Joined: Aug. 2004
||Posted: May 19 2008, 14:20
|Quote (nightspore @ May 19 2008, 15:19)|
|this was the philosopher Kant's exact point: in his Third Critique he said that in music, painting, etc there's a feeling dimension and an intellectual dimension, and the two must be in balance for the art to be art.|
Like the idea of left brain (for intellectual mental activity) and right brain (for intuition), I find these really are helpful practical concepts - not just a matter of abstract philosophising for philosophising's sake.
Blake (whose Songs of Innocence were introduced in a different discussion though they have nothing to do with this one - except insofar as they have something to do with everything, Blake being Blake) overlapped with Kant's lifespan and had his own system, which was fourfold, not twofold. It's not irrelevant to mention this here, so I will (stick with me, because I'm coming back to Light and Shade shortly). For Blake the four key areas of human activity were
1. the intellect;
2. the emotions (so far, so like Kant);
3. the senses; and
4. the imagination.
This 4-fold division is perfectly suited to describing what happens when we enjoy art (of any kind). In terms of engaging with music, there's
1. the intellectual exercise of understanding what the composer is doing;
2. the emotional aspect - how the music makes you feel;
3. the sensual aspect - the sheer physical impact that the sound makes, pleasurable or otherwise;
4. and then there's the imaginative aspect - the ability we have to take all the various parts and grasp them all together as a whole. For Blake and others, like Coleridge and Ruskin, the imagination was the key to the operation that brings all these four together - and there's the rub. To achieve the perfect response, all these have to operate in balance, together.
It's interesting to try ticking the boxes in a particular case. So for instance, when I listen to Light and Shade I can't say my intellect is very fully engaged (mostly because I have a poor intellectual understanding of music in general); but the music certainly has an emotional impact (varying in degree from track to track, though). There's not much in the way of sensual response - I suppose all those computerised sounds don't seduce me as much as 'real' instruments would, and the synthetic voices certainly make me uncomfortable. And since I really only see the album as not much more than the sum of its parts, it seems that my imagination is only operating in a limited way - either because there's not much there to grasp, or because I just haven't really 'got it' yet.
I suppose what Blake might say is that the ideal is for all four to be operating together in the 'perfect' composer when he's making the music; and then all four should be operating again, in the 'perfect' listener when he's listening to it. In practice what we get is always going to be less than that, because neither composer nor listener can fully balance those four factors. I suppose this is partly why we get such a range of responses by different people to the same piece of music - we each operate, as listeners, with a different mix of the Big Four.