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 Post subject: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2002 6:25 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA,USA
" Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder." How many times have i said that? ( Probably more than Basheva posts :) ). Is it really? And is this a dangerous statement?
In classical Platonic philosophy beauty is an absolute Form, and what we percieve as beautiful is just something that approximated that Idea or Form called Beauty. Then along came the modern philosophers, ending in Nietchze, who said that there really is no such thing as absolutes, just relative values ( ie that whole "God is Dead" thing ).
Now, if we are discussing preferences between say, a classical ballet, and a modern dance, this can be a heated, but somewhat enjoyable debate. But if we keep sliding down the slippery slope of value relativism, we start talking about there being no absolute truths, just relative truths i.e. your truth and my truth have equal validity. Sliding further we fall all the way into that abyss, and truth then becomes defined by those with the power to say what it is ( ie might makes right ).
I bring this up here and now because we know that in the next few days we will be inundated with 9-11 in the media. I think that we are living at a time when truths are going to be created by a whole range of people with different agendas. I think that the arts in general, and dance in particular, which can potentially embrace both the classical and the modern, may give us a take on these agendas.
So, I may be wrong to put the arts in such a special position as to be a key to some of these difficult times ahead, but I think that I am in good company. Any thoughts? ( or am i just way off the mark here :) Or, am I just fond of seeing myself type :) :roll: ). - all good possibilites.


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2002 6:32 pm 
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Well, Matthew, (here goes another post) it seems to me that if the arts can help us deal with all the agendas you mentioned, each of us will chose which of the arts, and even more particularly which phase of each art form (ballet/modern/hip-hop, etc.) will help us see and/or deal with the agendas.

Does that not in and of itself introduce a kind of relativism?


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2002 6:53 pm 
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That is the problem with relativism - soon everything becomes relative words/truth value/dance... and then meaningless ( isn't that post medernism )?
But, in terms of the arts dealing with agendas, I know that when I am under extreme stress at work, when things go badly, then if I see a truly beautiful ballet, that stress gets washed away for weeks. I am sorry, I am having a hard time putting this into words, .... hmm... lets see, I think that there are rare moments artistically when there is clarity of thought and feeling, and that is what we need to strive for in these times.
Sorry if i am being clumsy here.


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2002 8:17 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Clumsy is not a word that occurs to me if I were to describe what you have said...not at all.

For some the arts bring clarity of thought and feeling while for others the arts bring surcease without the attending clarity. Each has a part to play. It can provide both an immediate escape from the cares of the day, or a continuing escape into which we retreat - as you mentioned.

Truth can have several masters and each of those masters can also be correct. We all know, and it is recognized in law, that eye witness accounts do differ, though each is honestly seen.

Words are very powerful, they can hurt more than the worst beating - ask an abused child who has suffered both which hurt the most. But they can also be a cause for song and poetry.

Value, does change with time and clime. For some dance is an inspiration while to others it is a blasphemy. But there are some constant values...loyalty, love, courage. And our society would add, to whatever measure true, the value of choice.

Now who is being clumsy? :)


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2002 8:53 am 
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Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1949
Location: New England
Matthew... You are addressing some issues that I think are quite important and interesting. At the same time, I'm reluctant to join a discussion of them on CD because (in my opinion) they are fundamentally religious issues. E-mail me if you like.

In my experience, threads discussing religious issues invariably end up with the type of discussion that will cause a CD moderator to close a thread, maybe even deleting messages as well. Maybe these things are better discussed in person, wher e the words one says disappear in an instant, they do not linger for others to cross-examine again and again.

I'll throw out just one opinion. I think that our art reflects our culture. To me, ballet is not a culture unto its own, but rather a sub-culture that embodies the wider cultural values of those partaking in it.


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2002 11:50 am 
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Actually, I don't see this as a religious issue at all, but then I'm not religious.

I am intrigued by the concept that if we take relativism too far everything eventually becaomes meaningless. There is a part of my brain that asks if meaningless is bad? Or is that just relative as well? Hmm, circular logic....


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2002 12:12 pm 
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Actually I was really thinking about the role of art in politics ( both for good and bad ). I remember that PNB had a huge flag out on stage last year at several of their performances and I had mixed feelings about that ( both good and bad :) ). I think though, that at least until I clarify my on thoughts on these things citibob is right - I will lay low :) also, I have a bad cough today and couldn't take my thread being closed ( cough, cough :( ). Take care.


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2002 10:41 am 
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Politics fares scarceley better than religion as far as being flame-proof on the Internet.

Others may certainly disagree. ButI said this is a religious issue for two reasons:

1. There are religious groups out there who feel that relativism, and anything to do with post-modernism, is a step in the wrong direction, and away from the type of religious attitude they would like to see the culture adopt. They can be very passionate on this point.

2. When you begin to ask questions about relativism, you are asking questions about fundamental meanings, fundamental truths. Does our life really have any purpose at all, or are we just making a bunch of pretty sounds, pretty pictures, pretty movements? These questions lead very quickly to questions about the nature of creation, the nature of the universe, etc.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Nietsche (sic) was an atheist: he believed in the non-existence of a creator. This gives an outlook on the fundamental questions above. So when you discuss atheism, you are discussing a religious view of sorts.

The only way to NOT enter into a religious discussion when addressing these issues, IMHO, is to take an AGNOSTIC viewpoint. That is, one that makes no statement one way or the other about the existence or nature of a creator.


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2002 5:53 pm 
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Nietchze actually died technically as a Christian, but he did spend the last 9 years of his life in an asylum and was insane - possibly secondary to tertiary syphillis. He also has very severe migraines and was on opiates daily for years.
This is a rough, but philosophy was based on the premise that if people lose their moral compass ( say belief in a God - ie God is dead ), then how does one determine right and wrong/ The answer - one doesn't - the only thing that matters is Power. Now when he wrote that he usually was referring to the power to Create ( perhaps thats why he is the artist philosopher ), but after he died, his sister, who was married to a a strong antisemite, tended to edit a lot of his works which was subsequently used as the theoretical basis for Nazism.
Some of his words really are beautiful - particularily some of his q


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 Post subject: Re: Aesthetic relativism and 9-11
PostPosted: Wed Sep 11, 2002 5:59 pm 
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Sorry - typo - particularily some of his quotes about dance, but that lack of a moral compass is a dangerous thing, particularily if placed in the wrong hands.
Anyway, creative power and creative freedom are wonderful things for dance, but may not be that wonderful in politics, particularly if they involve creating States, etc just look at the rise of Fascism. I think that is what Nietchze was trying to warn us about.


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