Article by David Rosales, 3rd installment of a 7 part series
The word “artificial” denotes anything that is made by man, and which would not otherwise occur in the natural world. Likewise, anything that is “natural” is something that belongs to nature, not a conscious product of human design. Art itself is artificial, as its name suggests, and this very definition has lead modernist artists to trip catastrophically into the pitfall of abstract thought: confusing reality with its verbal definition.
The premise of modernist art is that since all art is artificial, then it should not matter how far away from natural human perception we take the art. The idea appears to be logical, at least on the surface, but it has mislead generations of artists who ending producing worthless (but “interesting”) garbage. Alas, logic is not enough to make an idea compatible with reality, and incorrect or incomplete premises and assumptions will invariably lead to flawed conclusions. The mistake here lies in ignoring the premise that while everything that is produced by humans is artificial, the consumer is only a natural organism, which only has natural means of achieving this consumption or utilization. This can be said of anything that our species makes use of: chairs are made so that our bodies are comfortable, food is prepared in all sorts of way but it must have a degree of compatibility with our body lest it be inedible, etc. Everything that an organism will consume, utilize or interact with must have a certain degree of natural compatibility with the organism in question.
This can be said about more things than the most obviously physical. The mind itself must arise from the same “physical” universe, albeit at a different level of differentiation which science only partially understands. The human mind itself has its own tendencies and limitations that are independent of nurture, and in turn the input faculties also lie within a particular range. Furthermore, not only is there a limited degree in which they are useful at all, there are degrees to which each of these is beneficial or detrimental to the healthy growth of mind and body, which are two sides of the same coin.
Now, if sensory limitations were the only obstacles, then the second line of modernist arguments would be triumphant; they argue that one needs only be repeatedly exposed to the experience of modernist art so that the ear gets used to it and accepts it. This is admittedly true, since the human body can accept all sorts of torture. It can even take pleasure in things which are unwholesome or detrimental to it when they are designed to interact with natural receptors. Modernist art goes the other way and avoids these natural receptors, thereby coming up with an altogether incompatible interface.
The mind, the subconscious, however, has its own nature (by which is meant that it is made for a very specific range of activities and consists of a very specific range of abilities: pattern recognition, narrative, etc), and brain plasticity is not infinite. We are products of this world, and as such our mind naturally reacts to certain input in a certain way. Hence, art that attempts to be unnatural is not truly appreciable or perceivable as spiritual, as traditional art would. It can only be interpreted in a cerebral manner and perceived in waves of shock.
Western classical art has traditionally been about the connection of the human being with the divine: his own higher nature as an extension of the natural order of the universe in which it becomes an individual for a single cosmological moment only to return to the whole. Modernism, then, is not a classical art. Modernist music is not classical music. It is not because it rejects natural avenues and instead argues for an ultra-natural, ultra-sensory experience that produces rationalizations.
To close this topic, we can liken this distinction between classical and modernist art to the difference between the traditional esoterism of the ancients in which multiple meanings were layered in symbols and rituals aimed at revealing actual information to the thelemic magick of Aleister Crowley, which placed value on the experience rather than the actual content. The classical is holistic and self-contained, the modernist takes needs arguments and justifications to appear to have any value at all.
Tags: analysis, classical music, modernism, modernist art, Philosophy, pop music
13 thoughts on “Classical and Pop Metal – Part 3 (The Natural and the Artificial)”
“The word “artificial” denotes anything that is made by man, and which would not otherwise occur in the natural world. Likewise, anything that is “natural” is something that belongs to nature, not a conscious product of human design”
I object to the separation of humanity from nature. We are part of nature like all other species. Our cities are as natural as the hives of ants.
I think of artificial things as things made by an intelligent artificer – by a mind. A bird’s nest is artificial. A mountain formed by seismic activity is not.
That doesn’t negate any of your arguments. It can still be said that it is not “natural” for one to act in a certain way, because in the most common environments, and when things are functioning normally, he does not act that way.
An example of this is how our minds have not evolved to live and function in our current modern environment.
Nope, our cities are not “as natural as hives of ants”
Ants build their cities through instinct.
Most of our modern cities are built with monetary efficiency in mind, not the spiritual and physical benefit of man.
If we used our instincts to build them, perhaps the comparison would be more accurate.
So what if thoughts are not natural? Not natural =/= arbitrary. Artificial =/= arbitrary either.
If it exists in nature, then it is natural.
It is natural for humans to act like short sighted self destructive idiots and to exploit each other.
The monetary gain that you mention is itself the manifestation of the human instinct of hoarding resources.
If there was no genetic basis for this behaviour, then it would not occur.
True,but you forget that evolution is blind, and man’s rational abilities are one of a kind. We are a sort of accidental experiment of nature, with our dissociated minds that split between ego and instinctive drive. This separation that produces twisted abstract interpretations of what our initially instinctive are is at the root of man’s moral problems, and modern man’s problem of coping with the rest of nature.
Your argument about being produced by nature is something that crosses all our minds at one point or another, but it is infantile and useless, only a way to escape the problem and ignore it. You are only playing with semantics.
When you divide things in to natural and unnatural, you are fooling yourself in to thinking that nature is automatically good.
Nature has the potential to be good and to be vile. Ugly phenomena such as rape, cancer, dogmatic religion, dying from mutations, etc are all natural occurrences.
Given what the nature of humanity is, there are certain paths to beauty and well being. By seeing the fundamental nature of humanity, we can see what those paths are, and avoid the bad ones. But that does not mean that the bad paths are unnatural.
I agree with your sentiment. Art, and decisions for how to live life in general, should be derived from the most fundamental parts of our nature. When derived from that, things are called “natural” by people.
But it is important not to say that natural is always good and unnatural is always bad, because if you do, then those who advocate for terrible paths can make the same claim to nature as you.
In fact, they can do anything, and claim that it’s good because it’s part of their nature.
Value derived from nature is not that a thing is natural, and therefore good.
It is an examining of nature, and a decision or value judgement made in light of that examination.
hm, these are good points. but allow me to offer an alternative view. nature is what is. by acknowledging nature for what it is, something that both gives life and takes it away, sometimes called grim, sometimes called beautiful, meaningful art can be created. good art reflects what is and comes from a mind unclouded by delusions of what true nature is. Bad art is projections of what man wants nature to be instead of what it is, and hence said art reflects a confused and deluded perception.
I agree with you. The greatest art is made by those who see and appreciate nature for what it is.
Their own fundamental nature, and the nature of the world at large.
We can take any splitting of perceived things and/or their classes and call one half “artificial” and the other “natural”. In the scope of this article, the division and labeling is spot on. In art, natural is what fits the mind, artificial is what doesn’t, and in the wider world, natural is what isn’t caused by human will, and artificial is what is. ‘What fits the mind’ and ‘what isn’t willed’ fit together; our will is given without first willing it to emerge. This means our likes and dislikes mostly happen, and we can not will dissonance to sound consonant. It’s natural. Artificialist art is created and appreciated by conscious work or recombination and imagination, which are the means by which humans engage in making the artificial, that is, exacting their will. See how well these match with the old art, made for the gods, and the new art, made to celebrate humanity.
hey is there still a chat room on Mirc? Just wondering what the server and channel name are, if it is still functioning.
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