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Subject: Re: Love, Drugs, Art, Religion: The Pains and Consolations of Existence
From: London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 1 Feb 2017 14:50:28 -0800
Content-Type:text/plain
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From the book --

"Can it really intelligibly be contended that the products of artistic
creation -- widely regarded as counting among the highest achievements of
the human spirit -- function simply as substitutive satisfactions, offering
a merely illusory happiness in place of that real happiness which must
forever elude us?"

I don’t agree with the basic premise of the "sublimation” theory of the art
drive. I think we have an innate desire to exercise the perceptual and
intellectual apparatus. Art is its own pleasure. I’ve never found that it
makes me happy in compensation for other parts of my life that are lacking.
It makes me happy precisely for what it is. When I am listening to music
and it’s really working for me, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing.

"Can one seriously advance the view that enjoyment of Bach and Wagner, of
Shakespeare and Proust, and of Vermeer and Picasso, has any connection --
let alone a profound one -- with either the reality-fleeing use of
intoxicants, drugs or the embracing of an infantile, compensatory faith?"

Certainly the case has been made strenuously for Wagner, whose music was
regularly imagined as a kind of “drug” that intoxicated listeners; his
circle and his ideology also impressed many contemporary critics and
intellectuals as a cult-ish thing, almost exactly like “an infantile,
compensatory faith.” (Read Thomas Mann’s _Buddenbrooks_ or Nietszche’s “The
Case of Wagner” for extreme versions of this Wagner-is-decadent position.
Bach may escape this kind of attack, but not his listeners. Hanslick
famously advised the kind of listener who allowed music to call forth
images and emotions to switch to a more effective agent, like chloroform.
:-)




On Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Genevieve Castle Room <
[log in to unmask]
<javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml',[log in to unmask]);>> wrote:

> An extract from 'Love, Drugs, Art, Religion: The Pains and Consolations of
> Existence'
>
>
> >"Can it really intelligibly be contended that the products of artistic
> creation -- widely regarded as counting among the highest achievements of
> the human spirit -- function simply as substitutive satisfactions, offering
> a merely illusory happiness in place of that real happiness which must
> forever elude us? Can one seriously advance the view that enjoyment of Bach
> and Wagner, of Shakespeare and Proust, and of Vermeer and Picasso, has any
> connection -- let alone a profound one -- with either the reality-fleeing
> use of intoxicants or the embracing of an infantile, compensatory faith? It
> would seem, in other words, that to conceive of art in terms of its
> palliative function involves an unpalatable denigration of its value and
> significance in human life. For while both drugs and religion may (not
> entirely unreasonably) be regarded merely as escapist strategies, the role
> of art in human life seems far more elevated, more worthy; and while one
> might intelligibly think that drugs and religion are an impediment to human
> flourishing (and are, as a consequence, unnecessary) art, on the other
> hand, seems indispensable. It is precisely this worthiness and
> indispensability that would appear to call for something other than a
> palliative interpretation. In this chapter, however, it will be contended
> that to conceive of art as one of humanity's auxiliary constructions is NOT
> inappropriate."
>
> [....]
>
> >"I may gain considerable delight from listening to Strauss' 'Four Last
> Songs', even though I am no musician myself. Freud, of course, would agree,
> noting that the artist makes accessible the enjoyment of art to those who
> themselves lack artistic creativity, but his second point aims to undermine
> our hopeful expectations: 'the mild narcosis induced in us by art can do no
> more than bring about a transient withdrawal from the pressure of vital
> needs, and it is not strong enough to make us forget real misery'. To use
> an image of Schopenhauer's, taken from a rather different context, in the
> face of the miseries and horrors of life, the consolations offered by art
> are 'as effective as a syringe at a great fire'.... Aesthetic pleasure just
> isn't pleasurable enough; its consolations mild and fleeting."
>
>
> A brief interview with the author here:
>
>
> http://www.sandiego.edu/news/detail.php?_focus=47922
>
>
> ------------------------
>
>
> At some level I agree with Freud in 'CAID', but less so as the years pass.
>
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