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Post 60

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 3:09amSanction this postReply
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James K:

"Too much is made of Lanza's innate talent and WAY TOO LITTLE is made of his vocal accomplishments. So forget about WHAT he sang for a few minutes and think about HOW he sang. There is nobody close to his accomplishments vocally."

So true. And the snobs who denigrate him are clueless as to what those accomplishments were. It is *they* who are the real "philistines"! It was the same in his lifetime. No wonder he was driven to drink!

Linz



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Post 61

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 5:13amSanction this postReply
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I'm sorry to say that I don't think Michael N. has truly addressed many of the questions I've raised.  Be that as it may, I'll answer his, and make one or two more comments.

Michael N. asks with regard to all my "major works, articles, posts, [lessons], and edits":  What is more important?  Which is the greater work? Which are you more proud of? What was more fun?

Please note that I could not answer any of those questions in the way Michael fears:  "All of them."  The reason I can't is because, as I have been arguing, every one of those questions assumes a context and a standard.  Of my three books (Marx, Hayek, and Utopia, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism), I can tell you that they were created, crafted, and built as a "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy, as an "organic whole."  Still, I would probably say that the last of these (Total Freedom) is the more important from the perspective of bringing it all together; as the culminating, integrating work, it ties all the themes together and helps to fully articulate, explicitly define, and defend the very method (dialectics) that is the trilogy's reason-for-being.

But just because something is the most integrated or the more important (given the standard described) doesn't mean it's the best --- because that evaluation, like all evaluation, depends on a context.  Marx-Hayek is probably the "best" from the pure perspective of straightforward compare-and-contrast exposition, laying out the central problems of the trilogy, without all the footnoted details (some would say "cluttering" footnoted details).  I dare say it's got elegance in its "simplicity."  Russian Radical is certainly the "best" from the perspective of the Rand fan (it's also the "best" in terms of sales, but I would not be so philistine as to suggest that popularity dictates value), and given my long-time interest in Rand, and in original historical research, it was probably the most "fun" to prepare and to write.

But because these books can be evaluated differently, depending on the standards and contexts that I use, asking me to choose the "best" among them is like asking me to pick my favorite "child" if I were a parent (and Lord knows I do feel as if I "gave birth" to those books). 

I would say the same thing in evaluating Rand's own novels; Atlas Shrugged is clearly the most integrated work of fiction Rand ever wrote.  It's a remarkable achievement.  But am I aesthetically (or morally?) "inferior" for preferring The Fountainhead as a novel?  (And I still think that Michael N. has not addressed this collapsing of aesthetic and moral evaluation that seems to be implicit in many of his comments.)

There is something else that bothers me.  (No, it's not Linz's "rap = evil" comment... which made me laugh out loud --- but, sorry, folks, I will continue to adhere to my age-old position, starting here with Eminem, and extending through countless discussions since, that no genre is evil by definition.  But I'm not going to revisit that debate again for the umpteenth time.)  A key problem here, as I see it, is that Michael is also collapsing the aesthetic purpose and integrity of the artist (based on his evaluation of these) and the aesthetic response of the viewer/reader/listener.  In order to evaluate the first, it might really help to know a person's biography.  But the second requires no knowledge of the artist's biography at all.  It seems to me that Michael is evaluating Rozsa and Lanza by what he has concluded (rightly or wrongly) about these individuals' biographies and the forms of musical expression they embraced.  He has said very little about his own response to the works of either artist because that response seems totally programmed by his negative reaction to aspects of their biography and the genres in which they worked.

But those of us who simply respond to a work of art don't first do a biographical study:  we just respond.  In fact, knowledge of that biography is not necessary at all.  Michael is rejecting Rozsa, for example, not on the basis of an aesthetic response to any particular work.  When pressed, he hasn't given me a single indication of his thoughts of Rozsa's film scores, e.g., the fully integrated thematic  unity of a "Ben-Hur" or an "El Cid," or Rozsa's concert works, such as his riveting "Violin Concerto (Op. 24)," as performed by the amazing violinist Jascha Heifetz.  Saying that he would rather "listen" to the silence of John Cage because Cage has more "integrity" (is more "true" to himself) says absolutely nothing about the actual music of Cage or Rozsa.  It's an evaluation completely divorced from the object to which the responder actually responds.  Same with Lanza. 

And the end result is that because of an evaluation of biography or, alternatively, because of an evaluation of the "complexity" and "integration" that Michael sees at work (or not at work) in certain musical genres, the responder is led to an irreversible conclusion:  he should feel guilty for not responding with greater ecstasy to more "complex" and "integrated" works and for not responding with greater disdain toward those artists who simply don't "measure up" because of their various personal "failings."

I can't expect an artist such as Michael to step out of his skin as an artist, but what I've just outlined as an implication of his views pretty much converts all aesthetic response into a moral compass and it undermines all the pleasure that one might derive from any given work of art or any given artist.

