Tuesday, January 11, 2011


First off, Chuck is much better today.  Perfect, no, but much better.


I was reading something or other somewhere recently that pointed out that, while it is not common, it is far from unheard of for someone to cry when listening to music.  Operas particularily come to mind.

However, very very few people have ever cried when faced with a painting or sculpture.

I find that interesting, and a little sad.

People cry at the theater or movies quite often though I think the response in movies has a lot to do with the music they play.  Books and stories as well frequently elicit tears. Music sometimes, dance occasionally I imagine, but the visual arts?  Almost never.

I think it must have something to do with the mystery that is our reaction to music, that neurological magic that happens, and doesn't seem to impact us as much through our visual centers.

I think it has to do also with the power of narrative, something that also reaches us deep down in the centers of our beings, which music also shares, there is a musicality to good narrative story telling, and story telling to great music.

I do still feel kind of sad that we aren't moved emotionally in the same way with the visual arts.

I am not sure that it is worse though.  Is it?  Reaching someone emotionally is only one of a number of ways of getting a message across, only one.

I then came across this article, which talks about dopamine responses to the peaks in music, which makes me wonder if a key portion of this is the time spent with a piece, time that can be dedicated to narrative build up, so to speak.  Visual art, on the other hand, most frequently gets a single hit, often little more than a glance. Older art, for instance in churches, may have had a greater impact, and I do wonder about installation pieces, though the abstract nature of much modern work, and frankly the introverted nature of much of it, probably reduces the emotional 'bang'.

Something to continue to ponder.  Every artist wants to reach people, that's the point of the exercise; but   heck, a Bell telephone spot can get you to tears in 15 seconds at the right time of the month, but that is not necessarily the response artists are aiming at.  Many may well be aiming at getting you to think, rather than feel, no?

A dialogue to continue with.


Nomad said...

My dear woman...

You amaze me! Your depth of thought and ability to continue to enquire so deeply so much of the time keeps me constantly in awe.

You are truly a Rennaissance woman!


Kim said...

Yes, interesting thoughts, ideas. I think art is about both thinking and feeling. I may forget a bell telephone spot within seconds or minutes of seeing it regardless of the emotional response but I rarely forget how a particular piece of art made me feel.

J.G. said...

So glad you were not crying about the Chuck! You had me worried there.

I think the emotional response relates to having a story told, whether it is theater, music, or poetry recited. A painting or sculpture is always the experience of looking, not getting wrapped into the artist's reality. It may have a meaning, but it doesn't tell a story in the same way that written or auditory work unfolds for the audience, and invites the audience's own perspective to add to the experience.

What a great question to ponder!

Anonymous said...


I just read your book list for 2010.
Thanks for all of that, vewy vewy impwessive,

Do you SLEEP?

You are SO shaming me! Gotta get on it!
AMazing work!


oreneta said...

Nomad, you are just so wonderful and so kind. Honestly. Also so inspiring!!!! You're list is just as impressive...we're seeding each others ideas, no?

Kim, indeed, a very solid point about forgetting and remembering. Thank you.

JG, SO beautifully phrased, the unfolding of the narrative and story. So true.