Quality, Beauty, the Good

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Quality, Beauty, the Good

From Brian K. Yoder

Published before 2005


Blue Postie wrote:
Hello everyone,

I'd like to make my debut on this message board by saying that I agree with Virgil about over intellectualising. Burne-Jones once said he wanted people to look at his art and say "oh! - just oh!". In fact this is about the most intelligent response there is to a great work of art, one might almost formulate a law which says that a work of art is great in inverse proportion to the amount that a critic can say about it. Secondly if I like lobster and you don't it's pointless me telling you that lobster tastes great, in the case of art there is little point me telling you why the David is a great work because Michelangelo has already done that in the work itself, what can I add to the message of a master?

I definitely agree that one can over-intellectualize, and the Modernists are masters at that. In fact, they love doing it far more than they like making and looking at art.

I also believe that one can be anti-intellectual about art by refusing to acknowledge that certain aspects of technique, design, and so on can be discussed, understood, categorized, and recognized in interesting and productive ways. Such investigation, discussion, generalization, categorization, and so on is certainly no substitute for the experience of the artwork itself, but that doesn't mean it isn't useful. A number of useful analogies come to mind. Some people love to race cars. Some people like to sit around the pit and discuss why so and so won or lost the race. Often they are the same people too, but nobody would suggest that one would substitute for the other. The same goes for eating or talking about food, having sex or talking about it, and traveling around the world or talking about it.

I think that the key to balancing these is to understand that doing a thing and discussing it are not the same thing and that each has its place, purposes, and rewards. If we keep proper perspective on things like this we will not fall into the errors of either being overintellectualizers or anti-intellectual.

--Brian