Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Play The Britney Spears vs. Shakespeare Game:
July 30, 2002 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Play The Britney Spears vs. Shakespeare Game: This is more than a bit of fun from The Philosopher's Magazine. After answering a few questions on your definition of what makes a great work of art, you get to choose two artists and rate them both. ( Yes, you can even pit Britney against Shakespeare). You'll then get a final score on who is, according to your criteria, il miglior fabro. Julien Baggini's essay, Who's The Greatest?, is well worth reading beforehand. [I pitted T.S.Eliot against Miles Davis and Miles Davis won hands down...]
posted by MiguelCardoso (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
TS Eliot takes down Kurt Cobain in a statement-over-enjoyment slamkick.

I adore ruminations on the nature of Art. Looking at the survey of responses, I was surprised to see the "enjoyability" of a piece so highly rated... profound, nuanced "insight into reality" is, for me, the marker of great Art.
posted by Marquis at 9:03 AM on July 30, 2002


Cobain 47, Spears 32.

It's interesting that while Cobain landed third from last in terms of "greatness," his work is third from the top in terms of desert island desirability.
posted by me3dia at 9:08 AM on July 30, 2002


Mozart 46, Cobain 42. Closer than I would have thought!

I also had "insight into reality" ranked highest in my personal scoring levels.
posted by yhbc at 9:11 AM on July 30, 2002


This is a pretty cool link.

Although I did just watch Kurt Cobain take down Shakespeare, 73-71.

me3dia, I don't think it's that unusual.  I for one would personally rather bring music to an island than books, if it came to it (especially for only 24 hours-- you can do a lot of other stuff while you listen to music).
posted by nath at 9:41 AM on July 30, 2002


Shakespeare edges out Cobain 55-51.

I'm an 'insight into reality' guy too, although 'The formal features of the work are harmonious and/or beautiful' is a pretty close runner-up.

I find it strange that the top-ranked aesthetic criteria is 'The work conveys the feelings of the artist,' something I ranked as the least important. Often, I think that when too many of the artist's 'feelings' creep into the work it can lead down the slippery slope to sloppy, sentimental crap. Where, for example, in the works of Shakespeare (excepting those pesky sonnets), does one encounter the man's feelings? Yet he's still the top ranked artist. Interesting.
posted by varmint at 9:50 AM on July 30, 2002


The winner is Michelangelo with 60 points. Miles Davis only scored 54 points.

Not surprising. Both are incredible.

Position #1: The work conveys the feelings of the artist---3.38 points (out of 4)

This wasn't what I expected. When I see art, I usually don't give a shit about the artist's interpretation because usually it perverts the piece. When I was younger, I hated finding out what assholes musicians were, after loving their music. Ignorance is bliss; I want to enjoy the art for the art, and leave the artists' thoughts to themselves.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:07 AM on July 30, 2002


For a philosophy publication, the separation of criteria seems a little glib. If you value "insight into reality", presumably that justifies the work's "moral value" and "harmony", etc. Personally, I like work that encourages people to be more creative in thought and deed, which probably comes under the "live better lives" answer, but that always involves insight into some form of reality. In any case, I picked T.S.Eliot for the desert island, so I'm best avoided at a cocktail party.

"Indeed, the true miracle of the language of art is not that it enables the artist to create the illusion of reality. It is that under the hands of a great master the image becomes translucent. In teaching us to see the visible world afresh, he gives us the illusion of looking into the invisible realms of the mind - if only we know, as Philostratus says, how to use our eyes." Ernst Gombrich, Art & Illusion
posted by liam at 10:15 AM on July 30, 2002


Where, for example, in the works of Shakespeare (excepting those pesky sonnets), does one encounter the man's feelings?

My knowledge of the Shakespeare cannon is deep but narrow (I'm familiar with only a few plays, but I know those plays very well). I'd say that Hamlet and King Lear, at least, are intensely personal works, filled with human feeling. Henry V, too, though probably not as much. I think it's important to note that "conveys the feeling of the artist" doesn't necessarily imply sentimentality. Alienation is a feeling too, as are hate and fear. I think that this particular criterion is especially important in judging music; it's why I'd put Beethoven's deeply felt music above the relatively sterile (with some very notable exceptions, I know) music of Mozart.

Ignorance is bliss; I want to enjoy the art for the art, and leave the artists' thoughts to themselves.

I don't think that this criterion is about understanding the artists "message" or "meaning" in the work. It's about the emotional impact of the work; the extent to which the work successfully conveys an emotional state.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:17 AM on July 30, 2002


With all of this dismissal of the artist's feelings, what is it that makes a work of art a work of Art? If an indigenous tribe has a dung-pile somewhere outstide of the village, and said pile is brought into a gallery (affecting people with humanity's ability to 'make earth!' and thereby 'be one with the planet!'), is it art?

After having studied some aesthetics, I came to the conclusion that the necessary ingredient for something to be Art (good or bad), is the intent of the author. A pretty view isn't Art; a brillo box is not art (unless it is framed by an artist, again, with the intention of using it to convey an artistic impulse).
posted by Marquis at 10:23 AM on July 30, 2002


If an indigenous tribe has a dung-pile somewhere outstide of the village, and said pile is brought into a gallery (affecting people with humanity's ability to 'make earth!' and thereby 'be one with the planet!'), is it art?

If enough fools start to believe that dung is art, then yes...

I feel the same way about Warhol. I find his work to be unimaginative and juvenile; yet there are at least 3 museums I know that have revered his work, almost to the scales of Michelangelo and Monet. IMHO, it became trendy to consider Warhol brilliant, regardless of the actual artwork.

A pretty view isn't Art; a brillo box is not art

Says you. Says I, Art is anything we want it to be. It's so damn subjective, who's to say what's art anymore?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:31 AM on July 30, 2002


Britney Spears' higher placing is perhaps indicative of a misunderstanding - some at least of the respondents seemed to think that it was Britney herself who would be on the island, not her works.

Does her plastic surgery count as "works?" ;)
posted by gen at 10:38 AM on July 30, 2002


mr_roboto: I'd say that Hamlet and King Lear, at least, are intensely personal works, filled with human feeling.

I agree completely, but they're not full of Shakespeare's feelings, they're full of the passions and feelings of the characters. "The work conveys the feeling of the artist," implies, at least in narrative drama, the kind of lame characters that seem to exist solely as mouthpieces for the author. You don't find them in Shakespeare. Did he want us to sympathize with Hamlet? Or write him off as a overwrought asshole? Or both? Who knows? His characters speak for themselves.

Marquis: After having studied some aesthetics, I came to the conclusion that the necessary ingredient for something to be Art (good or bad), is the intent of the author.

I agree with this too. I think 'The work conveys the intent of the artist' would be a much better-stated criterion. Maybe I'm just flipping out on the word 'feelings', because I get that horrible song in my head. Nothing more than feelings...

BlueTrain : Says you. Says I, Art is anything we want it to be. It's so damn subjective, who's to say what's art anymore?

A rigorous philosophical definition of art that everyone can agree on is an elusive beast indeed. I'm getting flashbacks to the aesthetic theory class I took in college, in which I discovered that while it was really fun to argue aesthetics for a while, by the time the end of the semester rolled around it began to feel like an incredibly futile form of academic wankery.
posted by varmint at 12:00 PM on July 30, 2002


I feel the same way about Warhol. I find his work to be unimaginative and juvenile; yet there are at least 3 museums I know that have revered his work, almost to the scales of Michelangelo and Monet. IMHO, it became trendy to consider Warhol brilliant, regardless of the actual artwork.

you might consider warhol in terms of what he did for art practice (which is, as i see it, to raise interesting and unique questions about authenticity and authorship which are still very "live" topics in the current practice of art) rather than solely by his product. product alone has ceased to describe an artist's practice (which, i will, like every art history teacher ever, pin on jackson pollock, though, arguably, we could start, if you liked, with the impressionists).

i really would love to see some mandatory modern art history requirement in high school or something, because it would improve appreciation and understanding for present work, whose 'meaning' and 'purpose' mostly arises from works made in the last century. that said, i knew very little about art (read: zero) before i stumbled into a undergrad prereq course in college, for which i am eternally grateful, as such an education has enriched my life immeasurably.

not to say one *can't* enjoy art without such an education: of course one can. however, one can often better appreciate why an artist has been included in the 'art canon' -- why they are archived by museums, written about by academic -- with the aid of a decent survey of modern art.


oh, and as for the link: hate hate hate.

applying quantitative measures to a object given value through qualitative experience doesn't seem to be useful here.

i mean, how much do you like "Smells Like Teen Spirit", on a scale of one to ten? is this a useful statistic?

i suppose the data collection regarding *how* people appreciate art can be useful, but the fact that it's limited to six choices seems to limit how interesting the results will be.

actually, most of the stuff i've seen output by the philospher's co.uk site is like that: you're like "DAMN, NONE OF THE ABOVE!!!" and it's like: "HAHA, I KNEW YOU'D PICK B!" and that's like my cali-ism for you today.
posted by fishfucker at 1:24 PM on July 30, 2002


actually, "hate hate hate" is a little strong. don't get me wrong: i enjoyed seeing the link and i'd love to see more like it, however, i just think the quiz thing is kinda hokey (albeit about an interesting subject): a "smart" version of "what x are you".

i guess "hate hate hate" in this case should mean: [this is good] (but i don't agree with the views in the link).

ah, but other opinions do me well, i suppose.

that and ice cream.

posted by fishfucker at 1:27 PM on July 30, 2002


[filling my quota and obligatory Mefian duties]
posted by owillis at 2:14 PM on July 30, 2002


Man, keeping up with Britney must be a hard row to hoe, owillis. Glad you got the duty, and not me.
posted by LeLiLo at 5:37 PM on July 30, 2002


By a narrow 3 point margin, Miles edges out Stephen King (19-16).

But then again, I was using criteria for art based not on my own aesthetic predjudices, but on historical perspective:

Goya and Otto Dix have produced works which are emotionally disturbing, and deeply rooted in reality. Kandinsky and Mondrian are hard for some to define by their own perceptions of "important moral lessons" or "insights into reality". There are also many, many artists who have works which may take more than 24 hours on an island to absorb or appreciate.

And then you've got this guy. A musician and a painter. You can tell from his bio that he understands the John Bergeresque paradoxes of creativity, coincidence and reaction.

Maybe we should leave the one-vs-other debates to performance artists and not ourselves, eh?
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:51 PM on July 30, 2002


Weird that "enjoyable" is so high... is that really how people judge art? As in 'I know what I like'?!?

Surely, art doesn't have to be enjoyable and the enjoyable isn't art qva it's enjoyability. Or is my definition of enjoyment to narrow? Do people mean 'appreciable' when they talk of 'enjoyable'?
posted by cx at 7:08 PM on July 30, 2002


cx, i had the same problem. when i see a disturbing play/movie/painting, i don't necessarily enjoy it, but it can have a huge impact on me. the word enjoy seems wrong to me.
posted by witchstone at 7:08 AM on July 31, 2002


« Older Open source music?...  |  Harry Partch: "iconoclastic Am... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments