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  1. #1
    John Oberon
    Guest

    To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    Alrighty, Charlie K, I know you’re a proponent of the Oscar Wilde “Art is quite useless” viewpoint that nobody can assign any logic, reason, morality, or purpose to art, so it puzzles me when you quote art to me and think that’s logical, reasonable, moral, and purposeful.

    You, of course, know that NONE of the works of Shakespeare appeal to any standard of truth or morality, right? I think just the opposite. Good grief, why do you think they’re called TRAGEDIES? The whole premise is that life should NOT be this way, and if it IS this way, it’s tragic. By what standard does ANYONE call them tragedies? I’ll be bold here and state categorically it’s by the standard I outlined. Life is better, more powerful, and more to be desired than death, therefore, when people kill themselves or others, it’s tragic. Loyalty is better, more powerful, and more to be desired than betrayal, therefore, when people betray one another, it’s tragic.

    ALL of Shakespeare stands as a monument to the criteria I described. It’s precisely what I mean by “negative affirmation of the eternal truths”. Either you affirm them positively by allowing them to triumph, or you affirm them negatively by showing the pain and anguish that result from denying them. What you SHOULDN’T do is deny these truths and allow any sort of lasting happiness, victory, exultation, or contentment to result from it. If you do, that is tripe. Alex’s piece did that, and it is not an insult to label something for what it is.

    Consider Phantom of the Opera. Now there’s a powerful negative affirmation of the universal truths. He allows his surface hideousness to infect his soul, and he’s in misery and anguish because of it. He yearns for the universal truths, and begs for release from his hell. He knows life should NOT be like that, and he knows the eternal criteria that guides his judgment. Powerful writing.

    Now what would you consider the opposite of the Phantom of the Opera? Your superficial thinking would demand Clark Kent of Smallville, or Anne of Greene Gables, or Pollyanna or something along those lines, but you’re wrong. The opposite of the Phantom is Freddy Krueger or Jason of Friday the 13th. They don’t yearn for beauty or love and acceptance. They revel in hate and annihilation and find joy and satisfaction in it. They deny the truths and feel quite pleased and content about it. That’s tripe.

    I don’t know why this is so difficult to understand. It’s like I point to Mt. Everest and say, “Look at that huge mountain!” and you say, “What mountain?”



  2. #2
    Weed Eater
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    You point your finger to the peak and proclaim it the only natural beauty worthy of study.

    Your point of view is elitist. You've already bent your definition several times to continue this argument. Allow for the fact that other people entertain differing opinions, and that in the world of literature, their is no defining critique.

    There is no worthy set of fourteen rules that one must follow to enjoy art, and even if such could be so capsulized, we would not look to you, nor anyone else here, to provide them to us.

  3. #3
    Charlie K
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    Why don't you go outside and get some fresh air, Dr Oberon? You sound like an uncle who is about excuse himself from the supper-table because he has eaten too much overcooked cabbage.

    "1. There are universal truths.

    2. These truths include, but are not limited to: Love is more powerful (and more to be desired, I might add) than Hate, Freedom than Slavery, Courage than Cowardice, Knowledge than Ignorance, etc.

    3. Any writing as a whole that affirms these truths is good and powerful writing.

    4. Any writing as a whole that denies these truths is tripe."

    The tragedies of Shakespeare do not 'affirm' or 'deny' any such so-called 'truths'. It is not his job to make such facile, block-headed statements. Life is not a power-point display. So I don't see why we should expect art to be. Art is often most successful when ambiguous. In fact, ambiguity might be considered art's 'stock-in-trade'.

    I like this quote from The Middle Years, by Henry James. It's spoken by a writer:

    "We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."

  4. #4
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    "What you SHOULDN’T do is deny these truths and allow any sort of lasting happiness, victory, exultation, or contentment to result from it. If you do, that is tripe. Alex’s piece did that, and it is not an insult to label something for what it is."

    What's funny is that I would bet you are the only one who perceived the piece that way. No wonder you can't change the minds of anyone here, (besides the fact that your approach is rude and condescending) I saw nothing but tragedy in Alex's piece. It is tragic that a young person would resort to such drastic measures, that they would have no more self worth than that. But it happens. And that is a Universal Truth. The good guys don't always win.

  5. #5
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    Oh, yeah, I forgot. Rah, rah.

  6. #6
    Jonathan Lynn
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    8-1-05: Johnny O's farewell post. How admirable to go out in such flame and glory...

    8-4-05: He is STILL HERE.

    Weed Eater is absolutely right. Now we need to agree to disagree and realize that art is inherently subjective, and cannot be objectively judged based on the 'Universal Criteria'. It is entirely a matter of personal preference. John O, you didnt like what Alex wrote, and you said as much. Isnt that enough?

