Re: Extropic art: symbolism, interpretation & association

Gregory Houston (
Mon, 17 Mar 1997 17:41:47 -0600 wrote:
> I think that trying to define art accomplishes embarassingly
> little. Far better to just create it, share it, and enjoy it.

I wrote:
> You have just defined it then. You have defined art as something to be
> created, shared, and enjoyed.

Sara Marr wrote:
> I don't think TOMorrow has done any such thing. He has stated an preferred
> mode of use for art, but, given an object, his statement does not allow me
> to say whether or not TOMorrow would consider that object 'art'.

He has given a definition. You have simply pointed out how his
definition is incomplete.

Sara Marr wrote:
> Put
> another way: his statement does not say that everything which is created,
> shared or enjoyed is art; nor does it say that art is everything which is
> created, shared or enjoyed.

It is still a definition. His definition is certainly lacking as his
following post points out, but it is a definition. Look up the
dictionary definition of art or of the brain itself. You will see that
the definitions include how such are used. wrote:
> No, I've merely advocated a particular use of art. A definition sets forth
> terms that can stand in for the referent. You cannot usefully substitute "a
> thing created, shared, and enjoyed" for all uses of "art". The phrase covers
> things (eg, children, cookies, and feelings of good will) that in normal (or
> even plausible) usage do not equate to "art".

Your definition of art can stand in as a referent for art. You have only
shown that it is not a particularly "useful" definition, because it
includes things that you do not consider art. wrote:
> (Enough of this sort of silliness! In the name of Newton, I want to discuss
> definitions of "definition" even less than I want to discuss defintions of
> art.)

This is exactly what I have been trying to point out. In general people
do not want art defined. In general people want art to remain mystified,
ephemeral, and undefined. This limits the use of art.

Sara Marr wrote:
> You have yet to provide your working definitions of subjectivity and
> objectivity.

Subjective interpretation of art: I like this, this is beautiful, I
appreciate this; value judgements.

Objective interpretation of art: This work is created with such and
such. This work uses such and such colours in a certain ratio. This work
is time based. This work uses such and such imagery. This work uses such
and such sounds; collection of data to be corrolated to previously
collected scientific data. No value judgements.

Sara Marr wrote:
> To an extent I agree: they are _more_ objective. They are not, however,
> objective.

and ...

Sara Marr wrote:
> The point being, that the objective definition of anything, if an objective
> defintion can exist, is temporally and culturally variant.

Let us say that I were arguing that the earth is round, and you were
arguing that the earth is flat. If I cannot convince you that your idea
is less objectively true than my arguement that the earth is round, then
there is simply no reason for us to argue. I must simply pass you by and
wait for more reasonable people to be born, people who are not so
attached to the archaic definitions or lack of definitions for things,
people who will not accept fairy tales as valid sources of objective

Each generation is accepting of less and less mystification of things.
Future generations will not accept our current mystification of art. You
can argue with me day and night, but that will not stop the
demystification and future scientific use of art. wrote:
> I do not dispute that art says *something*; I disputed that it says what the
> artist thinks it does.

I agree that art does not always say what the artist intends. This does
not matter for my use of art.

> Now, per Gregory's comments, I will also dispute that
> it necessarily communicates "conditions" any better than a variety of
> alternative measures.

Some conditions it will communicate better than others. That is why we
do not have only one method of measurement. I have been talking about
psychological conditions, and thus certainly agree that art has less to
say, though not nothing to say, on a cultures economic status than does
their balance sheets.

> I like art--a lot. I do not, however, accord it
> privileged status as a source of truth.

If it is not a source of truth or facts, then is it a source of untruths
and non-facts? Is it not possible that you like the idea of art as long
as it is not a source of truth, that you do not like the idea of art
being a source of truth. Watch the Discovery Channel, or the Learning
Channel, and you will see that archeologists very often use art as a
source of truth. Archeologists can learn a great deal about a culture
based on that culture's art. The archeologists do not merely "enjoy" the
art as you would have them do.

We often put art in time capsules on earth and in probes sent out in
space. We do not do this so that future or alien cultures will enjoy our
art. We do this to tell those cultures something about us.

Gregory Houston          Triberian Institute of Emotive Education