Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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Those "appeals to transcendent values" have a kind of ritual function, don't you think? Who could be against truth and beauty? We know that they are somehow the ultimate goal of art, (right?) so let's throw in a few appeals, as vague and non-commital as possible. Most readers won't bother to parse them. I'm surprised he just didn't just quote Keats.

marly y.

A healthy reminder:

"All the things you can talk about in anyone’s work are the things that are least important. It’s like the ballet. You can describe the externals of a performance—everything, in fact, but what really constituted its core. Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what’s important is left after you have explained everything else. Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable."

--from Edward Gorey, "Ascending Peculiarity"

I like that, though it doesn't keep us from wanting to "talk about" whether and why creation succeeds (or does not) in capturing new life.


Hmm. What about religious art, intended to facilitate meditation, devotion, etc.? Or does that not count as an "action"? There are many great paintings of the crucifixion, but surely their purpose is as much "instrumental" as it is aesthetic...

Dan Green

Undeniably there is religious art whose purpose is (was) in part "instrumental." The religious art we still admire turns out to have greater aesthetic than propagandistic appeal. This has to be because its creators were more committed to their art than to the propaganda.


Or could it be that a commitment to one's art is in service to the propaganda? I don't think they're mutually exclusive. Maybe it wouldn't make sense to paint so well unless it was in the service of a greater (and not necessarily "instrumental") idea. After all, one would want to be a pretty masterful painter if one were both depicting and trying to please a deity.

(tangent, I know, but interesting)

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