First off, let me apologize for the lack of posts, my 18 credit hours this semester have been keeping me busy.
From that school work however, I came across an interesting essay by a man named José Ortega y Gasset called La Deshumanización del Arte. Written in 1925, the essay explores art, what it was before his time and what it had become. For Ortega, art is something lost to some and loved by others. He wrote (translated):
“Wherefore, the new art divides the public in two classes of individuals: those who understand it and those who don’t understand it; those being, the artists and those who are not artists. The new art is an artistic art.” (p 53)
Artistic art? Isn’t that a little redundant? Like a flavorful flavor or colorful color? What Ortega is getting at is that art, at least from a modern view, is best understood, or really only understood, by fellow artists. There is no underlying human emotion or element that the piece is conveying, it is simply art for art’s sake. One must be in the business of creation to understand and appreciate the creations of others. For me, it makes sense. My father, for example, loves cars. Though I enjoy a souped up engine as well, I do not have the same passion that he does nor do I think I could ever because of my position. He has been building and tweaking cars since before he could have a license. I view a car more as a means to getting around. Ortega might divide the population in two like so, gear-heads and those who are not gear-heads.
Doing something makes you involved. Musicians listen to music differently than people who do not play music. We notice chord changes that aren’t lifted from Pachelbel’s Cannon, we think about why finger picking was used in a song and not a pick, we pull apart the layers and find meaning in places where no meaning was before. Being able to do something (or at least trying) makes you appreciate what others can do to a degree that can’t be achieved otherwise.
Allow me to suggest an experiment. Ortega quotes a contemporary of his, Nietzsche, in that “en la música, las pasiones gozan de sí mismas” (p 64), or in other words, “in music, passions enjoy themselves”. We all enjoy songs that speak to, I know I sure do. I would dare say that every song I have ever written has been about the human condition. Let us these next few days listen to music for music’s sake. This might be a hard undertaking, I know, but I think I have been missing a lot of enjoyment in music by looking for how this relates to me. Whether I like it or not, all beauty in life does not relate to Jake Workman. Let’s find those things that would be wonderful even if humanity wasn’t here to listen to it, despite music being a human creation (or is it? I sure like those crickets as I’m falling asleep). Let me know how it goes.
PS- My band The Sweater Friends has some free downloads available to benefit the World Food Program. Each download means more money for people who could really use it (eg Pakistan). http://www.gimmesound.com/TheSweaterFriends Thanks!