Archive for July, 2010

Absentee notice

July 22, 2010

This blog will not update until the last weekend in June. In the meantime, may I introduce you to the following excellent art blogs?
http://blogs.artinfo.com/modernartnotes/
http://www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl/
http://lacmaonfire.blogspot.com/

The Master of Funerals by Kawabata

July 20, 2010

Yasuari Kawabata’s starting to become one of my favorite authors. I don’t really know if there are excerpts from either Snow Country or Thousand Cranes on the internet, but this story might be a good introduction to the author. At any rate, even if it’s not his best work, it has many of the principle traits of Kawabata’s great novels(close attention to visible detail, shortness, a somewhat detached narrator). If you do like this, then you probably should read Thousand Cranes or Snow Country, which are considered the author’s masterpieces. Better yet, read both-they’re very short novels.
Without further ado:

THE MASTER OF FUNERALS

1

Since I was a boy, I have had neither my own house nor home. During school vacations I stayed with relatives. I made the rounds of my many relatives from one house to another. However, I spent most of my school vacations at the homes of two of my closest relatives. These two houses were south and north of the Yodo River, one in a town in Kawachi Province and the other in a mountain village in Settsu Province. I traveled back and forth by ferry. At either house I was greeted not with “Thank you for coming” but with “Welcome home.”

During the summer holiday when I was twenty-two, I attended three funerals in the space of less than a month. Each time, I wore my late father’s silk gauze jacket, long divided skirts, and white socks, and I carried a Buddhist rosary.

First there was a funeral in a branch of the Kawachi household. The mother of the family’s patriarch had died. She was quite old; they said she had grandchildren in their thirties and that she had been nursed through a long illness. You might say she had gone on to her reward without regrets. When I gazed at the patriarch’s despondent appearance and the granddaughters’ red eyes, I could see their grief. But my heart did not mourn directly for the late woman; I could not grieve her death. Although I burned incense before the altar, I did not know the face of the woman in the coffin. I had forgotten there even was such a person.

Before the coffin was carried out, I made a condolence call in mourning clothes, rosary and fan in hand, with my elder cousin who had come from Settsu. Compared to my cousin’s behavior, what little I did, though I was young, appeared considerably more composed and appropriate for a funeral ceremony. I was comfortable performing my role. Surprised, my cousin studied my bearing and imitated me. Five or six cousins were gathered in the main house. They felt no need to make solemn faces.

About a week later, I was in Kawachi when I received a telephone call from my elder cousin in Settsu. There was going to be a funeral in a branch of the family into which his elder sister had married. You have to go, too, he told me. Previously, it seems, someone from that family had attended a funeral in my own. I took my cousin from Settsu as a companion and went by train. When we went to the house to offer our sympathy, I could not begin to guess which of the people there were family, except for the chief mourner. I did not even know who had died. My cousin’s sister’s house was the resting place for those attending, but her husband’s family was in a separate room. In the room where I was, no one talked about the person who had died. All they did was worry about the heat and when the coffin would be removed. Occasionally, a question arose–who died, or how old was the deceased? I played go as I waited for the coffin to be brought out.

Later that month, my cousin from Settsu called again from his work. He asked me to go in his stead to the funeral of a distant relative of the family of his elder sister’s husband. My cousin didn’t even know the family that was holding the funeral, the name of the village, or the location of the cemetery. While we were talking, my cousin joked, “I’m asking you because you’re the master of funerals.”

I was struck dumb. We were on the telephone, so my cousin couldn’t see the expression on my face. I assented to this third funeral. My cousin’s young wife at the Kawachi house where I received the call smiled wryly. “It’s as though you’re a mortician.” She gazed at my face as she continued sewing. Deciding to stay at the house in Settsu that night and then leave from there the next morning for the funeral, I crossed the Yodo River.

Hearing my cousin laughingly call me “the master of funerals” prompted me to reflect. My past had made me particularly sensitive to such words. It is true that since childhood I have attended more funerals than I can count; not only have I met with the deaths of my closest relatives, but I have also often represented my family in the country villages where everyone diligently attends each other’s funerals.

