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American Geniuses

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by HORNS, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. why

    why Senior member

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    The majority of the sentence in plain English, so I assume you're having trouble with 'natural constancy', which can be understood either through my example at the end of the paragraph or using a dictionary.

    quick definitions:
    natural - having to do with nature
    constancy - not variable

    In other words, Hendrix discovered something new that was always present (as another example, think of Kepler's demonstrations of planetary motion and throwing out old Artistotelian astronomy all while the planets continued their normal orbits). But my point is that he didn't. Aesthetics (or more appropriately, entertainment) had changed. Put Hendrix is an 18th century theatre and he'd look like a fool (electrified instrument notwithstanding). Put Einstein in an 18th century university and mathematics and physics might be further along than they are today.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  2. why

    why Senior member

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    Please tell me the fault in the premise.
     
  3. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    Hahahaha! Dude, you get funnier all the time; I'm just trying to figure out if it's intentional or not.

    This comparison just doesn't work. Science, more or less, is a progression of evaluation and reevaluation, one step of building upon the last. Theories come and go, theories change, but it's all direct growth from previous work (plus new work). Art is not such a direct progression. There is certainly influence, growth within movements/genres, etc, but a later movement is not necessarily any more advanced than any previous one; in fact, they may not be related at all.

    Of course Hendrix wouldn't have been well received in a previous time. In all likelihood, Shakespeare wouldn't have done well in a head-to-head against Chaucer during Chaucer's time. Tschaikovski would probably not have been appreciated by Mozart's audience. Moviegoers in 1933 would have been baffled by Memento or Doubt.
     
  4. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Senior member

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    "[E]very great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished." -- Wordsworth

    I think this is a great definition of genius in any creative art.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  5. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    +1. I won't wade into the debate, but only point out a personal example related to this. My grandmother grew up in the 1930's and loved movies, and in the 1980's when I started getting into films, asked her a few times to go with me. She was, as you said, baffled by them. The pacing, construction of story, etc. Likewise, when later she tried to show me a "real" movie (starring Cagney or something), I was bored to death at how SLOW it was. (keep in mind I was a teenager/pre-teen)

    I think the time frame may even be quicker than we think; I recently watched Orson Welles "F for Fake" and thought it felt extremely fresh and unique. Apparently contemporary reviews in the early 1970's found it largely incomprehensible.

    IIRC, Tchaikovsky often wasn't appreciated by even his own audience; some commentator at the premiere of his wonderful violin concerto remarked how it "stinks in the ear." Leave it to Russians to cut you straight to the bone. I had one once who called one of my curriculum projects in our department "like watering dead plant." lol
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  6. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Has anyone mentioned George Carlin yet?
     
  7. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    :lol:

     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  8. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    I'M IN MIAMI, BITCH
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    Oh, I think he was outright reviled. It said something that his only well-received work (iirc) was Serenade for Strings. Of all the things he wrote - that.


    No, but someone should.

    "Kiss her where it smells - take her to New Jersey."
     
  10. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse Senior member

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    I think we've established that there are but three geniuses:

    Newton, Einstein, and Mozart.

    None of whom are American (asterisk Einstein).

    Here's a list of people who lived here who were really good at doing stuff: Einstein, Teller, Dirac, Pauling, Schreiffer, Bell, Edison, Disney, Gates, Jobs, Bernstein, Gershwin, Whitman, Frost, Hemingway,

    ok, this is tedious.

    [COLOR=FF00AA]Oh yeah and Tesla (see below)[/COLOR]
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  11. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    You've forgotten Tesla.
     
  12. why

    why Senior member

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    You're proving my point. People might not enjoy Tchaikovsky or Mozart or Hendrix or cupcakes or brunettes or blondes or whatever. It doesn't matter. Without some constant, natural laws to provide a basis it's hard to appreciate advances. Music does have some kind of constancy to it and there are fundamental laws of musicality that exist independent of preferences. This is fairly well-demonstrated by Beethoven who -- despite his later deafness -- contributed greatly to music. (My reason for including Shakespeare as a possible genius is similar and is one reason why I might include Poe as well.)

    You're trying to say I'm wrong because art and science are different because science progresses and art might not progress at all. But the problem with that argument is precisely my reason for not including Hendrix as a genius: preferences changed and no advances were made.

