Copernicus and the Zen of Attitudinarianism

Discussing the value of modern art has reminded me of the truly annoying: the rarefied religion of pomposity. In one of my recent posts, I mentioned Woody Allen’s frustration with the pompous ass in line behind him during a scene in Annie Hall. I know how he felt. I’ve had my fill of pompositude, where individuals from all branches of the arts and sciences have tested the levels of pompousness a human can endure. At times, their snobbery compels them into a state of pomposuration on par with nirvana. Nothing can touch them and they have nothing left to learn. Thus they achieve the highest state of the neo-pomposer: Attitudinarianism.

With just the right pose, the truly pompous can make themselves believe the most idiotic, small-minded, ridiculous nonsense the human mind can conjure.

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The Road to Hell is Paved With Artists’ Intentions

Can there exist an objective understanding of a work of art outside of the artist’s intention? I admit, I’m befuddled by those who say “yes”.

Whenever this debate arises, I’m reminded of the scene in Annie Hall when the characters are in line outside of a theater. Behind them, a man pontificates on the meaning behind the works of artists from Fellini to Marshall McLuhan. Exasperated, Woody Allen’s character calls him on his obnoxious behavior and produces Mr. McLuhan, who explains to the man that his insights are all wrong.

At the end of the scene, Woody Allen breaks the fourth wall and laments that life doesn’t work this way. He produced a deus ex machina moment that transcends reality, leaving the audience with the shared frustration that awkward situations often have no satisfying solution.

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Qualifying Genius: A Rather Unique Perspective

Can genius be qualified? I think not, but the question came to light when a friend of mine took exception to my innocent comment when we were out having a drink (okay, a few drinks).

Being a fan of Kurt Cobain, I suggested that Cobain changed his type of music (Rock ‘n’ Roll in its current state circa early ’90’s) in much the same manner as Beethoven changed his style of music (what we now call classical composition). When an individual comes along that alters the course of their field through creativity, a unique perspective, and raw talent, I would say that person is a genius.

Yet, how dare I rank a modern rock star with the genius of a classical composer like Beethoven? Ah, but I do.

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