Jennifer Formichelli wrote:
> I have yet to see anyone who can substantiate their
> critical remarks about rap with quotation, elucidation
> and comparison attempt to raise it to the level of
I have yet to see anyone who can substantiate their critical remarks
about XXX with elucidation and comparison attempt to raise it to the
level of art _or_ lower it from the level of art.
I would, first of all, challenge the ooherence of the concept of "LEVEL
OF art." Would that concept have been meaningful to anyone before the
19th century. "Art" -- whatever has been the object of human
That is, in what way is "art" at a height to which it has had to be
raised? My question is incoherent, because the concept is incoherent. Or
to put it another way, "level of art" makes sense only so long as no one
in the conversation asks, "What does it mean?"
Now I myself know nothing of rap -- it appeared on the scen after my
hearing had already degenerated to the point where I could no longer
follow it, and even close captioning on the TV screen is not of much
help. But a rather large number of intelligent persons, acquainted with
a rather extensive variety of vergal & musical practices have responed
to and written about rap. I know of no other criterion than that for
designating a practice as "seirous art." Art is serious whenever serious
people treat it as such. What makes a person serious. Other serious
people treat him/her as serious.
A certain great thinker, shortly before his death, was interviewed in
the garden of his Kensington home by a New York reporter. At the end of
the interview, the reporter thought for a moment and then asked:
After a pause so long the reporter thought the Old Man had fallen
asleep, came the words:
It works in various ways. You say rap is not "art." I say, serious
people treat it as such, though I know nothing about it, but there are a
spinnkling of people around who have heard Cox speak/write on various
occasions and are apt to at least marginally be more 'alert' to praise
of rap than they otherwise would be. (This can be explained in
neurological as well as social terms.) Had I not browsed through an
article in _Critical Inquiry_ on rap 5 or 10 years ago, I would probably
not have followed so closely a discussion of rap on the psn list a year
or so ago. And only because of these experiences (and a few others) have
I picked up on this topic in the present instance. And whether this post
makes a lot of sense to anyone on the list or not, it will sensitize
their neuronal connections to the next reference to rap that they come
Another metaphor for this is frequent light rain on a high sandy hill
over a period of years. Most drops will run a few inches or a few feet
and be absorbed. But if several drops ran down the same path, they will
have left a slight marking in the sand, and if another rainfall occurs
before wind wipes out the trace, drops will run down it a bit quicker
and a bit further before they sink into the sand. Over scores or even
hundreds of years gradually a deep gully will develop, and each rainfall
will flow into that gully and onto the plains below.
Some social change (as in intellectuals' view of rap) operate like that.
Perhaps in a few decades only antiquarians will know what rap is.
Perhaps also there will be an endowed chair at Harvard for the study of
"Art" as you use the term is not a thing or a quality; it is a social
relationship of immense complexity.