Jump to content

The New Yorker


Recommended Posts

Lots to talk about there. With a book, the text doesn’t change? Right, with that physical object, but my goodness do the texts of the works change, in response to changing times, attitudes, critical judgment? Emily Dickinson.

More to come.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 899
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I meant to make a laudatory post last week to the effect that, where other than The New Yorker might you find a smart, funny, informative article on a literary figure as obscure as Alfred Lord Dunsany

I took that test when we applied to adopt! Picture was from the 30's: any idiot could tell that you were supposed to translate the stallion and the shirtless man in the picture into something sexual.

Mitchell is right on this precise point, though: as a classical music fan, I find its use in classical venues to be an outrage.

But again, the point Ross was trying to make doesn't relate to "how the work looks", i.e., reception.  That's just not what he was talking about.  (It might be that what he was talking about isn't worth talking about -- but that's a discussion we don't seem to be having.) (Although it's the one I was trying to start.)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Note:  I drafted this Friday, but apparently didn't hit submit, so this was before the Saturday replies. I don't think I am talking about "reception" here.  

1. But what is "the work itself" in the case of literature? What are texts if not instructions for the realization of the work, whether in front of an audience (which is, after all, how poetry and drama originated) or in solitude?* You might want to say that the solitary reader is not "performing" a novel. What about the solitary musician, playing a score for their own ears? It seems to me those cases have a lot more similarities than dissimilarities.

2. I agree that casting multiple instances of a Rodin sculpture is basically a mechanical procedure. The same can be true (but not always) of video, lithographs, etc. I don't think it's generally true of installations. I introduced those examples to underline the point that the assumption that works of art are single, physical objects is only narrowly true: paintings, drawings and some types of sculpture (carvings) are really unique among art works in general (and here I am including everything from books to movies to plays to music). Only in  those cases (am I forgetting any others?) do we think that we haven't seen the work unless we've seen the one, true original. As if I had to read Tolstoy's manuscript to have read War and Peace.

*For example, if a reader has an open book placed in front of them, but it's in a language they don't read, or it's way above their level of reading comprehension, the "work" isn't just there for them anyway. It needs to be read.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I think I see what's driving the disagreement here: Sneak is categorizing the reader with the audience, I'm categorizing the reader with the performer. At least I think that makes it clear why I had the reaction I did to Ross's remarks.

Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  What musicians do to please themselves when they're alone in the privacy of their homes is none of my business.

2.  Poetry CAN be performed.  Music MUST be performed.

3.  Plays present an interesting midway case here, very close in many ways to music (as defined) (although different in that you can read a play in a way you can't read a score -- but similar in that reading a play isn't the same as seeing it performed).  But note two interesting things:  (1) theater is now addressing the exact same issues as music (as defined) is; and (2) Ross doesn't mention theater, so it's not really usable to disprove his point.

4.  With respect to your treatment of reading as performance, as opposed to listening to music:  my participation in the process of receiving music and visual art is no less active than my participation in receiving books -- when I'm actively engaging with the music or visual art.  I'll concede that a difference between music/visual arts and books is that you can't have books on "in the background".  But I'm not sure that such "background" usage of music and visual arts has any importance in this discussion.  When I go to a concert or listen seriously at home, I'm not receiving the work any differently than I do a book when I'm reading it:  I'm concentrating, I'm following it, I'm putting it together in my mind in my own idiosyncratic way.  And as far as I'm concerned, it's all reception.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, one other thing:  even if reading is performance, with you, the reader, being the performer, then the identity of the performer can't be an issue, cuz it's fixed.  Nobody's gonna say Wilfrid needs to get more non-Whites to do his reading for him in order to broaden his performance of the works.  So it's again irrelevant to the issues Ross is addressing with respect to music (as defined).

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

The sacralized canon will evolve as the musical world evolves around it. Because of the peculiarly invasive nature of sound, old scores always seem to be happening to us anew. A painting gazes at us unchanging from its frame; a book speaks to us in its fixed language. But when modern people play a Beethoven quartet it, too, becomes modern...

Just re-posting the original comments.

I understand that the context of that quote from Ross is an article about racism and classical music, but I was reacting to what still strike me as odd claims in that specific statement. Of course I can't read a book or poem, or look at a work of art, as a Black person, but that doesn't mean paintings or books are fixed and unchanging.

Quote

2.  Poetry CAN be performed.  Music MUST be performed.

Poetry (and other texts) MUST be read, whether that's considered a performance or a reception. Per my previous example, I can stare at a text I can't read (whether because of the language or level of difficulty) but that text isn't doing anything any more than an unplayed musical score is doing anything.  

Ross doesn't mention theater (or indeed poetry), just books as if books were a monolithic art form. 

But here's the important point:

Quote

When I go to a concert or listen seriously at home, I'm not receiving the work any differently than I do a book when I'm reading it:  I'm concentrating, I'm following it, I'm putting it together in my mind in my own idiosyncratic way. 

That's exactly what I'm saying. The very possibility of putting your experience of a book or painting together in your own "idiosyncratic way," means that they are not "fixed" and "unchanging." 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...