Sunday, August 19, 2012

aesthetic meaning and value in the arts

A recent discussion of whether taste in music can be judged brought these previously written paragraphs to mind, in which I talked about the aesthetic meaning and value in various arts.
"reddle" by Klaus Leontjew
Great art establishes a background which can be self-defined, or more commonly is derived from the styles, trends, and historical context of the culture. Having established a background, art builds meaning through imitation, repetition, and contrast with the background. Meaning is constructed by each person who experiences the art as they apply their own unique perspective to the background, and to the similarities and differences of the art with its background. In each person who constructs meaning in the experience, they align themselves with some elements and disassociate themselves from other elements, creating the emotional equivalence of life experiences in a safe context. This individual interaction with art enables people to find meaning in various aspects of their lives that they would have otherwise missed, so art provides an emotional mirror that individuals use to see themselves and their circumstances from a new perspective. 

Art without contrast would have no meaning, as life without pain has no joy, and perfect equality offers no beauty, no life, and no reason for the change that defines and motivates us.

Beauty does not depend solely on contrast, but rather it depends on the relationship between the contrast, the background, and the cultural context. Some of the most awe-inspiring art is very plain and simple. However, subtle meaning can be lost in a loud crass environment where sharper contrasts are generally necessary.

Examine the photograph above. What similarities do you observe in the photo? What contrasts do you observe? Did you mentally "push away" an element of the photo? What did you reject? Why did you reject it? What element did you most connect with? What message may the artist have wanted to convey? Did you connect with the author's aesthetic idea on some level? How do YOU feel?

If you learned something from this blog about the meaning in art, please make a comment so I can also learn from you. Now listen to your favorite music, and ask yourself these same questions.


Leontjew, K. (2009). Reddle. [Web Photo]. Retrieved from

Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury: Why yes, I AM brain-damaged! How astute of you to notice!

Resources for Traumatic Brain Injury: Why yes, I AM brain-damaged! How astute of you to notice!:

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The decline of American values

While I believe our Government had a moral duty to destroy Bin Laden for spilling innocent blood, I am sympathetic with his concern that the decline of Western culture was poisoning his culture. It was poisoning our own culture first, and continues to do so, relatively unchallenged.

When we put up with entertainment that tears at the family structure by devaluing marriage, or making fathers seem superfluous, or devaluing humanity in general by depicting disrespect of others without showing the devastating consequences that disrespect causes in individual lives, or when we show excessive violence, especially violence that depicts a cheap regard for human life, we poison our own culture, and it is no wonder that others don't value our culture when we don't value it ourselves.

Our culture was founded on moral principles that were derived from the Bible. It was also founded on a revolutionary kind of freedom provided by a Government that respects God, but distinguishes itself and its interests from those of religion. Our new kind of freedom allows and encourages people to choose their own values freely, making those values personal. Hard work, celebration of the rewards of hard work, self reliance with neighbors helping neighbors apart from Government are all traditional American values that we have allowed to erode. Our traditional American values stem from the fact that we are ALL descendants of immigrants, with the exception of descendants of native Americans, (a majority of whom speak Spanish). As a nation of immigrants we owe to other immigrants at least the same welcome that was offered to our ancestors, and to the descendants of native Americans, that responsibility is greater.

Possibly the best way to end the threat of terrorists (our enemies are people, not an impersonal "ism.") is to return to our own values, and uphold them as an encouragement to others, but without offering unwanted "help" so others may obtain what they may not actually want.

What is your opinion of the relationship between the decline of American values and the threat of Islamist terrorists?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

What is this?

Obviously there is not a licensing issue with this photo of my grandmother that I've been working on restoring, but the last time I ignored a message like this on a computer, my entire MP3 collection that I had been building over several years at a cost of about $10 per weekend (I estimated about $300 worth of properly purchased songs from MusicMatch) were all marked as illegal copies and I was unable to play them. I had no backups of those files. Music Match never answered my requests to fix the problem. Now I feel as if it may be about to happen again!

(Any questions about why I distrust big media and big Government?)