Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Further Consideration

Was thinking of the nature of art the other day, partly prompted by my sudden realisation that I might have to lecture on this very topic for our Year 6 students quite early in the new year, but also due to two strands of my reading.

I completed Joyce's Portrait and was reminded of just how good that stretch of dialogue is in Chapter 5 between Stephen and Lynch - though dominated, of course, by Stephen - on art and beauty. I think Stephen's definition of beauty, through Aquinas, is the single most insightful set of ideas I've ever come across regarding aesthetic experience, and this is given even greater resonance by being given a semi-ironic placing and presentation in the novel.

And then later in the day, idly browsing some blogs related to philosophical concerns, I came across this post by Mike LaBossiere with its attendant comments. In truth this all seemed a bit second rate after the electricity of Joyce at his brilliant best, but it served as a reminder of some basic, not terribly well thought through, positions people tend to take in this area.

Whenever I give myself over to consideration of these matters I get a sense that I'm dealing with something of huge importance - possibly crucial to our lives - and something that everyone knows is important. And yet somehow this area of human experience and endeavour forever lies beyond our ability to adequately conceptualise it.


Trebuchet said...

Guilty as charged. Or almost. It was a very close-run thing.

Brian Connor said...

Thanks for the link. Lucid and convincing. Guilty only of making a great deal of sense in attempting a sort of blanket definition, though I think the placing of emotion at the centre of artistic experience can be questioned - as can the placing of anything, it seems to me.

The striving to find a commonality in matters of art seems to me necessary and useful - but ultimately chimerical. Also fun, of course - perhaps the best reason for attempting it.