Saturday, September 26, 2009

is this really three in one?

that's what she said.

Anyway. My room is mostly decorated, and mostly clean (on my side) right now. I went grocerey shopping today; I returned stuff. Much better day than yesterday, which was just a huge disaster on a massive scale-- one of those days that worries me for my future self. If I don't escape from the scrapes that I am continually putting myself into then I fear they will only get worse, but that is not what I feel like thinking about right now.

One of my favorite songs about pain is John Lennon's "God", which doesn't get talked about all that much, except sometimes by the chapman guy who shot him. Sometimes I think about how Lennon died and I'm just surprised-- really, that someone that iconic was taken down by a chubby weirdo who now seems to be a form of Alex DeLarge, that he never escaped from Yoko (was it better that way?). I've read so much about John Lennon in the past three or four years that I have a strange sense about him-- you know how no matter what you always seem to have a feeling about some celebrity or other?-- I get this sense of tragedy to match his wit. He was so brilliant but so self-loathing, so wanting someone to take care of him. How else could you explain a genius being in the situations he was in at various times? He seemed far superior to the other Beatle-minds, and way too intelligent to be taken in by people like Yoko or sexy sadie or what have you? What a restless mind. He wanted to be taken in, he wanted everything that sounded ridiculous and fantastic to be true, but everytime he came up empty he'd berate the beauty of the attraction in the first place, he'd chastise what he viewed as sirens for pulling him in, when really he was the one listening, willing to listen to them every single time.

that was a totally off-base stream of conciousness and not at all what i wanted to write about, but the song came on and it gave me that feeling it always does. i can't believe songwriters die. good songwriters-- good writers-- good musicians-- good artists-- should simply deny others the crown and live forever. it's not right taht artists should die. it's just not. how on earth can we connect so often to someone who no longer breathes? and yet we do. i think it has something to do with the soul, however you wish to interpret that.


So I have to write a short paper thingy about Plato's views on art and aesthetics, and while I understood (and relished) the reading I have no idea where to go with that. I'm going to stream of conciousness here.

So Plato says:

- Art is imitation
- Art is the lowest form of a "thing", the 3rd version of it (it's natural state, its tangible state, and then... art)
- Art is either useless because it has no social utility OR
- Art is falsifying, appealing to the lowest part of the soul, because it may incite a distorted view or bad behavior as a result of misunderstanding.
- A: it may incite a distorted view for the less educated because we are fooled into thinking we are being educated but rather we are just enjoying diversions. Because storytellers, artists, imitate without knowing the natural or tangible state of the thing that they are imitating, they may be presenting something entirely false, or at least somewhat "angled"-- as in a painting of a bed. depending on the angle at which the bed is painted, the perspective of the bed will appear to change, but that is not necessarily what a real-life bed really IS. Then, later, when we see a bed, we may not recognize it or think it to be something else. The same can be said of virtue, beauty, good things and bad things (don't do bad things, only do good things...)
- B: It may arouse in us passion, but passion isn't beneficial. it makes us behave rashly.

this is kind of confusing, because he essentially calls it evil.
then he goes on in Ion to talk about how it can be divine, from the gods, which is funny because according to plato nothing from the gods could be bad-- in fact, if it is inspired-- created? by the gods does that mean it is a new "thing", a "thing" all to itself? Ie, the first manifestation of something natural rather than the third version of something; a pure imitation? And Plato doesn't say this specifically, but one would reason that aside from imitation there IS creation in art, even then, obviously-- but because of its invention is it then a lie and therefore evil? OR woulc he argue that there actually is nothing new under the sun, there cannot be creation outside of what the gods have already created-- everything, therefore, is imitation of their natural creations??

Bottom line (2): Art is imitation and therefore bad. Artists are imitators of the lowest form and therefore know nothing except how to imitate.

Obviously, I have alot of objections to this approach, but not none that can be approached using the constructs that Plato has arranged. He promotes censorship; but to achieve his ends of an ideal city full of obidient people, people of one mind, one cannot deny that his approach is fairly sound. Most other objections are rooted in the idea that passion is healthy and good, and not just rash and dangerous, as Plato asserts at every given moment.

I suppose my major objection to Plato's declaration that art is "bad" is this: Plato says passion isn't beneficial, and passion can be a result of art. To me, it seems as though being exposed to living passionately is a large part of being human- human in a POSITIVE sense rather than a reckless and useless way. Plato's approach to life seems to center around virtue, which is noble and true, but he assumes that passion has nothing to do with virtue. Can not one be passionate about virtue?

One thing I may say is that a writer or painter may know his procedure-- his craft being how to wield a pen or brush, and, while it's true that if a writer wrote about surgeons that he is imitating what he may vaguely understand or have researched-- but I would argue that an artist- a good artist, at least- does have a skill of understanding and insight. From my perspective, Plato sort of fears humanity-- he wants to educate it and put it away, reason it into civility, but in doing that isn't he also trying to understand it, to analyze it and to improve it? Is he not making observations about men and trying to make sense of them? Isn't that what all good art does? Is not art, in a sense, philosophy? And in that case, isn't an artist, depicting his understanding of humanity with his own personal insight, putting forth a concept just as Plato does in his dialogues? It is arguable that the artist draws no conclusions, but according to Plato who declares that art can alter opinion via emotion art DOES put forth a statement (ie a tragedy-- this is sad, or a frightening painting-- this is scary), just like Plato's philosophy (ie philosophy of aesthetics-- art is bad. art can be dangerous). I suggest that artists are philosophers too, albeit with a more emotional approach (which, yes, Plato would condemn most of the time for being passionate-- but then again he does seem to agree that emotion may be Divine), and therefore possess knowledge similiar to that of a philosopher-- it is simply expressed differently.

No comments: