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Monday, 31 August 2009

On Not Getting It.

I drift in and out of sleep when the show is on, that way I find that it makes sense. (Quote from the comments on a BBC Radio 2 Blog.)




David Lister, writing in The Independent a few days ago (26.08) and commenting on the current popularity of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, gave an amusing account of its recent rise and rise. Music generally has been more in demand it seems, which more than one commentator has attributed to the financial downturn and the need which the populace has suddenly discovered for tranquility and a spiritual dimension. Certainly music can supply both of those commodities, but The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain... I am not sure.

According to Lister it has been variously described as Hilarious. Glorious. Original. Well, just about every superlative under the sun. His comments were prompted by The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain having been given a full billing in the BBC's Promenade Concert Programme. He went along to see. The occasion occasioned great excitement, he wrote. It was a complete sell-out. There were queues all round the block, he told us. Many, including the director, had brought their own ukuleles along. He made it sound like A Last Night at the Proms.

For Lister at any rate the promise was more than the reality, it seems. He reported that atThe Ride of The Valkyries he smiled. At Beethoven's Ode to Joy he half-smiled. After that the novelty began to wear off. Finally, he admitted, he just didn't get it. Now I have to admit that I have not heard The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, so cannot pronounce upon its achievements, its musicality or anything else. Whether or not I would have got it had I been there, I have no idea. What struck me, reading Lister's column, was the universality of the experience. It is universal in the sense that it happens, has happened, to us all (hands up any brave individual who wishes to claim that he has never been in the position of not getting it) and it is universal in the sense that it is common to all the arts. Maybe there have been times when it wouldn't have been so all-embracing, but today it is.

Which leads me again (I have raised it before, as no doubt the chorus of groans, could you but hear them, would indicate) to the question of what do you do when confronted by an alleged or intended work of art that you truly do not get. I am not referring to an encounter with a piece of art that just doesn't happen to be to your taste - I can be an even bigger bore on "taste", but that's not for this post, you will be pleased to hear. No, we are not talking don't like, but truly don't get.

I have in the past waxed prosaically about the poverty of the instruction I was given at school concerning all things aesthetic. Okay it was war time and there was a dearth of good teachers, but nowhere and at no time were we given any clue as to how to approach art, poetry, drama, music or any other art form that life might one day have placed before us for our approval. So far as literature was concerned the approach was that of good old comprehension. Well do I recall moments such as the following from a reading round the class session:

Me: Lady, you are the cruellest she alive if you will lead these graces to the grave and leave the world no copy. (Quoted from memory.)

Dicky Bird: What did he mean by that, King?

Me: He wanted her to have her portrait painted, sir.

Roars of hysterical laughter from the class. (An unusual success for me.) Roars of something quite different from Dicky Bird - and the rest of the session spent sitting in the corridor.

Not the sort of teaching - nor the sort of behaviour on the part of the pupil, I admit it - likely to send you out into the world equipped to cope with the difficulties of Eliot's Waste Land or post-modern literature - and remember, as I sometimes forget, That Eliot had written The Waste Land some 25 years before this, also that we were then well into the period of Post Modernism, we who were still reading The Jackdaw of Rheims, Lochinvar and other such versifications. I never did hear any mention of Eliot within those hallowed walls, much less Ezra Pound. What chance then, that Marcel Duchamp's famous "Fountain" - for which think: urinal? might get an airing in the art room?

There is an oft reiterated question which to my mind brings this whole question sharply into focus: "Ah, but is it art?" We have all asked it at some point, I guess, if only to evade a more difficult or soul-searching response, but it is a question which says more about the questioner than the questioned, for it is saying , in effect: "Yes, I do see that this found object, or this installation, or this whatever it may be, has something about it, but please point out what it has, specifically, that rings my art bell, falls within the parameters that for me define what is and what is not art.

Art must have its boundaries. Only the true anarchist thinks otherwise, but there always will be works and artists pushing at those boundaries. It is as though we have our own internal Venn diagrams. There is a circle for art (or maybe several), one for poetry (or maybe several), another for philosophy (or maybe several), and so on. We are confronted with an installation and the brain clicks in, weighing up the possibilities, where does this one fit? Maybe it goes in one of the overlaps, it's both this and that as well...

