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Everything posted by jfutral

  1. http://www.transpositions.co.uk/2012/10/introducing-the-christianity-film-symposium/ Since you guys are more about film than the other arts I thought you might be interested in the next series at Transpositions. Joe
  2. Another interesting article written by Mako. One of the questions asked talks about morality and art: 3. “Strict moralism has never produced good art.” referencing the paragraph about Mary and the perfumed oil being used on Jesus's feet. Seemed relevant since the idea of art and morals has come up in this discussion. Joe
  3. Thinking about this some more today. I also came across this article on NPR about Donna Summer, which I think is very relevant and right in line with something I was thinking about. I was contemplating why current art, music for instance, reaches so many more people than the classics. Why would I like Bon Jovi more than Bach? A lot of us who give this kind of thing a lot of thought easily dismiss it as "it's mindless" or "it's easy" or whatever. And I think in pop music's defense, yes it is easy and that is an important point. It is more relatable. That guy or girl up on stage could have been (and might even have been) me or my neighbour. They are playing an instrument I have played or at least desired to play at some point in my life. They sing about things I know or dream about. The music they play is at the end of time as I am, that is, everything that has shaped that music to sound as it does is the same kind of things that have shaped me to be who I am today, living in the environment I live in today. I understand that music because i can easily understand that music. I don't have to learn Italian, it is speaking the english I know. I had more here, but NBooth put it better. I think the word that keeps troubling me is "standard" because it requires a measure. And Modernity loves to measure because there is power in measuring, particularly if I can be the one holding the tape. To say there is an "objective standard" is to say exactly as you keep saying, that some things are better. It means there is a particular something, an actual form or substance to compare to. But how can we say this is a standard when we can't actually fully see what we are comparing to? When we say better we really mean better at something or things in particular. You really can't say "better" without imposing a subjective/relative quality or quantity. In a sense "objective" does not have meaning on its own. Just like a read a statistician the other day say, data has no meaning on its own, it needs context to make sense. To say 2 feet is our standard measure means we have to know which direction from 2 feet we are deviating from in order to know if we are better at presenting 2 feet than something else. So, is there a better word to use than "standard"? I can't figure out what it is. Maybe we can just say there is an objective beauty we all strive to understand, some in ways other than everyone else. I don't know what word means all that. I also give humans a little more benefit of the doubt. I don't think taste is a direct (much less exhaustive) indicator of what people hold as valuable. I think taste is just that, taste. A green salad brimming with vegetables may be better for me, then a burger from Five Guys, but sometimes nothing satisfies like that burger. That doesn't mean I don't think the salad has value. Nor does it mean I won't beat myself up for not eating more salads. As someone who makes his living as an artist this is _always_ a wrestling match for me. Why do some artists creating excellent, thoughtful work find the financial road so much more difficult? I actually struggle with both objectivists and subjectivists in power. The galleries and presenters who look to promulgate the latest, newest upstart artist are as bad as the objectivists critics who find their art reprehensible. They all want to say what is and isn't art, or, what is or isn't beautiful, while a world of art and beauty goes by the wayside. Occasionally I find the presenter who simply says "I found this beautiful or worthwhile, I hope you do, too." (and probably more so in dance than other art forms because there is so little money in dance to begin with, what power is there to have?) Joe
  4. Which brings us back to my original question. I apologize for allowing myself to get side tracked. I did not mean for my involvement in this discussion to be about "This, not that". That's fine if others want to tread those trails. I've never had a problem with a thread I start developing into other branches. I just accept it as the nature of human communication, especially as exercised on the internet. Let's accept that first objective beauty as a natural basis shown to be real. the how may or may not be important, but we can work backwards for that a bit, I think. This unifying theory of beauty exists and we can either quantitatively or qualitatively (or both) use this as a real standard to measure other works to see where they fall on the "good, true, and beautiful scale". And anyone who would argue against it might as well be arguing that plants don't need water or that gravity doesn't have the effect it does. Or whatever other futile argument you find acceptable as an analogy. What then? What is the result of this that makes arguing for this worth the effort? What is prevented? What is encouraged and progressed? What changes? Can things be more true, good, and beautiful than others? Does pain and suffering no longer exist? Or can those, too, fall within this measure? What of the ugly? What of the building block that was rejected? Is that no longer a potential? What of the things that, by this objective measure, should fall outside those bounds? Joe
