Re: Essays In Criticism
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9580 31 21_Re: Definition of art10_Nancy [log in to unmask], 21 Aug 2001 01:59:04 -0400704_- Why "ought" art to terrify and shock? What moral imperative?
Date sent: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 00:23:52 EDT
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Subject: Re: Definition of art
In a message dated 01-08-20 16:45:02 EDT, you write:
<< You've raised a very interesting question, here, Michael. I can't
the images from Vietnam you mention as art, because I know they are not
harmless, reflective disquisitions on the nature of human suffering, they
are authentic pictures of real people dying. I find that shocking,
iconic, but not in the least artistic. However, if I saw an [...]41_21Aug200101:59:[log in to unmask]
9612 20 21_Re: Definition of art11_Marcia [log in to unmask], 21 Aug 2001 08:15:53 -0400472_- Dear Michael,
I've lost something in the exchange and no longer have your original message.
Can you set me straight? Did you say that the photographs from the war (the
little girl running, the general about to be shot) were art, or that the acts --
of dropping the napalm, of shooting the general in the head -- were expressions
that affected others and so were art. I'd thought you said the second, Jon has
responded (Hey, Jon) to the first. [...]35_21Aug200108:15:[log in to unmask]
9633 219 21_Re: Definition of Art14_Richard [log in to unmask], 21 Aug 2001 09:26:30 -0600712_- This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
I think that much of the confusion on this thread stems from trying to =
produce a definition while at the same time trying to produce a =
Art is a representation. It imitates reality. Art is not naturally =
occurring. It requires an artist. A sunset over the Manzano mountains =
might take my breath away but it isn't art until some one paints, writes =
or takes a picture of it. The artist provides a rendering of the =
artist's [...]36_21Aug200109:26:[log in to unmask]
9853 10 21_Re: Definition of [log in to unmask], 21 Aug 2001 15:57:21 EDT258_- "ART" the big stuff, is not normal. It is beyond the realm of comprehension.
It should and must take the one who experiences it to a new realm of
That is what I mean by terrify (same root as terrific) and shock.
Michael37_21Aug200115:57:[log in to unmask]
9864 10 21_Re: Definition of [log in to unmask], 21 Aug 2001 16:01:02 EDT314_- The acts only became art because they had influence upon someone (i.e. they
were made into little pictures and flown onto our dinner tables). The people
murdering/being murdered are not in the "being affected" part of the
equation. Only observers -- art has to be observed to exist.
Michael37_21Aug200116:01:[log in to unmask]
9875 19 21_Re: Definition of art11_Marcia [log in to unmask], 21 Aug 2001 16:26:15 -0400377_- [log in to unmask] wrote:
> The acts only became art because they had influence upon someone (i.e. they
> were made into little pictures and flown onto our dinner tables). The people
> murdering/being murdered are nr‹cn
Tue, 28 Aug 2001 20:24:59 EDT
In a message dated Tue, 28 Aug 2001 6:26:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time, "Richard Seddon" <[log in to unmask]> writes:
<<What do you mean by "rich oral tradition"?>>
I was unclear. In speaking of "communities with a rich oral tradition", I meant societies where the dominant culture relies upon an such a tradition, either entirely or as an important supplement to its literature. By "rich", I mean Homer rather than "Friends." (Granted, there's a lot in between, but y'all get to sort that out on your own terms.)
<<Is the modern urban myth part of this rich oral tradition? When does common gossip become "rich oral tradition", when the common gossipers are illiterate and members of a government defined minority? Can a visually identifiable but illiterate member of the majority have a "rich oral tradition" i.e.., are Red Necks as good a place to find "rich oral tradition" as Hispanics in a barrio?>>
As I say, I'm not undertaking to answer all the particulars. Just trying to get a little conversation going. If you want my opinion, Southern culture would have been a better place for a "rich oral tradition" in the days when oral storytelling was relatively more important than the press and television. But, I suppose, if conducted at a sufficiently high level, television (or radio) could qualify.
As to the "redneck"/barrio" leg of your question, it seems likely to me that both of those subcultures today are too modernized to qualify for a "rich oral tradition" in the sense I used the term. Again, I agree with your point (as I construed it) that this is a loose term. My limited usage of it was not intended to disparage communities that might fall outside that usage, but only to distinguish societies dependent primarily on oral communication for communication beyond daily conversation from those dependent primarily on other means.
> I think most illiterates have no more a "rich oral tradition" than most literates regularly read well crafted mind expanding literature. Because of this I think that it would be difficult to find a"rich oral tradition" as a niche within a larger literate one. The minds that would be drawn into intimate interrelationship with a "rich oral tradition" would be attracted to the greater universe of literacy. Literacy is not that difficult. As Phillis Wheatley, illiterate slave turned poet, showed, the attraction of
literacy to capable minds is irresistible.>>
You make a good point. However, the slave example is particulary apt in cutting against it as well: Mr. Wheatley (I confess I'm not familiar with him) was no doubt exceptional, and I would propose the ante-bellum slave community as precisely one based upon oral tradition, existing within a largely (for the day at least) literate society.
<<I think well crafted and mind expanding literature acts directly in the lives of a literate and thoughtful minority. It acts less directly and more indirectly in the greater portion of a literate society and indirectly in the lives of every illiterate. Literature is bound to affect all who directly or indirectly contact it. An example would be the number of Americans who know of the Constitution, are capable of reading it and have,
that literate majority who have not and those Americans who know of the constitution and could not read it. All have been affected by it.>>
Yes, but the impact of the Constitution is inherent in its operation upon the citizens' lives through its role in defining our government. "Literature" as I intend it must find other ways to influence the illiterate.
<<Another example would be the elite position of the professional scribe in highly illiterate countries. Literature and especially good literature seems irresistable to humans.>>
Hmmm. Sometimes it seems that bad literature is even more irresistable. But then, that requires one to define the good and the bad, which each must do by differing standards. I certainly agree that literature I would consider "good" comes down from many socities, and probably (no, certainly) exists in those that I am not familiar with.
> Rick Seddon
> McIntosh, NM, USA