« A Dog's Life | Main | US policy in Islamdom is a chaos. Part 1 »

20 October 2017

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Account Deleted

Thanks for your wise and beautiful words Mr Sale. I shall continue to uncork your bottles for as long as they bob about on SST.

Never enough.

Lyttenburgh

“When the Italian Dante finished his The Divine Comedy,” the critical opinion of the day damned it as “Gothic obscurantism.””

I’m sorry, but who said that? AFAIK, the so-called “Divine Comedy” was fairly popular and copied by people of letters at leisure.

“Even The Iliad, Homer’s masterpiece, required a long span of time before its imperishable beauty was praised. The Greeks of Homer’s time were so corrupt, they even denied that the Trojan War took place.”

No, they were not “corrupt”. They were Dorian Greeks, who just recently smashed the Mycenaean Greek civilization. It’s just Homer had to live in the so-called “Greek Dark Ages”. I also would like to know, who in that time period denied that “the Trojan War took place”. Never heard about it.

“What is a masterpiece? A masterpiece is a work of an artist whose ambition was to construct something so beautiful, so humanly dramatic and poignant that it will endure beyond the reach of Time.”

Could be argued. I for one think it just a creation of something, that qualifies you as a Master. After that you might do whatever you want – you are already recognized as a Master, and no one really requires another master-piece from you. Should you create one – kudos to you! But most don’t bother. The thing is – not everything created by the Master is a masterpiece.

“The goal of education is to train the intellectual and emotional endowments of each of us, no matter unequal they are, to appreciate the complex, the subtle, the depthful, the outstanding in culture and art”

Again – could be argued. The goal of the “universal” education we have these days is the mass production of the “qualified individual”, possessing the bare minimum of practical knowledge. Nowhere does it say that “education” teaches anything but that. It certainly does not make people smart. Only self-education and innate qualities make the people something more than just “qualified”.

“If education doesn’t do that, it has failed us.”

Why? It performs just as intended.

David E. Solomon

Hello Richard,

A very nice and thoughtful piece. I have said this before and I will say it again. The best way out of this dilemma is to stop watching television. It is an extremely destructive medium.

Regards,

David

Haralambos

Thank you once again, Mr. Sale for your thoughts. I first encountered these ideas 45 years ago in several courses examining this question in Hume's "Of the Standard of Taste": https://web.csulb.edu/~jvancamp/361r15.html

A modern explanation addressing the issue of the "Canon" and the controversy it continues to provoke can be found in the late-Professor Herman Sinaiko's essay, "Hume's 'Of the Standard of Taste': How Is the Canon Determined?" in _Reclaiming the Canon_ (1998).

Cortes

An interesting essay. Thank you.

All of us stand on the shoulders of giants whose innovations were probably scoffed at at first. And in the humanities, chaff takes a while to winnow out.

confusedponderer

Mr. Sale,
thanks for the post, it was great to read it and it was, as usual, quite inspirational and fascinating.

I also like your point about trusting your senses and mind, not what others tell you. To live up to that is actually hard and demands discipline and experience.

An example: Ever since I did my NBC course in the army and learned about the unpleasant things the course dealt with I cannot stand this occasional White Helmet type clownery about alleged 'evidence collecting' in Syria - absurdly in t-shirts and short pants.

Now, what was again about protection? I remember doing such collection things in coal filter or rubber overalls with a gas mask.

Given what I learned back then, in a real poisoned place they would be dead in their 'unsuitable dress up', and that death would come quickly and painfully.

But then, beyond the known knowns there are Rummy's nasty unknown unknowns. So, perhaps, praying a lot makes you resistant to poison? And while at it, perhaps it makes you happy and prevents dementia? Or they use an 'alternative approach', like this?

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91pdhLed20L._SY679_.jpg

I like the bottle metaphor and reading it has reminded me that one of the things I want to do in the next time is to go and uncork a bottle about "Lampyridae". You'll see.

There are two other bottles that I work on atm, but I can't quite find the time and concentration to properly finish them, and to do so in time. With one of the two I am too late and missed my intended finishing point for about what, three or four weeks. Alas, shame on me. The scond one has more time to be finished but I feel I'm late there as well.

