In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« America the Goofy | Main | Policy Break -- Continuum, Redux »

September 06, 2002

The Mind, Part 7,342,941

Friedrich --

Another sensible science column by Sharon Begley in the Wall Street Journal, again, unfortunately, unavailable online. This one's about how research is suggesting that we can know little about why we feel what we feel. Some excerpts:

Introspection about the unconscious can be worse than useless...We don't have meaningful access to the causes of our feelings...If you have a gut feeling about love, work or life, it's probably best not to analyze it to death. The unexamined life has its virtues.

All of which jibes pretty closely with some of Michael Oakeshott's arguments -- that, for instance, we're by and large creatures of habit, taste, and temperament, and that that's ok, it's what it is to be human. And that the determination to pick 'em apart -- to make sense of them -- almost always represents the agenda of the power-and-control-hungry "rationalizer." And beware of them.

You'd think this sort of research would make arts critics question what they do, not that many arts critics follow science, even the more popular expressions of science. After all, isn't much of what critics are up to an attempt to explain why a given work of art or entertainment made them feel the way they did?

After years of befouling the air with too many rationalizations of my own, I've come to think that we like what we like and dislike what we dislike just because we do. Education, discussion, adventure -- all these can open us to experiences and pleasures we might not have encountered otherwise. But our responses remain based nonetheless in temperament.

Lord knows that a big part of the fun of following the arts is letting our tastes and pleasures guide us, musing (in my case ad nauseum) about what we encounter. Lord knows it can be fun to give our responses a poke from time to time just to see how they respond. But fancy explanations for what are basically temperamental preferences are usually just disguises for political or esthetic agendas. And are much to be mistrusted.

Or so I've found. You?



posted by Michael at September 6, 2002


Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?