1. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Degredation of Art

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Megalith, Feb 12, 2015.

    We all know it is happening, but do we really understand why? This is a response to something that transpired on another thread and I felt it deserved it's own topic for discussion. It was about Friedrich Nietzsche's prediction about art and our society.

    Nietzsche’s view of art is thoughtful and important to his ideas and values. And like everything Nietzsche, it’s hard to summarize without butchering his ideas. So before I get into this, I want to point out that Nietzsche is amoral, which is not to be confused with being a misanthropic nihilist or an immoralist. He has a positive, life-affirming drive to living and art is very close to the center. To understand how Nietzsche predicted art to degrade with society, I have to define what he believed art to be.

    People mirror themselves onto the world, reflecting the beauty that resides within upon it. To this effect Nietzsche has two ‘esthetical’ truths, “Nothing is beautiful, except for man alone, all aesthetics rests upon this naïveté.” And “Nothing is ugly, except the degenerating man.” He adds to the second, “His feeling of power, his courage, his pride - all fall with the ugly and rise with the beautiful.”

    To Nietzsche there is a physiological state of being which engenders artistic production. He describes it as a rapture or frenzy. He even compares it to being drunk. "In this state one enriches everything out of one's own fullness: whatever one sees, whatever wills is seen swelled, taut, strong, overloaded with strength. A man in this state transforms things until they mirror his power - until they are reflections of his perfection. This having to transform into perfection is - art."

    So hopefully, now you understand a little better what art means to this philosopher and how important it is to him. He believes in "The will to power" And the ultimate and unavoidable goal of becoming the ubermeinch. Art is THE tool for transcending nature, not imitating it. Creating art is the highest product of existence which humans are capable of experiencing.

    Now remember that Nietzsche is amoral. His observations of the 'track' that society finds itself on disgust him. "The purely aesthetic interpretation and justification of the world I was propounding…[sic]…placed them at the opposite role from the Christian doctrine, a doctrine entirely moral in purport, using absolute standards: God's absolute truth for example, which relegates all art to the realm of falsehood and in doing so condemns it." He explains that art is really societies best hope, "Art as the single superior counterforce against all will to negation of life, art as the anti-Christian, anti-Buddhist, anti-Nihilist par excellence."

    Mankind is turning a blind eye towards the terrible nature of humanity. We run from reality and expect that ignoring it will result in its positive change. The only way to rise above nature is through art/expression/enlightenment/realization They are essentially the same. different sides of the same coin.

    To summarize this summary, we have not yet accepted the truth about ourselves, and because of that we live a lie echoed as truth and accepted by most. This distortion creates and ever-growing gap between our assumption and reality. This gap degrades art as a form because we are unable to resolve the conflict through our expression and devalues its ‘reflective' properties. If art isn't being used for the better, it will inevitably decay for the worst. To end this OP I’ll quote this great philosopher one more time. “Once again we may see the artistic buoyancy and creative joy as a luminous cloud shape reflected upon the dark surface of a lake of sorrow.”

    EXTRAS: For a much more in depth and detailed explanation, click HERE.
     
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  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I myself have lately been wondering whether art is a way to get us in touch with our own humanity, or it is exactly the opposite: an escapist distraction from "real" human issues that warrant attention.
     
  3. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Art is the former. Entertainment is the latter. I would say right now in main stream culture there is a large emphasis on entertainment and a week emphasis on art.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
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  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Megalith

    Thanks for posting this. So are you saying that Niezche predicted what specifically? That society would abandon artistic pursuits, or that it would fail to try to understand itself ? I realize one means the other but which comes first? Also, why did he predict this?
     
  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I think it's a load of crap.
     
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  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which?
    Art?
    Or Nietzsche?
     
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  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Nietzsche is a pretty odd guy to talk about, and for most of the reasons you flagged up. He also had this conception of art being best along Dionysian/Apollonian ideals and based on the Ancient Greek drama idea of philosophy for the masses, like the music of Richard Wagner. However, like one of Wagner's operas, this could lead to art that is ultimately restrictive if not done right; either in terms of accessibility, or pomposity.