Ah well. Thinking takes time, so does proper research and so does proper writing about things in ways that are interesant to more folks than just myself.

It's as with that marvellous White Helmet evidence of alleged Syrian chem weapons use - collected by somebody, without protection, and done so without credible verification by somebody else? Well, IMO either it's a mysterious marvel or it's ill-scripted BS. I made my choice.

JJackson

Many thanks for taking the time - keep posting either your anecdotal, or these more thought provoking pieces, and I will always read them.
As I read your art appreciation opening I was anticipating your jump-shot to the dangers of mass communication. That the mob are easily swayed, al a 'Friends, Romans, Countrymen', is long known and with mass communication we have handed a terrifying power to those with massive audiences. The lazy mind consumes regurgitated opinions and conclusion like a voracious penguin chick - why think for yourself when someone has already provide the answer. Sadly Murrow's prescient 'wires and lights in a box' speech have come to pass, and more. Not only has television been used to lobotomise rather than inform, as he feared, it is now the preferred means of mass misinformation.

LeaNder

Lyttenburgh,

Could be argued. I for one think it just a creation of something, that qualifies you as a Master. After that you might do whatever you want – you are already recognized as a Master, and no one really requires another master-piece from you. Should you create one – kudos to you! But most don’t bother. The thing is – not everything created by the Master is a masterpiece.

Something that qualifies you as master? Who decides?

Can you specify?

But I agree, I have had a pretty similar impression when I read this:

>i>It took 150 years for the greatness of Shakespeare to emerge, thanks to the Romantics.

But yes, some of the most prominent minds on my own national scene have felt urged, if that is what happened, to squeeze Shakespeare into whatever larger argumentative flight of thought.

When it gets more hard to endure, or they seem to be simply mis-using Shakespeare's name to prove whatever point, I contact them. The latest in this context was Peter Sloterdijk:

https://petersloterdijk.net/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_texts_of_Shakespeare%27s_works#/media/File:Bad_quarto,_good_quarto,_first_folio.png

richard sale

Just because you haven't heard about it, doesn't mean it isn't fact. all my conclusions are based on scholars and historians.

Richard Sale

richard sale

Thank you for your comments and taking the time to read it.

Richard

richard sale

Thank you.

Richard

richard sale

Thank you.

Richard

Babak Makkinejad

Richard Sale:
Certainly the history of Persian literature attests to the veracity of your main point; of the hundreds of Persian poets recorded in extant histories of poets - tazkarit al sho'ara - precious few have survived the selective sieve of Time.

RDC

Much communication -- visual / aural / literary -- takes place within a fog of conventions, only some based on truth. During an initial time frame, these communications may seem truthful statements, but over time the conventions evolve and the communication is perceived as flawed, sometimes false.

Masterpieces endure because they are firmly based on truth. Jane Austen wrote in a very different Regency Age and very different Regency Fog from our own. But her grasp of enduring human character is so sure that she speaks to us clearly and truthfully.

Shakespeare is a slightly different case, constrained as he was by censors and hostile power, which ultimately forced his retirement. But he too had a firm grasp on truth and his characters vibrate with recognizable human life facing recognizable dilemmas.

Lyttenburgh

“Something that qualifies you as master? Who decides?
Can you specify?”

During so-called Middle Ages, with the Guild structure and all that, other Masters reviewed the work of the promising Journeyman to decide whether it qualifies as a Masterpiece, i.e. as a ticket to their top-tier of the Guild.

Nowadays it is mostly the same with small caveat, that beyond the areopagus of Masters themselves (be they recognized gurus or sensei from the field of Literature, Cinematograph, Science or whatever) we have the Time itself (the Master-piece must be able to overcome it and be truly “timeless”) but also a new factor, which is touched upon in this blogpost. I’m talking about the popularity, but not the general popularity among the hoi polloi – I’m talking about the popularity among the qualified target audience, for whom those Masters labour and thanks to whom they really exist, from whose trust they derive their right to be called “Masters” in the first place.

Can you name me a contemporarily Hollywood film director, who has more than one masterpiece under his belt? I can only name two – Speilberg and Cameron, who are hardly a “newcomers”. Everyone else either have one such masterpiece, or none at all, instead relying on “blokbuster” status of their easily forgettable works.

