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Author Topic: Are we unnecessary?  (Read 16414 times)
petermfiore
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« Reply #40 on: November 04, 2013, 08:32:38 AM »
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How can I discuss with an adversary who can't value soul?

Rob C

Soul also taps into the mystery and elusiveness of art.

Peter
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Rob C
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« Reply #41 on: November 04, 2013, 09:44:36 AM »
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Soul also taps into the mystery and elusiveness of art.

Peter


When they are not being the same thing!

;-)

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2013, 03:36:26 PM »
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How can I discuss with an adversary who can't value soul?

Rob C

That's easy, Rob. You should just explain clearly and concisely what you mean by the word 'soul'. Are you referring to the meaning in its original religious context, that is, an immortal and immaterial spirit which is independent of the physical mind and body and which survives after death, or are you using the word merely as a synonym for the totality of the 'self' with its unique, individual, emotional and intellectual energy and style?

In my earlier response, I assumed your meaning was the former, because it is true that I don't claim to have any knowledge or experience of anything I could identify as an everlasting, immaterial and immortal spirit.
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Ray
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« Reply #43 on: November 07, 2013, 01:56:08 AM »
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For the benefit of those who are not satisfied with explanations of the nature of art which rely upon ill-defined concepts such as 'soul', the following quote from the freely available Project Gutenberg publication, The Psychology of Beauty by Ethel D. Puffer, might shed light on the issue.

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When I feel the rhythm of poetry, or of perfect prose, which is, of course, in its own way, no less rhythmical, every sensation of sound sends through me a diffusive wave of nervous energy. I am the rhythm because I imitate it in myself. I march to noble music in all my veins, even though I may be sitting decorously by my own hearthstone; and when I sweep with my eyes the outlines of a great picture, the curve of a Greek vase, the arches of a cathedral, every line is lived over again in my own frame.

And when rhythm and melody and forms and colors give me pleasure, it is because the imitating impulses and movements that have arisen in me are such as suit, help, heighten my physical organization in general and in particular.

It may seem somewhat trivial to say that a curved line is pleasing because the eye is so hung as to move best in it; but we may take it as one instance of the numberless conditions for healthy action which a beautiful form fulfills. A well- composed picture calls up in the spectator just such a balanced relation of impulses of attention and incipient movements as suits an organism which is also balanced—bilateral—in its own impulses to movement, and at the same time stable; and it is the correspondence of the suggested impulses with the natural movement that makes the composition good.

Besides the pleasure from the tone relations,—which doubtless can be eventually reduced to something of the same kind,—it is the balance of nervous and muscular tensions and relaxations, of yearnings and satisfactions, which are the subjective side of the beauty of a strain of music. The basis, in short, of any aesthetic experience—poetry, music, painting, and the rest— is beautiful through its harmony with the conditions offered by our senses, primarily of sight and hearing, and through the harmony of the suggestions and impulses it arouses with the whole organism.

When I read the above passage, I'm reminded of some very basic subjective conditioning of most Westerners that can influence their appreciation of a particular work of art, and that is the habit of reading from left to right. Michael Reichmann made this point in an article a few years ago. Sometimes, simply flipping an image horizontally (ie, creating a mirror image) can improve the composition and make it more aesthetically pleasing.

Our eyes (in the West) are so accustomed to this movement from left to right, that a painting or photograph with compositional lines leading the eye in the opposite direction from right to left can sometimes jar or feel a bit unsatisfying.

The same principle can apply to the direction of the lighting in an image. There's a tendency for it to be more satisfying when the light source is on the left, perhaps illuminating the right cheek of a subject in the composition.

However, there should be no hard and fast rules about such matters because the balance and harmony of the conditions and impulses of our senses are complex. For example, whilst rays of light from the upper left part of an image, illuminating the right side a subject's face, might often appear compositionally more aesthetic, there is also a sense that the left side of the face can be emotionally more expressive, whereas the right cheek tends to hide emotion, depending on the subject of course.
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Rob C
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« Reply #44 on: November 07, 2013, 05:42:14 AM »
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That's easy, Rob. You should just explain clearly and concisely what you mean by the word 'soul'. Are you referring to the meaning in its original religious context, that is, an immortal and immaterial spirit which is independent of the physical mind and body and which survives after death, or are you using the word merely as a synonym for the totality of the 'self' with its unique, individual, emotional and intellectual energy and style?

In my earlier response, I assumed your meaning was the former, because it is true that I don't claim to have any knowledge or experience of anything I could identify as an everlasting, immaterial and immortal spirit.


Might as well try to encapsulate a precise definition of what constitues art.

Soul is something you either recognize in yourself through the emotional feelings that some certain things offer you, or you do not get those signals of oneness with whatever is causing (or not) the reaction in you. Beauty in the visual is close-cousin to beauty in the blues. It's an emotional trigger that does it for you or leaves you quite unmoved.

I would hazard that he who remains largely unaffected by such stimuli is pretty low in soul.

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #45 on: November 07, 2013, 07:13:40 PM »
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Might as well try to encapsulate a precise definition of what constitues art.

Soul is something you either recognize in yourself through the emotional feelings that some certain things offer you, or you do not get those signals of oneness with whatever is causing (or not) the reaction in you. Beauty in the visusual is close-cousin to beauty in the blues. It's an emotional trigger that does it for you or leaves you quite unmoved.

I would hazard that he who remains largely unaffected by such stimuli is pretty low in soul.

Rob C

As I thought, Rob, it seems you are using the term 'soul' as a substitute for the words 'emotion', and 'feelings of harmony', perhaps in order to confer greater status on particular works of art that might inspire such feelings in certain individuals, when such works might not be considered particularly great by the standards of others.

Music is considered by many to be the purest and highest form of art, perhaps because it is able to express beauty in the most direct way, unencumbered with extraneous meanings of a practical nature. However, 'soul' music is not a particularly great type of music requiring a finely developed sense of musical appreciation on the part of the listener, as is St Mathew's Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The name 'soul music' is appropriate because of its association with the gospels which are inextricably linked to concepts of soul. But to use the term 'soul' to describe the greatness of any work of art in general is a cop-out. It's equivalent to saying, "I like this work of art. I think it's great, but I don't know why I like it, therefore I'll say it has soul, in order to create the impression that I know what I'm talking about."  Wink
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jjj
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« Reply #46 on: November 07, 2013, 07:22:52 PM »
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Soul is something you either recognize in yourself through the emotional feelings that some certain things offer you, or you do not get those signals of oneness with whatever is causing (or not) the reaction in you. Beauty in the visusual is close-cousin to beauty in the blues. It's an emotional trigger that does it for you or leaves you quite unmoved.

I would hazard that he who remains largely unaffected by such stimuli is pretty low in soul.
I met someone yesterday who says he has never read any fiction, he doesn't see the point of reading anything not factual as you cannot learn anything from it. He's not interested in anything other than documentary stuff on TV either.
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petermfiore
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« Reply #47 on: November 07, 2013, 07:25:28 PM »
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I met someone yesterday who says he has never read any fiction, he doesn't see the point of reading anything not factual as you cannot learn anything from it. He's not interested in anything other than documentary stuff on TV either.

Now there is a soulless soul.

Peter
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jjj
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« Reply #48 on: November 07, 2013, 07:34:04 PM »
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Music is considered by many to be the purest and highest form of art, perhaps because it is able to express beauty in the most direct way, unencumbered with extraneous meanings of a practical nature. However, 'soul' music is not a particularly great type of music requiring a finely developed sense of musical appreciation on the part of the listener, as is St Mathew's Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach.
What pretentious bollocks.

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The name 'soul music' is appropriate because of its association with the gospels which are inextricably linked to concepts of soul. But to use the term 'soul' to describe the greatness of any work of art in general is a cop-out. It's equivalent to saying, "I like this work of art. I think it's great, but I don't know why I like it, therefore I'll say it has soul, in order to create the impression that I know what I'm talking about."  Wink
Which basically describes exactly what you did in your previous paragraph, except you substituted a different phrase.

