October 13, 2007
I just posted something over on Metafilter and decided to copy it over here, too:
I'm an engineer. It's not a career (especially anymore) so much as a mind set. To me a thing is what a thing does. I see the world in those terms.
You'll never get any consensus as to what "art" is. For instance, Scott McCloud says that "art" is any human activity which is not directly related to survival or reproduction -- which is certainly expansive. I don't think I'd go that far.
My own definition: art is a creation intended to communicate something which cannot easily be communicated. As such, there are three dimensions to it, three scales on which any given piece of art falls.
* What is communicated can be mundane or profound. (Or somewhere in between.)
* The idea is communicated effectively or not effectively.
* What is communicate can be understood by a broad audience or only by a few.
"Great" art is profound, effective, and broad. It says something important, says it extremely well, and communicates it to many people.
But there is good art which is not at the rail on one or more of those scales. For instance, an impressionist landscape is (or can be) effective, broad, but also mundane; it tries to say "mountains are pretty." But it delivers that feeling of entrancement with the beauty of mountains to many people and inspires that feeling strongly in them. Nothing wrong with that. (A Stephen King horror novel is the same. He's a hell of a good writer; his books really move people. LOTS of people. But what he's saying isn't very important.)
The point is that the core of art, all art, is communication. The artist has some idea, image, feeling, or other mental state that he wishes the audience to feel and understand, and chooses a means of expression by which he intends to induce that feeling or mental state in his audience. When he's done, he may have succeeded or failed, but that communication was the goal.
Which means that asemic writing cannot be art, by my definition. If there is no meaning, there is nothing to communicate. Without communication there is no art.
OTOH I think that an asemic writing "artist" and asemic writing art books are dubious to say the least.
Posted by: Brickmuppet at October 13, 2007 10:56 PM (73lWn)
At least IMO, the most interesting use for 'asemic' writing would be trying to create a 'writing' that triggers the impression of having *some* kind of content or pattern, without it in fact having such. Stronger the impression, the 'better' the work.
Posted by: metaphysician at October 14, 2007 08:50 AM (KVPNK)
Some guy with the right degrees, crayon, paper. Art.
Yet another way to seperate art "sophisticates" from obscene amounts of money for little effort requiring little or no training.
Posted by: atomic_fungus at October 14, 2007 10:10 AM (1v61J)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 14, 2007 10:28 AM (+rSRq)
I agree wholeheartedly that art is communication. I'd go further and say that it's also conversation, with intent and interpretation forming the meaning of the work as a whole, but that's neither here nor there.
I'd read your post late last night and didn't visit any of the sites offering "asemic writing" examples til this morning. Before, I thought it might have been something similar to Jasper Johns' work in trying to separate symbol from meaning, so that it might stand as pure design. After, well, I guess I was giving these folks too much credit.
They look like scribbles. They look like they might be a part of something interesting. As a matter of fact, they look like the paper towels I use to wipe off my brushes during a session. I had no idea I should keep those (and sell them) rather than throw them away.
Art? If they were part of something more, possibly, but on their own? Not to my eyes.
Posted by: BeckoningChasm at October 14, 2007 10:57 AM (kLWtB)
Posted by: Jim Burdo at October 15, 2007 11:04 PM (7rgGV)
( truly horrifying story )
Posted by: metaphysician at October 16, 2007 06:29 AM (KVPNK)
I lost interest in LeGuin when one of her novels bored me enough.
Posted by: PatBuckman at October 16, 2007 08:09 AM (DZ471)
(response to the spoiler) That's Ringo for you (or Kratman, for that matter). Faced with a minor death toll over years, he'll pay the butchers' bill up front and be done with it. I'd wonder what his solution to drunk driving would be, except I don't see him as dumb enough to wage war on human stupidity. On the leftist nannies who might decide to ban driving as a solution, yes...
Oh, and Pixy, spoiler tags aren't working in the sidebar again.
Posted by: ubu at October 16, 2007 09:06 AM (dhRpo)
And yeah, when the story came up on a forum I frequented, the majority response ranged from "free the child" to "crucify the adults, burn the town, leave no stone upon stone, and salt the earth".
Posted by: metaphysician at October 16, 2007 12:50 PM (KVPNK)
If you're going to believe that the future sucks, why read or write about it?
Posted by: ubu at October 16, 2007 03:18 PM (u0M4H)
metaphysician: I agree about the leftist influnced zero sum issue. I remember that my reaction was that some of the proposed incentives were evil in of themselves.
ubu, again: I agree that optimism is better then pessimism in fiction. Good optimist writers I enjoy include Doc Smith, Ryk Spoor and Travis Taylor. On the other hand, I can enjoy a writer like Kratman or Drake, whose settings are horrible to about the same extent that the world is, was and will be. They work, however, because they are not handled in a depressing, futile, wallowing in angst and doing nothing manner.
Posted by: PatBuckman at October 16, 2007 04:09 PM (DZ471)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 16, 2007 04:18 PM (+rSRq)
Enclose all spoilers in spoiler tags:
[spoiler]your spoiler here[/spoiler]
Spoilers which are not properly tagged will be ruthlessly deleted on sight.
Also, I hate unsolicited suggestions and advice. (Even when you think you're being funny.)
At Chizumatic, we take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately.
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