Back in my fourth paragraph I asked the question: what do you do when confronted by an alleged or intended work of art that you truly do not get. We must have our boundaries, but surely we must keep them flexible. When something truly original comes along it will not quite fit, for it will be something you had not foreseen when drawing up those boundaries. Indeed, by definition it will be something that no one had foreseen. So what could be the response? You could ask yourself: What preconceptions do I have, what assumptions have I made in the past that are preventing me from getting it? (The answer may be none, of course, the fault may not be in you, it may be another case of the Emperor's New Clothes.) The first occasion on which I can recall the question arising was back in 1952/3. What I recall is a public furore over Reg Butler's sculpture The Unknown Political Prisoner. (Butler is shown with an earlier version of the work, in my first image.)Had it ever been built it would have risen 300 - 400 feet in the air. It was, Butler said, specifically in memory of all who died in the concentration camps. The final maquette was destroyed by a Hungarian refugee whilst it was on display at The Tate Gallery. Everyone had a view about it. Few were complimentary. I cannot recall any work of art before it being given such a high profile. Certainly nothing to do with the arts had ever caused such controversy and consternation in our rather typical (I would think) household. The media then were not what they have become since, of course, but such as they were they went to town on it. It was exhibited at The Venice Biennial and at The Tate Gallery. Everybody that I knew - and I knew no-one who was in the habit of showing any interest in, let alone speaking about art - was talking about it and asking: But it's not art - is it? I, for my part, was thinking: Mmmmmm, it's got something... but it's not sculpture! Sculpture was solid. You chipped it out of a socking great block of granite. This was something, alrighty, but not that!

But then another thought dawned, a really transformative thought (I could have written about this for my contribution two post back): it's not beautiful in the normally accepted sense. I had to come to terms - for I was by then determined to fit The Unknown Political Prisoner into my Venn diagram labelled Sculpture - with the fact that it had nothing to do with beauty per se. Nothing to do with seeing in the visual sense at all - other than the fact that you had to see it for the brain to register it. So then scrub beauty, scrub the idea that art MUST have to do with beauty, scrub the idea that sculpture has to be something solid, like a gravestone - or bigger - and then.... well, and then, what? Does accepting all those modifications to the boundaries of your mental Venn diagram open the door to something else? Is that one of the obstacles that have prevented you from getting it? Does the work now offer you something that had not occurred to you before? Does it give something by way of compensation for the treasured belief(s) you might have surrendered?

I know what Dicky Bird would have advised. He would have said to read around the subject, the artist or the work - if the latter is big enough, important enough to have had books written on it. Much more chance now, of course, with all the reference materials of the Internet at our disposal. There are those - and sometimes I am one of them - who will see a problem here. The work of art should stand by itself, without explanation, without reference to the fact that the artist's wife had just suffocated their two children or what ever. And so it should, but for those who are of another time or culture, and so not immersed in the power and spontaneity of the artist's sources, who don't know the symbolism, the history, can't see the parallels, or for those who are faced by something new in the history of art, it can help to have notes - such as those on The Waste Land, for example, though they are hardly sufficient, given the extraordinary number of references. Indeed, unless you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Eliot's references it might be considered essential to do a great deal of reading around the subject - eventually, though not for the first reading(s) I would suggest. Let it sink in first. Let the words and their cadences do their work before looking further afield.

What would Dicky Bird have made of this, I wonder: from The White Threshold by W.S.Graham.

Let me always from the deep heart
Drowned under behind my brow so ever
Stormed with other wandering, speak
Up famous fathoms well over strongly
The pacing white haired kingdoms of the sea..

I walk towards you and you may not walk away.

Always the welcome-roaring threshold
So ever bell worth my exile to
Speaks up to greet me into the hailing
Seabraes seabent with swimming crowds
All cast all mighty water dead away.

I rise up loving and you may not move away.


I know what Dicky Bird would have done. He would have written out a prose translation or equivalent of it. It wouldn't have done him much good, I think. I found it completely incomprehensible first time I encountered it. No strategy unlocked it. Only let it sink in from repeated readings did any good. (You might think that the poetic equivalent of drifting in and out of sleep. I wouldn't feel inclined to argue, but it worked for me - I think!) Whatever. You just have to find your own way in. There's no right way and wrong way. If Graham could have written it more simply, I am sure he would have. Interestingly, when I went to look up the quote, I found these words by Graham:-

The most difficult thing for me to remember is that a poem is made of words and not of the expanding heart, the overflowing soul, or the sensitive observer. A poem is made of words. It is words in a certain order, good or bad by the significance of its addition to life and not to be judged by any other value put upon it by imagining how or why or by what kind of man it was made.

I think Dicky Bird would have felt more comfortable with this from Tom Thumb by RF Langley - though maybe he should not have!

We should accept the obvious facts of physics.
The world is made entirely of particles in
fields of force. Of course. Tell it to Jack. Except it
doesn't seem to be enough tonight. Not because
he’s had his supper and the upper regions are
cerulean, as they have been each evening
since the rain. Nor just because it’s nine PM and
this is when, each evening since we came, the fifty
swifts, as passionately excited as any
particles in a forcefield, are about to end
their vesper flight by escalating with thin shrieks
to such a height that my poor sight won’t see them go.
Though I imagine instantly what it might be
to separate and, sleeping, drift so far beyond
discovery that any flicker which is left
signs with a scribble underneath the galaxy.

If you're still with me, you deserve a medal, but instead I am giving you a challenge: to find something that would not normally be associated with art, poetry or music but which when brought into focus by you begins to work on you in some way that might make it a candidate for one of the art circles in your inner Venn diagram. Which is to say, can you find a piece of found art? It could be a phrase on a corn flake packet, a snatch of conversation overheard in a shop, a mis-shapen potato, a smashed-up car or a workman's tool of some sort. It might be a sequence of sounds recorded on a country walk. (No, why country? Might just as easily be in some town centre.) You get the idea, I'm sure. Something that did not start out as a piece of art, but which, now that you have picked it out and shone your light upon it, begins to act like one. I, for my part, am going to cheat. I already have mine. Two posts ago I posted some pictures from a day spent at Wisley. One of many remarkable interludes from that day was walking among the fruit trees. At one point we sat down for a few moments. A family came by, and one member of it, a girl of - I would guess - about eight years, was pointing to the pears and saying what they suggested to her. (Thinking back to my childhood and climbing ladders to pick the fruit, I could not but be impressed by the fact that all - and I do mean all - of it was within reach, could be picked from the ground, most of it by a child.) This particular child was letting her imagination rip: this pear was an old man's head; another was sand castle. Amnd then this:
Look mum, a honey bubble dripping from a spoon! So we could argue about the word dripping being used of a bubble; maybe she had conflated two images, but not only was the phrase couched as a perfect iambic pentameter, but she spoke it rhythmically and the image was exactly right: the colour, the shape, and the sun imparting to it the appearance of a slight translucence. So it's not a world-beater, but if I come up with a better one, I'll post it for sure.

35 comments:

Leatherdykeuk said...

Would that i could turn such pretty phrases.

Lovely post, Dave.

Friko said...

Hi Dave, this is a post that needs as many compartments to any comment as it has in the article itself.
One- instrument- orchestras are an abomination. I sat through a harp concert once ( a thousand strings or some such rubbish); I didn't leave but after the first two pieces my neighbour and I spent the rest of the performance giggling uncontrollably.

Next: - school and teachers are for whetting the appetite, for arousing curiosity, for introducing the child to the world of art and culture in tiny bites, in other words, for creating minds to absorb, query and explore the wonders of the world (in every sense) in adulthood.

Dicky Bird has done a reasonable job with you, He has helped to make you into the person who blogs as you have done here.

All art is valuable, 'beauty' is not necessarily a yardstick. If it makes you think, discuss it, react to it, the artist has achieved his aim.

Two swallows perched on the edge of the gutter; mother bird chiding and chirping, fledgling shuffling precariously. Fledgling hurls itself into nothingness; a flurry of wings, they are gone.

I am standing beneath, recording it.

The Weaver of Grass said...

As usual, Dave, you have given my brain enough exercise to last me all week. Very interesting, though. As far as the ukulele orchestra goes then it sounds to
me as though it was better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
As regards the "teaching" of art appreciation - I don't think you can do that. You can give your students wide experience of art, opportunity to discuss it, experiences of touching, handling objects and the like - you give them the enquiring mind - they
interpret it.
As for things acting like a piece of art, out here in the countryside I come across them all the time:
The neolithic axe head we found on our farm - whenever I handle its smoothness I am transported back to that time in my head. I admire its shape, its colour - everything about it but most of all the feeling it gives me. And maybe that word "feeling" in its widest possible sense is the key here. Every one of the things I see on my walks - the rose hips, the swallow on the wire, the floating seed heads of rose bay willow herb - they all give me an intense feeling. So I ask myself - if Elizabeth Blackadder (my favourite nature painter) painted a rosebay seed it would undoubtedly be a work of art - so why not the seed itself? Abd what about a snowflake?
Sorry to ramble on but really you have opened up the metaphorical can of worms here and given me food for thought through to Friday. Thanks for that.

ladytruth said...

It is so very true that our "boundaries" need to stay flexible; how else will we then grow and develop as people or people who appreciate any form of art? As for the challenge: I'm still working on that one ;)

Jim Murdoch said...

A while ago, before my CD collection took over my bookcases, I had a wall dedicated to my cassette tapes. Now I've had to reduce that half a wall and double them up. But before this I had three shelves each divided into six sections and on each of these sections I put something I had found in the street, a toy car, a leg off what I suspect was an Action Man, an acorn – you get the idea. None of these items was art but assembled this way they became art. Art is about context. You show a picture of the (in)famous latrine which became art because it was removed from its normal setting. Well, this was the same. Now all those bits and pieces are in a shoebox. They're stopped being art. Now they're just rubbish that I should really throw out. Actually there's one left, a little model of the Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine. He was a kid's toy but now he's a tiny statue.

willow said...

I don't get it.

(giggles, just kidding...I couldn't resist)

lunardancer said...

When it comes to art, I believe that the images we see as the final output is a way of expressing the existence and the nature of the idea or emotion that evoked them in the beginning. And these ideas would vary in accordance to the limitations of the artist's perception and depth of feeling who function as the mediums through which these ideas/emotions manifest themselves. Hence, every work of art is determined and gauged on standards created by itself alone. My affinity with words and images has been with me and a part of me all my life, yet up to this moment I am still amused and fascinated with the process through which I create. And I have to admit that up to now, I have no way of properly defining why these ideas come to mind or how I get around to doing them. I just know that they are there, and when I start wielding my pen or my brush, I just follow the rhythm, the voice of that idea or emotions that speaks through my soul and drives my hand to express its image and confirm its existence through me.

lakeviewer said...

This is a topic for a dissertation, Dave. It, the topic, is itself illuminated to such a degree, aggrieved and stretched, to have become an artistic expression, as your readers above have divined.

But the challenge you pose is a great exercise. I shall indulge and return with an example.

Tabor said...

I did post a comment but for some reason it disappear into the space of pixels. Maybe it is a work of art somewhere. Anyway, the gist of my comment was that my ego gets in the way of appreciating accepted art. Art has to touch me. If I don't get it, I just accept that and am to self-centered to spend time trying to read around the object and learn more. It is perhaps my loss, but that is the way it is.

My art suggestion was a twisted gray sprig of vine that I found in my linty jacket pocket one fall. I have kept it on the window sill in my kitchen because it still is lovely to me.

Derrick said...

Hi Dave,

If you would like to experience the ukulele orchestra, you might like to look at this posting done by another firend a while ago. I enjoyed hearing some of their pieces but imagine an entire evening might not work.

http://shoutingatstreetlights.blogspot.com/2009/06/one-plucking-thing-after-other.html

As for your main point, I would quite often be one of those folks who 'don't get it', whatever "it" happened to be! The fountain/urinal is art in the sense of its design and function but I don't need to, or expect to, see it in a gallery, suggesting it to be something other. Piles of bricks or Tracy Emin's bed leave me cold. I'm a philistine, I admit!

The other week, one of the RWP contributors had written a poem which he wasn't happy with, so he cut out each line and rearranged them by picking each one out of a hat/bowl. It didn't make sense but I'm sure it could come to do so if one gave it time. Maybe some of us are unable/unwilling to invest the time needed.

Linda said...

I think we are becoming overly sensitive to the intellignece and aesthetic senses of young children. They can and like to play ukulele's very well. Anyone who reads this comment needs to check this blog (http://lifeiznow.blogspot.com/), the Friday Shootout- An Incongruous Meeting Place. Kimberly posted an art installation in Chicago by a nine year old girl that blew me away. Add to this your observation of "the Pear Girl", Dave. So, I pose the question, Do You Think You Are Smarter than A Fifth Grader ( the new TV show in Canada )? Should we be looking for art from young children, adults or both? When I was in fifth grade back in the day, you had to be an adult to be considered an artist. You had to have at least developed some technique, taken courses and have put some experience into your portfolio. The Chicago installation is brilliant!

Dominic Rivron said...

Reading what you said about the Ukulele Orchestra reminded me: do you remember the Portsmouth Sinfonia? Those were the days. I once heard them perform Also Sprach Zarathustra on (I think) Nationwide.

I've just discovered they have a website:

http://www.portsmouthsinfonia.com/

gleaner said...

Very thought-provoking post...hmm, is art anything that allows your mind to imagine, ponder, feel something, anything...so this would include art that you don't get as reflective of your mind's state of refusal- the feeling of "not getting it" and perhaps "never getting it" being a valid feeling of the nothing.

Gee, I don't know whether I explained that very well...oh well, its okay if you don't get it. :)

GYPSYWOMAN said...

oh, gee, dave - what an incredible post! i've now read it twice! great thought process[es] - it's such a pleasure dropping by your place - have a great day!

Mairi said...

I think I can top your ukulele orchestra. I once went, heaven only knows why, to listen to thirty tubas play a Christmas concert in a steam train shed. It won't happen again. As for found art, my windowsill is full of it and I keep a pile of rusty bits of this and that that I sometimes mount as sculpture, but usually just admire and think about as sculpture.

readingsully2 said...

Hi, Dave...

Dave King said...

Leatherdykeuk
You can, you can, as I know full well - but thanks.

Friko
I don't think I've ever had experience of a one-instrument orchestra, but I don't think I would have taken to your harp one!!!
I fully endorse all that you say in your third para - on the role of teachers.

Dicky Bird was a figure of some fun, but I always had a soft spot for him (he'd be surprised to hear that), even though his lessons were boring.

Absolutely amazing! I have just finished writing a poem about fledgelings trying to summon up the courage to launch themselves - no, actually the poem is about roses, but the fledgelings are an image.

Thanks for a terrific comment.

The Weaver of Grass
I take what you say about art appreciation. I don'tthink I could have made myself clear. The complaint simply was that we were not introduced to what was happening. Our teachers may not have thought much of it themselves (Awful thought: might not have known of it themselves!), but surely we should have been told, Look, this is what is being written now.
As to your thoughts of found things in the countryside, again I take your rekarks completely - thought with a tinge of envy.
Thanks for taking so much time and trouble.

Ladytruth
Thanks for that - look forward to hearing if you come up with anything.

Jim
I can say Amen to all of that, yet am left with the feeling that art cannot be all about context. I have always felt this about the famous urinal: Ok as far as it goes, but we're missing something here. I follow completely what you are saying, but... Maybe we've written a book with no ending.

willow
It's coming, it's coming, it's coming... got it now?

lunardancer
We used to have long debates at art school as to who was the best judge of a work of art: the artist, as the only one who knew whether it had succeeded in fulfilling the vision, was the favourite, but many argued that s/he was the one least able to judge. It's a fascinating con undrum - still! Thanks for a telling comment.

lakeviewer
Thanks for that, but over to some other worthy figure. I'm not up to writing dissertations these days!

Tabor
I've been having that trouble, too. I actually don't think you are missing too much. I find that reading around the subject is more productive AFTER you have at least partly twigged what the work is on about. I certainly agree that it has to touch you, but sometimes I find that I am touched without quite knowing what by! (Some people think I'm just touched.)

Lovely suggestion. Thanks.