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jjj
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« Reply #49 on: November 07, 2013, 07:38:25 PM »
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Now there is a soulless soul.
I have to say that I was quite shocked by this stance.
He's quite a smart fellow and very good at practical problem solving, but…
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Isaac
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« Reply #50 on: November 07, 2013, 08:59:25 PM »
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... lacks imagination?
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Ray
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« Reply #51 on: November 07, 2013, 10:51:56 PM »
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What pretentious bollocks.

Sorry, jjj. You're not making any sense. What is it that you consider pretentious bollocks? My statement that many folks consider music to be the highest form of art? That's not bollocks. It's a factual statement.

Or maybe you think that my praise of Bach's St Mathew's Passion as being a finer piece of music than "Papa is a Rolling Stone" is pretentious bollocks. If that's what you mean, come out and say it. Don't hide behind obfuscation.

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Which basically describes exactly what you did in your previous paragraph, except you substituted a different phrase.

I substituted which phrase for which phrase? Again, you're not making any sense. Here is my previous paragraph.

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Music is considered by many to be the purest and highest form of art, perhaps because it is able to express beauty in the most direct way, unencumbered with extraneous meanings of a practical nature. However, 'soul' music is not a particularly great type of music requiring a finely developed sense of musical appreciation on the part of the listener, as is St Mathew's Passion by Johann Sebastian Bach.

I'm recognising here a genre of music which is aptly called soul music because of its religious associations. I also think that many folks can enjoy such music regardless of their religious views. One doesn't have to be a pious Christian to enjoy the uplifting harmony and energy of a Negro Spiritual.

On the other hand, one usually does need a musical background, or a bit of training and understanding of musical principles, and a more finely developed musical sensitivity, in order to appreciate the great musical classics by geniuses such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, and so on.

However, you're quite entitled to have the opinion that such music is a load of pretension bollocks, if that's what you meant, just as someone is entitled to the view that most modern art is a load of crap.

If you do happen to think that the music of Bach is pretentious bollocks, I would never describe you as lacking soul... just plain ignorant.

On the other hand, there are certain people who really can't appreciate any type of music. They are literally tone deaf. The condition is called amusia, and it's hereditary. I believe about 4% of the population are affected.

It would be very cruel to describe such people as lacking a soul because they are physiologically and genetically unable to appreciate music.
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jjj
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« Reply #52 on: November 08, 2013, 02:38:43 AM »
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... lacks imagination?
Not quite. He can invent stuff, but is unlikely to write a best selling vampire novel series.
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jjj
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« Reply #53 on: November 08, 2013, 03:22:56 AM »
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Sorry, jjj. You're not making any sense. What is it that you consider pretentious bollocks? My statement that many folks consider music to be the highest form of art? That's not bollocks. It's a factual statement.

Or maybe you think that my praise of Bach's St Mathew's Passion as being a finer piece of music than "Papa is a Rolling Stone" is pretentious bollocks. If that's what you mean, come out and say it. Don't hide behind obfuscation.
Obfuscation! I was extremely blunt in my post, so anything but. The fact you could not see where you were being pretentious is not obfuscation.
You do it again in this post.  
On the other hand, one usually does need a musical background, or a bit of training and understanding of musical principles, and a more finely developed musical sensitivity, in order to appreciate the great musical classics by geniuses such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, and so on.
Utter nonsense. People or do not like certain types of music (or art) and then use silly post rationalisation such as you have done to justify their tastes, some credit music as having soul others think they have more refined tastes. And of course older folk always think the music young people is proper music like the stuff they liked as kids, completely forgetting that their parents said the same dumb thing about their music.

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I substituted which phrase for which phrase? Again, you're not making any sense.
Some people use 'soul' to justify their post rationalising and others 'more refined tastes'.

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I'm recognising here a genre of music which is aptly called soul music because of its religious associations. I also think that many folks can enjoy such music regardless of their religious views. One doesn't have to be a pious Christian to enjoy the uplifting harmony and energy of a Negro Spiritual.
That's where the term originated. But the term soul to describe an aspect of music moved on from there many decades back.
The British weekly newspaper, The NME had an argument about what was or wasn't soul in music. And no joke, this debate went on for several years through the letters' page and articles.


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If you do happen to think that the music of Bach is pretentious bollocks, I would never describe you as lacking soul... just plain ignorant.
There you go with the (ironically ignorant) snobbery again. If I do not like, say Bach it has nothing to do with ignorance, it has everything to do with personal taste and very likely what era I was born in.
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Ray
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« Reply #54 on: November 08, 2013, 07:38:41 AM »
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There you go with the (ironically ignorant) snobbery again. If I do not like, say Bach it has nothing to do with ignorance, it has everything to do with personal taste and very likely what era I was born in.


Really! So you don't think that education has anything to do with appreciation of art or music and that it's all to do with personal taste and the era in which you were born? I find that very odd.

It's clear to me that personal taste is certainly a factor, as well as natural talent and intelligence, but is not the whole explanation. If two children are exposed during their upbringing to the same type of classical music and receive the same musical education, it's true that their preferences for certain composers and styles of music might well differ as they mature into adults, as a result of their individual taste. One might prefer Beethoven to Bach, the other Bach to Beethoven, or one might prefer Stravinsky, or even jazz, but I think it's extremely unlikely that one or both of them would end up not liking Bach, unless they had received a very bad and tyrannical education causing them to dislike the subjects being taught.

I've assumed it's axiomatic that the purpose of education is to foster an appreciation and understanding of the subjects being taught, whether the subjects are mathematics, science, literature, history, foreign languages, music or the visual arts.

If it's the case that a person never received a musical education, or was rarely exposed to serious music at home and never given the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument, then it's quite possible that such a person would find the music of Bach quite boring, not necessarily because he is tone deaf or has some strange taste that precludes his enjoyment of classical music, but because he's never learned to understand and appreciate the music.

A lack of learning, understanding and appreciation is called ignorance.
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Rob C
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« Reply #55 on: November 08, 2013, 09:40:00 AM »
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As far as I'm concerned, and within the limits of my personal lexicon, the term 'soul' has little to do with Motown or Stax; it describes a much wider orbit than that (you could go further back than the 50s/60s to the early 1900s blues of King Oliver and Bessie Smith's heart-jerker deliveries if you insist on musical illustrations), and touches upon literature, painting and pretty much any branch of the arts of self-expression that you like.

It's the quality something has when it transcends the simply useful, entertaining or even widely popular; it's the magical ingredient that Sinatra had over, say, Crosby. Neither was Motown... ;-) It's Chuck Berry over Bo Diddley.

Keeping it within Ray's preferred musical matrix, where his argument feels more at home, I'm sure many instrumentalists play and sight-read perfectly well, but that doesn't make them equal. That would just be mechanical competence, lacking the stardust.

In jazz, for example: Armstrong had soul, but for me, Gillespie not. Great technicians both, but that's not enough. Which also shows you that soul is a very subjective quality. Properly so.

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #56 on: November 08, 2013, 09:54:12 AM »
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As far as I'm concerned, and within the limits of my personal lexicon,...

It's equivalent to saying, "I like this work of art. I think it's great, but I don't know why I like it, therefore I'll say it has soul, in order to create the impression that I know what I'm talking about."

QED
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Rob C
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« Reply #57 on: November 08, 2013, 02:45:09 PM »
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QED


Did you, at some point in this chat, think we were talking about a science??

Rob C
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Isaac
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« Reply #58 on: November 08, 2013, 03:34:47 PM »
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Do you think aesthetics is science rather than philosophy?
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Christoph C. Feldhaim
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There is no rule! No - wait ...


« Reply #59 on: November 08, 2013, 03:53:14 PM »
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You guys have way too much time discussing silly things on forums. Go out and shoot some ...
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