art yeah art.

I chose to talk about topic 3 for the Richardson project.  I feel as though Richardson would say that art is something that should improve society.  He felt that art was something that should improve man through lessons, much like the paintings we looked at by Hogarth where there was a story being told that would possibly scare the pants off of people with the morality ideas they had had. I however do not believe that the goal of art should be to better society in any way, that being said I do not believe that it should go against society either.  I believe that art is something that represents an expression of the self, for example if you were really influenced by the war and you painted something that showed your emotions towards it.  Richardson would tell me probably that this was dumb and tell me I was being stupid probably.

I am a huge fan of Leonardo Davinci’s work, “Mona Lisa”, as well as a billion other people on this earth I am sure.  I am not a gigantic fan of the work which we studied in class “A Harlot’s Progress”, which was something that was just a wretched and sad tale of a girl who lost her life to whoredom.

Richardson would disagree with me probably and have both pieces of art switched around in his mind.  He would probably talk about how the “Mona Lisa” was one that lacked anything that would give worth to the betterment of society as it pertained to the “purpose” of art.  And he would also probably infer that he quite enjoyed the piece by Hogarth, probably would say that it displays correct standing in the idea of morals and how people should look at life.  He would agree with the fact that the horrific display in Hogarth’s piece was one that shoed the “worst case scenario” of what would happen to a woman if she chose the path of sexual pleasure instead of staying conservative which was widely popular of that time.  Like the ways that Hogarth tried to better society with his works, Richardson would go along with him and say that this is correct.  Richardson seemed to believe that there was a right and wrong way to “art”, which is why he would agree with the lessons being taught in the pieces that were done by William Hogarth.

Miley Cyrus vs Richardson and Lana Del Rey

Richardson had many interesting points and views when it came to art in his time period. He believed that art was used to improved society as a whole. In his essays,  “Two Discourses- an Essay on the Art of Criticism,” his emphasis was on the way art is full of potential in the ways it effects society. He thinks that people would be better if instead of wasting their time on doing sinful and immoral actions, they should reform themselves through art. He boldly writes, ““if Gentlemen were Lovers of Painting, and Conoisseurs, it would be of great advantage to the Publick.” He is telling his readers that if people spent more time exploring art than doing corrupt actions, our society would improve ten-fold.

Personally, in this aspect of Richardson’s essay I agree completely. If our society nowadays were more interested in books and essays that enriched the mind instead of trashy romance novels and reality TV shows about Jersey Housewives then maybe we wouldn’t live in a world filled with such shallow corruption. Richardson’s words though sadly seem to be an idea of the past that people of the present may never adopt due to their ignorance.

My first piece I have chosen the song “23” by Miley Cyrus:

[Hook: Miley Cyrus]
I’m in the club high off purp with some shades on
Tatted up, mini skirt with my J’s on

[Juicy J x2]
J’s on my feet
J’s on my feet
J’s on my feet
So get like me

[Verse 1: Miley Cyrus]
I be in the club standing on the couch
In them Wolf Greys like it’s my house

Drinking out the bottle, I got no respect
Looking like a model, who just got a check
I back it up, cause I don’t give a fuck
If you’re a lame, that’s a shame you can’t hang with us
I’m MC Hammer fly, you can’t touch
J’s so fly I should work at Flight Club

[Bridge: Miley Cyrus]
Put on my J’s and dance the whole night away
I’m naughty by nature like I’m hip-hop hooray
With my hands in the sky, I wave ‘em from side to side
My feet on the floor, I’m ’bout to turn up now

[Hook]

[Verse 2: Wiz Khalifa]
I be rockin’ J’s or
I be rockin’ Taylors

I got lots of flavors, my kick game is major
More kicks than the players, call me up I’m scorin’
Hit it like a free throwtongue out like I’m Jordan
Smiley, Miley, come swing the thing right by me
Gotta a joint if you wanna get stoned, got choppers if they wanna try me
Pro athlete I’m not no wannabe
Waitress asked how many bottles? I said 23

[Bridge]

[Hook]