Derrick
Thanks for the link. I shall certainly go there.
I, too am left cold by Tracey Emin's bed, and was by the piles of bricks, until I saw something of his land art oeuvre and saw how the bricks fitted into that. Which is itself an interesting question, to what extent does a single work have to work by itself, and how far can it work as part of a series?
I have tried your friend's cutting-up technique for a poem - with a class of Junior school children. It worked quite well for them - though not for me, I admit! They could see and hear beyond the logiclessness of the result.

Linda
The difficult thing is to help the children retain the natural talent they have. Unfortunately, it's part fo the natural talent for being children - and it's difficult for them to retain that in today's world. Hence my lack of their appreciation as noted in my reply to Derrick.

Dominic
I do remember them. Thanks for that.

gleaner
I think you put the conundrum very well, but answering it - that's a different matter. Thanks.

GYPSYWOMAN
Thanks for that kind comment.

Mairi
Wow! Surprised you survived! Your collection sounds great.

readingsully2
Hi! Thanks for posting.

Rachel Fenton said...

So many points Dave, my responses have become a blur, but basically I'd parrot what Jim has to say...I think art is doing its job - being art - when it gets people to comment. Whether we like something is taste. Whether we get it...is subjective...what's to get...that's like saying there is this one answer to art (in which case it is a puzzle to be solved and not art at all)...but art is, to me, whatever you want it to be, to you, because it is a completely personal experience....and were you discussing THE D Bird?

And what a great post!

Mariana Soffer said...

First of all I wanted to tell you that I have serious doubts that are could be tought, technique yes, but art consists mainly in an exploration with oneself.
Also that I belive that ongoing discussions among arts and humanities scholars may pose new challenges for the programs of cognitive scientists. One sort of contribution that theorizing about the arts may make to cognitive science is to challenge unexamined assumptions about our ability to perceive, conceptualize, and assess these very important constituents of our culture

Many artists and scholars have pointed out that ultimately art depends on human nature. The aesthetic and emotional reactions that we have to works of art depend on how our brain is put together. Art works because it appeals to certain faculties of the mind. Music depends on details of the auditory system, painting and sculpture on the visual system. Poetry and literature depend on language. And the insights we hope to take away from great works of art depend on their ability to explore the eternal conflicts in the human condition, like those between men and women, self and society, parent and child, sibling and sibling, and friend and friend. Some theoreticians of literature have suggested that we appreciate tragedy and great works of fiction because they explore the permutations and combinations of human conflict¤and these are just the themes that scientific fields like evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics and social psychology try to illuminate

Here are a couple of definitions I like that refer to art as well
The illusion (if there is one) comes, on the contrary, from the impersonality of the work. It is a principle of mine that a writer must not be his own theme. The artist in his work must be like God in his creation — invisible and all-powerful: he must be everywhere felt, but never seen.
You need to get rid of certainties to be creative, innovate and explore. It seems to be too scary for most people; monotonous seems too be safer (but it’s not)

Hope you found it interesting david. Very good post by the way.

Art Durkee said...

How much is "getting it" tied in with social repercussions? I.e. the clique pattern of being an insider rather than an outsider? One can feel good about oneself is one is an avant-garde artist who is in on the latest "it" while the rest of us simply don't measure up.

I guess I'm more interested in the psychology of this than in any given work (or -ism) of art that it might be applied towards. Even Freud once said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar."

Madame DeFarge said...

Well, I've seen the UOGB and rather enjoyed them. But I have sat through a David Lynch film and wondered why anyone in the cinema bother. In the end I stayed just to say that I'd endured it. It became a contest of wills to make it through the self-indulgent twaddle.

Karen said...

As always, you've challenged the intellect and the imagination with your post, Dave. As to the found art, Isn't that what we're doing with these postings? Turning some trigger event or object into this?

A Cuban In London said...

Just back from my fantastic holidays in Spain and doing my usual blog round. It's so nice to see that the good quality has not diminished one bit. Many thanks for your fantastic post. I share Lister's feelings, although mine did not last as long. I saw the orchestra on BBC news before leaving for Spain and the novelty wore off after the second track.

Greetings from London.

Eryl Shields said...

There's so much here I'm going to go for a run and ponder it all, then come back.

