Pleasure and the Arts: Enjoying Literature, Painting, and Music
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How do the arts give us pleasure? Covering a very wide range of artistic works, from Auden to David Lynch, Rembrandt to Edward Weston, and Richard Strauss to Keith Jarrett, Pleasure and the Arts offers us an explanation of our enjoyable emotional engagements with literature, music, and painting. The arts direct us to intimate and particularized relationships, with the people represented in the works, or with those we imagine produced them. When we listen to music, look at a purely abstract painting, or drink a glass of wine, can we enjoy the experience without verbalizing our response? Do our interpretative assumptions, our awareness of technique, and our attitudes to fantasy, get in the way of our appreciation of art, or enhance it? Examining these questions and more, we discover how curiosity drives us to enjoy narratives, ordinary jokes, metaphors, and modernist epiphanies, and how narrative in all the arts can order and provoke intense enjoyment. Pleasurable in its own right, Pleasure and the Arts presents a sparkling explanation of the enduring interest of artistic expression.
excessive fear of spiders. It is this changing of the cognitive frameworks for emotions that underlies much successful therapy: cf. e.g. Gillian Butler and Tony Hope, Manage Your Mind (Oxford: OUP, ), and passim, and concerning depression, ff. George Eliot, in Selected Critical Writings, ed. Rosemary Ashton (Oxford: OUP, ), . Cf. Noël Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror (London: Routlege, ), – and . Grodal, Moving Pictures, . Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft,
orchestral or sound worlds, from Monteverdi, through Rameau, Debussy, Ravel, and Richard Strauss, to Arvo Pärt and Ligeti, and through the inﬁnitely variable ways in which these colours can be realized in performance. The vocabulary in which we report such sensations is usually well out of the way of our everyday object-related vocabulary, and so there are difﬁculties of identiﬁcation. Of course it would not be impossible for us to attach a vocabulary to our discrimination of sensations, for
instrumental accompaniment to the singer, they have melodic sensational pleasures to offer of their own: Look, stranger, on this island now The leaping light for your delight discovers, Stand stable here And silent be, That through the channels of the ear May wander like a river The swaying sound of the sea. In the opening lines the imperative ‘look’ leads to a complex internal rhyme and assonance which seems to be an equivalent for the recurrent things seen in the ‘light’ as well as in what
the Futurist painters and many others quickly managed to make geometric abstractions that were to be seen as having within them, like the Mondrian, dynamic tendencies and energies (such as Balla’s Abstract Speed + Sound, ) so that the relationship between ‘geometric’ abstraction and the world is often ambiguous.38 For both such modes, colour has its own supposed emotional effects upon the beholder.39 Kandinsky thinks of colours as having distinct emotional characteristics, as a keyboard which
for a causal, even Freudian interpretation, notably in those cases where we have failed to make a pleasurable activity (which could of course be sexual activity) sufﬁciently autonomous, and perhaps have failed to make ourselves sufﬁciently autonomous, in pursuing the pleasure. We may have failed to free ourselves to enjoy doing whatever it is—making love, pursuing our profession, listening to Bach—‘for its own sake’ without its inhibiting interpretative shadow. That is, without the memory,