  5. No one here here is going to disparage the sentiment that you ought to praise God. However, adding "praise God" to the end of a dismissive statement does not let anyone off the hook for making the statement in the first place. "You're healthy, my arm just got cut off, praise God anyway!" "You went to Yale, I dropped out of highschool, praise God anyway!" "You believe this elevator is unsafe, I believe this elevator is perfectly safe, praise God anyway!" Theologically, there are still problems to be dealt with at the end of all four of the above sentences. i can't even begin to see how you can seriously consider those comparable. My example at least remains open to finding value in the other as opposed to simply dismissing the other. Sure, as long as your subjective eye believes that work is objectively beautiful. How do you escape subjectivism again? Oh, you don't. [edit to add] OK, in an attempt to not be as dismissive about beauty as the (strong) objectivists are always want to be, his work is beautiful, a fine _example and singular sample_ of beauty. But if this was all I had as an example of an objective beauty, if this is the objective all should be striving for, I'd rather be blind and deaf. And my authority would only extend as far as anyone agreed. It would have no authority, nor should it, beyond that. But if this guy floats your boat and a steady diet of his work is all you need to sustain you, good on you. Or in the words of the disparaged "Praise God anyway". You find value in this guys work beyond my own views. That's good enough for me. Joe
  6. Which is why I am far more appreciative of the disparaged sentiment "You like Bach, I like Bon Jovi, praise God anyway!" Joe
  7. Well, if you didn't just illustrate the struggle for authority and power inherent to the argument over objective standards, I don't know how much more I can. All the same, re:art, it is usually one of two perspectives—the ones arguing for objective standards in art are almost always speaking out against someone's or several someones' art and usually trying to subvert any positive recognition that art has received. Or from the other side (the anarchist, if you will) the artist trying to subvert a society's accepted norms of beauty. There is a strong defense to be made that this kind of back and forth on the dynamic polarities is what serves to expand our understanding of beauty. But it is a struggle with the perceived stakes to be able to say what is and isn't beauty or art. It would be great if all objectivists had as humble a view on our ability to perceive the objective as you've so far articulated. But it seems to be that whenever someone grasps something of the objective it is almost always used as a weapon, rarely as a way to deeper understanding. Standards by definition require measure. Whether you want to use a qualitative or a quantitative measure makes no difference to me. As an artist who is moving more and more into arts administration and curation, quantitative becomes even more important as we try to justify financial support. Cry all you want about the ill affects of consumerism, but until you can develop and disseminate a post-monetary economy (and I am all for that!) financial consideration is always going to be a measure. Should it be? Probably not. Should it be primary? Absolutely not. But I still need to put food on the table and a roof over the heads of my family and pay my debts and debtors. But the question really becomes what measure? We say art has intrinsic value, but "value" really is an extremely subjective word. Sometimes I need my despair soothed. Sometimes I need my arrogance tamed. Not all works can affect both. So some art will have greater value than others, relative to any number of things. And what is the nature of that measure? Is it linear? Is there a point above, even, and below that beauty can/should be compared to? Or if qualitative, what are the qualities that every thing of beauty must contain? I say that is not a fault. That is humanity. That is the other half of art, not just a necessary evil for art to exist. Art requires the viewer. Art is the sound of a tree falling in the wilderness. If there is no one to hear, it makes no sound. The viewer is so important, the viewer can alter the results of a work—turn a painting of a beautiful woman or man into pornography. I would say the viewer has the greater responsibility to beauty than any artist. Just as quantum physics has its observation affect, so, too, does art and beauty. In essence, beauty _is_ in the eye of the beholder because it is in the beholder that beauty will find its resulting definition. The eye is the light of the body. If the eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But is this affect objective or "freefall relativism"? What if it is both? Joe P.S. Paul says to the Thessalonians "...test all things, hold onto the good" (Futral's paraphrase).
