A couple of points:
Music does not present objectively identifiable, intelligible subjects and meanings.
1. That is not an Objectivist position, or a statement Rand ever made.
Rand's recognition that there is not an objective "conceptual language of music" is the recognition that music does not present objectively identifiable, intelligible subjects and meanings, as is her statement that music "cannot tell a story, it cannot deal with concretes, it cannot convey a specific existential phenomenon."
Jake, are you saying that you believe that a medium which lacks a "conceptual language" and which cannot "convey existential phenomena" can be called "objective," and that it can present "intelligible subjects and meanings"?
2. There is nothing that fits that description (and that is the Objectivist position, there is no limit on our ability to get to know reality), so the statement cannot be true.
Yet when it comes to visual abstraction and composition, I'm suddenly supposed to not only believe that there is
a limit on "our" ability to get to know reality, but that I and others don't experience what we experience because you or Rand don't experience it as well?
Here's the problem: In pondering the effects of music, Rand says that a man "experiences it as an indivisible whole, he feels as if the magnificent exaltation were there, in the music – and he is helplessly bewildered when he discovers that some men do experience it and some do not." But she also asserts that the "color symphonies" of abstract visual art produce "nothing, in the viewer's consciousness, but the boredom of being unemployed." Which is not true of all men. Just as "some men" do not experience what Rand experienced when listening to music, Rand did not experience what I and others experience when looking at abstract paintings, and she arbitrarily dismissed our experiences simply because she did not experience them. Rather than considering the possibility that she was among the "some men who do" when it came to music, but among the "some men who don't" when it came to abstract art, she imposed her personal responses (or lack thereof) as the universal standard, and claimed to know the content of others' consciousnesses, despite the fact that they have very clearly testified that they were very stimulated by abstract art -- as stimulated as Rand claims to have been by music -- and anything but "bored" from being "unemployed."
there are no objective criteria by which to judge it
True, but that's a statement about our (current) knowledge of music, not music.
So your view is that music doesn't have to be currently
objective, but we can simply assert that it will be objective at some point in the future, and you imagine that the same device can't be applied to abstract visual art? Do you think that those who experience strong emotions and deep meanings when looking at abstract paintings can't apply the same method and assert the notion that, despite our current limits of knowledge of abstract visuals, someday someone will discover an "objective conceptual language" of abstract art, and therefore abstract paintings should also currently qualify as art along with music?
Besides, what's the point of you suggesting we apply this to paintings, when Ayn Rand made the statement exclusively about music (and explained in what way music is different from visual arts, and why it is possible to enjoy it without conceptualizing it)
The point is that it's also possible for people to enjoy abstract visual art on the level that Rand enjoyed music "without conceptualizing it." It may not be possible for you
to enjoy abstract art, or for Rand
, or for many others, but your lack of emotional response is not the universal standard by which to determine what is or is not art, just as the "some men" who don't experience what Rand experienced while listening to music are not the standard by which to determine whether or not music is art. Your method comes across as an attempt to deny others' abilities and sensitivities because you don't possess them -- if you don't experience something, why, then no one else does either, and they're either lying or delusional if they say that they do. The idea that Jake or Rand might have some limitations compared to others when it comes to the appreciation of visual composition is apparently not a possibility to be considered.
and made this other statement about the visual arts:
As a re-creation of reality, a work of art has to be representational; its freedom of stylization is limited by the requirement of intelligibility; if it does not present an intelligible subject, it ceases to be art.
That wasn't a statement about only the visual arts. It was a statement about Rand's requirements for all
of the arts. The requirement of intelligibility in all art is one of the reasons that it's important for Objectivism to assert that one day an objective language of music will be identified: the possibility that music is ultimately, by its nature, not a purely objective medium is apparently an idea that is not to be entertained.
I'm sorry, but you're not following Ayn Rand's lead by accepting the unintelligible in art, you are missing her point about both the visual arts and music.
If there can be different criteria for different art forms -- if music can be art despite not currently fitting Rand's definition and criteria for all art, if some art forms don't have to be directly mimetic or intelligible, or if some art forms don't have to "re-create reality" -- then visual art can be subdivided according to different criteria as well: Realistic visual art can be said to be that which presents identifiable likenesses of things from reality, but abstract art achieves its effects in a different way: it's a compositional artform which, like music, affects "some men" by directly stimulating their emotions through an objective means that has yet to be discovered and identified.
I could've sworn you were talking about the paintings that are the subject of the other thread. I still can, actually. But, if you changed your mind, and no longer wish to apply Rand's statements about music to paintings, then never mind, and congratulations for reconsidering.
What I was doing was expecting to be able to apply Rand's definitions, criteria and principles to all art, or to apply her exceptions to all art. I don't think it makes sense to have definitions and criteria, and then ignore them or have all sorts of exceptions which are applied selectively or abritrarily.
If something ceases to be art because it does not present an objectively intelligible subject, then music is not art, since it doesn't present an objectively intelligible subject. If music is art despite the fact that some men don't experience anything while listening to it, then abstract visual art is art despite the fact that some men don't experience anything while viewing it. Is art a "selective re-creation of reality" which excludes utilitarian objects? If so, then architecture, which Rand said does not "re-create reality," and which is utilitarian, is not art according to her definition and criteria. Or, if architecture can be an artform in a special "class by itself" despite not "re-creating reality" and being utilitarian, then other utilitarian objects which don't "re-create reality" can also be art in special classes by themselves. Etc.
Edited by Jonathan13, 12 February 2010 - 02:09 PM.