I have reamed the funeral customs of Settsu Province. I am most familiar with funerals of the Pure Land and New Pure Land sects of Buddhism, but I have also attended Zen and Nichiren funerals. I have witnessed the last moments of five or six people that I can remember. I can also recall three or four times when I moistened the lips of the dead with the last water. I have lighted the first incense and have also lighted the last so-called departing incense. I have participated in several ceremonies where ashes were gathered and placed in an urn. And I am well acquainted with the customs of Buddhist rites for the forty-ninth day after death.

I had never even met the three people whose funerals I attended that summer. There was no way I could feel any personal grief. But at the cemetery, when the incense was burned, I rid myself of worldly thoughts and quietly prayed for the repose of the dead. Although I noted that most of the young people present bowed their heads while leaving their hands to dangle at their sides, I pressed my palms together. People often assumed I was more genuinely pious than the others who had little relationship to the deceased. The reason I gave this impression was that funerals often inspired me to consider the lives and the deaths of people who were close to me. And, in the repose of contemplation, my heart grew still. The more distant my connection with the deceased, the more I felt moved to go to the cemetery, accompanied by my own memories, to burn incense and press my palms together in devotion to those memories. So it was that as a youth, my decorous behavior at the funerals of strangers was never feigned; rather, it was a manifestation of the capacity for sadness I had within myself.

2

I have no recollection of my parents’ funerals. And I remember nothing about them when they were alive. People tell me, “Don’t forget your parents. Always remember them.” But I cannot, try though I might. When I see a photograph, it strikes me as neither a drawing nor a living being. It is something in-between. Neither a relative nor a stranger, but something in-between. I feel a weird, awkward tension, as though the photograph and I are embarrassed to be facing each other. When anyone talks of my parents, I never know what sort of manner to adopt in listening. My only desire is that they finish quickly. When I am told the dates of their deaths or their ages at death, I immediately forget them, as if they were just random numbers.

I heard from my aunt that I cried and fussed on the day of my father’s funeral. I told them, “Don’t strike the bell on the altar,” “Put out the light,” and “Throw the oil from the vessel out in the garden.” Strangely, only this story moved me.

My grandfather had come to Tokyo when it was still known by the old name of Edo. My father graduated from a medical school in Tokyo. There is a bronze statue of the president of that school at Yujima Tenjin Shrine. The first day I was ever in Tokyo, I was shown that statue; it made me feel strange. A bronze statue gives the queer impression of being almost alive, so I was embarrassed to stare at it.

My grandmother’s funeral was the year I entered elementary school. My grandmother, who along with my grandfather had raised me, died just when she could have relaxed her efforts to care for me, a rather sickly child. It rained hard the day of the funeral, so I was carried to the cemetery on the back of some man. My sister, eleven or twelve years old at the time and wearing white clothes, was also being carried on someone’s back ahead of me up the red clay mountain path.

My grandmother’s death awakened in me my first real feelings for our family altar. When my grandfather was not looking, I stole glances at the bright family altar in its special room. Over and over when my grandfather was unaware, I opened the sliding door a tiny crack, then closed it again. I remember that I hated opening the sliding partition all the way and actually approaching the altar. Whenever I look out at the subdued radiance of the sun as it bathes the mountaintops after dropping just below the horizon, I think of the light in the family altar as it looked to me when I was eight years old. In my graceless first-grader’s hand, I had scrawled my grandmother’s long, posthumous Buddhist name on the white sliding partition to the altar room; those characters remained there until we sold the house.

Years later, the only thing I can recall of my sister’s appearance is the image of her white mourning clothes as she was carried on a man’s back. Even if I close my eyes and try to attach a head and limbs to that image, only the rain and the red clay of the path come back to me. I feel irritated that the view in my mind’s eye does not parallel the actual events. The man who carried her would not materialize, either. And so this soft white entity floating through the air is the only memory I have of my sister.