Genuine fans of Lanza and Rozsa may or may not appreciate certain biographical facts about each, and these facts may or may not impact on their aesthetic response.  In the end, however, even a response that feels like the "total passion for the total height" is one that relates to a very personal context. The essence of the response relates to a lot of intangibles:  personal experience, sense of life, emotional appeal, cognitive challenge, and that "internal iPod" that Peter Cresswell mentions above (and that was an excellent analogy, btw).




Post 62

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 5:37amSanction this postReply
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MC Sciabarra (in the hizouse, yo) wrote:

"In order to evaluate the first, it might really help to know a person's biography. But the second requires no knowledge of the artist's biography at all. It seems to me that Michael is evaluating Rozsa and Lanza by what he has concluded (rightly or wrongly) about these individuals' biographies and the forms of musical expression they embraced."

This is after Michael argued on the DIMINISHING RETURNS thread that biography or psychology is not as important as the artwork as an end in itself. (Which he argued very well, I should add.) So it does seem odd that Michael would argue about an artwork's value in relation to whether or not the artist filled his potential. Respectfully asking for an explanation, Michael; and it's been some weeks since the other thread, I may have missed something. :)

Thanks,
Joe



Post 63

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 6:57amSanction this postReply
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With all due respect to the seriousness (and importance) of this discussion, I must make one very small tangent:
in the hizouse, yo
Joe, keep that up and you'll be shot.  At high noon.  After you've been tarred and feathered.

Jason




Post 64

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 7:14amSanction this postReply
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Michael SK,
Although this is completely off-topic but I have to share this with you. Very late last night as I was typing that little message, my husband said to me "Are you trying to maintain your fan club? Do you need a personal website with naked pictures or something?!" Isn't he marvelous?!

Now back to your regular art discussion...

 

(Edited by Hong Zhang on 4/14, 7:19am)




Post 65

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 7:34amSanction this postReply
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Since Michael N. conveniently ignored my earlier post, I'll say it again:

An artist of the calibre of a Lanza should be judged by what he *achieved*, not by how far he fell short of fulfilling his true potential. And Lanza on his best days achieved miracles. Ultimately, that's all that matters.

I'd also like to challenge Michael to name one composition by John Cage that sets his soul on fire and makes him gasp at the heights that man is capable of reaching. For that's Lanza on his greatest recordings. Frankly, I find it obscene that the Cage-charlatans of this world - with their threadbare senses of life and even lesser talents - are being applauded here at the expense of two glorious artists who simply failed to make what Mr. Newberry considers as the right career moves.



Post 66

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 10:13amSanction this postReply
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Chris I am totally amused at all the conclusions you come up with based the “information” you have gotten from what you think I implied. And, yes, I was asking you to make choices between your “children”; I enjoyed reading your response. And Chris do you know why I have not discussed any of my personal artistic preferences? BTW, I clearly cited a problematic issue in whether or not a composition is driven musically and purely by the artist. I do not see how that it could not affect the integrity of the “whole”.

 

Wow, Hong. Shit your mind works like a nuclear powered microscope.

 

Damn, Pete. You toss off a few sentences and ask for a history of all music! What a greedy bastard you are, talking about a return on your investment!

 

Alec, I might have blinked but I did not see the beauty of your arc. A small correction, we are using the meaning of  “form” differently, your using it as type I am using it literally. And one question: why would I, as a serious critic of PM (as Lindsay as observed) view Duchamp or Cage’s artistic integrity as extremely significant?

 

Derek wrote: “…Lanza on his best days achieved miracles. Ultimately, that's all that matters.”

 

Ok, for you that’s all that matters.

 

Derek continued: “I'd also like to challenge Michael to name one composition by John Cage that sets his soul on fire and makes him gasp at the heights that man is capable of reaching.”

 

Oh that’s easy, I can’t stand Cage.

 

D again: “Frankly, I find it obscene that the Cage-charlatans of this world - with their threadbare senses of life and even lesser talents - are being applauded here at the expense of two glorious artists who simply failed to make what Mr. Newberry considers as the right career moves.”

 

See above to Alec.

 

Namesake, you are fearless.

 

Peter, I was aware of your absence. ;) Excellent post, but I couldn’t find the criticism that you promised…. ;)

 

Joe, thanks for the compliment about the other thread. I am sorry but I couldn’t really understand what you were asking me, would you mind restating it?

 

Your welcome Phil. Break a leg.

 

Best regards all, Michael




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Post 67

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 10:33amSanction this postReply
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Namesake!!!

LOL

Derek continued: “I'd also like to challenge Michael to name one composition by John Cage that sets his soul on fire and makes him gasp at the heights that man is capable of reaching.”

 

Oh that’s easy, I can’t stand Cage.



You reminded me of the scene in The Fountainhead where Wynand tried to tell Roark he could never build any more according to his integrity. He said that was easy and drew a picture of Wynand's house the "new" way.

