'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

So, do you know what you like?




Part 3.

This is not to deny that individuals can use art works as aesthetic objects intelligently or stupidly. It would, for example, be silly for someone to attend to art works with no other intention than of satisfying only one kind of pleasurable impulse. Fortunately, most of us learn from our experiences of life by threading into each new experience something of previous experiences of a similar kind. So it is that when we have a 'moving', 'joyous' or merely 'pleasurable' experience of art works, we tend to use that experience in a way that will enhance and intensify the pleasure we gain from our subsequent encounters with them. In other words, it is perfectly appropriate to say, 'I don't know much about art but I know what I like' if that amounts to what we do when we seek out art works that give us pleasure and when we thread the pleasurable experiences of our past encounters with art works into each new one. People who approach art in this way may not increase their knowledge of art works as art works, but there is no question that they take an intelligent approach to the quest for an enhancement of the pleasure to be gained from art works, and that, in doing so, they are acquiring knowledge of how to attend to art works aesthetically.

Cartoon by Ronald Searle.


3 comments:

  1. I could almost believe that Part 3 was written about me. Either I am easily swayed or I learned something from interacting with Parts 1 and 2. Or both.

    This has been both instructive and enjoyable, Katherine.

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  2. My pleasure, Robert.

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  3. Well I, for one, couldn't argue against that at all. Many people I have met in the art world are arrogantly dismissive of that statement. I rather wish that I'd been able to enunciate my response as eloquently.

    I do have one caveat to the statement. I think that the statement could be more accurately be "... but I know what I like when I see it". I can tell you some of the subjects I am likely to enjoy (for example I have a number of pictures of contemplative female figures from behind looking out of doors or windows - though in almost as many different styles) but the rest of the pictures I have do not fall into any category or genre or subject whatsoever.

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