My sister was raised at a relative’s house from the time I was four or five and died there when I was eleven or twelve. Just as I do not know the essence of my father and mother, I do not know my sister’s. My grandfather urged me, “Grieve. Grieve for your sister’s death!” I searched my heart, but I was confused, not knowing how to surrender my soul to grief. Seeing my old, feeble grandfather, his sorrow reaching the limit–that was what truly pierced my heart. My emotions gravitated toward my grandfather and lodged there, never attempting to move beyond him to my sister.

My grandfather had studied and excelled in the arts of divination. His eyes troubled him, and in his last years he was nearly blind. When he heard my sister was on the verge of death, he quietly counted his divining rods and divined his granddaughter’s life. His eyesight was so weak that he needed me to assist him in lining up the divining blocks. I stared at my grandfather’s aged face as the day gradually grew dark. When word of my sister’s death came two or three days later, I could not bear to tell my grandfather. I hid the message for two or three hours before finally deciding to read it to him. By that age I could read basic Chinese characters, but when I came across characters written in cursive style that I could not understand, I usually took my grandfather’s hand and traced the characters in his palm over and over until he could decipher them. Even now, when I remember the feel of my grandfather’s hand as I held it and read him that letter, the palm of my left hand turns cold.

My grandfather died the evening of the funeral of the Empress Dowager. It was the summer of my sixteenth year. When he took a breath, phlegm stopped up his windpipe. He clawed at his chest. One old woman at his bedside said, “He was like a Buddha. Why does he have to suffer so in his last moments.?” I could not stand to watch his agony, so I fled to another room for the next hour. A year or so later one of my female cousins reprimanded me for showing such a lack of feeling for my closest living relative. I was silent. I was not surprised that my actions should have been interpreted that way. When I was a boy, I did not like explaining myself. The old woman’s words had wounded me so deeply, I thought even a word of explanation as to why I left my grandfather’s side as death approached would expose him to disgrace. Then, when I listened to my cousin’s words in silence, the loneliness that had stayed at a distance suddenly sank deep inside me. It was the feeling that I was all alone.

On the day of the funeral, while in the middle of receiving the many funeral guests, I suddenly developed a nosebleed. When I felt the blood start running down my nostrils, I quickly grabbed my nose with the end of my kimono sash and dashed out barefoot across the flagstones in the garden. I lay face up in the shadow of the tree, on a large stone about three feet high in the garden where no one could see me, waiting for my nosebleed to stop. Dazzling sunlight spilled through the leaves of the old oak tree, and I could glimpse small fragments of blue sky. I think that was the first time in my life I had ever had a nosebleed. That nosebleed made me aware of how pained I was over my grandfather’s death. As the only member of the family to receive visitors and tend to the funeral matters, I had no time to myself. I had not yet been able to ponder my grandfather’s death or how his death would affect my future. I did not consider myself a weakling, but the nosebleed discouraged me. I did not want my sudden disappearance to be interpreted as weakness. I was the chief mourner, and it was almost time for the coffin to be brought out. My behavior was inexcusable and caused a great commotion. There on the garden stone, for the first time in the three days since my grandfather’s death, I had a quiet moment to myself. A vague sense that I was forsaken grew in my heart.

The next morning I went to the ceremonial gathering of ashes with six or seven relatives and fellow villagers. There was no roof over the mountain crematory. When we turned over the ashes, a layer of fire still smoldered beneath. As we picked up the bones out of the fire, my nose began to bleed again. I threw down the bamboo fire chopsticks. Mumbling just a word or two, I loosened my sash, held my nose, and dashed up the mountain. I ran to the top. Unlike the day before, my nose would not stop bleeding, no matter what I did. My hands and half the length of my kimono sash were covered with blood, which dripped onto the blades of grass. As I lay quietly on my back, I looked down toward the pond at the foot of the mountain. The morning sun dancing on the surface of the water reflected onto me from far away and made me feel dizzy. My eyes grew weak. About thirty minutes later I heard distant voices calling me repeatedly. I fretted about my sash, which was soaked with blood. But hoping no one would notice since it was black, I returned to the crematory. Everyone’s eyes were filled with reproach. The bones had been uncovered, and they told me to pick them up. With a desolate heart, I picked up the small bones. I wore the sash the rest of the day, stiff though it was with dried blood. My second nosebleed was over without its being discovered. I never told anyone about it. Until now, I have neither told any stories about my family nor even once asked anyone about them.

I was raised in the countryside, far from the city, so it would not be much of an exaggeration to say that all fifty families in our village pitied and wept for me. The villagers stood at each crossroads, waiting as the funeral procession advanced. As I passed before them, walking just ahead of the casket, the women wailed loudly. I could hear them crying, “How pathetic, how tragic.” I was embarrassed and walked stiffly. After I passed one crossroads, the women standing there took a shortcut in order to stand sobbing again at the next one.

Since my childhood, the sympathies of those around me have threatened to make me into an object of pity. Half of my heart meekly accepted the blessings from the hearts of others, while the other half haughtily rejected them. After my grandfather’s funeral, the funerals of my grandfather’s younger sister, of my uncle, of my teacher, and of others close to me caused me to grieve. As for the formal clothes that my father left me, only once did I wear them on a joyful occasion–my cousin’s wedding. All the countless other times, I wore them to the cemetery. They made me a master of funerals.

3

The third funeral of that summer vacation was in a village about a mile from my cousin’s house. I traveled to my cousin’s home as if I were simply going for a visit. I stayed one night. When I was about to leave, a member of my cousin’s family smiled as he spoke to me. “We may have to call you again. We have a girl with tuberculosis who may not survive the summer.

“I wonder if we could even hold a funeral without the master?”

I wrapped my formal clothes in a bundle and returned to the home of my cousin in Settsu. My cousin’s wife was in the garden. Smiling, she seemed to be in a good humor.

“Welcome home, Mr. Mortician.”

“Stop the silly talk. Bring some salt,” I said, standing up straight at the gate.

“Salt? What are you going to do with it?”

“I’m going to purify myself. I can’t go inside unless I do.”

“How disgusting. It’s like a neurosis.”

She brought a handful of salt and sprinkled it on me with a theatrical flourish.

“Is that enough?”

My cousin was about to put the slightly sweaty kimono I had just taken off out on the sunlit veranda to dry. She sniffed at it, furrowing her eyebrows at me. Recalling a joke, she said, “How horrible. Your kimono smells like a grave.”

“It’s a bad omen if you don’t know the smell of a grave.”

My cousin was still smiling. “I do know. It smells like burnt hair.”

Happy 4th of July

July 5, 2010

Some fun patriotic things:
First, a link to the fine short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, where it turns out the devil has to follow the laws of the Republic too.
http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/lpop/etext/devil/devil.htm
and in the musical department, can’t go wrong with the New World Symphony can you?

Walter Benjamin on the aura of the work of art

July 1, 2010

While studies of Art History tend to discuss the challenge photography posed to painting, the influence of mechanical reproduction on the arts(all of them, even-and especially music) is far more far-reaching. Probably the most famous analysis of this influence is Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. I’ll reproduce a selection from it below; the full work is available at http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

N.B.-when reading the essay, it is essential that the aura of the work of art not be confused with “the aspects of it that cannot be reproduced”(eg, scale and certain tonalities in the visual arts). It is more akin to the sensation of knowing that you are in the presence of a unique object. Also, pay special attention to the relationship between aura and “cult value”.

Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes. For the study of this standard nothing is more revealing than the nature of the repercussions that these two different manifestations – the reproduction of works of art and the art of the film – have had on art in its traditional form.
II

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original.

The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity. Chemical analyses of the patina of a bronze can help to establish this, as does the proof that a given manuscript of the Middle Ages stems from an archive of the fifteenth century. The whole sphere of authenticity is outside technical – and, of course, not only technical – reproducibility. Confronted with its manual reproduction, which was usually branded as a forgery, the original preserved all its authority; not so vis-à-vis technical reproduction. The reason is twofold. First, process reproduction is more independent of the original than manual reproduction. For example, in photography, process reproduction can bring out those aspects of the original that are unattainable to the naked eye yet accessible to the lens, which is adjustable and chooses its angle at will. And photographic reproduction, with the aid of certain processes, such as enlargement or slow motion, can capture images which escape natural vision. Secondly, technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself. Above all, it enables the original to meet the beholder halfway, be it in the form of a photograph or a phonograph record. The cathedral leaves its locale to be received in the studio of a lover of art; the choral production, performed in an auditorium or in the open air, resounds in the drawing room.

The situations into which the product of mechanical reproduction can be brought may not touch the actual work of art, yet the quality of its presence is always depreciated. This holds not only for the art work but also, for instance, for a landscape which passes in review before the spectator in a movie. In the case of the art object, a most sensitive nucleus – namely, its authenticity – is interfered with whereas no natural object is vulnerable on that score. The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object.

One might subsume the eliminated element in the term “aura” and go on to say: that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art. This is a symptomatic process whose significance points beyond the realm of art. One might generalize by saying: the technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced. These two processes lead to a tremendous shattering of tradition which is the obverse of the contemporary crisis and renewal of mankind. Both processes are intimately connected with the contemporary mass movements. Their most powerful agent is the film. Its social significance, particularly in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect, that is, the liquidation of the traditional value of the cultural heritage. This phenomenon is most palpable in the great historical films. It extends to ever new positions. In 1927 Abel Gance exclaimed enthusiastically:

“Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven will make films… all legends, all mythologies and all myths, all founders of religion, and the very religions… await their exposed resurrection, and the heroes crowd each other at the gate.”

Presumably without intending it, he issued an invitation to a far-reaching liquidation.
III

During long periods of history, the mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence. The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium in which it is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well. The fifth century, with its great shifts of population, saw the birth of the late Roman art industry and the Vienna Genesis, and there developed not only an art different from that of antiquity but also a new kind of perception. The scholars of the Viennese school, Riegl and Wickhoff, who resisted the weight of classical tradition under which these later art forms had been buried, were the first to draw conclusions from them concerning the organization of perception at the time. However far-reaching their insight, these scholars limited themselves to showing the significant, formal hallmark which characterized perception in late Roman times. They did not attempt – and, perhaps, saw no way – to show the social transformations expressed by these changes of perception. The conditions for an analogous insight are more favorable in the present. And if changes in the medium of contemporary perception can be comprehended as decay of the aura, it is possible to show its social causes.

The concept of aura which was proposed above with reference to historical objects may usefully be illustrated with reference to the aura of natural ones. We define the aura of the latter as the unique phenomenon of a distance, however close it may be. If, while resting on a summer afternoon, you follow with your eyes a mountain range on the horizon or a branch which casts its shadow over you, you experience the aura of those mountains, of that branch. This image makes it easy to comprehend the social bases of the contemporary decay of the aura. It rests on two circumstances, both of which are related to the increasing significance of the masses in contemporary life. Namely, the desire of contemporary masses to bring things “closer” spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction. Every day the urge grows stronger to get hold of an object at very close range by way of its likeness, its reproduction. Unmistakably, reproduction as offered by picture magazines and newsreels differs from the image seen by the unarmed eye. Uniqueness and permanence are as closely linked in the latter as are transitoriness and reproducibility in the former. To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose “sense of the universal equality of things” has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction. Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing importance of statistics. The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception.
IV