  8. Maybe. Or this may very well be the issue. There is a rationalist tendency to believe that if someone disagrees it is either because they misunderstood something along the way or they are not thinking it through thoroughly enough, otherwise everyone would reach the same conclusion. Particularly if objective standards do exist and are equally accessible and understandable by all. I just don't know how we can ever get outside our own subjective nature enough to be able to say "This is the objective beauty we were all striving for" with any kind of authority (there is that word again). That's really the crux isn't it? There could be universals of just about anything. But we can only understand the universals through the particulars, which will never be the universal itself, therefore never a complete or exact representation. At least as far as we can know. Joe
  9. BTW, thanks for chiming in on the "pro-objective standards" side. Personally, I would alter that first sentence a bit and say the true, good, and beautiful point toward as they come from the Divine. And for myself, just as God is more than I can know, so, too, is beauty. Not that it is unknowable, but that there is always more to know than I can know. But this quote seems to get to what I imagined, if there is no objective beauty or standards there is no civilized life or humanity. I actually kind of agree with that. But will we ever know enough to be able to define its borders, extrapolate the formula? So there are two parts to this question—1) Is there such a thing as objective beauty? and 2) is this boundary something we can fully comprehend and apprehend? Or are we ever subject to our own limited understanding? Joe
  10. I found this line problematic: "First, I think it should remind us not to devalue the very thing that we enjoy. Treating music as just a means to an emotional end makes listening a utilitarian, rather than artistic, pursuit." There are many artists, whole schools of art, who would say the primary reason for the existence of art is exactly that, emotion. So he might as well be saying "Using a hammer just to drive nails makes the hammer utilitarian". Joe
  11. I was trying not to assume much of anything other than I don't understand the benefit of quantifiable objective standards for beauty. One thing I do think we find in the Christian understanding of God is his ability to find beauty and value where no one else did (and sometimes wanting to destroy what went against a defined objective standard) or would expect, especially with people. I do think we are called to search for "scraps" of beauty in everything. I think that is an exhortation from Paul, is it not? What of the affect the viewer has on the art? Is the viewer only ever at the mercy of the work? Does the viewer/listener not bring anything to the work? Joe
  12. Over at The Curator there is a recent article on music called "The Tyranny of Taste" It is another appeal to an objective quality and standard of beauty in art. While my opinion on this matter can be easily found here and on other forums (I personally think the cry for recognition and adherence to objective standards stems more from a fight for authority and control, and a bit of self-righteousness, than an actual search to understand beauty, beauty needs no defending), my question is why do so many people care? Let's say it is possible to clearly define and explain beauty in a manner that has unquestionable universal application and does not rely on human interpretation. What happens if beauty, or art or taste or where ever the discussion occurs, is empirically shown to be objective? What happens if it is shown to be subjective? What happens if it is shown that it ultimately doesn't matter? Do we think art will change one way or the other? Will we be able to pass laws to make some (currently legal) art illegal and incarcerate the offenders? Will that make a better world? Does God stop being God? Is our faith for naught? Why this importance for objectivity (implicitly intellectual and quantifiable) on a human level? Will the world really go to hell in a handbasket one way or the other? With this article in particular, there is an appeal to be open to things one might not like and finding value outside one's preferences that I am sympathetic to. Frankly, I find the disparaged perspective of "I like Bach, you like Bon Jovi, praise the Lord anyhow" to be more open than not to allowing value to something one might not like. Just something I've been pondering lately, Joe
  13. Maybe it is the medium and the nature of a TV show, but even _Smash_ seems to have a somewhat accelerated pace for a NEW production (from script to stage). Joe
  14. Well, not all the local critics raved: http://www.artsatl.com/2012/04/review-“ghost-brothers”-soars-with-mellencamp’s-music-but-is-very-much-a-work-in-progress/ Joe
  15. jfutral


    The police captain backstory is driving me nuts. The show intimated some over-arching behind the scenes plot, especially with the blond lawyer (or whatever she was) girl. Now it is just a ghost of a backstory. I wish they hadn't played it up so hard at the beginning and just let it unfold more slowly and casually. I kind of feel like they didn't have anything specific planned but wanted something to build organically, or they have decided they need to change what they planned. Either way, it is a promise as yet unfulfilled. They kind of seem to be resetting that story line in recent episodes. We'll see. I hate being disappointed in a potential story after such huge implied (or inferred) promises. Joe
  16. As someone who works primarily with choreographers, dancers, and dance companies, particularly modern dancers, this is an intriguing article. As someone from the south, it is a bit hard to sympathize with their perspective within the context of NYC (NYC folks can be such snobs and myopic sometimes), but they make some great points, particularly about timeless work and pursuing either a company or project based art. A Critics' Conversation Joe
  17. Well, the "blissful ignorance" comment wasn't serious, per se. I have no idea what the strolling smiley face guy is about. All I tried to put in was an old fashioned smiley emoticon. I guess all this fancy shmancy HTML stuff these days has no room for us old timers. But to your point, really the operative phrase there is ", and do it" as opposed to being scared even more and avoid doing it out of fear. So I suppose if God knows that us knowing what he wants us to do will actually work out to us doing it as opposed to frightening the bejebus out of us... well, I suppose it is all up to him in any regard. Joe
  18. Gotcha. But to me, praying "I'm confused God, please help me in this process" is vastly different than asking "What is your will for me to do? Tell me." I dont think the latter is a valid question, because it presupposes that God specifically wants him to do one of those things and that your friend may somehow be able to know this information, even if God did. While it's true, the Bible does tell of God speaking to people about where to go to accomplish certain things, I dont think we can interpret this as the norm for day-to-day living. I dont mock and I admittedly still struggle with this issue in some ways. But I would ask your friend; "What if you knew God would be very pleased with you no matter which job you chose and that you would grow, learn and be happy on both paths, no matter what? What if you knew that that each one only represented a temporal tour on your journey and that both had their own unique joys and sorrows-- neither one being 'perfect' or 'right'?" This really resonates with me. I mean at some point a decision has to be made. At that point, if one hasn't heard specifics, I think then the safety net is that God has the ability to redeem bad decisions. What if, sometimes, God really is giving us a choice, neither decision is wrong? Quite frankly, I have a strong suspicion that if we _really_ knew what God wanted us to do and specifically what his plan was for us, we would be scared to death and probably try everything in our power to avoid that! Why can't we, at least sometimes, be satisfied in our blissful ignorance? :-) Joe
  19. Some musings. I think most people are torn in this tension of free-will/predetermination. God loves us, so we have to have free will or the love isn't free. God loves us, so he has everything determined for us so that we can freely love him. We are stuck between being in process but afraid of mistakes along the way. But if God loves us why would he let us make mistakes? One of my favourite quotes, now, is from a recent episode of Once Upon a Time, "You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants some magic solution for their problem, and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” - Jefferson (The Mad Hatter). What's the only way to solve writer's block (or any other artistic block)? Keep writing. Keep creating. Don't stop. Don't let lack of clarity or certainty hold you from making decisions, even if they are mistakes. At least you can learn from mistakes. Process... I could be wrong, but I think protestants (particularly free-willers like myself) are more predisposed to this kind of thinking because we have this idea of a puncticular salvation, there is this one moment in time where we are "saved". Never mind all the work, the process, the Spirit did to get us to that point. Almost as if it were some sort of abstract leap of faith, sans process. Is it still free will if God is the one who brought us to the point of that decision? Even C. S. Lewis pointed out, "How could I have chosen otherwise?" (my paraphrase). Another protestant inclination, what is it we are so enamored with words? Supposedly words are clear, concise, explicit. If God speaks we will know precisely what we should do. I have no doubt this issue, even as it is "grounded" in the supernatural, appeals to our natural intellect. Maybe what we really want is freedom from the responsibility of making our own decisions. But God gives us the desires of our heart. So why would it be wrong to marry the one we find most attractive (keeping in mind, "most attractive" does not have to mean "most physically attractive"). Who am I to say it wasn't God who molded me in a way to find one more attractive than the other? Trust... Process... But the path to hell is paved with good intentions, right? I'm one of those who believe there is more supernatural to the natural than we may think. Or maybe it is the other way around. Anyway. I have no doubt, when all is revealed, we will be surely surprised by how many times God _did_ speak to us. There ain't nothing easy about this topic. Joe
  20. This is what I tell my daughter every time she complains about how I dress, then she has to take it up with God. Joe
  21. Sounds real familiar! Sometimes I'll give up sugar in an attempt to be "healthy". In the end I find being "happy" more compelling. My big change was finally giving in and getting a "real" coffee maker, the new Bonavita. After over 20 years of blissful coffee making ignorance I gave in and experimented with my daughter's french press. I've been roasting my own beans for almost a year (first with a popcorn popper and now with a Behmor) and constantly reading posts from these guys who spend hundreds (some even thousands) of dollars on brewers and grinders. I've travelled around the world and had coffee at some really great local roasters, often buying coffee from them. I never thought my home coffee was all that bad. Boy was I wrong. The good news is, good coffee tastes good black or light and sweet, so I wouldn't get too worked up over it. Good coffee and good brewing just plain make a difference, especially if you are moving _from_ sweeteners. My refurbed Baratza grinder should get here Monday. I never thought I would spend $200 to make coffee. Criminy. If you are roasting your own beans and really getting into single origin stuff, might as well make sure you are taking full advantage of the different flavours possible. Joe
  22. I would hazard a guess that this is part of the problem, what this actually means—what is wrong with someone to begin with and a particular church's ideas on how you should be made whole. [edited to add] Sure. I could be wrong, but I suspect that what you mean by "returned to the church" and what she means is probably not all that much alike. But, like I said, I could be wrong. Joe
  23. Just want to say thanks for pointing out this blogsite. It has quickly become one of my favourites. As for this symposium in particular (right now they are doing an arts and missions series, which could either be interesting), once they got past Betty Spackman's post it slowly degenerated into some sort of, well, I'm not sure what. It was never quite clear what people were actually railing against. Is kitsch a mindset? Particular genre of work? Is it the work of the artist or the viewer? I never felt like anyone zeroed in on what was kitsch and what exactly was the issue. But I could have just not read carefully enough. I always have issues, especially among Christians, with people who take pot shots at things that are spiritually significant to others, whether it is style of worship, particular doctrines, "experiential" vs whatever the opposite is, etc. At some point, if the argument hasn't veered into vitriol, the parties start to sound a bit snobbish. And I say all this as I've participated in such arguments. I've been, and probably will be again, a prime example. Some of the posts took on decidedly "protestant" points of view. At the very least, on the plus side, I feel like I'm reading articles from people who at least are attempting to take art seriously from the perspective of art, whether I agree with anyone's opinions or not. As a working artist, it has been more encouraging than other blogs like The Gospel Coalition or The Lausanne Global Conversation. Joe
  24. Since Bethke's video has spurred conversation here as it has elsewhere. Joe
  25. Just to be clear, this is not my premise. I was just restating what I've heard argued, even from pastors. Particularly independent, non-denominational pastors. Joe
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