|Posted by Andrew - January 24, 2007 - 21:18|
cave!I have not yet addressed aesthetics here, and although David's posts are informed by discussions we've had, they are not particularly representative of my views. I'm reluctant to write about aesthetics since I've never studied them formally ... however, I have very stong feelings about the power of aesthetic sensibility to elevate the soul (as it were), and can stay silent no longer.
Aesthetic response has precious little to do with the acquisition of knowledge. Reading critical analyses of artworks may be interesting, but the knowledge can not induce the experience, it can only reflect on it, and generally quite ineffectually since it does so through expository language, and the most acutely aesthetic art forms are not discursive. Giving them a narrative context, even if it was actually the artist's own, does not even in the best case add much to the aesthetic experience, and as often damages it.
It is true that the seeker of knowledge by keeping an attentive mind and fresh impressions may be more receptive to new or deeper transports, but this is an indirect (and far from necessary) tool. Let us consider three of the most immortal and universally admired artists in Western history:
I definitely maintain that modern scientific attitudes, and art-critical ones, are a threat to aesthetic sensibility and anyone who values art deeply should be wary of knowledge-mongering and polemics. Not everything is enhanced by rationalisation, great art being a prominent case in point.