Lyttenburgh

"all my conclusions are based on scholars and historians."

Okay - who are they? I understand that just becuase I didn't heard about them it doesn't mean that it is untrue. But if you heard about it, why not share with us?

Lyttenburgh

To elaborate on my previous analogy as to what counts as a “Master-piece” – the whole problem with this current crisis, when the cheap popularity in the here and now have become the only thing that matters, is that the very system of issuing “Master-piece” degrees is in deep crisis and transition period. The Guild analogy I suggested previously, also assumes that it is replaced by mass producing universal, one size-fits-all, factory. As it appeals to the much broader pool of those, who consume their produce, then, therefore, the Masters are beholden to the opinion of a bigger pool of those from whom they derive their legitimacy. And, as we all now, the vast majority of everything is… well, you know what Kurt Vonnegut said about this.

So, yes – the popularity, cheap fleeting popularity counts, because people make it real. That’s a statement of a fact. That’s admitting the reality.

Mahatma Propagandhi

"But if you heard about it, why not share with us?"

So, you expect citations buttressing every assertion in Mr Sale's thought-provoking essay? The best writing inspires curiosity, not burying it in unwieldy blocks of supporting links and footnotes more suitable to a scientific paper.

Those whose curiosity he inspires would do better to satisfy it themselves than to demand the author do it for them.

Lyttenburgh

"So, you expect citations buttressing every assertion in Mr Sale's thought-provoking essay? "

For the most of them - yes. Especially for the one's that are provoking me to think - "I doubt that which is claimed to be true".

"Those whose curiosity he inspires would do better to satisfy it themselves than to demand the author do it for them."

That's rather anti-intellectual approach. With all due repsect, Mr. Sale is no prophet through whose moouth speaks the Divie.

Mahatma Propagandhi

"That's rather anti-intellectual approach."

No, it's an anti-hectoring approach. If a writer asserts something you doubt, look it up yourself instead of endlessly whining about his or her failure to prove every word written.

Lyttenburgh

" If a writer asserts something you doubt, look it up yourself instead of endlessly whining about his or her failure to prove every word written."

That's the definition of the anti-intellectualism - to accept everything said to you verbatim, as if these were Holy Truths.

What if I laready serched high and wide and didn't find anything to support any of these claims which I questioned?

turcopolier

Lyttenburgh

Do you have any appreciation of literature; Tolstoy, Pushkin, Turgenev, etc.? pl

tpcelt

My observation is that the great artists are those interested in experimenting with "what would happen if" and "I wonder if I can achieve this effect". For example, Edward Hopper experimenting with contrasts between indoor and outdoor settings occurring at the same time...Monet and the waterlillies...pretty much anything Van Gogh and Remembrant. Of course, they want to eat and sell what they produce, but I think their "masterpieces" do not necessaily emanate from a desire to create for the ages a lasting "masterpiece". The lucky ones have a patron or a Theo. Others were those who subsidized their efforts through their professional occupations...Chekov did it as a doctor who did, among other efforts, a stint on a nasty, misqueto-infected (sp?) prison, or artists with patrons.

I do, however, think the fate of "popular" artists you discuss really pertain to our modern day. Patrons and investors do not seem to invest in efforts that lack clear commercial value without a short-term return or social applause. Older-school great artists who achieved within this system, to me, are few: Tennessee Williams, Quincy Jones, James Baldwin, Monk, Hitchcock, Jelly-Roll Morton, John Huston, Billlie Holiday, Barbara Stanwyck, Frances Ford Coppola, etc. Today? Maybe Sarah Palin/Molly Ivinsfor their linguistic riffs; maybe Gaga? Hard to say.

With respect to Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Turgenev, I am sadly less familiar with respect to their placement in the pantheon. I guess I would add Gorky and Sergei Eisenstein. However, while I appreciate their work, I lack the experience to assess.


tpcelt

Mark Twain?

Fred

Lyttenburgh,

"...the popularity, cheap fleeting popularity counts, because people make it real."

Just as Ortega pointed out in "The Revolt of the Masses".

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

July 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad