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Re: Lighting Some Flames: Towards conlang artistry

From:Pavel Iosad <pavel_iosad@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 12, 2002, 6:20
On Mon, 11 Mar 2002 20:16:37 -0800, Jesse Bangs <jaspax@...> wrote:

>To All Who Care About Conlanging:
>It should not need to be proved that some art is better than others. If >we as conlangers wish to gain acceptance for our art, then we need to >acknowledge this and allow for the judgement that some conlangs are >better than others. We need a serious body of *conlang criticism*. >Currently, this is almost entirely lacking on the Conlang list. When >someone posts texts or grammatical sketches, the responses are generally >entirely congratulatory, or they are concerned only with correcting >technical errors or confusions within the grammar. Often there are no >responses at all. While technical accuracy and consistency are >important, it's outrageous that this is where our critique stops. We >need to move beyond the foundation of technical accuracy and allow for >the artistic analysis of our conlangs.
Well, artistic pleasure is what we get from our conlangs and our conlanging, isn't it? But, as a sage said, "individuals' personal predilection... varies widely". Different people get different aspects of conlanging to give pleasure - some may contemplate the phonetic pleasure, and some the weirdity and oddity (it seems I could name a few on this list that do... ;-)). I don't think we should impose some criteria to "judge" the conlangs. What I value much, if not most, about conlanging is the atnosphere, or the subculture or whatever you call it. Would we want to be meeting the newbies with a vareity of schools, each opffering a different list of flaws, which will eventually cover all the the newcomer has ever done. I don't think that publicity is a good reason to destroy the atmosphere.
>Of course the objection is "by what criteria?" It's clear that we can't >all agree on one style of phonetic beauty, much less on which syntax, >morphology, or vocabulary is best. But this is, in fact, exactly what we >expect. The study of the history of art, music, or literature is a long >series of redefinitions of what is proper, what is better, and a constant >critical re-evaluation of everything that's gone before. This >chronological tension is an essential part of the formation of >literatures and arts, and if conlanging is to be an art instead of a >hobby, then it must also expect this. The important thing is that >conlanging start to have a critical apparatus within which the artistic >merits of conlangs can be evaluated and where different schools of >thought can define and defend themselves.
I am afraid this approach may eventually lead to another breakup of the list :-( [snip]
>Of course this won't be popular with everyone, especially not when I >start telling people why their conlangs suck. Why should it? If you >disagree with me, form your own school. But by all means, we have to >start allowing for the critical analysis of conlangs to make them into an >actual art form. As a side effect of this, we also have to start taking >each others conlangs seriously--putting in the time to understand and >evaluate them.
Well, this _is_ a good point. However, I guess if we were to evaluate each and every other person's conlang (even there's only one for each... also something I find hard to agree with), how about 72 hours a day? :-) From time to time someone gets interested in a conlang of another's - and that's a success already. [snip] Followup to be posted later, I'm writing this from school. --Pavel