Rick Mabry, responding to me:
>>I am tempted to define greatness precisely in terms of what goes beyond
>>the scales of measurement.
>As a mathematician, I find this sentence absolutely delicious.
>To "define" greatness "precisely" (very mathematical approaches)
>in terms of what cannot be measured is nicely paradoxical.
Forget the "precisely" here.
>So we measure greatness by how much it cannot be measured. I love it.
To define is not the same as to measure.
>Or, parsing the sentence further, "what goes beyond the scales" suggests
>we can measure fractional greatness, say up to a 1.0, but after that it
>pegs the meter. So we can say that a composer is ".78 great", but we
>are unable to say one is 1.26 great". So after a 1.0 we cannot rank
>them at all --- they're just great!
What I am suggesting is that you NOT try to measure greatness. You can
set criteria or establish scales to measure goodness or excellence, as
we do for students, but greatness goes beyond excellence; it goes beyond
the possibility of measurement. A work or music--or a composer--that
you call great presumably has surprised you with a degree of inventiveness,
a degree of profundity, perhaps, that you could not have expected or