[ExI] Objective standards?/was Re: silly 'rules'

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Fri Sep 25 22:52:50 UTC 2015

my comments at the bottom

On Mon, Sep 21, 2015 at 10:27 PM, Dan <danust2012 at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Friday, September 18, 2015 3:11 PM William Flynn Wallace <
> foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> But if no one can really say why they're great, the best thing
> >> to do is either be precise with "many people think they're great"
> >> or find out if and why they are.)
> >> Anyway, it's not like the world's going to end anytime sooner because
> >> of this discussion. :)
> > I have looked into the philosophy of aesthetics at some (not great)
> > depth.  I still have not found any valid argument that can contradict
> > "I don't know much about X but I know what I like."
> > Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, if you want the cliche'.
> I'm not sure if the point of esthetics is to contradict that. One should
> separate between one's reactions to art and standards. And then the issue
> of whether there are any reliable objective standards, what they are, and
> how to apply them to a work. (Some might maintain there are none, others
> that there are but that they're pretty abstract so won't prove helpful in
> most cases, and still others that each work carries its own esthetics with
> it. This latter position might be objective in the sense that if one can
> uncover the esthetics inherent in the work, then one has the means to judge
> it -- whatever that means.)
> I'm also not sure esthetics will make you change you feelings about a
> work. It might, but so can other factors. My feelings toward certain movies
> has changed as I've seen more movies, gotten more experience, grown up (I
> think:). Haven't you experienced that?
> Also, have you ever analyzed why you like a given work -- story, film,
> painting, poem, etc.? Did you come up with some idea -- I like it because
> it's got X -- only to find there are other things with X that you don't
> like. For example, imagine you love "The Walking Dead." Let's say you
> analyze why and, without too much thought, you say, "Well, it's got zombies
> in it. I'm a sucker for zombies." Then you see "In the Flesh," and you
> absolutely detest it. Well, both have zombies, so zombies simpliciter can't
> be why you like it.
> > I advised my children and grandchildren:  "Never let anyone tell you that
> > your tastes are bad or wrong.  You like what you like and that's all it
> > takes.  Never be ashamed at what you like.  However, do expose yourself
> > to other opinions and tastes to see if you might like them too."  Nobody
> > gets to be the arbiter of my tastes except me.
> Sage advice! Being involved with Objectivists (I mean of the Ayn Rand
> sort) over the years I've run into too many people who think they must
> remold their tastes according to some Randian esthetics. They haven't
> cornered the market on this. Think of how people will sort of bully others
> on issues of taste. "Oh, you like that band?" "You're reading that trash?"
> "You enjoyed 'American Beauty'?" (The last is from me, actually.:)
> > I love gourmet cooking and I also like those little gutbombers they sell
> at Krystal.
> You raise another point: Whether tastes are predictable. I'm clueless
> here, especially about myself. Well, not completely. But there are plenty
> of examples where someone says, in all seriousness, if you like X, you'll
> like Y, and someone else likes X but not Y or vice versa. And, yes, there
> are cases where someone like both the highbrow and lowbrow (and middlebrow)
> stuff.
> And I think one can still say, while not being ashamed or trying to do
> psychological surgery on one's tastes, "I like this, but I know it's not
> great" -- along with "I think that's great, but I don't really like it."
> > (I left out all the obvious things about snobs [does it matter who likes
> > what?] and elitism, etc.)
> It depends on the goal. I do agree with what you seem to be hinting at:
> some people want to lord over others with their tastes. So there's a bit of
> social status dominance thing going on. On the other hand, one of my
> roommates in college turned me on to a lot of music partly by shaming me.
> :) I'm glad he did, but at the same time there might have been a more
> rational approach to this.
> Regards,
> Dan

​I would never apologize for my taste.  I cannot imagine saying 'I know
it's great but I don't like it.'  ​

​I could say "Others think it's great but I don't", but would only say that
if asked. I would not try to knock another opinion with that.

A friend not on this list thinks there is something to like in classical
music for everyone, and I agree, but cannot agree with him that classical
is all we need.

I doubt that anyone's tastes are predictable.

The rational approach to taste is to teach it in junior and high school -
visual arts, architecture, music of ALL sorts.  I would put home economics
back in school, esp. home finance, and it could include some tasting of
different cuisines.

There are a few poets I like but mostly I don't like poems, making me a
lowbrow to many, I suppose.  Doesn't bother me.​

Why do I like a given work?  If it's classical music, then mostly I just
don't know.  One reason I like fantasy and scifi is that I am practically
guaranteed a happy ending, or at least not a tragic one.  Hard to find haut
literary critics who like books with happy endings.  Has to be tragedic to
qualify for high art.  Hogwash and sheep dip.  I will even turn to the end
of a book to see if I want to finish it.  Often the quality of the writing
takes second place to content. I just don't want to read about marriage
problems, and those books are very fashionable now.  I don't care if
Shakespeare or his equal wrote it.

There a case to be made for standard tastes, since we have computers that
can write pop music that is listenable, and Thomas Kinkade, who had a
formula for his art works that millions loved.  I even like some formula
things, like detective Nero Wolfe and Sherlock Holmes. But those carry some
originality most others don't.

I am 73 and have been reading some books I read as long as 65 years ago,
and nothing is the same.  Not surprised.  I also tend to read more slowly
than I did once and thus notice things I skipped before.

Well. I have more, but this's probably too much already.

bill w

> Sample my Kindle books via:
> http://www.amazon.com/Dan-Ust/e/B00J6HPX8M/
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