Jon: Thanks for your thoughtful post. Let me focus on your summary at the
In a message dated 8/17/01 11:41:50 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
> Or, to put it another way, you can define Art as: (i) wholly
> subjective, which is valid, but not useful; (ii) quasi-objective
> in that it relates to, or opposes, an accepted standard within a
> culture or a time-period; or (iii) it is wholly objective, which is
> clearly nonsense, and I have not tried to argue for.
What I am trying to understand are the implications in Perl's analysis of
his line, "What Eliot or Pound or Yates or James or D.H. Lawrence most
feared was that the attempt to reconcile high culture with egalitarian or
democratic ethics would cause us to accept as art things that were NOT art."
It seems to me that the phrase, "would cause us to accept as art things that
were NOT art" implies we have available a standard by which to judge some
things as art and other things as "not art".
Given that Eliot was concerned with "high culture" (i.e., Classicism), I
don't think he thought he was being wholly subjective in his views of what
was art. So your item "(i)" would seem to not apply to TSE's way of thinking.
I suppose TSE felt he was judging art by what you call "(ii)", namely, "an
accepted standard within a culture or a time-period."
Now, here's the problem: I think TSE wanted to say not only that he was
judging art by his pet standard (Classicism), but, more importantly, that HIS
standard was "better" than other standards (better than, for instance, the
standard of WCW). Because if all standards are arbitrary and equally valid,
it seems to me impossible to say that any particular thing is "not art"
(since by SOME standard you could find a basis for which THAT thing WOULD be
art). So Jon, even if I agree that art is defined by "an accepted standard
within a culture or a time-period", is there a way to make distinctions among
competing standards? Is there a way to say that one standard is "better"
than another? What would the word "better" even mean when looking at
different aesthetic standards? More "true" to the human condition, perhaps?
I think this is what TSE wanted to say, as evidenced by TSE lines Perl
quotes, such as the line that the Classic Modernist "fixes on definite tokens
because of associations with passions that are specifically human."
-- Steve --