This post continues from the previous one. It is about the three things (I only discuss two in this post) that I think get in the way of people truly appreciating/enjoying pieces of art as they should. It is about things and practices I think impair our judgement of pieces of art or our ability to appreciate them. Often critics may fall trap to some of these mistakes, whether they are reviewing a piece of music or a movie, and I just think it’s a pity. But this isn’t about the critics alone; it is also for anyone who consumes art.
- Judge within one’s capacity regarding resources
Artists and their work are often judged in two ways, one relates to what their resources (skills and budget) allowed them to do and the other pertains to how they compare to others within their domain.
Both are correct, and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. Rarely do consumers of art think of the former. Sometimes artists really make some huge strides and do tremendous work with little resources, that is impressive. To keep in mind an artist’s resources while evaluating their work makes the response more or less appropriate or fair. It will also make receiving it a lot more pleasurable because your expectations will be reasonably guided by some reliable information, namely the artist’s repertoire, budget, resources and skills. Plus you will make better judgements.
This explains why I moan when I listen to an album with a big production and tons of help and it sucks. You would expect with that much money going into a record the product will be good.
Judge and cultivate expectations within an artist’s resources. You will see how exciting it can be when they completely blow your mind away, that is how critically acclaimed albums, books and games are born.
- Enjoying something does not equal to it being good)
Enjoying something doesn’t equal to it being good, this goes not mean that you can’t enjoy something that is good it only means that enjoying something shouldn’t be a strong indicator of its quality or artistic brilliance (this also explains why unpleasant things can be artistically good, eg horror movies, although enjoying something and finding it pleasurable in it are different things). There is pretty much a difference between what you like and what is good, although sometimes what you like can be actually good the two don’t have to go together always. There isn’t a reason for them to be together at all, but there is a pretty good reason why one doesn’t necessarily follow from the other. The reason is bias; it is difficult to be unbiased when we judge something that we like. In fact most people think what they like is actually aesthetically good, however, this is flawed thinking because it isn’t always the case that what you like is good.
Sometimes we don’t enjoy something until we have actively scrutinized and studied it, when we understand it or receive it in some advanced way we then enjoy it because we have concluded that it is good. Put simply, the goodness of something can lead to liking it (or simply foster a response). Defending something from liking it in this way is not biased because the evaluation of the artistic piece is from a place of no emotional attachment. Sometimes the evaluation and liking of something may happen simultaneously since one did not come before the other bias can’t be claimed. Mostly people go to cinemas, or watch TV or listen to music to simply enjoy it and that is fine as long as you don’t claim it is a genius piece of art. Only make a judgement once you have critically engaged with something and take your emotions out it.
My main focus is critical engagement with music. So I will offer some ways on how to do that, and some of what I think are the universal signs of good music, and two modes of goodness that pieces of music can have. Because not all pieces of art can be judged on the same scale.
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Now I’m leaving you for a song lyric that may or may not have anything to do with the post:
“I will break the circle
Walls, I will tear them down.” – Blind Guardian ‘Prophecy’