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August 09, 2005


Remember that story you told me once about a professor who claimed that his decades of scholarship had rendered his aesthetic palate incapable of enjoying anything except a number of things fewer than five? Don't become that guy, Ben. I'm not sure you need to take any more classes on aesthetics.

I think you just made that story up.

And I've only taken two, one on Kant and Hume and one that was basically a grab bag.

I definitely didn't just "make" that story up, Ben, whatever that means,

The suspense is killing me!

Well, clearly I'm going to skip those parts for the preservation of my vital cool.

I say "I'm going to" because I haven't read anything at all in the past two days! Nothing!

The suspense I referred to was the suspense about what comes after Dave's ultimate comma. I think you should read those parts, myself. And I have fairly direct evidence that extensive study of aesthetics does not prevent a person from taking joy in comic books.

Ok, I actually read those parts, and then I had to stop.

It seems the number of things I actively imagine myself to be doing, and to be true of me, every time I look at a picture is much larger than I would have guessed.

I don't doubt that the study of aesthetics takes the joy out of art.

No, really, my aesthetician friend was just telling me basically that aestheticians basically talk a lot about art in kind of philosophically informed ways. Enjoying it the while. (Kriston, if you were saying that comic books aren't art he's going to get you.)

The famous line is that aestheticians no more enjoy art than physicists enjoy light. I for one think the transition from experiencing to appreciating art is substantive.

But I have no beef with comic books! I just read a Transmetropolitan trade the other day, if that suffices for bona fides.

I don't even know what that means! I think my fida has been boned. (I'm not the big comic book guy, though....)

Isn't appreciating art taking a deeper kind of joy? I'm not sure I understand you here... but I enjoy really taking apart I enjoy and trying to see how it works, in an amateur way ["That's you, Weiner"]. And it seems to me like aestheticians are reasonably often doing that but with cooler theories. (This was inspired by a (real-life) comment about why La Jetée differs from a slide show. A comment that I think is wrong, because it suggests that if you haven't seen La Jetée and you read this comment it won't differ from a slide show, and that is insane.)

(The comment was, "There's the epistemic possibility that there will be movement.")

And it seems to me like aestheticians are reasonably often doing that but with cooler theories.

Sadly, lots of analytic aesthetics is incredibly dry and uninteresting, and little of what I've read is about how particular artworks do their thing, but rather about how, say, we can be moved by the fate of Anna Karenina. The puzzle isn't how Tolstoy engages our emotions, but how we can have emotions at all—after all, AK doesn't really exist. So one can discuss this problem without really having read anything, though claims about what "we" typically "do" in "situations" will be harder to formulate or support in that case.

Well, Noel Carroll's work on monsters sounds like it might be cool....

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