|Sometimes Objectivists try too much to "objectivize" music. To make it something which is indisputably (and independent of the context of the listener) either objectively good or bad period. End-of-discussion-thank-you-very-much.|
They are certain if they recommend the 'right' progression of opera or country and western or rock to their friends or to the universe, others will surely love it too, since for them it is so immediate, direct, and visceral. Or else there is something flawed about others or the world, something base or deficient in their sense of life or total passion for the total tonal quality. (Or the more techno-geeky spin out long complex theories about neurology and the activation of mental centers by certain kinds of tones...and propose these behaviorist stimulus-response fantasies as complete explanations of response to music.)
While you can proclaim as completely objectively bad or good some extreme examples, music is, for lack of a better word, one of the more 'subjective' art forms in a certain sense of the word, much more so than literature.
It is -not- subjective in the usual objectivist sense that the sounds and words don't have a meaning, a mood, an authorial intent or that whether one likes it has no rational standards or reason.
But it is in a certain delimited aspect of appreciation:
A very significant percentage of whether we -legitimately- like or don't like a particular piece or even a whole category of music involves:
1. Associations. The saying "music is the soundtrack of our lives" captures a lot of this. How old we were when we first heard it, what it brings back to us about the times and events of those days, whether we were in a happy period when we heard it on the radio over and over.
2. Cognitive stylistic preference or personal cognitive needs. Some people need complex music, such as some forms of classical music because they are drowning in oversimplification, rednecks, lack of sophistication or challenge in their surroundings or history or life or career. But other people -have- those things met to a large extent and are instead drowning in complexity or information overload or over-detail in their lives or friends or profession and need nostalgia, simplicity, essentialization. They might very rationally prefer some country and western singers or simple ballads or pop-rock from a simpler and more innocent decade like the fifties or sixties.
Sometimes (but not always) what we respond to is what fills gaps. One can say of a piece of music that it supplies what one is missing: a certain kind of emotionality, a certain simplicity or complexity, a particular mood, a purity of voice: It doesn't have to work for anyone else and, all together now, It Just Doesn't Matter. One can say of a piece of music or a song, whether by Elvis or Lanza or Beethoven: "You complete me".
There is much more to say on this subject and on other arts besides music, but this is a start.
PS, I don't remember the lectures well enough, but I seem to recall Peikoff making the point in, as I told him immediately afterwards, his best lecture series (Understanding Objectivism) that Objectivists should not feel they have to love skyscrapers because Roark and Rand did nor should they feel that somehow their senses of life were less well-developed.
And his making the point that contexts and associations differ and that there are NO, repeat NO, moral judgments to be made about esthetic choices more widely.
And how liberating this was for robots and people.
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 5/06, 11:03am)
(Edited by Philip Coates
on 5/06, 11:06am)