Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Art and Entertainment

I'm reading Tolstoy and feeling at peace with the world.  Tolstoy makes me want to pour coffee into lovely cups, set out an ashtray and enter into live discussion with my fellow bloggers. The internet has its limits - there is no space for "..and then..this too!" There are no expressions to read. I feel the limitations especially now, and they frustrate me.

Jenna has trouble with the distinction between art and entertainment, and despite her explination, I'm still at a loss as to why. I like distinctions, they give clarity, and they give an opportunity for excellence that one large grouping cannot allow - a children's abridged production of the Tempest can be very entertaining, but it can't help but fail when compared artistically to a well-prepared, nuanced, professional production. That doesn't make it a bad production, in it's own sphere, it could be excellent, but only if we don't force it to compare itself to something its not.

So I'm not really going to respond, so much as question: (Jenna, I hope this doesn't put you too much on the spot.)
     I would like to know why a distinction between art assumes passivity on the part of the audience; why it
     seems to place importance on the outward instead of the substance (I would have thought the opposite).

     I would like to know what it is about acclaimed works that make you feel they are offering very little.

    And I would like to encourage you to delve into the despairing works, which so often offer more than   they seem to. I remember reading and rejecting some books that seemed to strip me down, only to realize that it is only by "dying down to the roots" that I can regrow again in strength and certainty.

I hope this doesn't look like an indifferent response, in our commitment to mutual understanding, which I enjoy a lot, I want to be certain I'm not taking things the wrong way and responding in misunderstanding. I want to know and understand. I think that coffee and conversation would help a good deal, and I wish I could pour both you and Mr. Pond a cup.


  1. Masha, a cup of coffee and conversation with you and Mr. Pond sounds delightful. :) Maybe someday we'll come from the far corners of the globe and find a way to make that happen.

    Thanks for this response. I hope my post wasn't too frustrating for you... setting the tone for the week is always a challenge, and I was exceptionally tired Monday night--I'm not even sure I made sense! But your piece helps me understand where you're coming from, I think, in ways I didn't before.

    These are great questions--I feel like I could write a blog-post in response to every one.

    I'll wait and see what Mr. Pond says before I quite settle on what exactly to say on Monday, but I think part of our quandary is passion for different works. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the ones you love most seem generally called Art by full consensus, and it does neither them nor anyone else any service to run comparisons with more popular works. Whereas many of the ones I love (I like some Great Art, too!) are called art only by those who run with my broader definition. But I can't lump them in with entertainment, with sitcoms and skits and romance novels, partly because they've been life-changing for me and partly because I know them intimately and can see creative genius at work in them. So it comes much more naturally to me to call every creative product art (especially as I was raised to) and categorize from within.

    Does that make sense? I'm still dreadfully sleepy, so forgive me if I'm blathering nonsense. :)

  2. I didn't find your post half so frustrating as my inability to respond - much of which, I'm sure, has to do with the social overload I've been living in for the past few weeks.

    I don't think All the works I would call art belong to the general consensus, but generally i use those examples in discussion because then I can just discuss art, not "why I think such-and-such is art," which tends to muddle things.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what Monday brings! I'm impressed with your Monday posts, it would be hard coming up with a topic or theme each and every week. You do well! :)