    I think the separation between science and aesthetics is always awkwardly-constructed and seems to be something ingrained into people's minds for no particular reason. Sure, it's easy to notice the difference between a mathematical proof and someone's reasons for preferring one movie to another, but when aesthetics are actually considered with some kind of constancy it allows us to extricate preferences that aren't inherent (the teenager who enjoys a certain band because of what they represent rather than what they produce) and it becomes more obvious why it seems as absurd to consider nails on a chalkboard as musical as it would be to drop an object and see it fly upward.

    Ruskin probably handled visuals best in many of his books and essays (Stones of Venice, Modern Painters in particular) as well as some fairly more general arguments on aesthetics and personal preferences. Music was well-known and well-studied even by non-musicians (Kepler's third law arose from seeking the classical concept of the "Music of the Spheres" and was written in musical notation, and modern acoustics solidifies well-understood musical concepts like the octave before the mathematics were fully understood -- I guess somewhat similar to how a human can understand the trajectory of a thrown object without being able to directly or explicitly calculate it).
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2012
  13. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    If we're going to include Feynman or Jaynes... in addition my earlier mention of Claude Shannon... how about David Bohm? He left and/or renounced his US citizenship in the 1950's, but he is still one of ours.
     
  14. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    I think the problem is that you don't seem to recognize the fact that there is creative genius. Or maybe you do (but then why exactly isn't Hendrix one? Not saying I maintain he is, by the way.). Your reasoning seems to flip-flop a lot, or at least is so vaguely defined that you can redefine it as needed.

    It appears to me that you based your refutation of Hendrix's musical genius on the fact that:

    (a.) placed in a previous time period, he'd be unappreciated, proving that because he wouldn't have advanced music had that been the case (as per your Einstein analogy) he wasn't a musical genius; and:

    (b.) he didn't actually do anything inventive, musically.

    I believe I've covered (a.) above. If you have specific examples of (b.) as they pertain to rock music, please share them.
     
  15. why

    why Senior member

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    You're right, I don't. It's just a facade for something else (that something else depends on the subject).

    You helped to demonstrate my point of (a) when you responded to it, and (b) I can't think of any rock musician off the top of my head that made any significant advances in music (that doesn't mean I don't enjoy listening to it, though, and I think a lot of people ridiculing my argument aren't doing so on its merits but rather that they feel their preferences are being belittled).
     
  16. Teacher

    Teacher Senior member

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    You've done a nice job of dancing around what I've said. The problem is, though, that I have done nothing to prove your point and you refuse to explain why you think rock musicians have done nothing to change music.

    The fact that you are adamant that the idea of natural constancy is applicabe to things that are purely subjective is problematic. For example, take one of the most fundamental things to music: scale. If constancy applied here, there'd be a universal scale, but there isn't. The traditional Chinese musical scale has ten steps per octave, while the Western has twelve. And there are others.

    Basic aesthetic concepts have been around forever, far longer than Mozart or Shakespeare. What IS new is how they are applied, which is why when new genres arise new applications and combinations may be considered genius. Mozart and Shakespeare didn't do anything that hadn't been done since our brains were this size, they just did those things within new genres.
     
  17. why

    why Senior member

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    What you're saying here is that mathematics and science are subjective because an inch is different from a centimeter.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2012
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    Are you saying that to be called 'genius', you have to have advanced your field?

    How do you feel about Bob Dylan re: folk music in this case?
     
  19. Lighthouse

    Lighthouse Senior member

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    What why is trying to say is that only those who work in a field where accomplishment can be measured by TRUE or FALSE, 1 or 0, are eligible for genius status.

    I propose that those scientists who step away from the lab and opine on other subjects, with the expectation that the public should consider it more than lay opinion of an average joe, should have their genius points reduced. Pauling, Oppenheimer, Einstein, for starters.
     
  20. why

    why Senior member

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    He's a fun entertainer at times (mostly around those Times that Were A-changin'). Most of his stuff was musically taken from other artists or well-established principles

    In his autobiography there's something about his change to a blues sound for his later albums (after his voice was damaged from constant touring) was after he walked into a blues bar and noticed how they were singing. He changed the instrumentals to accompany the change in vocals and writes that it allows for more varied sound because 'it has to do with numbers or something' (not a direct quote).
     

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