Author Topic: Greatness  (Read 2399 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #60 on: November 12, 2020, 10:15:19 AM »
He was obviously lying.

The remark is obviously something other than a lie.
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Re: Greatness
« Reply #61 on: November 12, 2020, 11:02:15 AM »
He was obviously lying.

Not a lie. just a man totally oblivious of his own genius. Like the world around him.

Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #62 on: November 12, 2020, 12:05:37 PM »
He was obviously lying.

The remark should probably not be taken literally.
But it can't be called a lie.
As soon as a word has left the lips, not even the fastest horse can catch up with it.

Offline Vienne

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #63 on: November 12, 2020, 01:01:29 PM »
The label of greatness maybe vested by religious, governmental, or academic authorities.  However, this is a (correct or false) recognition of greatness ex post rather than greatness itself. Greatness must lie in the artwork (object) rather than the subject who observes it. Secondly, Greatness must be present at the moment of the birth of an artwork rather than the subsequent time.

I agree with the premise of this argument, especially since you allow that the actual measurement and quantification of the ideal is elusive.

To consider greatness solely as something to be invested or conferred by critical or public opinion is insufficient. While they may, of course, be useful guides, both are subject to chance and circumstance. Vivaldi’s Gloria, which I consider to be an exemplar of Baroque sacred music, languished in relative obscurity for two centuries until the eve of the Second World War. Did its absence from the critical and public eye diminish its intrinsic quality? I would answer no.

Offline some guy

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #64 on: November 12, 2020, 04:09:56 PM »
If you assume that greatness is a thing, and not only a thing but a valid thing, then you will do as most have done on this thread, debate where to locate it, in the object or in the subject.

That leaves out two alternate approaches (two that I can see, anyway): that greatness defines a quality of the relationship between the subject and the object, or that greatness is simply chimerical.

In any event, think about how you enjoy the pieces that you enjoy. Do you need them to be "great," or do you simply enjoy them? If you need them to be great, you might want to wonder about why you have that need. If you simply enjoy them, you're probably being too busy doing so to participate in discussions of this sort.

Since I consider myself to be in the latter category, I shudder to think what my participation reveals about the limits of my self-knowledge. :)


Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #65 on: November 12, 2020, 05:20:24 PM »
(* chortleness *)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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Offline pjme

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #66 on: November 13, 2020, 01:26:23 AM »
My English is too rusty for this kind of discussion. So I quote from an article:

High art has never been a fixed concept.

In his book The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton presents four primary properties that characterize genius in the arts:
1/ Complexity –celebrated artistic works are rich with intricacy, allowing for deep and rewarding audience experiences. Furthermore, if the work’s dense themes are demanding and intriguing for its audience, what must that say of the cognitive and artistic faculties of its creator?
2/ Serious content – Fisher was on to something when identifying seriousness as part of what informs greatness in art. Serious content is a universal theme in distinguished artistic works, with love, death and human fate being the most prominent subjects.
3/ Purpose – In this context, Dutton defines purpose as authenticity – “a sense that the artist means it.”
4/ Distance – The greatest works of art require a sense of objectivity: the notion that artistic pieces should have no regard or concern for their audience’s wants and desires, nor should they seek to win over or curry favour with any persons, for “ingratiating itself with the audience is a main function of the polar opposite of authentic artistic beauty, which is not ugliness…but kitsch.”

Of course, there will always be debate and disagreements as to what constitutes greatness in the arts, and any sensible view of humans’ artistic preferences must concede these variations in taste. But for too long we have been sold the mantra of aesthetic relativism, and while this doctrine had noble intentions in its attempt to fight elitist and snobbish attitudes for which I have no sympathy, it is a deeply dishonest and intellectually obsolete argument. More importantly, it fundamentally fails to acknowledge our underlying and unifying human nature, which explains how and why great artistic works can travel seamlessly across cultural boundaries.

Far from beauty merely being “in the eye of the beholder”, our judgements on extraordinary aesthetic feats are profoundly influenced by our shared humanity. Rather than this being ignored or denied, it should be recognised and celebrated.

Sandy Buglass
https://uncommongroundmedia.com/deciphering-greatness-in-art/

Greatness, genius? Extraordinary aesthetic feats....Do these 4 properties help us?

Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #67 on: November 13, 2020, 03:14:03 AM »
In his book The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton presents four primary properties that characterize genius in the arts:
1/ Complexity –celebrated artistic works are rich with intricacy, allowing for deep and rewarding audience experiences. Furthermore, if the work’s dense themes are demanding and intriguing for its audience, what must that say of the cognitive and artistic faculties of its creator?
2/ Serious content – Fisher was on to something when identifying seriousness as part of what informs greatness in art. Serious content is a universal theme in distinguished artistic works, with love, death and human fate being the most prominent subjects.
3/ Purpose – In this context, Dutton defines purpose as authenticity – “a sense that the artist means it.”
4/ Distance – The greatest works of art require a sense of objectivity: the notion that artistic pieces should have no regard or concern for their audience’s wants and desires, nor should they seek to win over or curry favour with any persons, for “ingratiating itself with the audience is a main function of the polar opposite of authentic artistic beauty, which is not ugliness…but kitsch.”

Sandy Buglass
https://uncommongroundmedia.com/deciphering-greatness-in-art/

Hah! This is exactly what I mean by Beethoven-inspired greatness. I disagree with each and every point but instead of refuting them in lengthy sentences (as as initially intended) I will simply point out to three composers who failed on all counts but the first (and I'm not even sure that "dense themes" is the right notion for much of their music).

Domenico Scarlatti. Haydn. Mozart.

I rest my case.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 03:16:28 AM by Florestan »
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #68 on: November 13, 2020, 03:24:02 AM »
If you assume that greatness is a thing, and not only a thing but a valid thing, then you will do as most have done on this thread, debate where to locate it, in the object or in the subject.

That leaves out two alternate approaches (two that I can see, anyway): that greatness defines a quality of the relationship between the subject and the object, or that greatness is simply chimerical.

In any event, think about how you enjoy the pieces that you enjoy. Do you need them to be "great," or do you simply enjoy them? If you need them to be great, you might want to wonder about why you have that need. If you simply enjoy them, you're probably being too busy doing so to participate in discussions of this sort.

Since I consider myself to be in the latter category, I shudder to think what my participation reveals about the limits of my self-knowledge. :)

The question isn’t about objects really, IMO. It’s about concepts. Whether or not greatness is chimerical like phlogiston, the concept “. . . is great” is part of some English speakers’ idiolectes, and it merits analysis.

Of course it may be a dispositional property, like “. . . is red” And there’s a lot to be explored about the type of objectivity that the judgement that “. . . is great” has.
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Offline ritter

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #69 on: November 13, 2020, 03:28:15 AM »
My English is too rusty for this kind of discussion. So I quote from an article:

High art has never been a fixed concept.

In his book The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton presents four primary properties that characterize genius in the arts:
1/ Complexity –celebrated artistic works are rich with intricacy, allowing for deep and rewarding audience experiences. Furthermore, if the work’s dense themes are demanding and intriguing for its audience, what must that say of the cognitive and artistic faculties of its creator?
2/ Serious content – Fisher was on to something when identifying seriousness as part of what informs greatness in art. Serious content is a universal theme in distinguished artistic works, with love, death and human fate being the most prominent subjects.
3/ Purpose – In this context, Dutton defines purpose as authenticity – “a sense that the artist means it.”
4/ Distance – The greatest works of art require a sense of objectivity: the notion that artistic pieces should have no regard or concern for their audience’s wants and desires, nor should they seek to win over or curry favour with any persons, for “ingratiating itself with the audience is a main function of the polar opposite of authentic artistic beauty, which is not ugliness…but kitsch.”

Of course, there will always be debate and disagreements as to what constitutes greatness in the arts, and any sensible view of humans’ artistic preferences must concede these variations in taste. But for too long we have been sold the mantra of aesthetic relativism, and while this doctrine had noble intentions in its attempt to fight elitist and snobbish attitudes for which I have no sympathy, it is a deeply dishonest and intellectually obsolete argument. More importantly, it fundamentally fails to acknowledge our underlying and unifying human nature, which explains how and why great artistic works can travel seamlessly across cultural boundaries.

Far from beauty merely being “in the eye of the beholder”, our judgements on extraordinary aesthetic feats are profoundly influenced by our shared humanity. Rather than this being ignored or denied, it should be recognised and celebrated.

Sandy Buglass
https://uncommongroundmedia.com/deciphering-greatness-in-art/

Greatness, genius? Extraordinary aesthetic feats....Do these 4 properties help us?
As opposed to our dear Florestan, I do feel a clear affinity with points made by the author of these comments. And frankly, I do not see how or why Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart can be used as examples that these points are not true...
ritter
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #70 on: November 13, 2020, 03:50:08 AM »
As opposed to our dear Florestan, I do feel a clear affinity with points made by the author of these comments. And frankly, I do not see how or why Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart can be used as examples that these points are not true...

