“He Makes Weird Faces When He Teaches!”

Posted: January 22, 2018 in Uncategorized


  1. Elizabeth says:

    I always find it interesting to observe the faces of musicians such as violinists or pianists, because I can tell they are absorbed in their music. They almost become lost in the piece of which they are playing. Before our class today I had just thought that serious musicians who perform classical pieces, try to put a bit of themselves in these pieces. They add a bit of their own personality in what they are playing, so as to be unique in their attempt. After our discussion in class about incorporating the past characteristics of art into the present context, I now realize that musicians do not necessarily add their own flair to what they are playing (unless they are making up their own song), but try to play a song, in homage to the original creator. It is necessary to keep the vision of an artists piece alive even though they aren’t. We need to appreciate their music for what it is, instead of trying to improve it or change it in anyway.
    In any case, when people play their instruments, such as the women in the video, they do not bring themselves into the song, but almost let the song consume them.

    • I’m glad you found these videos interesting and helpful. I’m especially fond of this performance by Kyung Wha Chung. That said, I think it’s important to note I was not making any absolute statements about what visual artists, writers, or musicians think or do when creating. I was simply describing, to the best of my abilities, Eliot’s position, that all great art is produced through an extinction of the self. Looking back at Eliot’s essay, we will recall that he considers most attempts at great art failures. Failure does not make the would-be artist a bad person, just a bad artist. The possible causes of failure are many. But a key one, for Eliot, is the artist or performers inability to lose themself in the creative act. The result is art which is confessional and overladen with unmediated emotionalism, devoid of genuinely aesthetic feeling. I can’t say that Eliot would find either of these performances great, if only because the pieces are by composers Eliot would most likely not have approved. Nevertheless, they interest me because they show performers – seemingly – losing themselves, losing any sense of self-consciousness – in the performance. They’re simply not concerned with how they look, how they audience might view and judge them. We see a similar indifference, a similar refusal to pander to public expectations in the recordings of Glenn Gould, which I posted the other day. This much at least would please Eliot. Eliot’s ideas were extremely influential. But, as I suggested above, they are simply his, and not necessarily correct. It’s still very early in the semester, and we will have plenty of opportunity to view and discussion opinions which differ from Eliot’s in the extreme.

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