All posts for Uncategorized / General in September 2015

Hunting High And Low Dept.

Different art, different critical standards? Maybe not.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-09-26 17:00:00 No comments

Somewhere along the way in my reading in years past, I'm not positive where, I came across the assertion that we need separate critical standards for "high" & "low" art. The face of the assertion alone was already causing my knee to jerk hard enough to kick the underside of the table I was sitting at. I couldn't figure out why at the time I was instinctively rejecting the theory; I think now I know why.

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Tags: art criticism critics entertainment

Someone Who Cares Dept.

Here’s a Quarter | Whatever ... after a certain point, it may become obvious that some people just want to complain, or to be angry, or to be an asshole, or whatever, and that nothing a reasonable person can do...

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-09-18 02:00:00 No comments

Here’s a Quarter | Whatever

... after a certain point, it may become obvious that some people just want to complain, or to be angry, or to be an asshole, or whatever, and that nothing a reasonable person can do will ever make those people happy or satisfied. So you give them a quarter, metaphorically or otherwise, and tell them to call someone who cares. Because you have other things to do. And then you go on doing those things you need to do. They won’t be happy, but then they were never going to be happy, and it’s not your responsibility to fix their problem — “their problem” not being whatever specific complaint or grievance they might have, but a worldview that requires them to always have a complaint or grievance, and/or to believe that the root of that complaint is somehow about you. That’s something for therapy, perhaps, not for you, or anyone else who isn’t getting paid by the session. 

One of the toughest things to swallow about Buddhism, and one of the things I think that turns a lot of people away from it (mostly people who, from what I see, have no idea what they're getting into when they start studying it in earnest), is that one of its implied lessons is that if there's a problem, it's always your problem.

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Tags: Buddhism psychology sociology

Crowded Garage Dept.

There's less room than ever for a big movie to fail.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-09-11 14:00:00 No comments

The Crowding-Out Effect of Gargantuan Movies - The New York Times

For years, Hollywood has pursued event-style movies intended to play to everyone — old and young, male and female, domestic and foreign. (“Old” is defined by the studios as anyone over the age of 35.) But some of these offerings have grown so colossal that other movies, even very expensive and heavily marketed ones that receive decent reviews, are having a hard time getting noticed.

Emphasis mine. On the other hand, Universal has been making a case for the mid-budget film on a level that hasn't been seen in some time: Straight Outta Compton has set various box-office records, and most of their hits apart from Furious 7 were mid-market, mid-budget creations developed in-house and not adapted from other material (e.g., a comic franchise). So perhaps the top end will end up becoming a victim of its own success, and the concept of the "event film" as something other than a special-effects-centric action vehicle can come back into the public consciousness a bit? One can hope.

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Tags: moviegoing movies

The Smartest Guys In The Medium Dept.

"...the doctrine that the genius must be in advance of his time is almost wholly false and vicious..."

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-09-10 14:00:00 No comments

Karl Popper's speculations about the rise of polyphonic music.

... the doctrine that the genius must be in advance of his time is almost wholly false and vicious, and opens up the universe of art to evaluations which have nothing to do with the values of art. Intellectually, both theories are on such a low level that it is astonishing that they were ever taken seriously. The first can be dismissed as trivial and muddled on purely intellectual grounds, without even looking more closely at art itself. The second-the theory that art is the expression of the genius in advance of his time-can be refuted by countless examples of geniuses genuinely appreciated by many patrons of the arts of their own time. Most of the great painters of the Renaissance were highly appreciated. So were many great musicians. ... 

I think that success in life is largely a matter of luck. It has little correlation with merit, and in all fields of life there have always been many people of great merit who did not succeed. Thus it is only to be expected that this happened also in the sciences and in the arts.

The theory that art advances with the great artists ... is not just a myth; it has led to the formation of cliques and pressure groups which, with their propaganda machines, almost resemble a political party or a church faction.

... There may be something in the ambition to write a great work; and such an ambition may indeed be instrumental in creating a great work, though many great works have been produced without any ambition other than to do one's work well. But the ambition to write a work which is ahead of its time and which will preferably not be understood too soon-which will shock as many people as possible-has nothing to do with art, even though many art critics have fostered this attitude and popularized it. 

Emphases mine. I came to these comments fresh off having read Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies, and they are among the most unsentimental and unsparing things I have read on the subject. If anything, they only further reinforce my feeling that the main reason to make art is to make art, and not to hedge bets about its public appeal.

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Tags: Karl Popper aesthetics art avant-garde science

Breaking The Roaring Silence Dept.

I disappear, I reappear.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-09-08 15:00:00 No comments

I spent all of last week, with some days on both sides, traveling for both work and vacation, and deliberately avoided plugging myself back into the World Digital Brain Grid for the duration of the runaround. This included blogging, but I'm back now, so you can expect regularly scheduled service to resume right about ... now.

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Tags: real life

Politaesthetics Dept.

Why "I don't care who wrote it, I only care if it's good" is disingenuous apoliticism.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2015-09-03 14:00:00 No comments

One of the things I heard bruited around during the recent dust-up over the Hugos was something generally spoken by people who were either avowedly apolitical, or clandestinely reactionary (and sometimes not even aware they were being so). The line typically went something like this: I don't care who wrote a story, I care whether or not it's good.

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Tags: politics science fiction writing

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