Renee said...

Dave you are always someone I learn something from.

If I don't get something I will still see it through or read it through or whatever and then I will just say 'I don't get it.'

I really have never read poetry, ever, that is something I don't usually get.

There is a lady 'Erin' from my blog and now my mind is blank, I think women in a window is the title of her blog and I love her poetry, I also love sweet mango.

As far as prognosis for me I have written it before. In February 2006 I was told I had about 6 months.

Love Renee xoxo

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Titus said...

Dave, this is a very interesting meditation on the nature of art. Small aside - I have seen the Ukulele Orchestra and thought they were very good, but I do tend to the "popular" side of the musical cannon. I don't think they take themselves too seriously either.

As to your shine a light on something that is not art but can become art, I am finding myself increasingly obsessed with the spelling homework my twin sons are coming home with. Because they are working on double letters at the moment, there are obviously sound associations between the arbitrary set of words the class come up with (and this is important - the teacher does not select the words for them to practise, the children have to come up with them). The words arrive as a list, and I am struck by how I can construe meaning from it and turn it into something which becomes poem-like for me. There is no change in word order in what follows, I have just changed a list into lines and added puctuation.

Week 1

drill, smelly spelling,
seagull skull spills,
telling windmill come,
some.

Week 2

crossroad, pressing, misses,
crossly class, fussy;
kissing, flossing you,
they.

Not quite art, but Week 1 in particular is getting close.

Rachel Fox said...

I like thoughts as art. Awkward buggers though. Trying to catch them is tricky.
x

Ken Armstrong said...

I am coming to the conclusion that you can learn much about the true value of a person by the things they profess to not understand.

Although I'm not sure...

Dave King said...

Apologies to those I have neglected for a while.

Rachel
Good point about art becoming a puzzle to be solved. I think some do see it like that.

Mariana
no, I wasn't thinking in terms of teaching, but of introducing. That is what I think schools should do: introduce pupils to what is happening and what has happened in the arts - and it helps if the introducer has a passionat belief to impart, though, naturally, not to indoctrinate.
Your main comment re the brain and why art works I totally agree with. Definitions can be helpful, but don't appeal enormously.

Art
Yes, I can say Amen to all of that. Particularly your last sentence. My concern was with the rest that feel they don't measure up.

Madame DeFarge
You can get locked into that contest of wills, I know to my cost!

Karen
It happens, surely - but I hadn't wuite seen it that way before. Interesting...

A Cuban in London
Welcome back, indeed. Good to have you visiting again.

Eryl
Thanks Eryl.

Renee
I know Woman in a Window, and I agree it is facinating stuff.

Zephyr Girl
Thanks for that. Sounds intriguing. I will email you.

Titus
Interesting. I thought week 2 more suggestive than week 1. It is exactly, though, the sort of thing I had in mind. If not the finished product, an interesting variation. Thanks for it.

Rachel
I think you've put your finger on the difficulty. The most promising ones seem to come most unexpectedly and most fleetingly and are the most difficult to net, I think.

Dave King said...

Ken
Interesting thought... I'll have to sleep on it, I think.

Carl said...

Hi dave for my part here is what I think. Art is the message communicated between the artist and the viewer. There is 'conventional' language and rules for this of course and boudaries to be pushed etc. I also find I can be moved by a piece, poem, play etc and not know why. When I run into the one that I can't get my brain around at all and find some way of achieving the dialoge with the artist. I tend to ask am I just not ready for this?
I come back to my answer from a previous post that says the answer to 'What is Art?' is different for each of us.

Carl

Dave King said...

Carl
That is the answer of a sane and sensible man in full control of his thinking gear, I am sure. The problem I have is when I can't get my head around it, but the mind will not be put off by such trifles! I think you are probably correct in surmising that most times this is simply because I/you am not ready for it. And I fully agree that art is different for each of us. (Does that mean the escape route is different for each, I wonder.)

Carl said...

Dave - Good point. What each of us does with that piece of art thet we can't categorize... Can't put in it's box etc is interesting. The best response to art of that ilk (I think) is silence until we think we have something to say about it.

Sane and sensible... Me... Now I have heard everything. Thanks!

CS

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