Dedicated to classics and hits.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CLASSICAL AESTHETIC PRINCIPLES: NOSTALGIA/RESPECT FOR THE PAST

    There are three (four?) main bodies of Aesthetic principles that any self-respecting Artist or Audience member ought to be aware of.  Classical, Romantic & Modern (Post-Modern?)  Today, everyone understands the aesthetic principles of Modernism, varied as they may be, but few people are truly conversant with Classical aesthetic principles themselves.  Or rather, any understanding of those principles is squarely guided by subsequent developments in Romantic and Modern aesthetics.

   One Classical Aesthetic principle which is often misunderstood is today called, "Nostalgia."  Nostalgia is a favorite punching bag for would-be writers about Aesthetic principles.  Rarely does one read an essay celebrating or glorifying Nostalgia, rather the intellectual posture is always to attack or question excesses of Nostalgia.

    I  believe this posture is largely based on a failure to appreciate the Classical aesthetic principle which lays behind "Nostalgia": To celebrate the glory of past achievement of Artistic perfection.  I've often  had conversations with Mario Orduno, head of Art Fag Recordings, where he and I have agreed that if a specific work of Art has attained it's own state of perfection, that work of Art requires no improvement, and ought to be respected forever.

  Exhibit A in this argument is the Supremes, Stop! In The Name of Love:



 That's perfect.  Glorifying it today isn't "Nostalgia" but a demonstration of  good Taste.

  The argument against the "danger" of Nostalgia- which is always defined as glorification of past successes or supposed successes, is founded on the Romantic principle of variety for varieties sake and isn't any more "right" than the opposite position.  To the extent that a specific writer doesn't understand the two bodies of aesthetic principles and their contrasts, it simply reflects poorly on the writer and publication.

  It's certainly appropriate to comment on excesses of reverence for the past, but it's not an idea to abandon in favor of unceasing novelty, particularly when the Artist considers the qualities of the general Audience, and how they prefer the familiar to the novel.

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