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At 11:40 am +0000 14/3/02, Jan van Steenbergen wrote:
[snip]
>1. Why can't art be a hobby?

Why not indeed?

>Hobby doesn't necessarily
>means some stupid activity like watching TV shows or
>the like!?

It most certainly is not.  Watching TV shows a hobby? Sounds more like
vegetating to me  ;)

>It's just one's favourite thing to do in
>his spare time.

..and IMO with the emphasis on _do_.

>    If that would be something creative,
>and on a high level, that's for the better. Let's not
>forget, that some of the greatest artists in history
>were amateurs, or if you like, hobbyists! America's
>greatest composter of the 20th century, Charles Ives,
>earnt his money as an insurance man,

Yep - and over in Russia a professional chemist called Alexander Borodin
didn't make too bad a job of his favorite hobby either   ;)

[snip]
>
>2. I think it is wrong to make a severe distinction
>between art and craft. One might argue that art begins
>where craft ends, but this is only partly the truth.
>In fact, art cannot exist without craft.

I agree.  In my book, all the truly great artists have been skilled in
their craft.  What distinguishes them, it seems to me, is that indefinable
stroke of genius - the vision to reach beyond their craft.
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At 4:30 pm -0500 13/3/02, David Peterson wrote:
[snip]
>
>    To this, and to other statements like this: I don't like hobbys; I don't
>like crafts.  I've never had any, and I don't plan to ever take any up.

What a boring old age lies before you.

>When
>I do something, I don't fiddle around with it, I do it.

What arrant snobbishness.  If one has an interest in one's spare time it's
mere fidding around!  Only artists do serious things.

To put it politely - balderdash!

When the local railway modelling hobbyists put on their open days & I take
my grandsons to see their models in steam & running, I'd hardly call what
they had been doing 'fiddling around'.  They've spent hours upon hours
machining & building full working models in great detail.  But then, I
guess, they're only engineers - and part-time engineers at that - not
serious artists.  Why admire their craftsmanship?  They're only overgrown
kids, fiddling around with big train sets!

>I don't create
>languages to see how different things would work;

How unimaginative!  If only I knew how language really does work, how we
humans cognize, how communication is really achieve.  I want to know for
the sake of knowing.  Thank goodness there are enough people on this planet
who are curious and want to find out and want to discover, since out their
curiosity has come the many advances that make our life a little more
comfortable than it was in the palaeolithic period.  But, hey, these guys
are merely curious scientists - not your serious minded artists.

>I create them for the
>aesthetic, and only for the aesthetic.

Fortunately, really great artists have had rather more than this narrow
view.  I forget the name of that painting Picasso did depicting the
suffering of the people of Gerona after Franco had the luftwaffe bomb the
town, but it was hardly what I'd call an aesthetic painting.  Yet I
consider it great art - not just craft - making a statement that needed to
be be made.

But then Picasso did test things, did try different ideas to see how they'd
work, did push his craft and his ideas to their limits.  To me real art
communicates and _challenges_ - is not mere airy-fairy aesthetics.

For more than half a century I've heard this sort of drivel ad_nauseam.  I
remember one debater portaying scientists as merely sophisticated versions
of chimps experimenting with boxes & sticks to reach bananas; and as for
engineers, they are little better than the Morlochs [spelling?] of Wells'
"Time Machine".  It is art - say these self-praising aesthetes - that is
truly creative & distinguishes man from beast.

Sorry - the genius of Einstein who had the vision to see beyond the
confines of Newtonian physics, the genius & vision of Brunel who dared
attempt feats of engineering not imagined before is at least the equal of
any artist.

And what is 'aesthetic'?  Yes, I know the original meaning: it's from Greek
and meant "of or pertaining to perception by the senses".   But that's not
its meaning in contemporary English.  Chambers English Dictionary gives:
"possessing, or pretending to, a sense of beauty; artistic or affecting to
be artistic"

And that's the rub.  What one person considers 'aesthetic', another will
not.  What one person considers beautiful, another considers just plain or
even ridiculous.  It is a subjective thing and one which eludes objective
criticism.  In any case, as the dictionary definition clearly implies, is
what is aesthetic necessarily art?

I guess most, who can read him, would consider Ovid's verse to be
aesthetically pleasing.  I certainly would have no argument with that.  But
is it art or is it skilful craftsmanship?  I think the latter.  Indeed,
skilly crafted objects are often have an aesthetic appeal to most people.

Now Catullus could certainly be banal - not always the consummate craftsman
that Ovid was; but he had genious & imagination.  It didn't always work,
but among his writings one finds IMHO real art; and Vergil was a true
artist.

Conlangs, like anything else, can be judged & evaluated. But, as one or two
other have said, surely the sort of criteria are: What was the conlanger
aiming to do?  How far has s/he achieved those aims etc.

Surely the strength of this list has been its _openness_. It has welcomed
novices, it has welcomed the hobbyist (and IME hobbyists are usually
serious minded about their hobby), it has welcomed the experimenter; it has
welcomed both artlanger and loglanger and even, provided they refrain from
Auxland politics, auxlangers; it has welcomed the linguist and the
non-linguist.  Long may it do so!

There are already lists for those who want to discuss issues relating to
particular types and/or 'schools' of conlangs.  This open list surely
complements them.

I have been on a list bedevilled by 'schools' and factionalism; I have no
wish to return, still less to see Conlang go the same way.

Ray,
still attempting to catch up with mails.

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A mind which thinks at its own expense
will always interfere with language.
                     [J.G. Hamann 1760]
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