 

You won't be trapped into playing by someone else's rules, will you?

 

(Sorry Derek - no offense or comparison intended...)

 

Hong - If a fan club for you ever gets formed, count me as a lifetime member. You choose your own pictures though. I won't touch that comment with a ten foot pole - God only knows what kind of martial arts your hubby is into. (Kittens scratch too.)

 

(And that is, unless it is in the form of a magnificent painting by my Namesake...)

 

//;-)

 

Michael






Post 68

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 11:44amSanction this postReply
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Little Sister, you are begining to amass quite a collection of protective brothers here at Solo.

;-)

George




Post 69

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 12:07pmSanction this postReply
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Geez, Michael SK and George, I am touched - but, let's focus on the real issue of the day and not the person, shall we? ;-)



Post 70

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 12:30pmSanction this postReply
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Count me in!



Post 71

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 1:20pmSanction this postReply
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Jason: "Joe, keep that up and you'll be shot. At high noon. After you've been tarred and feathered."

Step off, beeyootch! Don't be getting up in my grill like that, G!

Or, if you prefer, remember that I am Sicilian and from Philly and harboring a pet whale in the Delaware River who eats the bodies that get tossed in from time to time...



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Post 72

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 1:20pmSanction this postReply
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Michael wrote,
"BTW, I clearly cited a problematic issue in whether or not a composition is driven musically and purely by the artist. I do not see how that it could not affect the integrity of the “whole”.

Michael,
Do you sacrifice your integrity and purity when you paint images that are based on or inspired by ancient stories and myths which were written by others? If not, why would you think that a film composer would necessarily have to sacrifice his integrity and purity when writing music based on or inspired by contemporary stories and myths which were written by others?

Best,
J




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Post 73

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 2:12pmSanction this postReply
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The "Duck for Cover" is the Eider duck (for eider down)

Sorry, I do too many crosswords.

Sam




Post 74

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 3:39pmSanction this postReply
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Sam, I wet myself with laughter at your comment. The only way to stop my fits was to put on Miklo Rosza's 'Ben Hur.' Having done so, I now feel suitably earnest. :-)

Michael, you said: "Excellent post, but I couldn’t find the criticism that you promised…. ;)"

Clearly I was too gentle. Note to self: Must try harder in future.

I'm glad you enjoyed my analogy, Chris. Are you aware Dartmouth College researchers have recently confirmed that we do actually have what amounts to an excellent 'internal iPod'? (I can confirm that this is actually a test to see if you checked my recently posted item about this news on my Blog.)

And I note with great pleasure that despite Chris's exhaustive response to recent posts, he clearly accepts my assertion from post 51 that Duke Ellington is twice the composer Miklos Rosza is. Good to see something good has come from this thread - aside that is from Mr Zhang's kind offer to post naked pictures of his wife Hong on a new website.

Rzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!






Post 75

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 4:50pmSanction this postReply
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Yeah right, Peter, dream on.

(A friendly suggestion though, you better start to fortify that castle of yours from today!)




Post 76

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 6:30pmSanction this postReply
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Jonathan wrote: "...a very complex scherzo by Michael Newberry inspired by the feeling he gets when a “click” of paint sends his soul through the rafters would be superior to a minimalist painting by Chris Sciabarra inspired by the art of context keeping. For all I know, James Valliant's effortless interpretive dance of the Rand-Branden split might be much more expressive and powerful than Linz's labored attempt to capture Lanza Defeating the Caterwaulers in marble."

 

Hi Jonathan,

 

I am sorry I didn’t come to your defense earlier with your little “upside down cake” above, I am laughing over it now. And, truthfully, I am glad you commented on your personal tastes in art…normally you’re so…so…so private. Perhaps on another thread where (hint) I think it would be more appropriate (wicked grin) many of us could let our hair down and discuss the art works that rock our worlds!?

 

Michael




Post 77

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 6:44pmSanction this postReply
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Sam wrote: "The "Duck for Cover" is the Eider duck (for eider down)"

I couldn’t help but follow up on Sam’s offering with a pun, Down’s syndrome.

 

 

But since I really had no idea what it meant I looked it up: "A congenital disorder…which the affected person has mild to moderate mental retardation,  [and] short stature[!]..."

 

Then…I looked up congenital and there was this gem: “the congenital American optimism that denies conflicts and imagines all stories having happy endings” (Robert J. Samuelson).

 

So I had to wonder if half of you think I suffer from Downs!?

 

Michael




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Post 78

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 6:58pmSanction this postReply
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A horrible name for Downs syndrome is Mongoloid idiot.

But maybe this is a good name for the PM soul...

Mentally exceptional people make more sense in life though - and do better art.

Michael




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Post 79

Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 6:59pmSanction this postReply
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How do you get down from an elephant?

Answer:
You don't get down from an elephant, you get down from a duck.




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