:: Wednesday, May 25, 2005 ::

As for me, I may not be able to describe it, but I know it when I see it
Gideon Strauss has been thinking of late about Terry Teachout's recent "list of prejudices that constitute his rough and ready philosophy of the arts" (Gideon's words) and comes up with his own list.

First, Teachout's prejudices:
All other things being equal:

• I prefer short plays, films, novels, and pieces of music to long ones. (I also prefer small paintings to large ones, which is not exactly the same preference but probably a second cousin to it.)

• I prefer comedy to tragedy.

• I prefer prose to poetry.

• I prefer simplicity to complexity.

• I prefer realism to fantasy. (This is why I prefer comedy to tragedy, by the way: I think it’s truer to life.)

• I usually have major problems with "documentary" art, or any other kind of idea-driven art. Marcel Duchamp said that he inscribed sentences on his "ready-mades" in order to "carry the mind of the spectator towards other regions more verbal." That sums up the kind of art I like least.

• I loathe "artiness."

• I tend not to like camp.
And Strauss's:
• I prefer art that takes its foundation in craft very seriously.

• I prefer art that is guided by a certain playfulness, or imaginativity, even if its purposes or concerns are very serious.

• I prefer art that combines an awareness of the goodness of the created world with an awareness of the brokenness of the world - a bittersweet awareness of both insidious evil and pervasive grace, and of the asymmetrical nature of the struggle between evil and grace.

• I prefer art with immediate popular appeal that subsequently reveals itself to have depths that take my ability to plumb them as far as it can go, and then exceeds my abilities.

• I prefer progressive art that consciously places itself within a tradition, seeking to refresh that tradition, as opposed to moribundly reactionary art or supposedly revolutionary art.

• I despise shock for shock's sake - adolescent outrage art, whether supposedly protesting some ill, or simply indulging in a sense of transgressiveness. (I am certainly no South Park conservative.)

• Later: On good days my kuyperian calvinism dispose me toward the hallowing of the commonplace, the celebration of the ordinary, the meaningfulness of little things; on bad days my kuyperian romanticism dispose me toward an admiration of the heroic sublime.

Later: I must confess to a melancholy disposition. This takes my tastes beyond the bittersweet wry wisdom mentioned above toward a certain kind of sentimentalism. Some of the art I like comprehend this entire terrain, from wry wisdom to melancholy sentiment: film noir, Alan Furst, Nat King Cole's "Smile" ... .
I suppose I should spend some time on such a list, but I don't think about this stuff as much as Gideon or this Teachout guy. (For that matter, I don't think about anything as much as Gideon does.)

I will say this, though: I despise the use of the world "loathe." It sounds so, so loathesome or something. And the "use" of too many "orphan quotes" in a single "blog post" also annoys me.

Yes, Andrew, but is it art?

:: Andrew 07:42 + ::

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