Let me count the ways, dear Raphael. :)

1. Which Scarlatti sonata, Haydn piano trio or Mozart violin concerto deals with love, death or human fate?

2. What did Scarlatti mean by any of his sonatas, other than writing keyboard exercises for his royal patroness? What did Haydn mean by tons of his compositions, other than fulfilling his Kapelmeister duties? What did Mozart mean by his serenades and divertimenti, other than celebrating, or providing entertainment for, this or that event in the life of this or that friend or acquaintance?

3. Do you seriously think that Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart had no regard or concern for their audience’s wants and desires? Or that they did not seek to win over or ingratiate themselves with any persons?

What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline ritter

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #71 on: November 13, 2020, 03:56:05 AM »
Let me put it this way:

1) Scarlatti's sonatas have a musical compelxity that trac¡scends the mere entertainment value for his patrons, or "keyboard exercises".
2) The Creation
3) Don Giovanni

 :)
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #72 on: November 13, 2020, 04:06:36 AM »
1) Scarlatti's sonatas have a musical compelxity that trac¡scends the mere entertainment value for his patrons, or "keyboard exercises".

That falls on the 1st count which I have already marked as valid.

Quote
2) The Creation
3) Don Giovanni

I'm not sure which of my 3 questions above is this the aswer for. Anyway, let's take it at face value,

For the seriousness of The Creation, there's the "unseriosusness" of The Seasons. Is the latter less artistic and less Haydnesque than the former?

Ditto for Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte, substituting Mozart for Haydn.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #73 on: November 13, 2020, 04:36:37 AM »
Quote from: Domenico Scarlatti
Reader, do not expect, whether you are a dilettante or a professor, to find in these compositions any profound intention, but rather an ingenious banter in the art to exercise you in rigorous play of the harpsichord. No point of view or ambition guided me, but obedience brought me to publish it. Perhaps they will be agreeable to you, and I will more willingly then obey your other orders to please you with an easier and more varied style. Therefore do not show yourself more judge than critic, and you will thereby grow your own pleasure. To specify hand position I have used the letter D to indicate the right hand, and the letter M the left hand. Live happily.

This directly and explicitly contradicts points 1 to 3 in Buglass' article.
What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #74 on: November 13, 2020, 06:32:50 AM »
As opposed to our dear Florestan, I do feel a clear affinity with points made by the author of these comments. And frankly, I do not see how or why Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart can be used as examples that these points are not true...

Agreed.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Florestan

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #75 on: November 13, 2020, 06:37:15 AM »
Agreed.

Then perhaps you can answer my questions, Karl, because Rafael didn't.

What is Music? How do you define it? Music is a calm moonlit night, the rustle of leaves in Summer. Music is the far off peal of bells at dusk! Music comes straight from the heart and talks only to the heart: it is Love!  --- Rachmaninoff

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #76 on: November 13, 2020, 07:08:33 AM »
Then perhaps you can answer my questions, Karl, because Rafael didn't.

Let me make a point about this, Andrei, because there's something which caught my attention. "Do not expect, whether you are a dilettante or a professor, to find in these compositions any profound intention, but rather an ingenious banter in the art" is very close to what Samuel Beckett said to Theodor Adorno about Endgame. Maybe he wanted to shut Adorno up; maybe he thought he'd sell more tickets if he presented the play as light entertainment. Because I am sure that there is a way of reading the play which makes it sound rather deep, and I'm sure that Beckett knew it.

 I don't know anything about Scarlatti so I won't comment, but assuming that Ritter's right, maybe he thought he'd sell more copies of the scores if he underplayed the transcendent quality.

Generally what artists, composers, authors say about their work may come from all sorts of places other than wanting to tell the truth about their work. Just listen to the interviews they give when their books are launched, or the blurb they approve for the dustjackets. They may want to maximise the dosh, they may want to court popularity, they may just want to put an end to all the questions. Or they may themselves have a very imperfect understanding of what they have made.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2020, 07:14:40 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Dry Brett Kavanaugh

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #77 on: November 13, 2020, 07:16:56 AM »
My English is too rusty for this kind of discussion. So I quote from an article:

High art has never been a fixed concept.

