[Dixielandjazz] Re: Art

Dan Augustine ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu
Mon Dec 1 15:31:33 PST 2003

Pat and DJML--
    If we can't define 'art', we can't say what it isn't.  I had a music course in the 1970's wherein the professor quoted one definition of 'music' as "any wanted sound".  I disagree with that definition and dislike that way of defining terms, but unfortunately i can't come up with a definition of music that i like better ("art in sound" or even "The artistic combination of melody, harmony, and rhythm." both beg the question).  To me personally, if it doesn't have melody, it ain't music, but i don't expect many to share that view (it does, however, eliminate 'rap', so it's not all bad).  "And what is 'melody'?" asked the sage, and the philosophers wept.
    Others have variously wrestled with this problem.  Here are a couple of quotations:

        "The less a science is advanced, the more its terminology
         tends to rest on an uncritical assumption of mutual
         understanding."  -- Willard V. Quine in _Word and Object_  

        "ART, n.  This word has no definition.  Its origin is related
         as follows by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape, S.J.
             One day a wag -- what would the wretch be at? --
             Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT,
             And said it was a god's name!  Straight arose
             Fantastic priests and postulants (with shows,
             And mysteries, and mummeries, and hymns,
             And disputations dire that lamed their limbs)
             To serve his temple and maintain the fires,
             Expound the law, manipulate the wires.
             Amazed, the populace that rites attend,
             Believe whate'er they cannot comprehend,
             And, inly edified to learn that two
             Half-hairs joined so and so (as Art can do)
             Have sweeter values and a grace more fit
             Than Nature's hairs that never have been split,
             Bring cates and wines for sacrificial feasts,
             And sell their garments to support the priests."
              -- Ambrose Bierce in _The Devil's Dictionary_

>From: "PJ Ladd" <pj.ladd at btopenworld.com>
>Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Art & Jazz & Audience/woody allen
>Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 21:04:50 -0000
><`He is a celebrity and will attract an audience to pay fifty dollars to see
>him go to the bathroom if nothing else.`>
>To some people anyone can be a celebrity.
>In the UK we have recently had some Yank named Blaine, who is apparently
>famous in his own country, hanging from a crane in a perspex box over the
>He didn`t do anything. Not even eat, for about 30 days. Unfortunately the
>crowds, although they went to see him, did not treat him with the respect he
>commanded in the US. They threw things at him, shone laser lights at him,
>held drunken revels beneath his box. Someone climbed out on the crane jib
>and tried to saw the cable through.  Naughty ladies took their blouses off
>and shook their wobbly bits at him. In fact a good time was had by all and
>the police had to mount a cordon under him. Eventually  the twit was taken
>out of his box and whisked away to hospital in a blaze of photographic flash
>bulbs. Nothing has been heard of him since.
>Was it ART? I ask.

** Dan Augustine - ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu             **
** Office of Admissions, University of Texas; Austin, Texas **

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