some might argue recordings aren't real music at all----that 'music' only happens in live-performance settings. [i would argue nearly the opposite!: my own music is made alone for the use of people ideally alone, more like the work of a writer or painter --'you can't see it 'til it's finished'--] and so the arts of touch [massage/lovemaking] and even perhaps the Novel are this 1-on-1 [non-mass-communicable] variety

8/01/2010 04:26:00 AM  
Blogger Tigtog said...

To Julie re:

"then when I finally do pay attention, sometimes the results can be amusing."

Know the drill. For years I thought the lyrics went:

"Tempted by the fruit of another,
Tempted but the fruit was discolored."

It puts a whole different spin on the song when heard that way.

Comic WV: shuns

8/01/2010 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/theater/28one.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=art%20one%20audience&st=cse

=
an article this week describes a newish kind o' art.

Dr Bob: is therapy an art?
milton erickson should come to mind

8/01/2010 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger ge said...

Bob you got me beat on jazz affionado'ing! but i did have JEWELS OF THOUGHT intro'ing me to Leon Thomas and that catchy Hum Allah song...
a-and i was in an 80s band w/ ornette's nephew! 'Friends and Neighbors...that's the goal, the whole world Sould soul soul'

I love the first COUNT'S ROCK BAND with Steve Marcus and L Coryell for a close-to-rock jazz side....

8/01/2010 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Is therapy an art?"

Only in the colloquial sense. It is not art properly so-called, but a skill -- or the cultivation of a gift.

8/01/2010 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger SnoopMurph said...

Hi-I am a bit of a lurker here and a good friend of Julie's. She gifted me with my own copy of Bob's book last night, after I managed to hoard her copy for over a year.

I just wanted to weigh in on this conversation regarding senses and music. I teach several group music classes to students with multiple disabilities. Several of my students are blind, hearing-impaired and/or completely deaf.

Yet they all have found ways to connect themselves to music and it is intriguing to observe when one or more senses are diminished, another is heightened in its place. They have a need to experience music using tactile methods.

For one student, he holds instruments along his cheekbones-perhaps to feel the vibration of the instrument in his bones. He has an uncanny sense of rhythm to boot. Others enjoy the vibration of instruments on their trays and in their hands. So for them, I would venture to add that the sense of touch can be enjoyed as art for them.

One blind student is able to repeat a brand-new song in its entirety-on pitch-from one listening. His sense of hearing is so attuned to the world around him. I am fascinated by this affable young man's favorite mode of music-listening to people laugh. He registers how people laugh and remembers who they are.

These students have taught me how to listen to music in entirely new ways. I would argue that while for many of us, sight and sound are the main ways for us to enjoy music-they aren't the only ways.

Of course, I don't think I considered teaching music using scent. That would be a interesting challenge!

8/01/2010 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"I would venture to add that the sense of touch can be enjoyed as art for them."

Intriguing point. My first thought is that it's still music -- obviously -- but that the sense of touch has become "subtlized" and ear-like. Ultimately, all the senses are of touch, just on increasingly subtle planes: of matter, molecules, air vibrations, and photons.

Also, one of the reasons why a true audiophile sound system is so much better, is that it is more physically "involving" in a way that can't be put into words. That is, the sound affects the body directly, for example, in the way the bass notes from a subwoofer can be felt in the chest.

I am also reminded of something I just read about Helen Keller. Not sure how literally to take it, since Annie Sullivan apparently embellished some things:

"She placed her fingertips on the famous preacher's lips as he spoke about God and his revelation in the person of Jesus Christ. After a while, her whole body began to tremble.... Finally, she could stand it no longer. I knew him!, she cried out. I knew him! I didn't know his name, but I knew him!.

If this isn't just apocryphal, it would be an instance of spiritual vibrations coming through, but no form to adequately contain them.

Anyway, welcome to the den!

8/01/2010 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Then there's the guy who can look at a vinyl record and tell you what music is on it.

8/01/2010 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

I think we've discussed this before, but music is supremely improtant as the vertical art form par excellence.

Unlike a painting or a sculpture, for example, a musical work "exists" only in the mind of the listener. (Of course, a painting or sculpture can exist in the mind as remembered or imagined entities, but they have objectively existing manifestations in the material world.) Music consists of a series of instantaneous sensory impressions that are connected together . . . by the mind - or soul, better.

We can appreciate the form and structure of an entire musical performance, even though each instant of its performance comes into being and disappears . . . instantly.

As far as multiple sensory modes goes, I have to say that perhaps the greatest artistic experience of my lifetime was a performance of Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg . Wagner attempted to create a total-art-work that would combine music, drama, poetry, and visual spectacle. He nevertheless relies on music alone to communicate the most important aspects of the work. And as Puccini said, next to Wagner, "we are all organ grinders."

It is interesting that such a vile person, so much of whose private and public behavior, heart, soul, and thinking were mired in filth, could create such beautiful art. But there it is.

Gandalin

8/01/2010 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I was going to say -- takes a broadminded Jew to appreciate Wagner! The philosopher Bryan Magee is not the only person who feels that Wagner is the greatest genius who ever lived.

Dennis Prager often talks about how there is absolutely no relationship between human decency and artistic genius. One would like to think so, but I suppose it's no different than a scientific genius who's an a-hole, or conversely, a saint who thinks the world is only 6,000 years old. I can't get over the psychic split in Frank Sinatra, let alone Wagner....

8/01/2010 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Finally got around to watching "It Might Get Loud" this past week and ended up watching it twice. Highly recommended to anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

Also just by chance was given a copy of "Dig" by a friend. This is a documentary about the bands The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. Even if one has no interests in these bands (I am a mild Dandy Warhol fan) it is REALLY good.

The issues of creativity, madness, commerce and Rock 'n' Roll are presented in an almost disturbing way. The whole endgame of the Romantic Myth played out in different ways in two Rock Bands. Worth watching!

8/01/2010 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

To refer to another perhaps suspect source, the lack of relationship between virtue and creativity is nicely explored in Denis Diderot's dialogue with Rameau's Nephew.

Die Meistersinger is especially tainted to many observers, because of Hanns Sachs's tirade at the end, when von Stolzing inexplicably disdains the laurels his art has earned, and Sachs convinces him to join the guild of meistersingers in order to preserve the purity of German art from foreign influences. I think this is a barely-disguised tirade against Mendelssohn and other Jewish artists. Indeed, it was so viewed by the National Socialists, who made Die Meistersinger the most favored Wagner opera during their rule. It was the only opera at Bayreuth in 1942 and 1943.

However, that ending seems almost a non-sequitur. There is nothing in the preceeding four hours to suggest that German culture as such is in play, or that the meistersingers see themselves as self-consciously German exponents of a German tradition. von Stolzing's hesitation seems unfounded, and the denouement is unmotivated.

I am willing to accept the split between work and person in art, but not in philosophy. Although I continue to admire the Memorial Address for Conradin Kreutzer, I find Heidegger's philosophy decidedly suspect.

Gandalin

8/01/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Wagner! along w/ R Strauss, 2 composers i dont tire of. [thank you Glenn Gould] 'Parsifal' was my 'intro' to Wagner, and that swansong is a musico-mythic masterwork. Speaking of swansongs, Strauss' ingenious opera CAPRICCIO be my favest of his works.

Wagner was so impressed by SCHOPENHAUER, he read 'Die Welt' thrice the year it came out!

8/01/2010 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Jack:

I second that vote for It "Might Get Loud".

Had an interesting little experience on Friday. Was invited to attend a sound check of a regional band that my biz partner has used for parties and such from time to time. Lead guitarist forgot his tuner, and yelled out "anyone got an iphone?" Right here, I said. 30 seconds later we had downloaded one of those freebie guitar tuners, which he used for a minute or two and then he was off. As a non-musician who has always considered rock guitarists to be minor deities, I felt a little glow ;-)

8/01/2010 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

ge:

Vier letzte Lieder -- among the most beautiful things I have ever experienced. Have been listening to them for over 30 years.

8/01/2010 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

ge:

Re Glen Gould -- this is another performance (Goldberg Variations - the "humming" version) of such surpassing beauty... easily brings tears.

When I was a young IT person I briefly worked in and around the recording studio shown in the video. I saw Glen Gould there.

8/01/2010 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

just spent an hour watching various GG performances before checking back, seeing your recommendations; youtube is certainly a cultural boon offering those as manna.

-was it Stokowski who said after collaborating :
"That nut is a genius!"
he is SO IN-TO the pieces he plays [from memory usually]...
& thanks for reminder of 4 LAST SONGS ...been a while since i heard those.
you no doubt know Strauss' METAMORPHOSEN, also i dig his works for winds---he was an airsign after all, a Gemini to Gould's Libra

8/01/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Julie says:

"What I find interesting about sight and sound being vehicles for art and beauty is that they are both senses that are essentially about perceiving vibrations."

So is touch, you just have to be in contact to feel the vibration.

8/01/2010 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Snoop Murph says:

"Hi-I am a bit of a lurker here and a good friend of Julie's. She gifted me with my own copy of Bob's book last night, after I managed to hoard her copy for over a year."

I'd read Meditations on the Tarot too, if I were you. I found that more useful than Bob's book. Sorry, Bob. Although I also find Bob's blog to be much more useful than Bob's book.

Which is why Bob should write a second book that is iterative of his first book.

She also says:

"Of course, I don't think I considered teaching music using scent. That would be a interesting challenge!"

I don't think that's possible because of the nature of scent. I think scent is more analogous to sight, only it reveals what cannot be seen by the eyes.

