Aesthetic Modes in Music

In addition to being aesthetic in-and-of itself (as a form of art), music can used to express aesthetic modes of existence. The three I have in mind are (in order of progression): (1) the aesthetic, who is narcissistic, self-centered, selfish, etc.; (2) the appreciative-aesthetic, which while still self-centered, authentically includes others in his own experiences; (3) the nihilist-aesthetic, who is still self-centered, still desires to share with others, but who then locates the ‘I’ as the authoritative center of an otherwise meaningless cosmos. (1) Can be heard ad nauseum in ‘pop’ music (apparently my assertion was once the topic of…

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And it is my Nothing

A shocking introduction indeed, Richey qua Winston Smith. I hate purity. Hate goodness. I don’t want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones. Julia: ‘Well then, I ought to suit you, dear. I’m corrupt to the bones.’ But in this context, hating purity is not the same as loving impurity; hating goodness is not the same as loving evil. The desire for personal corruption and the elimination of virtue gives the trick away. Whose purity? Whose goodness? Whose conception of virtue and wholeness? Big Brother’s, of course. What is the form of Winston and…

I Know I Believe in Nothing

Writing can be too difficult at times, and I find myself presently unable to write down my thoughts on the Manics as musician-philosophers to my liking (which I began, here). I don’t remember which Manics song I heard first, but it was either ‘Faster’ or ‘If you tolerate this, then your children will be next’. I’m in more of a ‘Faster’ mood: That is the song’s proper video. When ‘National Treasures’ was released in 2011, it included an alternative version (for North American audiences?) which is as disappointing as it is tame. And just in case we forget – or…

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Ethics and Theme Development

I’m the support manager for a company called Organic Themes. We create and sell WordPress (.com and .org) themes, which are targeted towards ‘artists, businesses and blogs’. I’m also a developer, though I haven’t produced much by way of original work – I’ve mostly customized existing themes. What is the relation between ethics and theme…

Music and the Aesthetic

In my previous post I used the word ‘aesthetic’, which ordinarily might mean something like ‘the beautiful’. Art in its various forms are aesthetic creations: paintings for the eyes, music for the ears, and so on. We also hold to aesthetic ideals: ideas of beauty, architecture, writing, oration, and so forth. When I use the word ‘aesthetic’ I have these things in mind, but also something else. My use includes what in the Kierkegaardian literature is referred to as an ‘existence sphere’. The spheres are three stages of individual existence, roughly: the aesthetic stage, the ethical stage, and the religious…

Musicians: Our Popular Philosophers

I recall hearing someone say that musicians are the popular philosophers of our day. The ‘popular’ was probably meant pejoratively, i.e. musicians are the sophists of our day. Surely such a judgment is only possible on a musician-by-musician (or band-by-band, or…) basis, but it does raise a number of interesting questions: who is a musician, and to what extend does manufacturing influence our judgment? When does music become a message, become philosophy? How can an aesthetic medium bring its audience beyond the aesthetic, and what judgment(s) can we make about the musician who revels in the aesthetic? What of the…

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Gregory of Nazianzus: A Teleological Argument

Gregory of Nazianzus’ Second Theological Oration contains a teleological argument – though I’m not sure he would have called it that – that would be familiar to readers of William Paley. Gregory begins with a problem: we are not able to conceive of God, so in what sense can we be said to consider God?…

Søren Kierkegaard: Freedom, the Aesthete, and Diapsalmata

Let’s take a break today from Gregory and instead, turn our focus to one of Søren Kierkegaard’s better known quotes: How unreasonable people are! They never use the freedoms they have but demand those they do not have; they have freedom of thought—they demand freedom of speech1 This is from Either/Or, in a section titled ‘Diapsalmata’. It was written by one of Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms, ‘A’ (or, the ‘aesthete’), and shouldn’t be understood as expressing Kierkegaard’s own views necessarily. There are at least two ways to understand the quotation above (maybe more, but these two stand out to me). The first…

Dust to the Spirit

Some writings are best quoted at length, and point VII of Gregory’s Fifth Theological Oration is one such writing. Do we still fit within the ‘we’ that Gregory had in mind? But when we have put away from the conversation those who are strangers to it, and sent the great legion (Luke 8:31) on its way to the abyss into the herd of swine, the next thing is to look to ourselves, and polish our theological self to beauty like a statue. The first point to be considered is— What is this great rivalry of speech and endless talking? What…

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Reading the Early Church Fathers

Not everyone is up to the task of reading the Early Church Fathers (ECFs). I’m not all that interested in them myself, but they are essential reading in my case (I am studying Historical and Systematic Theology). A book was recommended to me that has helped to humanize the ECFs. I say ‘humanize’ because the…

Cappadocian Fathers

Gregory of Nazianzus: Eunomius and Theology

Gregory of Nazianzus’ First Theological Oration is a ‘preliminary discourse’, which acts as a foundation for his forthcoming arguments against the Eunomians1. By way of a quick introduction: Eunomianism was, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia2, a form of ‘Arianism’3. This meant that it entailed a denial of the divinity of Jesus and thus necessarily also…

Cappadocian Fathers

Gregory of Nazianzus: Church Doctor, Difficult Person

One of the Cappadocian Fathers1 (alongside Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa), Gregory of Nazianzus is appropriately, if not somewhat nicely described as being an accomplished rhetorician (he is on the far right in the picture above). ‘Rhetorician’ can be a nice way of saying, ‘sarcastic’, or ‘polemical’, or… Well, here is a particular…