    There isn't any one answer to any of these questions, Nietzsche seemed to have been always changing and modifying his mind and opinions, so there are no real specifics.

    Nietzsche mostly predicted that after the so-called 'Death of God' man would look for something to fill the void where certainties once existed, most likely science - but the better would be art. And when art becomes ideology, art loses it's point - not strictly it's value.

    That's one version of his thought that I'm aware of, as Megalith says he's a very complex, often contradictory figure. And again, as I said, there is not one pure Nietzsche philosophy - he was constantly growing.
     
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  8. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Nietzsche does have a point when you consider the degradation of art from masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa or Rembrandt's The Night Watch to a Jackson Pollock!
     
  9. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Is that degradation, or evolution? I'm not a huge fan of Pollock either, but at least he actually makes his own stuff (I'm looking at you, Tracey Emin).
     
  10. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    I would describe more as a pompous way of Jackson Pollock showing people what Blue Poles look like to him because he cannot paint a vaguely realistic image. Dadaism, Surrealism or Cubism I can understand and see artistic merit. However, much of the abstract art that you see requires little or no effort and could be done by anyone. It relies more on promotion than ability.

    I see evolution more as the changes from the Cave of Altamira in Spain or Chauvet Cave in France to the Renaissance. Jackson Pollock's works require no consideration of light on the subject, subtle changes in hue. He could draw pictures of matchstick men in color and it would probably sell for millions!
     
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  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I agree. For the sake of argument, though, sure anyone could do it, but not everyone would think of doing it. The art is in the mentality needed to create it. Even if it's more than the ability. I do agree that without actual skill, it's not as impressive as something skillfully created AND from an abstract source.
     
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  12. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    So, by implication, art can be defined as thinking to do something, and then doing it; the skill required to do a good job of it is unnecessary.

    So if I think to deposit a wagon-load of horse-manure outside the council offices, and call it art (rather than a protest against council tax) then it's art?

    I've heard something similar used to justify a pile of bricks in an art gallery as art - "because it was intended to evoke an emotion in the beholder" - and the fact that I'm standing there in stupefaction saying "This is utter *****!" validates it as art. Which validates that explanation as art, because it evokes EXACTLY the same reaction in me.
     
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  13. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Yeah, thanks for the correction - another typo. :3 That's been happening to me a lot recently. :/

    But I'm sure some people would say that dumping a load of horse shit outside the council offices would be considered art - even Outsider Art. It's not what I necessarily think art is, for the record, but then again no one is asking me to give art a formal definition. Nobody is, so art is whatever you make it - or whatever you decide is 'art'.

    Consider T.S. Eliot, some people rejected him when his 'Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock' first started making him a name so utterly out of hand, some people rejected the idea his Prufrock was even poetry. It was free verse, follows no conventional stanza format, no standard system, no fixed rhyme scheme or meter - Prufrock does rhyme, but only in couplets or short sections at most. So Prufrock isn't 'normal' poetry, it's Free Verse. Thus is the same with Conceptual Art I guess, which is what your example of putting poop outside of the council office would be. Like Free Verse it's intentionally subverting your own assumptions of what is and what isn't 'Art'.

    You can reject it or appreciate it as much as you want, the point ultimately is the debate.

    Someone like Pollock at least has a structure and is supposed to be interpreted, unlike something like Dada.

     
  14. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't like when words like "progress" and "degradation" are applied to art because they imply some sort of objective ideal, which, given art's subjectivity, doesn't exist. I much prefer the term "evolution."
     
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  15. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    So it's art as long as I can convince people that it's art sufficiently that they're prepared to pay good money for it? And to think that I laughed at my brother's suggestion that the Beatles were better musicians than Beethoven on the basis that they made more money than him!
     
  16. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Like I said, it's your choice. You don't have to see something as art, just as you don't have to like it. It doesn't matter - when we really think about it the word 'art', must like the word 'literary', has no actual definition. A painting can be defined as a text because it contains words - but then again, what is a word? Are these words 'Eeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuugggggghhhhh' or 'juxiffif'? And how are either of them different from a word you presumably don't understand, like 'Arate'.

    There isn't an answer to those questions outside of what you think about them. And what you think will (or might) say a lot about your psychology and development as a person.