  7. #7
    John Oberon
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    Weed - "You point your finger to the peak and proclaim it the only natural beauty worthy of study."

    I did no such thing. But I would say that the universal truths are the SOURCE of all beauty.

    I'm not spouting a point of view, I'm attempting to describe reality and apply that reality to writing. I don't know how in the world you can say I've bent my definition when I ENUMERATED it. I just keep repeating the same thing over and over with different examples. Here is the differing "opinion" you want me to entertain: "Hate is better, more powerful, and more to be desired than love", "Death is better, more powerful, and more to be desired than life". That is not reality.

    At no time did I even INSINUATE that there are fourteen rules one must follow to enjoy art. Those fourteen points were an attempt to break down in to bite-size chunks a SINGLE, just ONE, aspect of good writing. Sheesh, lord knows what would happen if I wrote ALL the aspects of good writing I've discovered. Coronary city, lol.

    And I don't ask you to look to me. I ask you to look at all the fine examples of good, powerful writing that you yourselves provide. That's what I did. Can you find one that DOESN'T affirm the universal truths either positively or negatively? I can't. I've tried. This is not my "opinion"; it's a fact that I've discovered, and I didn't particularly like it when I discovered it. Who DOESN'T prefer to be sole arbiter of good and bad for themselves? I for one would certainly prefer that, but it isn't reality. "I like it" is not an answer when you ask, "Why is this good writing?"

    There is a standard outside me, outside all of us, whether you want to call it God, morality, or whatever, and it's THERE. CONCRETE. SOLID. Not a bit of gray - and you acknowledge it to your betterment, or deny it to your detriment. Every good piece of writing that I know stands on that as a premise. The only "opinion" I offered involved what exactly I think makes up this standard...Love, Life, Hope, Compassion, Loyalty...and I think it not unreasonable because it fits my observations in every instance.

    Charlie - I state that good writing as a whole affirms universal truths and give several examples to back it up and your answer is essentially "No it doesn't"?

    Tell me, Charlie, if art is madness and useless, if there is no purpose or meaning, no morality or logic to it, then why are you trying to argue with me? Why don't we all just go back to our padded rooms and commit as much insanity to paper as we like? I'll tell you why. It's because there IS meaning, purpose, morality, and logic to art and you don't happen to like my description of this one aspect of it. You think the purpose is to express ambiguity passionately; that's a writer's task. Since you're a Shakespeare fan, show me some "passionate ambiguity" in a work of his. Does the word "tragedy" sound ambiguous to you? My gosh, the emotions portrayed cut to the entrails. Doubt and Ambiguity, by definition, CANNOT be passionate. Name me one person on this whole planet who's really passionate about what they doubt.

    Quotes are well and good, Charlie, but I prefer your own thoughts instead of vicarious ones.

  8. #8
    Denise .
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    "I'm attempting to describe reality"

    There is no reality, only perception. That's where you keep failing, John, you are trying to force YOUR reality on others.

  9. #9
    Charlie K
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    "You think the purpose is to express ambiguity passionately; that's a writer's task."

    I never said that. And I don't think it.

    "Since you're a Shakespeare fan, show me some "passionate ambiguity" in a work of his."

    Off the top of my head - Richard II, Edgar, Iago. We like villains. We ENJOY tragedy. We ENJOY being put through the emotional mill.

    William Butler Yeats

    Lapis Lazuli

    (For Harry Clifton)

    I have heard that hysterical women say
    They are sick of the palette and fiddle-bow.
    Of poets that are always gay,
    For everybody knows or else should know
    That if nothing drastic is done
    Aeroplane and Zeppelin will come out.
    Pitch like King Billy bomb-balls in
    Until the town lie beaten flat.

    All perform their tragic play,
    There struts Hamlet, there is Lear,
    That's Ophelia, that Cordelia;
    Yet they, should the last scene be there,
    The great stage curtain about to drop,
    If worthy their prominent part in the play,
    Do not break up their lines to weep.
    They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
    Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
    All men have aimed at, found and lost;
    Black out; Heaven blazing into the head:
    Tragedy wrought to its uttermost.
    Though Hamlet rambles and Lear rages,
    And all the drop-scenes drop at once
    Upon a hundred thousand stages,
    It cannot grow by an inch or an ounce.

    "Gaiety transfiguring all that dread" - In my opinion, there is a joyfullness to art - both for the creator and for the reader, the listener, or the viewer - that does not depend on, and is not concerned with trite moral formulas.

  10. #10
    John Oberon
    Guest

    Re: To Charlie K. et al...with love and affection

    Denise - perhaps you might want to take up your argument with Alex, the author, who also thinks as I do, though he didn't like my delivery. And also, #10 & #11.

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