[Verse 3: Juicy J]
I stay showin’ out, my kick game is a beast
I got thirty pair of J’s that ain’t never been released
Flu game twelve, Space Jam 11
On the hype beast sick, they gon’ need a paramedic
Turn up, turn up, turn up, I get trippy, I stay live
All this purple in my cup, match them grape 5’s
I’m so high, I got three bitches that go bi
I’m so fly, I’m gettin’ head like a blow dryer

[Bridge]

[Hook]

Okay, so I will admit, it’s a pretty freaking catchy song. If Richardson listened to this so though, he may go into shock from the meaningless trash that it’s consumed with. This entire song is about how much Miley Cyrus thinks she’s a badass and how “turned up” she can get. This song not only includes references to drugs and alcohol, but it even alludes to sexual acts performed in a disrespectful way. Point blank, if this is the direction music nowadays is going towards… I’m a little frightened…. There is simply no real meaning or virtue that can make a person. Richardson would actually recommend people should not listen to this song, I think he would rather them listen to nothing.

Second Piece I chosen the song is the song “Ride” by Lana Del Rey:


[Music video spoken introduction:]

I was in the winter of my life, and the men I met along the road were my only summer.
At night I fell asleep with visions of myself, dancing and laughing and crying with them.
Three years down the line of being on an endless world tour, and my memories of them were the only things that sustained me, and my only real happy times.
I was a singer – not a very popular one,
I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.
But I didn’t really mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.
When the people I used to know found out what I had been doing, how I’d been living, they asked me why – but there’s no use in talking to people who have home.
They have no idea what it’s like to seek safety in other people – for home to be wherever you lay your head.
I was always an unusual girl.
My mother told me I had a chameleon soul, no moral compass pointing due north, no fixed personality; just an inner indecisiveness that was as wide and as wavering as the ocean…
And if I said I didn’t plan for it to turn out this way I’d be lying…
Because I was born to be the other woman.
Who belonged to no one, who belonged to everyone.
Who had nothing, who wanted everything, with a fire for every experience and an obsession for freedom that terrified me to the point that I couldn’t even talk about it, and pushed me to a nomadic point of madness that both dazzled and dizzied me.

I’ve been out on that open road
You can be my full time daddy,
White and gold
Singing blues has been getting old
You can be my full time baby,
Hot or cold

Don’t break me down
I’ve been travelin’ too long
I’ve been trying too hard
With one pretty song

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I’ve got a war in my mind
So, I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, just ride

Dying young and I’m playing hard
That’s the way my father made his life an art
Drink all day and we talk ’til dark
That’s the way the road dogs do it – ride ’til dark.

Don’t leave me now
Don’t say good bye
Don’t turn around
Leave me high and dry

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I’ve got a war in my mind
I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, just ride

I’m tired of feeling like I’m fucking crazy
I’m tired of driving ’til I see stars in my eyes
It’s all I’ve got to keep myself sane, baby
So I just ride, I just ride

I hear the birds on the summer breeze,
I drive fast, I am alone in the night
Been tryin’ hard not to get into trouble,
but I, I’ve got a war in my mind
I just ride, just ride,
I just ride, I just ride

[Music video spoken ending:]
Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people, and finally I did on the open road.
We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore, except to make our lives into a work of art.
Live fast. Die young. Be wild. And have fun.
I believe in the country America used to be.
I believe in the person I want to become.
I believe in the freedom of the open road.
And my motto is the same as ever:
“I believe in the kindness of strangers. And when I’m at war with myself I ride, I just ride.”
Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy.
But I am free.

First of all, Lana Del Rey is absolutely amazing. Her lyrics to her songs completely blow my mind every single time I listen to them. She pushes the edge. She isn’t afraid to let loose the truth about herself but she does it in the most tasteful way possibly. Her lyrics are more of a lullaby to the mind and Miley Cyrus’s are more of an alarm clock. Just like Richardson says, “We are pushed on by our wills, excited by the determination of our understandings upon a view of the present set of ideas; but these changing perpetually from the impression made upon our senses by external objects from the nature…” Lana Del Rey does exactly this by expressing her ideas through the senses; she uses sound but also evokes a picture in our minds with her vivid wording.

Works Cited:

http://rapgenius.com/Mike-will-made-it-23-lyrics

https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-ii.pdf

https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-i.pdf

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/lanadelrey/ride.html

Richardson is a Connoisseur of Being a Connoisseur

Richard Derderian

Group #8

When it comes to the notion of the connoisseur, Richardson believes that it is possible, but it takes a very strict set of circumstances to become and remain one.  The main thing that he brings up is that you have to judge things for yourself.  He believes that if you rely on another’s judgment to help you form your own opinion about a certain work than you are making a mistake.  This belief is best illustrated by the following:  “but he that relies upon the judgment of another has a double-chance against him over and above, for he may be mistaken in his opinion of the honesty, or understanding of this other. (Richardson Pg. 16)  Richardson full-heartedly believes that unless you can form your own opinions and find truth within your own thoughts than you cannot be a connoisseur.

Richardson also believes that to be a good connoisseur, “The first thing then to be done in order to become a good connoisseur one’s self, is to avoid prejudices, and false reasoning.”  (Richardson Pg. 17)  What he’s trying to say here is that you have to go into the examination of a piece of art with an open mind, and if you bring your own baggage with you to view it you can’t form a clear opinion.  Part of what makes someone a good connoisseur is looking at things from a completely unbiased perspective.  You’re still forming your own opinion, but you’re not letting past experiences influence the way you feel about the piece in from of you.  Connoisseurs are supposed to judge the “intrinsic qualities of the thing itself.”(Richardson Pg. 23)  A good way he helps us to understand this is by relating this notion back to religion by saying you don’t believe in it because your ancestors did, you have taken the time to carefully examine it yourself.  The most interesting thing about Richardson, personally, is that I agree with everything he’s saying regarding the topic.  A good connoisseur is someone that has intense knowledge of a certain field (art) and is able to judge something in that field in a completely objective manner, thus making his judgment just.

A piece that really speaks to me is a song sung by Elvis and Lisa Marie Presley titled “In the Ghetto.”  I like to consider myself a connoisseur of music, but I can’t help but be biased on this piece because my father is an Elvis fanatic.  But in saying that, this piece is a wholesome, caring piece about the terribleness of life in a ghetto.  The two singers talk about how people are consciously neglecting the problems in society and calling for change.  The song is really powerful because it talks about something real, unlike most works in today’s world.  This reminds me of my favorite quote from the Richardson piece.  It is very applicable to this particular song.  “Apply’d to all the occurrences of life would contribute very much to the improvement of out happiness here; it would teach us to enjoy the good before us, and not reject it upon account of the disagreeable companion which is inseparable from it” (Richardson Pg. 12) This song really makes me appriecate the good before me, something that we should be reminded of much more often in today’s world.

One song that really irks me is “Kim” by Eminem.  In the song, Em talks about literally killing his wife by drowning her and slitting her throat.  Of course, this all happens while his daughter Haley is sitting in the front seat.  The song actually has some good raps in it though, which leads me to remind that a good connoisseur forms his own personal opinion, but doesn’t let past experiences come into play.  Of course the song has faults, but a good connoisseur knows, “There never was a picture in the world without some faults, and very rarely is there one to be found which is not notoriously defective in some of the parts of painting” (Richardson Pg. 15)

Works Cited:

1.)    Elvis and Lisa Marie Presley “In the Ghetto”

The Dear Hunter vs. Florida Georgia Line

The way I see it, art is a personal expression of emotion or thought. Even if it is a reflection of outside conditions completely separate from the individual, the essence of the art work comes from within the artist. It embodies their view from their perspective only that no other mind or set of eyes can ever completely comprehend.

One thing that has always puzzled me is the occupation of an art teacher. The idea of grading art seems so unheard of to me. The idea that someone can decide whether art is good or bad and grade them on it regardless of how the person wants to mold the material or capture the image in the way that they most want to. What kind of person can tell a child, or even an adult for that matter, whether what they see as beautiful or inspiring or heart-wrenching isn’t worth more than a D or an F?

However, public art is, after all, public. It is made not only for the artist’s pleasure but for that of the audiences who will see or hear it. And when they do, they will decide whether they like it or not. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe that people’s opinions of art are ultimately completely powerless and irrelevant. The famous paintings hanging in the Lourve and the Prado are worth millions, but the vision and inspiration they held in their minds while developing it were just the same as artists whose paintings are hidden back in the storage rooms of local art galleries. Famous artists had an image and a reputation that contributed to the fame of their works which may have caused society to see them as masters. They may have mastered their own style, but style is personal and is mastered by every individual artist.

For example, when it comes to music, the artist that comes to my mind is The Dear Hunter (not to be confused with Deerhunter, the hard rock band). The Dear Hunter combines a unique mix of what sounds like swing, rock, and indie, to create a circus-like swirl of passionate melody. They retain a small yet devoted fan-base yet they go on creating their own music the way they like it because it emanates how they think and feel. Of course there are many who may not like their music, but ultimately, they will go on creating it because it is what they love to do. Even though they play a miniscule part in the world of music, they still provide a place for themselves and the few who love their music.

On the other hand, we have Florida Georgia Line’s “Get Your Shine On”. Every single time this song comes on the radio I insist the channel be changed. It is whiney, obnoxious, and infuriating. I don’t mind most country music but this song, in my opinion, embodies everything wrong with society today. The lyrics prompt listeners to start drinking moonshine liquor and act like douchebags. Even so, almost everyone else in the room or car who hears the song come on fights me on it and insists it is a great song. Florida Georgia Line has a huge fan base, and it may generate hundreds of thousands more dollars in their pockets, but they clearly have a passion for their genre and a good portion of the public seems to think so too.

Richardson states that “readers are too apt at first sight to condemn as Error, what an Author may have found after a laborious, and tedious Enquiry to be the Truth” (Richardson 7). Here he supports my point that the viewers’ opinions of the art are altogether irrelevant to the meaning the piece holds for its maker. I think if Richardson were to have read this blog post, he would have appreciated my given opinions of each artist and also the fact that I recognize that (even though Florida Georgia Line SUCKS) both artists have their own personal meaning in their work, and they are just as strong for both.

https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-i.pdf

Connoisseur? I Barely Know Her!

So….art.   This is a can of worms that just stinks more and more once it’s been opened.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion (heck, that’s kind of the point of the Enlightenment) but sometimes artsy is just another word for crappy style or just plain bad taste.  Art is subjective, and should technically still be counted as art if it invokes some emotion, right?  I’d argue not necessarily.  Look at Andy Warhol’s iconic paintings of Campbell’s tomato soup cans.  Ok, it’s a picture of a can of soup.  Is it art?  The only feelings it evokes from me is a roll of the eyes and a shoulder shrug that begs to question, “Why?  Because he could?”  I know, Richardson would say, “Of judging its goodness as a connoisseur, one should pronounce it such in proportion to the number of good qualities it has, and their degrees of goodness,” (Richardson, 14-15).  Well, it certainly does look like a can of soup.  That’s pretty much it as far as the degrees of goodness.  If it doesn’t do much well at all, should we still consider it art?  One could argue that it was original, because no one had thought to do it before.  My argument would begin and end with, “Of course they didn’t because it’s stupid.”  Then again, somebody didn’t think so because they threw him money and acclaim.  Bad art can be easily elevated by worse critics.

To that end, I’d like to point out a trend in pop music, to elevate the most generic, watered-down, gimmicky shlock some record-company stooge can drone out in a day.  Music use to be a way to express things, and was celebrated for the skill it took to manufacture it, perform it, or the pieces of one’s soul they put into it.  People listened to John Lee Hooker because he could play the crap out of a guitar and had a voice like he really had felt the blues, and he told a great story with it.  Somebody like Beyonce, on the other hand, I can almost attest to the fact that a manufactured beat that you autotune on top of is pretty much par for the course.   Where’s the feeling?  What story is she telling?  Why?

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m being way too much of a snob, but if I can’t see the good in it, should I be forced to acknowledge it has goodness?  That defeats the purpose of art if everything produced suddenly is “art,” right?  I guess I just don’t feel the same when I hear “Single Ladies” as I do when I hear “The Feelin’ is Gone.”

Hooker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHV9R-sKaBk&noredirect=1

Knowles:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m1EFMoRFvY

Richardson: https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-i.pdf

Warhol: http://images1.friendseat.com/2012/09/Andy-Warhol-Campbell-Soup-Can.jpg

Art improving society by making us think

I am going to relate one of Richardson’s quotes on art (paintings) to music today: “But Pictures are not merely Ornamental, they are also instructive; and Thus our Houses are not only unlike the Caves of Wild Beasts, or the Hutts of Savages…Our Walls like the Trees of Dodona’s Grove speak to us, and teach us history, morality, divinity, excite in us joy, love, pity, devotion, etc. If pictures have not this good effect, tis our own fault in not choosing well, or not applying ourselves to make a right use of them.” If we’re going to relate this to music, we could say that music is not purely entertainment, it’s also instructive…It should teach us history, morality, divinity, ANYTHING….

Miley Cyrus – We Can’t Stop

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrUvu1mlWco

“It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want

Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere
Hands in the air like we don’t care
‘Cause we came to have so much fun now
Got somebody here might get some now

If you’re not ready to go home
Can I get a hell no
‘Cause we gonna go all night
‘Till we see the sunlight alright

So la da da di we like to party
Dancing with Molly
Doing whatever we want,
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop (whoa)
And we won’t stop (whoa)
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop (whoa)
And we won’t stop (whoa)
We run things, things don’t run we
Don’t take nothing from nobody yeah yeah

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want

To my home girls here with the big butts
Shaking it like we at a strip club
Remember only God can judge us
Forget the haters cause somebody loves ya
And everyone in line in the bathroom
Trying to get a line in the bathroom
We all so turnt up here
Getting turnt up yeah yeah yeah

So la da da di we like to party
Dancing with Molly
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop (whoa)
And we won’t stop (whoa)
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop (whoa)
And we won’t stop (whoa)
We run things
Things don’t run we
Don’t take nothing from nobody yeah yeah

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want

It’s our party we can do what we want to
It’s our house we can love who we want to
It’s our song we can sing if we want to
It’s my mouth I can say what I want to yea, yea, yeah

And we can’t stop (whoa)
And we won’t stop (whoa)
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop (whoa)
And we won’t stop (whoa)
We run things, things don’t run we
Don’t take nothing from nobody, yeah yeah
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah,
(We can do what we want, we can do what we want) hey”

This. Song. Is. So. Horrible. If we’re really going to stretch what Richardson would’ve said about Miley Cyrus, we could give him the benefit of the doubt — maybe he’d say this song is fine because it brings some (deaf) people joy. However, I suspect that he would despise the song because it has no moral value, no intellectual value, no chance of bettering society. Instead, it encourages people to act mindlessly and party and not care about anything (the exact opposite of what Richardson wanted art to do).

But, I wanted to point out another Richardson quote: “If gentlemen therefore found pleasure in pictures, drawings, prints…and the like curious works of art [music]; is discovering their beauties, and defects; in making proper observations thereupon; and in all the other parts of the business of a connoisseur, how many hours of leisure would here be profitably employ’d, instead of what is criminal, scandalous, and mischievous!”

Now, I don’t believe that the primary goal of art should necessarily be to improve society. Art is a means of expressing oneself, and in my opinion, self expression should be the main goal of art. Only sometimes does this form of self expression mean also attempting to improve society. However, I do agree with Richardson in the sense that people should hold themselves to a certain standard of what they CHOOSE to enjoy as art. In my opinion, Richardson would have called indulging in loving a song like “We Can’t Stop” scandalous and mischievous. Even though the song is music and therefore technically “art,” Richardson would not have supported it. Instead, he would say that “’tis our own fault in not choosing well.” We as a society have chosen to make this song popular and relevant! While in my opinion art does not necessarily need to instruct society, popular music today definitely reflects the values of the majority of the American culture. It is so sad to me that a song like “We Can’t Stop” is what a large percentage of American wants to listen to on the radio.

While it is difficult to define what is “good” art, I believe that Richardson was getting at the idea that art should challenge us. It should improve society in that people spend their time enjoying it because the skill and intricacies in the art created by the artist. Thus, the mindless pop songs that take over the radio these days are, in my opinion, only making our nation worse.

Here’s an example of some good art I think Richardson would approve of:

“The Cave” – Mumford & Sons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KkUeRPjc-Y

It’s empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you’ve left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
Know my name as it’s called again

Because I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I’ll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker’s hand

So make your siren’s call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Because I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it’s meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won’t let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I’ll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I’ll know my name as it’s called again

I know it’s cliché to choose Mumford & Sons, but they are a good example of a popular band that writes meaningful and complex lyrics, and ask serious questions about life. They also are all very skilled artists. Therefore, being a fan of Mumford & Sons would follow Richardson’s belief that listening and being a connoisseur of art can shape society positively. To appreciate music like this is to appreciate artistic talent, and the music “excite in us joy, love, pity, devotion, etc.” as Richardson suggests art should. Richardson wrote, “And if learn to draw, and to understand pictures, and drawings were made a part of the education of a gentleman, as their example would excited the others to do the like, it cannot be deny’d but that this would be a farther improvement even of this part of our people: the whole nation would by this means be removed some degrees higher into the rational state, and make a more considerable figure amongst the polite nations of the world.” I believe that making skilled and meaningful music, as well as appreciating skilled and meaningful music, really could achieve this end.

Attempting to Look at Art With an Open Mind

Is it possible to view and experience art without prejudice? Is it possible to view and experience anything without prejudice? I say “hell no!” As living and coherent creatures we must hold on to our previous experiences and what we know from them to continue living. If the slate of our mind was wiped clean of of all prejudice there would be nothing left with which to make “perceptions.” (The use of the word prejudice in this context is synonymous with the the word preconception.) The idea of experiencing (art as it exists presently) could not exist without the “experiencer” having brought no preconceptions to the table. All of this being said, I do believe that in order to appreciate something, especially a piece of art, one must attempt to digest that something with an “open mind.” In opening of his first discourse “An Essay on the Art of Criticism” Richardson writes:

We are pushed on by our wills, excited by the determination of our understandings upon a view of the present set of ideas; but these changing perpetually from the impression made upon our senses by external objects from the nature… (Discourse I, p.1).

Using these words of Richardson as evidence, I feel that even though Richardson later speaks of “letting go of prejudices” to experience art, he does not expect a connoisseur to let go of all prejudices. He notes the ever-changing environment as it relates to our present understanding. In theory, if the change in environment should be followed by a change in perception, and if this is true then prejudices should be challenged continuously. I don’t think that Richardson would detest using  past experiences to understand art, but I do believe that he would detest letting prejudices completely dictate one’s view of art.

Keeping in mind Richardson’s ideas, I chose two videos of musical performances. I consider one of the performances to be great, but the other irks me. I’ll start with the good one…

Alright, so I’ve probably watched this video 1,000 times without getting tired of it. I don’t have a special connection to the original song by Dolly Parton, other than thinking it is a good song, but the whole performance here speaks to me. I have loved Jack White’s music since I found a couple of White Stripes albums in a box of burned C.D.’s when I was in middle school. I have a nostalgic connection to this music, and I know that the some of the emotions I feel when watching the performance are connected to things I have experienced. I think that Richardson would disagree with me calling the song “good” simply because I have connections to it, but I think its a quality piece of art for more reasons than “just because it makes me happy.”  Both artists show talent and mastery of a craft. The interpretation of the song is unique…and it’s just especially badass.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioeJXcefy8Y

This performance irks me. First of all, I hate the lyrics. I admittedly can’t stand the lyrics because of prejudices against the content. Richardson would frown upon this. I have a hard time viewing the song objectively because of the lyrics, but looking at it musically I don’t see anything special. The back-up singers and musicians are doing their thing with skill, but the “main attraction” isn’t especially talented in my book. Her vocal range isn’t especially great, and her voice isn’t strong. By trying to have an open mind about the song, despite its content, I was able to fashion a stronger critique than “I just hate it.” I feel like qualitative critiques made while attempting to rid oneself of prejudices would be cool with Richardson.

 

Richardson’s Discourses

I:https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-i.pdf

II: https://engl382fall2013.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/richardson-two-discourses-ii.pdf