    Neither you or I might see this as a poem:

    But it is the first 'prose poem' of Gertrude Stein's book Tender Buttons. What does it mean for the term 'prose poem' to even exist? It's the same question as 'what is art?' ultimately.

    Yes, Tracey Emin is terrible.
     
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  18. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    I think I am going to have difficulty putting the following into words that adequately describe the message. However it will not be for lack of effort.

    Lemex is correct in saying that art has no actual definition. Art can be a painting, sculpture, music,text or even a speech and many more things. Paintings or sculptures remain relatively free of any restrictions or censorship by virtue of being explained away as down to the artists perception or whatever. The same lack of standards are not apparent with writers or speakers where censorship is readily applied. Political correctness increasingly limiting expression is a recent phenomena that has imposed itself.


    Now that I am done. I know I have had difficulty putting into words that adequately describe the message. Such is the nature of the beast.
     
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  19. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are touching on something fundamental to the state of art. Nietzsche believed that art manifested itself into two states of the same force. The Dysonian and Apollonian. The Apollonian are the dreamers, the creators of epic, The lyrical(poetry), the order, and spawner of images. “I’m dreaming! I want to dream some more!” They derive joy by reveling in the fantasy of their dreams. The Dysonian are the intoxicated. The beat of the heavy rhythm that enthralls everyone into dance, without images they express. This expression of art didn’t rely on the individual but the people.

    Nietzsche realized that Dysonian was the fundamental necessity of art. That all creation stemmed from the state of the Dysonian. He realized this when he killed the artist. Not literally but philosophically. When looking at the manifestation of these two states, you can look at the interpretation as the notable importance and the creator becomes merely an unevolved step, an ‘imitator’ of the process. Because this ‘societies body’ is the fundamental state in which where ‘art’ is truly born, not the individual, he made point the purity the Dysonian state is to art , which spawned into this natural state without ever needing the individual.

    The ‘greatest’ art is a rapture. A combination of Apollonian and Dysonian born from strife. They grow and struggle in a never-ending expression of the artistic state of our society.

    I guess predicted was a bit of a strong word. Less predicted and more foreshadowed. He explained the problems with Greek and German Society which he refers to many times in many different context. But the similarities are more than striking to modern western society. Specifically he would talk about how tragedy, an important Dysonian trait, began to die with Socrates. But this was merely an example as to the problem that this moral defiance wrought. It always went back to the problems with morality.

    “Let people merely recall the consequences of the Socratic sayings “Virtue is knowledge; sin arises only from ignorance; the virtuous person is the happy person.” In these three basic forms of optimism lies the death of tragedy. For now the virtuous hero must be a dialectician. Now there must be a perceptible link between virtue and knowledge, belief and morality. Now the transcendental vision of justice in Aeschylus is lowered to the flat and impertinent principle of “poetical justice” with its customary deus ex machina.” - Birth of Tragedy

    Apollonian is overwhelming the Dysonian. We live in an Apollonian artistic society. Of course within this lies the Dysonian, but it is forgotten, lost to us. ‘Great’ art, born from their equal struggle is spawned less and less often, while the Apollonian state is the dominant one. And as this ‘dominance’ continues, art degrades, and loses touch with reality. Life isn’t just tragic. it is intrinsically Tragic.
     
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  20. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    This ^

    What Nietzsche was trying to say was that this psychology and development can be seen by breaking apart certain parts of society and art was a part of that. He observed that society was stunting it's own growth, through it's ideologies and virtues.
     
  21. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    OK so how do we apply that to today. I'd be interested in an analysis of today's culture, an appraisal of art in the mainstream, and how we can apply Niezche's views to it. Sorry if I'm being dull but I don't think we've discussed that yet, at least not in concrete detail.
     
  22. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    In my understanding it would be something like a Wagner opera, or a piece of Greek Drama acted out. Something that would excite and enrich both the soul and the mind. Excite and allow a chance to philosophize.
     
  23. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    This reminds me of the sort of dinner party I never want to attend.
     
  24. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    They both work but my first thought was Japanese Kabuki.
     
  25. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Interesting. What's Japanese Kabuki? I don't know of it.
     

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