[PD] Am I alone?

Mathieu Bouchard matju at artengine.ca
Sat Mar 19 23:27:35 CET 2011

sorry, my following reply sat a long time in my email account.

On Sun, 30 Jan 2011, ailo wrote:

> I guess what I meant was, can we define music generally so that everyone 
> can agree on what is the definition of music?

Well, if «everyone» also includes those people who purposefully want you 
to fail at coming up with a unanimous definition, you can't. There are 
also those who just won't listen to you because they are busy preparing 
the answer « it can't be defined. period. » without any explanation (they 
don't enjoy explanations any more than definitions, anyway).

> I know I can generalize for myself, but I think I can't do it for
> everyone else.

There are also problems of common meaning of the words, whereby people 
will accidentally agree or disagree because they have different 
impressions about what you mean with the words that you used for writing 
the definition.

> I suppose people like to avoid it mostly because it can discourage
> people to do their own thing.

I would rather bet on this phenomenon :

Which is more of the mystical mindframe of non-explanations and 
epistemological hopelessness.

By extension, the word « art » is often used to mean whatever skill is 
considered unexplainable or mysterious.

> If we need to do it for a specific practical purpose, then we have no
> choice.

A definition of art needs not dictate a single purpose, and a single 
purpose does not dictate a single approach, and a single approach does not 
dictate a single outcome. When you acknowledge a definition of art that 
just tries to be vaguely universal, you still have plenty of decisions to 

A definition of art needs not to be dumb like « music is whatever 
Beethoven was doing and that can't be done anymore because he died » or 
« we play both kinds of music : Country and Western ».

> Words like beauty and ugliness are commonly used. When we say, I like 
> ugly things, does that make these things wrong? [...]

(I didn't know what to reply to the rest of your email.)

| Mathieu Bouchard ---- tél: +1.514.383.3801 ---- Villeray, Montréal, QC

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