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Re: artlangs as engelangs

From:And Rosta <and.rosta@...>
Date:Friday, July 20, 2007, 14:12
Jörg Rhiemeier, On 20/07/2007 13:50:
> Hallo! > > On Thu, 19 Jul 2007 23:40:37 +0100, And Rosta wrote: > >> andrew, On 18/07/2007 04:54: >>> I did wonder, at one point, if the definition of an artlang is >>> essentially an engineered language with a subjective set of aesthetics >>> as its criteria. But that's just silly! > > It is indeed silly. You cannot objectivize subjective > aesthetic criteria. It has been tried in the past; at best, > it stifles artistic creativity because artists timidly avoid > trying out new ideas, at worst, it leads to book burnings and > death camps.
The rhetorical force of your statement implies that you mean "lead to" in its usual causal sense -- be a part of a chain of causation. Yet the aesthetical prescriptivism you describe is at most an accompaniment to book burnings and death camps, and it is perfectly possible for either (aesth. prescrip. on one hand, burnings/camps on the other) to occur without the other. Let me be clear: I am not advocating aesthetical prescriptivism; I am simply disputing your argument against it.
>> It must be possible in principle for some artlangy design criteria >> that are in some sense 'subjective' to nevertheless be explicit and >> 'objectively' assessable (where 'objective' means at least 'subject >> to intersubjective agreement); and in such a case the conlang could >> be viewed as an engelang. But it would seem perverse -- contrary >> to the spirit of art -- to assess a work of art in terms of how >> successfully it achieves its stated goals. > > How do you objectivize subjective criteria such as "beauty"? > Who is to decide what is beautiful and what is not? This is > dangerous territory. Surely, we do not want anything like > a "taste police" as in the Third Reich or the USSR under > Stalin. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, and de gustibus > non est disputandum. > > It is difficult enough to operationalize such criteria as > "ease of learning", "concision" or "computer tractability"; > but trying to objectivize criteria such as "beauty" only > leads to totalitarianism and stifles individual creativity.
I said, in essence, that 'objectivization' of 'subjective' aesthetic criteria is possible but undesirable. You then reply by first briefly challenging my assertion that it is possible and then you slide into saying how undesirable it is, as if this is still somehow part of a disagreement with what I had said. Anyway, let me turn to your questions:
> How do you objectivize subjective criteria such as "beauty"?
Some criteria are more amenable to objectivization than others. For example 'tempo' (in music, film editing, verse, narrative pacing...). As for beauty, it helps if you specify who the criterion would have the work of art be beautiful to. For instance, beautiful to the artist; or beautiful to people in general. These are empirically investigable.
> Who is to decide what is beautiful and what is not?
The quesstion has a faulty presupposition.
> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 01:56:19 +0100, And Rosta wrote: > >> Mark J. Reed, On 19/07/2007 23:51: >>> On 7/19/07, And Rosta <and.rosta@...> wrote: >>>> But it would seem perverse -- contrary to the spirit of art -- to >>>> assess a work of art in terms of how >>>> successfully it achieves its stated goals. >>> Funny, that seems like a perfectly reasonable way to assess a work of >>> art to me, well within the spirit of artistic endeavors. >> Works of art usually don't have stated goals. Even when their >> authors do state their goals, I, like most people, would see >> that as extrinsic to the work of art. It's true that a lot of >> conceptualist avantgardist contemporary art is now almost >> mandatorily accompanied by a statement by the artist of what >> the work's goals are, but that really just underlines what >> bullshit and aesthetically bankrupt shite that variety of art is. > > I think you are too harsh on that kind of art. Granted, some of > that work may be aesthetically bland, and goal statements made > by the artists often try to gloss over that. But that doesn't mean > that such art is "bullshit and aesthetically bankrupt shite".
True. It is for other reasons that it is "bullshit and aesthetically bankrupt shite" -- reasons not really germane to this discussion.
> By making such statements, you assume the role of a totalitarian > "taste police". We do not need something like that. We have had > that in the past, and we have seen where it leads to. Do you want > that back?
I exercise my critical faculties in a philosophical matter of aesthetics, and this prompts you to earnestly ask me whether I wish for the return of death camps? Ahem. Let's consider these rhetorical strategies of yours to be quirks of temperament, that I should smile off as foibles.
>> I, like most people, assess works of art according to how they >> delight me, how they move me, how they transport me, how profound >> they are, what insights they give me, and so forth. > > So do I, but I am always aware that my assessment of art is > entirely subjective, and I don't expect others to get at the > same conclusions.
I on the other hand observe that people are often able to provide rational justifications for their assessment of art, and that individuals' assessments of and responses to works of art typically form clusters of intersubjective agreement. I find fallacious the widely-held notion that the subjectivity of aesthetic response renders it impervious to rational or empirical scrutiny and interrogation.
> Conclusion: Certain criteria just refuse to be objectivized. > And that makes the difference between an artlang and an engelang.
I presume that it is clear, from what I have already said, that I think this is mistaken. Not that it has many implications, though, since I'm pretty sure we'd agree on which conlangs we'd classify as artlangs and which as engelangs. --And.