Michael Daniel Core C – Aesthetics 2/19/2006 Bruno Walter posed the question, “is transcendental significance an essential attribute

of music or does it only pertain to it’s highest manifestations?” He answered the question by saying that the characteristics of a musical piece depend upon the characteristics of the composer. If music is atonal, or breaks the traditional rules of musical grammar then noise, or “nonmusic” is created. Walter further said that the most significant trait of music is the striving of dissonance towards resolution in the consonance, however, consonance always wins out. Walter stated that, “music… springs from, and is replenished by, a hidden source that lies outside the world of reality.” Later on he stated that, “The art of music, born of cosmic origin…” These two statements are inconsistent. The cosmos is definitely within the world of reality. Nothing can both exist and not exist simultaneously. Hegel discussed how music differs from the representational arts. He said that the representational arts (painting, sculpture) display objects, while music displays emotions. Music can do this thru either strict absolutist adherence to structure or it can do this by being directed by the composer’s feelings. He said that the theme in music should be an independent element that can stand on its own. Sound operates mainly within the dimension of time. The inner consciousness of the audience is the medium in which music works, as music has the power to effect the audience’s emotions. Hegel said that the representational arts “portray the human being in its universal and idealized form.” This is false. Even at the time Hegel wrote this, there were many instances of visual art that represent humans in less than ideal forms. Simply look at the

many paintings in the churches around Europe and you will see images of people affected by the black plague, along with images of torture, rape, madness and all forms of ugliness. Granted, the ideal form is present as well, but it is not the only form of man that painting is capable of producing. Ayn Rand asked the question, “What are the valid forms of art – and why these?” Her answer was that, “The proper forms of art present a selective re-creation of reality in terms needed by man’s cognitive faculty, which includes his entity-perceiving senses, and thus assist in the integration of various elements of a conceptual consciousness.” By way of making her point she went thru each form of art systematically and showed how the artist does this. The fundamental building block of art is the concept. The concept is a building block of entities. For example, an apple has the concept of being red and the concept of being round, etc. Every entity can be broken down into discrete concepts (reminds me of Locke’s epistemology). The artist picks and chooses which of these concepts they will include in their work. In the visual arts, the work of art should communicate the essential characteristics of the entity which they are portraying. Rand said that music works differently from the other arts because it creates an emotion in the audience. The process by which this is done is as follows: “from perception – to conceptual understanding – to appraisal – to emotion.” (Did Jourdain get his chapter headings from this?) When we listen to music we try to integrate the notes in order to make sense of them, as, “integration is a cardinal function of man’s consciousness.” (I think this is a direct quote from Locke’s “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”) Music that can’t be integrated is noise. We can’t be objectively correct or incorrect when we describe music because we lack a conceptual vocabulary

with which to describe it. Two people can listen to the same music and both agree that the music is sad, but one person may say that it is great music and the other may say that the music is terrible. This is because the individual’s reaction is determined by their “psycho-epistemological sense of life.” In other words, a sad person may enjoy music played in a minor key more than a happy person would. The evaluation of music is subjective. Rand went on to attack photography. She said that photography is the result of working with utilitarian objects and that utilitarian objects cannot be classified as works of art. By saying that she contradicted herself because she said that art should fit our need to integrate concepts. If we use something to fit a need then by definition that thing is utilitarian, even if that need happens to be somewhat abstract. She said that film can be art and says that says that Lang was a great artist because he was, “the only one who has fully understood the fact that visual art is an intrinsic part of films in a much deeper sense than the mere selection of sets and camera angles.” I am a huge fan of Fritz Lang, however, I have seen footage that predates Lang that looks more like classical paintings than normal film. “Woman with a Vase” is a prime example. Rand’s attack on modern art is problematic and full of ad hominem attacks. She calls modern artists thugs. She makes thinly veiled puns at the expense of deconstruction when she throws a paragraph in about “decomposition” and “disintegration.” I call it a thinly veiled pun because I can’t think of any other reason to put that paragraph where she did (p. 76). It doesn’t fit with the rest of the argument at all. It is a literary poisoned dart aimed directly at deconstructionists and post-structuralists. I do enjoy reading that style of writing, however it is still an example of the explaining by naming fallacy.