Archive for the ‘Esthetics’ Category
A sonorous body produced by periodic vibrations.
Hermann von Helmholtz defined music as.
Without music, life would be a mistake.
Said Nietzsche, a chronic insomniac whose eyesight was dire.
Music is neither good or bad — to the deaf.
Henriette Sontag, the soprano at the first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth, turned Beethoven around to face the audience so that he would see the applause.
Before God, and as an honest man, I tell you that your son is the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name. Said Joseph Haydn to Mozart’s father Leopold.Fredric Chopin was an anti-Semite.
Brahms had blond hair.
As did Mozart.The first pianist to perform with the side of the piano facing the audience was Franz Liszt — out of vanity for his profile.
Few brains, is how Felix Mendelssohn described Liszt.
Mendelssohn and Queen Victoria were friends.
Richard Wagner wore pink underwear.
Bach had twenty children, of whom nine survived him.
Mozart had seven children, only two of whom lived.
Carl Orf was an anti-Semite.
The night before the audition that gained her admission into the Stockholm Academy of Music, Birgit Nilsson milked ten cows on her family’s farm.
A symphony is no joke.
Said Brahms, who was 43-years-old before he completed his first one.
When Mozart was 14-years-old, his father took him to the Sistine Chapel to hear Gregorio Allegri’s “Miserere” — upon hearing which that one time Mozart transcribed it from memory.
Julia Ward Howe was paid five dollars by the Atlantic Monthly for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Igor Stravinsky was an anti-semite.
Mussorgsky died stark raving mad from alcoholism.
Beethoven, chronically preoccupied, was known to lather his face and forget to shave.
Puppies and first operas should be drowned.
Said Carl Maria von Weber.
A bit of a concierge, is how the French composer Claude Debussy described the French writer Marcel Proust.
Chopin was buried in concert dress. The painter Eugène Delacroix was one of his pallbearers.
Children, be comforted. I am well.
Said Joseph Haydn — and then died.
How has writing changed my life? It hasn’t, really, although I do get a lot more mail now, from readers who have been kind enough to tackle my book. And people send me stuff: outlandish requests, peculiar offers, interesting letters, which if they’re interesting I do always take the time to answer. Here, for example:
Dear Ray Harvey: I’m one of these guys with a big belly and an extremely small penis. I’m heterosexual, and I drive a truck for a living. I do not get a lot of exercise. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been pained by the size of my penis. I’m seriously considering surgical augmentation (in my late thirties). Do you have particular thoughts on this issue? Should I, or shouldn’t I?
– Dick Weed
P.S. Pumps don’t work.
Dear Dick Weed: Indeed I do have very particular thoughts on this issue, despite the fact that, as fate would have it, my problem is the opposite of yours. My thoughts are these:
Don’t do it.
Quoting from the gospels:
“A man’s life consisteth of more than the size of his dick” (The Gospel According to Ray, Chapter 1, Verse 1).
Didn’t you hear about the plastic surgeon who hung himself?
Listen, Mr. Weed, when it comes to satisfying a woman, you know the commandments:
Don’t stampede the clitoris.
Don’t neglect the labia.
I give you a new commandment now: The journey is the way.
Truckdriver, that’s an old German dictum, and what it means is something I’d like for you to take with you from here on out, every time you enter your bedroom, your wife, or your rig:
Sex is not a race, and intercourse isn’t the only kind of sex. There are plenty of things you can do with your lug nuts, and I’m not just blowing your horn when I say that.
At a bar where I once worked, a customer told me that his penis was only three inches — but he swore up and down that most women didn’t like it that thick.
Mainly, Mr. Weed, what I’m suggesting to you is this: learn to enjoy the journey, because the journey is the way; your penis is only a small part of it (so to say). Slow her down, friend, and I promise that your extremely small penis will be all the penis she needs. It’s not as if you’re trying to make Amarillo by morning (or are you?) Enjoy the process, soup-to-nuts, because as you know, the end will come soon enough, and all ends are bitter.
Now keep on trucking, big daddy.
Poetry is a subset of literature, the art form of language, but it also legitimately belongs to another art: music.
Poetry is rhyme and rhythm, cadence and count, meter and metric. Poetry is prosody. It is scansion. It is versification. Those are the elements of poetry that make it a part of the musical.
But poetry is primarily a branch of literature, and the two main elements of poetry are style and theme. (Note: There is such a thing as narrative poetry, which is poetry that tells a story, but those two elements — storytelling and verse — combine poorly.)
It’s important to point out that the word “poetry” is not synonymous with the word “poem.”
Poetry is general; poems are specific.
All poems are in theory poetic, but not all poetry is a poem.
Novels, essays, memoirs, chronicles, short stories, and virtually every other form of prose can be poetic. For example, “The multitudinous seas incarnadine” is poetic, but it’s not a poem.
A poem, by definition, is a self-contained piece, of varying length, with a certain meter, rhythm, and style, all of which combine to convey a theme. A poem can rhyme or not.
The definition of poetry, on the other hand, has confounded writers and philosophers for centuries. Leo Tolstoy captured this well when he wrote:
Where the boundary between prose and poetry lies I shall never be able to understand. The question is raised in manuals of style, yet the answer to it lies beyond me. Poetry is verse: prose is not verse. Or else poetry is everything with the exception of business documents and school books.
But even “business documents and school books” could — at least, in theory — be poetic.
So what is poetry?
Poetry is style: stylized language.
Poetry is concentrated speech. It is density of expression.
Poetry is language at its best.
Poetry is writer’s writing.
Poetry is not, contrary to popular belief, pretentious or flowery language — or, at any rate, good poetry is not.
Poetry is technique. Poetry is skill. Poetry is metaphor.
Poetry is the beauty of language.
A reader writes:
Dear Sir: What is beauty? Is it anything?
– Lily Alderman
Dear Lily: It is everything. Beauty is the esthetically pleasing, it is the lovely. Aristotle wrote: “Beauty depends on size as well as symmetry” (ahem, ahem). But beauty is symmetry. Beauty is congruence. It is the bah-bah in black sheep. Beauty is not, finally, inexplicable or ineffable, but it is elusive.
Darwin noted that a streak of stew in a man’s beard is not beautiful, but he pointed out also — and sagely so — that neither the soup nor the beard is inherently non-beautiful.
Beauty requires, among other things, that sensory data bring with it a very specific kind of emotional pleasure — one which awakens “the contemplative in man,” as Kant said — such as you might feel, for instance, when you see the Northern Lights, or hear a profound song. Beauty even encompasses melancholy.
Beauty is the symbol of symbols. Beauty reveals everything, because it expresses nothing. When it shows us itself, it shows us the whole fiery-colored world. No object is so ugly that, under certain conditions, it will not look beautiful; no object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.
Said Oscar Wilde.
Beauty, properly defined, is part of the science of axiology, which is the study of values. Axiology, in turn, is a sub-division of aesthetics. The science of beauty is called aesthetics.
But that’s all purely academic.
Here, Lily, is the only thing you really need to know about beauty:
Sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds:
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.