The only thing I can think of is to use scent in conjuction with written music to convey what is not revealed by the notes and keys.

8/01/2010 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Bob says:

"Dennis Prager often talks about how there is absolutely no relationship between human decency and artistic genius."

Yes, but the artistic genius should know better. Kind of like the gifted intellectual. That's the real problem.

8/01/2010 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

Isn't artistic genious all about being able to relate to human reality?

8/01/2010 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

I used to believe that is because we as a society often gave a free pass for bad behavior to those we labeled a "genius". I still think this is true. Think of the lefties trying to dance around the whole Roman Polanski issue or in less illegal but still creepy way Woody Allen (who know surprise supposedly signed some letter to "free" Polanski).

But now I am not sure that's the whole story. I think there are those--perhaps due to a mental illness that is related to creativity, like manic-depression, for example--truly can tap into the source of creativity and feel that they are outside of all restraints. They genuinely feel as if they are "beyond good and evil" and just generally don't care or concern themselves at all with the consequences of their actions.

And yet sometimes they DO create something transcendent.

Funny how it works.

8/01/2010 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

but I also think there is another model for creativity and "genius" which is based in humility instead of arrogance. John Coltrane is an exemplar for that. He pushed his creativity as far as he could and yet seemed to always remain a grounded, gentle and humble human being.

So it is possible.

8/01/2010 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Part of the problem is the double-edged nature of beauty, which can, on the one hand, tether us to appearances, or, on the other, deliver us from them. The same cannot be said of truth and virtue (unless the former is equated with rationalism and the latter is reduced to mere outward moralism).

8/01/2010 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Do the unhinged seek Beauty or does Beauty unhinge? Or both?

Beauty does seem to overwhelm the system at times. It seems so gratuitous and unbidden that it seemingly is more than our brains can handle. Without a complementary development of Virtue and Truth it often lead to some really disturbing behavior.

Maybe there should be a class in Music School "How to Survive Beauty".

I had a musician friend who had been addicted to heroin for a while and said that even so, nothing compares to a "music high".

8/01/2010 06:19:00 PM  
Blogger Dianne said...

I've never found Roman Polanski or Woody Allen to be in the least entertaining.

I can't for the life of me figure out why they became so rich and famous.

I rented a movie directed and starred in by Roman Polanski several weeks ago just to check out his possible attributes. Turns out, he has none. It was the crappiest directing I ever saw. Why is this guy famous? Except for raping multiple women?

8/01/2010 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mikal said...

SnoopMurph,

Regarding teaching your students: have you ever heard of the extraordinary case of "Blind Tom" Bethune?

8/01/2010 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger Magnus Itland said...

The "beyond good and evil" theory sounds reasonable. And while we're in that place, let me say that I think any genius will by definition have a soft spot for philosophies that prominently feature the concept of "untermensch", simply by being surrounded by them. In any case, being a genius is a very lonely thing, and some craziness is not unexpected. For that matter, even ordinary people are crazy, but their craziness is usually petty and insignificant, like themselves.

8/01/2010 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it seems that the default position of any spiritually untutored or deviated genius would be obnoxiousness.

8/02/2010 06:27:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Jack says:

"Beauty does seem to overwhelm the system at times. It seems so gratuitous and unbidden that it seemingly is more than our brains can handle. Without a complementary development of Virtue and Truth it often lead to some really disturbing behavior."

Perhaps part of the problem is that people need to recognize that their system is being overwhelmed and recognize it as such.

Oh, and as a rule, you need to avoid seeing out "highs" for the sake of getting "high".

Which includes music.

8/02/2010 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger JP said...

Magnus says:

"And while we're in that place, let me say that I think any genius will by definition have a soft spot for philosophies that prominently feature the concept of "untermensch", simply by being surrounded by them."

And this why it's important to properly socialize geniuses. Particularly so that they learn to suffer fools gladly.

8/02/2010 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

Apropos of the supreme importance of music as the art form pointing towards and in many cases allowing the florescence of a verticalized life, comes this news from the Islamic Republic of Iran:

********
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said today that music is "not compatible" with the values of the Islamic republic, and should not be practised or taught in the country.

In some of the most extreme comments by a senior regime figure since the 1979 revolution, Khamenei said: "Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic."

Khamenei's comments came in response to a request for a ruling by a 21-year-old follower of his, who was thinking of starting music lessons, but wanted to know if they were acceptable according to Islam, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. "It's better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills and fill their time with sport and healthy recreations instead of music," he said.
******

Source: the Guardian, via Jihadwatch.

There does indeed appear to be a discontinuity between Islam and the other two faith communities (Jewish and Christian) that Muslims like to say make up the "Abrahamic Covenant."

David the King was not only the slayer of enemies par excellence, but the "sweet singer of Israel."

Gandalin

8/03/2010 06:54:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home