The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition. This tradition itself is thoroughly alive and extremely changeable. An ancient statue of Venus, for example, stood in a different traditional context with the Greeks, who made it an object of veneration, than with the clerics of the Middle Ages, who viewed it as an ominous idol. Both of them, however, were equally confronted with its uniqueness, that is, its aura. Originally the contextual integration of art in tradition found its expression in the cult. We know that the earliest art works originated in the service of a ritual – first the magical, then the religious kind. It is significant that the existence of the work of art with reference to its aura is never entirely separated from its ritual function. In other words, the unique value of the “authentic” work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value. This ritualistic basis, however remote, is still recognizable as secularized ritual even in the most profane forms of the cult of beauty. The secular cult of beauty, developed during the Renaissance and prevailing for three centuries, clearly showed that ritualistic basis in its decline and the first deep crisis which befell it. With the advent of the first truly revolutionary means of reproduction, photography, simultaneously with the rise of socialism, art sensed the approaching crisis which has become evident a century later. At the time, art reacted with the doctrine of l’art pour l’art, that is, with a theology of art. This gave rise to what might be called a negative theology in the form of the idea of “pure” art, which not only denied any social function of art but also any categorizing by subject matter. (In poetry, Mallarme was the first to take this position.)

An analysis of art in the age of mechanical reproduction must do justice to these relationships, for they lead us to an all-important insight: for the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. To an ever greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility. From a photographic negative, for example, one can make any number of prints; to ask for the “authentic” print makes no sense. But the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice – politics.
V

Works of art are received and valued on different planes. Two polar types stand out; with one, the accent is on the cult value; with the other, on the exhibition value of the work. Artistic production begins with ceremonial objects destined to serve in a cult. One may assume that what mattered was their existence, not their being on view. The elk portrayed by the man of the Stone Age on the walls of his cave was an instrument of magic. He did expose it to his fellow men, but in the main it was meant for the spirits. Today the cult value would seem to demand that the work of art remain hidden. Certain statues of gods are accessible only to the priest in the cella; certain Madonnas remain covered nearly all year round; certain sculptures on medieval cathedrals are invisible to the spectator on ground level. With the emancipation of the various art practices from ritual go increasing opportunities for the exhibition of their products. It is easier to exhibit a portrait bust that can be sent here and there than to exhibit the statue of a divinity that has its fixed place in the interior of a temple. The same holds for the painting as against the mosaic or fresco that preceded it. And even though the public presentability of a mass originally may have been just as great as that of a symphony, the latter originated at the moment when its public presentability promised to surpass that of the mass.

With the different methods of technical reproduction of a work of art, its fitness for exhibition increased to such an extent that the quantitative shift between its two poles turned into a qualitative transformation of its nature. This is comparable to the situation of the work of art in prehistoric times when, by the absolute emphasis on its cult value, it was, first and foremost, an instrument of magic. Only later did it come to be recognized as a work of art. In the same way today, by the absolute emphasis on its exhibition value the work of art becomes a creation with entirely new functions, among which the one we are conscious of, the artistic function, later may be recognized as incidental. This much is certain: today photography and the film are the most serviceable exemplifications of this new function.

The rest of the essay is an analysis of this ramifications of this “loss of aura”. While this is far from all that is noteworthy in the essay, it’s enough material to chew on. Some questions that this might raise:
1. Benjamin talks about the shift in from cult value to exhibition value. However, a survey from 1970s Britan notes that 66% of working-class respondents felt that an art gallery “most resembles” a church. Might this be an indicator that the emphasis on art as a cult object has not really ended? Also, since the aura of a art-object and
2. How is this to be extended to music and the preforming arts? On the face of it, musical compositions and other preforming arts(plays, dances, et cetera) can’t have an aura because they aren’t unique-there can be as many productions of a play or performances of a sonata at the same time as there are actors and musicians to preform. But performance is discussed as well in this essay, and many of its theses seem to apply to music and performance-off the bat, music has a ritual value as well(all those masses and Gregorian chants, remember?). So can we define an “aura” for music? How much of what has been said about the visual arts applies to music as well?
3. As we all know, fewer and fewer people consider the arts relevant to their lives. What might the processes described here have to do with that? Do people really want or need to go to symphonies and art galleries if they’re going to do it to revere artworks as cult-objects rather than engage with them?
Comment away!