In his book The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton presents four primary properties that characterize genius in the arts:
1/ Complexity –celebrated artistic works are rich with intricacy, allowing for deep and rewarding audience experiences. Furthermore, if the work’s dense themes are demanding and intriguing for its audience, what must that say of the cognitive and artistic faculties of its creator?
2/ Serious content – Fisher was on to something when identifying seriousness as part of what informs greatness in art. Serious content is a universal theme in distinguished artistic works, with love, death and human fate being the most prominent subjects.
3/ Purpose – In this context, Dutton defines purpose as authenticity – “a sense that the artist means it.”
4/ Distance – The greatest works of art require a sense of objectivity: the notion that artistic pieces should have no regard or concern for their audience’s wants and desires, nor should they seek to win over or curry favour with any persons, for “ingratiating itself with the audience is a main function of the polar opposite of authentic artistic beauty, which is not ugliness…but kitsch.”

Of course, there will always be debate and disagreements as to what constitutes greatness in the arts, and any sensible view of humans’ artistic preferences must concede these variations in taste. But for too long we have been sold the mantra of aesthetic relativism, and while this doctrine had noble intentions in its attempt to fight elitist and snobbish attitudes for which I have no sympathy, it is a deeply dishonest and intellectually obsolete argument. More importantly, it fundamentally fails to acknowledge our underlying and unifying human nature, which explains how and why great artistic works can travel seamlessly across cultural boundaries.

Far from beauty merely being “in the eye of the beholder”, our judgements on extraordinary aesthetic feats are profoundly influenced by our shared humanity. Rather than this being ignored or denied, it should be recognised and celebrated.

Sandy Buglass
https://uncommongroundmedia.com/deciphering-greatness-in-art/

Greatness, genius? Extraordinary aesthetic feats....Do these 4 properties help us?

Nice excerpt.
Genius in art maybe substantially different from greatness in art. Although I like several books by Dennis Dutton, I have a different view about genius in art. For genius, I envisage the followings:
Ethereal: a work is otherworldly and mysterious.
Metaphysical: a work holds a meaning beyond. It maintains a presence other than the presence in this world.
Iconoclastic: a work is beyond the existent paradigm/mannerism.
Super-intention: a work appears to have an intension other than the intension of the artist.

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #78 on: November 13, 2020, 07:27:07 AM »
Nice excerpt.
Genius in art maybe substantially different from greatness in art. Although I like several books by Dennis Dutton, I have a different view about genius in art. For genius, I envisage the followings:
Ethereal: a work is otherworldly and mysterious.
Metaphysical: a work holds a meaning beyond. It maintains a presence other than the presence in this world.
Iconoclastic: a work is beyond the existent paradigm/mannerism.
Super-intention: a work appears to have an intension other than the intension of the artist.

I cannot see how any of these things apply, frankly:
A work being otherworldly mysterious does not make it a work of genius. There are plenty of works of genius which do not fall into this category. In fact it is the genius of composers who communicate with people
Why does it have to have a meaning beyond? Plenty of works of genius haven’t.
There are plenty of works of genius which are not iconoclastic. Merely to go beyond the existing Paradyme is not necessarily genius as there is plenty of trash out there
I can’t see how the work does have to have an intention beyond the intention of the artist

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Greatness
« Reply #79 on: November 13, 2020, 07:51:51 AM »
Let me make a point about this, Andrei, because there's something which caught my attention. "Do not expect, whether you are a dilettante or a professor, to find in these compositions any profound intention, but rather an ingenious banter in the art" is very close to what Samuel Beckett said to Theodor Adorno about Endgame. Maybe he wanted to shut Adorno up; maybe he thought he'd sell more tickets if he presented the play as light entertainment. Because I am sure that there is a way of reading the play which makes it sound rather deep, and I'm sure that Beckett knew it.
Generally what artists, composers, authors say about their work may come from all sorts of places other than wanting to tell the truth about their work. Just listen to the interviews they give when their books are launched, or the blurb they approve for the dustjackets. They may want to maximise the dosh, they may want to court popularity, they may just want to put an end to all the questions. Or they may themselves have a very imperfect understanding of what they have made.

Good. The purpose and integrity of Scarlatti's sonatas lies not in a pro forma preface, but in how they are made.  World-class pianists in the 20th and 21st centuries would not devote years of practice time and recital/album space to them if they were merely "pleasant exercises."  Ditto for Haydn's piano sonatas and quartets.  Anyone who does not find high purpose in the Mozart symphonies of the summer of 1788 doesn't understand much about Mozart.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot