State of the Art – “A Play of Reason”

Erwartung" (Expectation) by Richard Oelze - 1935

Erwartung" (Expectation) by Richard Oelze - 1935

The years pass, and I keep hearing the same tiresome things – “videogames need to be fun and good videogames are fun”. Such blabber is repeated ad nauseam, as if each and every repetition would grant increased strength to such arguments. When it comes to reason, there is no strength in numbers, I’m afraid. Refined versions of this dogma are constantly discovered and implicitly subscribed by all (for example, the absurd idea that fun would actually be a synonym of a wide breadth of emotion) with very few dissenters shunning this perverse logic of mindless hedonism. The other ubiquitous dogma is that “videogames are art”, and that there is nothing to stop them from being so, since they are the product of human creativity, have aesthetic value, exist in a medium, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc, etc. These two beliefs are usually feverously defended by the same people, though they are rarely discussed in tandem. With this article, I decided to elucidate on why these two are incompatible, using a very simple rhetorical discourse. I am consciously avoiding, as much as possible, the discussion of “what is art” given that it is a hugely complex question which I am more than incapable of addressing without sitting on the shoulders of far greater men than me. And please take this exercise with a grain of salt.

So, let’s have fun with some logical play and see where it leads us, shall we? Let’s start with some axioms!

Axiom 1a. Music need not be fun. Axiom 1b. Great Music isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 2a. Dance need not be fun. Axiom 2b. Great Dance isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 3a. Painting need not be fun. Axiom 3b. Great Painting isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 4a. Sculpture need not be fun. Axiom 4b. Great Sculpture isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 5a. Architecture need not be fun. Axiom 5b. Great Architecture isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 6a. Literature need not be fun. Axiom 6b. Great Literature isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 7a. Theatre need not be fun. Axiom 7b. Great Theatre isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 8a. Photography need not be fun. Axiom 8b. Great Photography isn’t so because it is fun.
Axiom 9a. Film need not be fun. Axiom 9b. Great Film isn’t so because it is fun.

If these axioms are accepted, then by the simple power of deduction, we can establish the following:
Traditional artistic mediums, also named Art or fine art, have been established as sharing a number of defining and qualitative properties which do not intrinsically possess any relationship whatsoever to the word fun, its semantics or any popular understanding of the word.

Ergo, regarding the following popular propositions:
1a. Videogames need to be fun. 1b. Great Videogames are so because they are fun.
2. Videogames belong in the realm of the arts, to be placed alongside Music, Dance, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Literature, Theatre, Photography and Film.

The first clause, part a, establishes that “fun” is a sine qua non quality of videogames, needed for their definition. Part b proposes that “fun” is also a quality that should necessarily be pursued, as it establishes not only form, but value, and as consequence, function. The second is merely a statement that Videogames should be seen as a new object whose categorization falls in line with the same properties as those of the Art mediums. This assumes that, while not entirely the same, there must be a sufficient amount of similar properties between them, both in form and quality, that allow for the establishment of a pattern that is common to all these elements.

Thus, we can say that either

  1. Videogames do not belong, substantially, to the group definable as Art, and thus Proposition 2 is revoked, on account of different classification and valuable criteria pertaining to Videogames, namely the “fun” criterion. Videogames should therefore be inscribed in either a previously established category, say ‘play’ or ‘game’, or be presented with a previously inexistent category of artifact, for example, ‘game-art’.
  2. Videogames, to be Art, are defined and valued according to other criteria that have aught to do with fun, therefore allowing for a transposition of similar properties from previous artistic mediums, in the process revoking Proposition 1. As corollary, much of what has been written in academia and journalism about Videogames would be wrong and should instead have complied to different standards of definition and qualitative assessment, mostly as adaptations and expansions of similar criteria present in Art, completely outside the realm of “fun”. This means that “fun” can be present but its presence or lack thereof is besides any point that can be made about the videogame medium.
  3. Both proposition 1 and 2 are correct, which therefore must entail a complete overhaul of thinking regarding what is traditionally considered Art, including canonically held properties. Given the stark contrast between those of Videogames and the aforementioned mediums, then the very concept of Art which was explicitly or implicitly contained in the acceptance of such mediums as Art must be revoked. And so, we enter a Paradox, since we established these as axioms in the first place. This does not mean that Propositions 1 and 2 are false, merely that, if they are true, we must re-define Art from the ground up, looking to our past in the light of a new conception for the word and its semantics.

Now, simply take your pick. As anyone who reads this blog might have guessed, my position on the matter is that the second option is my personal answer, though 1 and 3 are equally as defendable.

  1. is a skeptical and otherwise very wise conclusion, which I feel is typically made by traditional art scholars (among them, if I accurately understand his position, my friend dieubussy), who do not accept that something so enrooted in ‘games’ and ‘play’ could ever be conceived as art proper. There is much to backup this idea, including a lot of ideas from previous articles of mine (some being available in this blog).
  2. basically revolves around the idea that we must refund all the knowledge on what defines and constitutes value in the Videogame medium, with the consequence of the term videogame itself being obsolete (for a wide number of reasons again previously discussed). Known proponents of this current are the ‘notgame’ movement and probably even some rogue narratologists and simulationists (these are extremely reductionist terms, they merely serve to illustrate what they defend, in abstract).
  3. as I see it, is the contemporary consensual answer from inside the medium. It is the way almost all scholars (from all areas) and journalists and players perceive the problem. The idea is, to put it in simplistic terms, that the many elites that defined the Arts in the past were wrong, and what we now need is a more open, free, popular and accessible interpretation of what constitutes Art, one which validates Videogames and their ‘fun’ (and most likely, many other mediums).

P.S. I’m sure many of you will find a number of fallacies in this reasoning. Please, point them out.

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  • Comments (14)
  1. I think you have such a fundamental misunderstanding about what art is that disables you from ever being able to think clearly on a topic like this. Art is the product of human creativity. There is only one reason to define it any other way, and that is to elevate the define-r above some types of art that they decide don’t make their cut.

    As for games, you are saying *nothing* by pointing out that other mediums don’t need to be fun. Games are not other mediums.

    Worst of all, “fun” is a really crappy word. No serious game designer would ever use it because it is so poorly defined. One can “have fun” with literally anything – find your most depressing film or play or whatever – with the right mindset, it can be “fun”. A ball of lint can be “fun”, this says nothing about the game design quality of fun.

    I’ll quickly introduce you to the basics of what a game actually is. You’ll reject it outright, of course, but do me a favor and just at least read it so that it was at least told to you once in your life time.

    A game is a system of rules in which agents COMPETE through making decisions.

    Good games are very difficult to master, and the process of mastery is the process of making better and better decisions in the game. We enjoy games because we enjoy learning and self-improvement, and games are a system wherein we can exercise those needs. That is the inherent good quality about games.

    Game design is an art form because it involves creativity, plain and simple. Coming up with rulesets that actually work and yet offer interesting new challenges is very difficult and the great game designers are visionaries in the same way as any traditional artist.

    In short, stop spelling artist with a capital A, and never use the word “fun” in a blog post like this because it illustrates nothing.

    • ruicraveirinha
    • October 18th, 2011

    1. “Art is the product of human creativity.” The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, huh? Let me creatively scream in frustration…. &%#&%$##$–“&#… there… heard that? Is that art? If you think it is, then don’t bother reading the rest, you’re probably right.

    2. I sincerely think it is you, my dear friend, who has a gross minsuderstanding of ‘art’. Your reductionist assertion is as redundant, simplistic and useful to discuss these matters as my very frustrated scream. Please, please, before saying such alacrities, please read something moderately serious on the subject. Go do it, please. Art was never defined, by no one, in such crude and unrefined terms as the ones you use, and that is actually symptomatic of you belonging to group 3. Your knowledge of what constitutes art isn’t even en par with the wikipedia page on the subject (which isn’t half bad). I’m sorry if I sound harsh and judgemental, but that’s the way it is. Such hubris coming from such a non-educated view is shocking. Worse even, it seems you presume to know more about the subject than scholars and critics, to the point you attack them personally, claiming that art is a just an attribute meant for gate-keepers to establish. If ignorance is bliss, then please feel free to have it all for yourself.

    3. Indeed, “fun” is a crappy word and it is not useful for anything in the design process. Yet you used it to justify value. Let me refresh your memory: “however, at the end of the day, great games *are* fun. Good games are more fun because they have more interesting and deep decisions to make”. Remember that? And now you accuse ME of attacking a word which everyone in this medium, you included, uses? Why would you even oppose my position if you agree?

    Of course, your trick is then (like so many scholars) to ellude its meaning, make it ambiguous and superfluous and then say anything can be fun, even something that is sad. Such a word was never used in contexts you claim, and you’re using it just for convenience sake. Like many others, you do not define ‘fun’ properly, you do not use its dictionary definition or anyother for that matter, you do not even try to understand its origins, no, you simply make up something that, bottomline, if you ask me, only means something ‘felt good’ to you. A tautological and circular expression of “if a game is good it is fun, and if it is fun it is good”.

    Let us agree that fun is besides the point of good videogames and leave it at that, shall we.

    4. Your definition of game is simple but acceptable (naturally, in line with major scholars on the subject). If you truly understand what it entails, and believe videogames are by definition games, then you can never make the argument that they are also art. Because the games category, as far as I know, was never used in conjunction with the art category. Games were never placed alongside neither of the established art forms. Now, listen, this does not mean they aren’t creative nor inferior, neither culturally nor socially, merely that their fundamental properties have set them aside from artistic mediums, in the same way that American football is different from Rugby and Enlglish football. Ontologically, art and games are, at best, cousins in the first degree, part of the vast family of creative human activities, which includes, by the way, not just arts but also sports, games, sciences, performances (circus, stand-up comedy, …), craftmanship, and basically every other human activity. Because humans are creative, and human creativity exists in almost everything we do.

    Cheers!

    • Jorge Sousa
    • October 19th, 2011

    Hey, there.

    This is an interesting exercise.

    However, I’m going to do something that I don’t usually like in these contexts (discussions), but I’m going to shut up and leave a link of something that I read recently, that touches your assay in some points (specially that 3d preposition).

    http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/148261-video-games-and-art/

    Doesn’t mean I necessarily and completely agree with this article (or with yours, for that matter), but it is also an intriguing read and a good complement too your exercise.

    Cheers!

    • ruicraveirinha
    • October 19th, 2011

    Jorge, the article is interesting and well written, but touches this matter on an angle I find not to be very productive to analyse – the whole notion of “participation” in the videogame. I think that, if videogames are lacking in terms of artistic medium, it has aught to do with “participation”, be it low or high-brow.

    In fact, the author makes a subtle (but very meaningful, we’ll get to that later) transposition between play’s interactive features (which do herald back to classical antiguity) with videogames’, as if in one or the other, the audience would become “semi-author”. He’s forgetting, that no matter how non-linear videogames may be, their procedural content is fixed, immutable, static. A videogame is code and we know code never changes. It may have dynamic properties, but it is static (I am, for the sake of argument, not addressing updateable nature of games in the online space, which can be easily shown not to alter substantially what I am about to say). In a videogame, players interact not with the authors (as in the play, where audience talks to the actors directly) but with an artifact produced by the authors which has those dynamic properties. Hence, the more apropriate metaphor, to me, in regards to interactivity, is to consider that there are non-linear dynamics in all traditional artforms, though less pronunciated and less obvious than in videogames.

    Sculpture and architecture, for instance, in which observants positioning and movement count as defining traits of the experience, irrevocably change the mental conceptualization of the artifact, both in its emotionally expressive and cognitive qualities. Though we may stand still, and not act, our eyes also interact through movement (we have tunnel vision, so we can never see see everything that we see at the same time), which is why even static, immutable objects like Mona Lisa or Metropolis can actually be very diferent artifacts in our minds, only on the account of our eyes having moved differently, having seen different parts at different moments, attracted to different points of interest, and the particular order of images out of which we built “Mona Lisa” and “Metropolis” actually changes our “perception” of what they “objectively” are. Further, these properties have been explored in much deeper ways in the near past, with art instalations evolving them to whole new levels, usually needing active participation of subjects to interact with the sculptures/paintings/architectures in order to fully experience the artifact. Interactions can range from touching, to moving parts of the work, changing its configurations along inscripted lines, breaking or aseembling parts, etc, etc, etc. These are, in every sense of the word, procedural works, as interactive and participative as any videogame.

    On the other hand, there is the non-linear character of interpretation, which corresponds to elements whose ambiguous essence provokes interpretations which are as vast as the number of subjects, even wihen the object is fully and objectively defined as it can be in academia. As you well know, scholars keep debating and reinterpreting what authors meant to express with their work, what their works de facto expressed, and what other scholars and audiences thought of those same questions (meta overload!). This is not a core difference in regards to videogames.

    What I’m aiming at, is that if there are (and this is a big if) properties which distinguish videogames from Art, they have very little to do with participation or interactivity. That notion is often repeated in many places, but is usually brought up out of some lack of understanding on what interactivity really means. Videogames are finished artifacts. They cannot change beyond what their authors inscribed, no matter how dynamic, procedural, randomized or participative they can be. Ergo, that is not a property to be used as contradiction to any definition of the arts (that I know of).

    Regarding the second point. Yes, it is true that art has had many definitions throughout time. Mimetic, Formalist, Essentialist, Cognitivist, Semiotic, Disjunctive, and Institutional theories (with many variants in and between these) have been proposed (and all those I don’t even know about), and so far none has been consensually or even aproximately consensually, considered “the definition”. Almost all are from the period ranging from the XIXth to the XXth century, when new forms of art in the oh so fast and post-modern world, caused great disruption to canonical interpretations of art. Abstract Expressionism, Ready-mades, Art instalations, photography and film, sent shockwaves throughout the art-world, forcing new, sometimes hasty, imperfect and convoluted, definitions to be proposed. The rationale of new art being “new” and therefore requiring a new definition is welcome, and I am in full agreeance of it being used, for example, to consider a new candidate medium to that qualitative and definitional “status”. The issue here, is not whether there can be a normative definition or not – my answer is that there can’t – but whether the new propositions of definition don’t tell us something immensely useful on the properties of artworks, both past and present and future, even if not all artworks share those features and even if some non-artworks end up sharing.

    Art is, indeed, the product of creativity, and because of that essence, it is by nature, pure progressivism: it keeps changing and mutating with the times, reaching out evermore with the coming of new techniques, new mediums, new ideas, new philosophies, new cultures, new ethics, hell, even new societies. However, whatever the definition, whatever the mediums we choose to base it on, one thing has been true so far – artforms and their definitions live in a mostly undisruptive lne of continuity throughout time, with new definitions being inclusive and attempting to find coherence and cohesion in variety of forms. It is clear to anyone, such as me or you who has interacted with a sufficiently large number of artworks from these very disparate mediums, that there are some truly fundamental properties that are common to the art of these mediums, most of which can easily be accounted for even by laymen such as we are. The continuity cannot/shouldnot be completely disrupted by a new medium such as videogames, unless we change the very fabric of what defined the continuum. Hence, either videogames can be made to understand in that continuum, and therefore have a sufficient number of definitional properties that are common to these other mediums which unfortunately have not been used to valor or define them (2), or they don’t have and they possess properties of their own which are distant and unique to the point of needing another, perhaps even new classification (1), or we need a new continuum with different features altogether (3 and the opinion of Keith). This was the whole point of my little provocative philosophical play.

    Art is and has ever been the product of its time, shaped by the values that determine our society. Such is, indeed, a great truth. Now, the issue I have with the use of this rationale in order to defend videogames as an art form, is that it can be used for practically anything being an artform. We live in the age of the popular and the free-market and the masses and the democratic and igualitarian. Everything is and can be, as long as it is according to the audiences, constituted and understood and valued as Art. When a football player scores a bycicle kick – “art!” claims the football fan. When a new tuned-up BMW passes by, its design is “art!” claims the tuning fan. When a new iPad design is released, “art!” says the macophile. It doesn’t matter what it is, it can be art. Comic books, Blockbuster films, Videogames, Tattoos, Consumer Product Design (cars, electronics, computers), everything is art according to a vast majority of the uneducated mob. Now, are we to think, as the group 3 scholars do, that because people in general think such things, we should follow their assertions like cattle and then trying to refine them and rationalize them, even when we know that they are mostly conjured out of ignorance, prejudice and immense distancing from what the word Art meant in the past, and what consensually constituted Art until as close a time to us as the 1970s? I say that that is a form of avoiding dealing with such issues, based on Man’s sole redemptive quality – Reason. There is no wisdom in numbers. No wisdom in the market. No wisdom in the masses. But there may be some wisdom in scholarship. And so, I prefer to side with philosophy, history, the arts and science. For it is a dangerous path to flow trends blindly. And I’m sure you agree with me, at the very least, on this point.

    Big hug Jorge.

    P.S. We should save these conversations for live debate.

  2. @Keith

    Your definitions are so crude, conventional, simplistic and out-dated, that they are nauseating.

    “Art is the product of human creativity.”

    Using that same idea, everything humans create is art, which is ridiculous. It could even be said that everything is art under that definition, because what we establish as the universal set in our minds is of our own creation as a result of perception, stimulation, cognition etc.

    “One can “have fun” with literally anything – find your most depressing film or play or whatever – with the right mindset, it can be “fun”. A ball of lint can be “fun”, this says nothing about the game design quality of fun.”

    I think you’re mistaking fun with enjoyment. Fun is where it is more light-hearted enjoyment and not of any serious consideration. For instance, I wouldn’t call “Shindler’s List” fun.

    “Good games are very difficult to master, and the process of mastery is the process of making better and better decisions in the game. We enjoy games because we enjoy learning and self-improvement, and games are a system wherein we can exercise those needs. That is the inherent good quality about games.”

    By that definition, Amnesia isn’t a game, because it hides the rules from the player and it is a game about fear and not about mastery. There is a whole world of games that you haven’t explored. Go exploring buddy.

  3. Using that same idea, everything humans create is art, which is ridiculous.

    Well, not everything. If you make a dinner exactly to someone else’s recipe, you haven’t exercised creativity and so I wouldn’t call that art. But yes, MOST things humans create is art, which is why people on their high horse need to come down off of it.

    I’ve played many modern digital interactive applications, erroneously called “video games”, so it is not that I don’t know what I’m talking about. There is room for many great interactive types of art – I’m not saying that something cannot be great without rules and true win/loss conditions. I’m saying it can’t be a game without those.

  4. @Keith

    So, you are saying that something with explicit rules isn’t a game, but an interactive artwork? Okay then.

    Want to hear my definition of art?
    Anything that uses a fictional context to change the way we interpret the real world.

    • Guy
    • December 14th, 2011

    The problem is that you fail to realize that people often use “fun” as synonymous with “enjoyable”. (And they are not wrong in doing so — if you actually opened a dictionary instead of making assumptions as in your response to Keith, you would find that “fun” can mean not only “enjoyable” in a specifically playful, light-hearted sense, but also in a general sense.) If we replace “fun” with “enjoyable” throughout your text, your axioms become unacceptable (great music, for instance, MUST be pleasing to the ears — that is to say, it must be enjoyable; it must be “fun” — or we can hardly label it “great”, for the word “great” as used here implies value, and value exists only as a result of pleasure), which naturally invalidates your entire argument.

    • ruicraveirinha
    • December 14th, 2011

    Fun can be a synonym of enjoyable, I agree. Which doesn’t invalidate my point in the least, seing as I (and many others) do not share such a view of music or film or any other medium, that commands it must be “enjoyable” to be positively appraised. Such a dogma of value condemns most Art to nothingness, from sad, angry or cacophonic compositions, to dramatic and unsettling films, to horror novels, to expressionist, abstract or surrealistic paintings. None could be considered “enjoyable” in the sense you speak of; Art can be intentively confusing, puzzling, hard, brutal, devastating, tragic, shocking, provocative, repulsive, disgusting, atrocious, ugly, distasteful and still be great Art. I can enumerate artefacts if that may please you. Suffice to say that all adjectives I have afore employed bear no relationship with the feeble concept of “fun”. Such prejudices, which are anything but new in History – that art must be beautiful or enjoyable or pleasing or comforting – are, to be rather straightforward, born out of ignorance of what is in question. No, Art cannot and is not valued on a basis of pleasure, nor enjoyment, nor fun. Pleasure can be aroused by the most vile and debasing of objects, from pornography to gladiator fighting, and if anything, art has shown us that it there is more to life that such hedonic thrills. Art CAN be enjoyable, surely, and CAN strive for that ideal of positive relation with the audience, but such is but one of many ideals.

    Thanks for your comment Guy.

    • Guy
    • December 14th, 2011

    I believe that it is the idea that art DOESN’T have to be pleasing that is born out of ignorance, and that this notion has in fact been poisoning art. (This does not, by the way, mean that I dislike horror films, tragic novels, sad music et al., for it is a capital mistake to assume that there is no pleasure to be found in the horrifying and the tragic. On the contrary, it is often from these that the greatest pleasures can be derived, for there are few things as enjoyable as facing a great challenge, and challenging situations are precisely what terrifying and tragic works of art simulate.) To deny pleasure is to deceive oneself, and to deny all that is good and valuable in life.

    • ruicraveirinha
    • December 14th, 2011

    “I believe that it is the idea that art DOESN’T have to be pleasing that is born out of ignorance, and that this notion has in fact been poisoning art.”

    Perhaps you would care to go beyond belief and to back that up with some evidence then? It is you who is ignoring a considerable part of the history of art whose works were born out of ideals which are in direct opposition to your ‘belief’. It is you who is denying that art can be unpleasant and uncomfortable, so if there’s poisoning to be done, it is you that is doing it.

    I, on the other hand, am more than accepting that art can be pleasant, simply, I have acquired enough knowledge of cause to understand that good art does not have to be pleasing or appealing or pleasurable, just as good videogames should not be measured by their intrinsic capacity to elicit fun. Art has been appreciated by many factors, of which the pleasant aspect of its ‘beauty’ has been but one.

    As an example, I hardly think any art critic worthy of his salt would look to the painting that is on top of this post and criticize it for its lack of pleasing formal qualities. It uses dark blacks and acydic colors that are dead and unatractive, expressing a sense of ominous foreboding and ill-feeling. Its theme is cryptic and obtuse, further compounding the anxiety one feels in trying to understand what is it those figures are looking at. The figures are hazy, ghastly characters, not realistically drawn and assymetrically framed, and equally grounded in the grotesque yellowy greens, compounding on the repulsive nature of the painting. As I’m sure you agree, it is anything BUT pleasing. And yet, it is art at its finest, strongly suggesting a number of emotions, provoking the viewer to question the nature of its theme and symbollic representation and in the process question a powerful human notion. Once this is noticed, you can only admire the artistmanship of its author – its uniqueness and strong point of view (I have yet to find a similar painting), its undefined, surreal, dream-like quality, the clarity of its use of color and uneven framing to distraught the viewer, the subtle hinting at meaning, ambiguous enough to provide many an interpretation without feeling heavy-handed. This is the work of a master, and as long as one keeps such prejudices as the ones you boast on top of one’s preoccupations, one misses it completely.

    “To deny pleasure is to deceive oneself, and to deny all that is good and valuable in life.”

    Hence my problem with your position. Unlike me, you subscribe (unknowingly, apparently) to a hedonist philosophical ideal for life. Pleasure is not everything in life – some of the best things in life can require hardship and sweat and work and frustration. Art is one of such things, and such foolish remarks as yours or Keiths’ can only be a product of not being acquainted with what the word stands for.

    • Guy
    • December 14th, 2011

    I am not “denying that art can be unpleasant and uncomfortable” or “ignoring a considerable part of the history of art”, I am saying that GOOD art must be pleasing, and that art that is NOT pleasing is consequently bad. As for the painting, it is most certainly pleasing (to you as well, as is clear from your description of it — why you would deny this when it is so obvious is beyond me).

    “Unlike me, you subscribe (unknowingly, apparently) to a hedonist philosophical ideal for life. Pleasure is not everything in life – some of the best things in life can require hardship and sweat and work and frustration.”

    I am well aware of my hedonism, and contrary to what you think, it does not conflict with what you say in the second sentence. As I wrote in my previous comment, one can derive a great deal of pleasure from facing and overcoming a challenge. Furthermore, the fact that certain pleasures (I am referring to “some of the best things in life” if that isn’t obvious) require pains to get to does not make them non-pleasures — on the contrary, the more pain it takes, the GREATER the pleasure must be in order to make the ordeal worthwhile.

    • ruicraveirinha
    • December 15th, 2011

    Guy, it’s no use.

    Anyone who thinks “good art must be pleasing” has no chance of agreeing with me. You deny that good art can fail to be pleasing (therefore, yes, denying some of the major movements in art history, go look it up), and you even endorse the notion that the word pleasing can go beyond what I assess to be its natural meaning, i.e., a sense of positive emotion (perhaps the more adequate word you are looking for is not ‘pleasing’, but ‘liking’ or ‘admiring’?, I sincerely can’t understand). I think you have a valid, if somewhat misguided opinion, completely in opposition to mine, so I see no point in continuing this discussion.

    Thanks for the comments anyway, and for not being rude despite the heated argument. Cheers!

    • Guy
    • December 15th, 2011

    I am not “denying” any art movements (other than in the sense that I am denying that they are good or healthy, but as far as I know that is not what the word “denying” means on its own). As for “liking” and “admiration”, those are intimately connected to pleasure — it is in fact impossible to like or admire something without feeling pleasure.

    As you say, this isn’t really going anywhere so this will probably be my last comment. Have a nice day!

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