Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is it all so tangled that nothing is objective?

A realization that was building in me for months just snapped into a sentence.

I like "Atom Heart Mother Suite" mainly because I have positive emotions and memories Anchored to it.

In terms I didn't have until lately, it means that the song that I consider to be the most genius work of music I've ever heard is associated in my mind with pleasant emotions that I felt when I first heard it and hearing it triggers those emotions to be felt again. "Anchor" is an NLP term for such binding of something physical (like a gesture or song) to emotions that triggers those emotions when that thing happens.

In the last few months, whenever I listened to it, I consciously started to recall memories of pleasant times from my two years in Mexico, where I first heard it.

Two other songs that I like very much, the opening and ending songs of the Anime series Honey & Clover, are also liked manly because of an Anchor: Whenever I listen to them, the series runs through my head (the half that I've watched) which touches me very deeply, adding a lot of weight to the emotion caused by the music itself. Honey & Clover is the most beautiful series I've watched, in the sense in which poetry is beautiful, or a woman's smile, or a touch. Curiously, my favorite scene invokes feelings in me that I recognized as Anchoring from the first time I saw it - it always reminded me of myself and my life in some way, though I still can't figure out what exactly... I guess it sums up a whole period of a few years in my life.

So if so many things that invoke deep emotion in me are just Anchors to experiences of my own, does objective artistic beauty exist at all?

I'm not talking about objective beauty like that which an elegant math theorem, or a proof thereof, possesses. I mean "objective" to a group, say mammals, or humans, or israelis, or israeli geeks.

Is artistic beauty mainly something that triggers memories of good emotions and makes you re-experience them?

If so, then as an artist,
How can I create something beautiful?

This question could be rephrased to "How can I create something that predictably triggers deep emotions in people?"

I can create such art based on my knowledge of these people on the emotional level.

For example, this is art that would trigger emotions in most living creatures I've interacted with:

Picture © Jenny Rollo
Eyes are perhaps the most universal means of communication between living creatures on Earth. Cobras, butterflies, certain flowers - they all use eye-like designs to convey things. This art affects me, my neighbor, my Palestinian "enemy" and my cat.

Some art would trigger emotions in most human English speakers:

Warm hand scrubs cold water from my skin
Music of falling water combining with songs of birds
In this green haven, in the warm heaven of your embrace

Some art would trigger emotions in most of my good friends:

Hey people,
Remember the graduation ceremony last year? All the screams, sweat, bad lighting? Me trying to convince Philip to put on a graduate's silly cardboard hat? The Mayor of Netanya mentioning me twice in her speech, pronouncing my name wrong in a different way each time?
Remember Raz's birthday, where I got to spend my first time with Rain since we decided to date? How stupid I must've looked, kissing her like a three-years-old playing forbidden games in kindergarden.
Remember AnimeCon? Michal dressed more like a stripper than a schoolgirl, which drove Hadas crazy... I still think she was the closest to an actual Anime schoolgirl in the whole room. Only H and M stayed to hear me embarrass myself in public by making mistakes in explicit gay japanese lyrics I've spent the whole day memorizing... I lately discovered that H gave me one of the words wrong, so my mistake wasn't my fault.
Where are we? Is it my fault? Who's is it?
We used (well, me) to pride in cutting the crap.
People, let's cut the crap. There's no reason for this. Let's just get back together in a huge marshmallow. Vayafa Sha'a Achat Kodem.

Art could be created for any pre-chosen group that shares some emotional Anchors - be they genetic, imprinted, conditioned or learned. The artist taps into his knowledge of those Anchors and invokes them with his art.

A surprising consequence of this is that the thinner the crowd, the more emotional Anchors they share - and thus, the more inventory the artist has.

So an artist that decides to create art for generations to come has less to work with than one creating art for his own generation - which has less to work with than one creating art for his own subculture.

Art targeted at a smaller group can be better than art targeted at a large group!

That explains why nobody ever liked my favorite pieces of art as much as I do.

They are always non-popular art that some other people don't understand at all and others claim to be nice, but only for me are the closest I get to the divine. Pink Floyd's AHMS, Mindless Self Indulgence, Taboo Plus's lyrics, Honey & Clover, the Illuminatus! trilogy... All of them spoke to me personal with such power that I could never understand how other people didn't feel them.

I guess the not-so-ordinary life I've led gave me the emotional connections needed to fully appreciate them, to fully feel them in me. And it would explain why I appreciate so many genres of music and art, compared to most people who pick favorites.

That also explains why pop music tends to be so empty - it's about lowest common denominator, but not in the marketing meaning I thought it had, but in the emotional meaning. It needs to target all members of a society, and thus can only tap emotional Anchors shared by most members of the society. That gives the artist very little to work with, beyond genetic Anchors. I must add that artists who do succeed to great great art that is pop are twice-genius.

This is just a 2AM idea with a 4:30AM presentation. There is much to iron out here. In fact, chances are that it's already been said. But still, this has a lot to speak for it.

What is your favorite song? Book? Movie? Painting? Can you find a strong emotional memory that each one makes you re-experience?

Aur Saraf