Seeking opinions, Richard Tsuyuki raises some very interesting questions:
>I was intrigued by the notion that one should be *embarrassed"
Embarrassment is a mater of shame--socially induced or self-induced--and,
if caused by ignorance, is needless unless the things not known are such
that anyone in someone's situation (educational, social, occupational)
would be expected to know it. If the ignorance is of something one ought
to know--has a responsibility to know--for one's work or for others'
welfare, say, then there may be a matter of duty and guilt. Simply not
knowing about all works of genius does not apply, even if
>Personally, I would *like* to know everything, to have experienced
because as Richard notes, and as Steve will of course agree,
>Part of the problem, of course, is that there are not enough hours in
>the day, enough length to a life, to know everything. Each of us has
>to choose, "what do I want to hear/read/see/think about next?"
>This leads to a pet philosophical question of mine: is there objective
>value in art?
A red-hot philosophical question. Art can have value only if it can
be experienced subjectively--but it generally has to exist as an object
independent of the self to be so experienced. Also, it is an objective
fact that some (many) people value some art highly, in various ways, for
(1) Experiencing a piece of music may give them intense pleasure or
(2) This pleasure may be because they can hear that it is beautiful.
(The skeptic or subjectivist would say that they hear it AS beautiful,
not quite the same.)
(3) Knowing that music may give other people pleasure or satisfaction
may lead to valuing it highly.
(4) Even if nobody has ever heard a piece of music performed, it still
may be so well written, so magnificently inventive that if it ever does
get performed (or read by a trained musician) it still has what it takes
to get an enthusiastic response.
>Does it make any sense to say that Beethoven is "better" (in an
>encompassing sense) than Britney Spears, or that "Karamazov" is a
>"better" book than "The Firm"?
The Beethoven and the Dostoevsky are surely better written, and more
inventive, instances of musical and literary writing than the music and
fiction you compare them to.
>Does Beethoven make me a better person, happier, more able to
>contribute to society, than Britney?
Surely not, and I think certain Nazis settled this for all time.
>I feel like telling people to see "Casablanca" and avoid "Titanic", but
>why? If they enjoy "Titanic" immensely, is there anything unfortunate
Actually, Titanic has a load of significant things to say about social
snobbery and how it can even be morally evil. I wouldn't tell anyone
to avoid it. Life isn't that short.
>Or should I rather be embarrassed by a lack of attendance history at
Maybe if you belong to a family of truck drivers.
>My own vague opinion (which I realize is, ultimately, completely
>unsupportable), is currently something along these lines: humans have
>evolved biologically as well as culturally to be capable of discerning and
>enjoying great complexity. Therefore, the enjoyment of complex things is
>in some way true to or even extending the nature of what makes us human.
>The broader the spectrum of complex art that we are exposed to, the more
>comprehensive a picture of humanity we thereby obtain.
This is a very interesting idea that I am going to think about some more.