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Started by uranrising on Dec 5, 2017 12:22:48 PM
To be challenged or not to be?

When you are in the mood to try something new to you, how ready are you to be challenged, whether by the material or the way it's done, by

A. A work of visual art

B. A film

C. A novel

D. A play

E. A music composition

F. A poem

where 0=Not at all, 1=rarely, 10=always, 9=nearly always, 5=half the time.

I'm taking it that sometimes we're more in the mood for something familiar. You might like to add, on a scale of i-x, how often you're likely to be in the mood to try the unfamiliar. I think I'm a 9/xiii. I'm basically prepared to be challenged, and am in the mood for something familiar or unchallenging from time-to-time.

Any explanations of your results are welcome.

Agaliarept - 05 Dec 2017 12:29:14 (#1 of 20)

I'd say, without any evidence but based on how I feel today:

A 10

B 5

C 5

D 10

E 9

F 10

Just to comment on the films and novels which are lower, with those I find that if they are too challenging I can get bored or just not make a connection with it. There is a big element of finding a connection to myself in those mediums. Not sure why as I don't do that with plays where I am happy to let it wash over me and take in the whole experience regardless of subject.

thisonehasalittlehat - 05 Dec 2017 12:46:50 (#2 of 20)

I think I'm going to need a bit of clarity on what you mean by "being challenged". For example, I find a Marvel Movie or a Transformers movie a bit of a challenge. But I'm not sure that's what you mean.

I think there's often a bit of an assumption that "better" cultural works are at the same time more hard work. But I don't find that to be the case.

But I'm not sure that's what you're getting at. I think your saying something like: to what degree are you willing to tolerate avant garde, esoteric, arch works in each of these mediums? Is that right?

Agaliarept - 05 Dec 2017 12:49:19 (#3 of 20)


thisonehasalittlehat - 05 Dec 2017 12:50:03 (#4 of 20)

Quite right.

Agaliarept - 05 Dec 2017 12:53:09 (#5 of 20)

For example, I find a Marvel Movie or a Transformers movie a bit of a challenge. But I'm not sure that's what you mean.

I think that could be part of the question. I would say someone who, for instance, went to an opera and didn't enjoy it so avoided all future chances to see an opera wouldn't be 'challenging' themselves.

Likewise action or superhero movies. You may not have enjoyed those that you have seen but if you don't challenge your prejudice might miss out on a genuinely strong piece of cinema. Like Howard The Duck.

uranrising - 05 Dec 2017 12:54:49 (#6 of 20)


Different people are challenged in different ways. Take it whichever way you understand it. Let's not get mired in excessive specifics - they can emerge in the attendant explanations, just as Agalia managed.

thisonehasalittlehat - 05 Dec 2017 12:56:28 (#7 of 20)

Well, in that case I never challenge myself, as I always set out with the hope that I will be rewarded for my time.

WibbleAgain - 05 Dec 2017 13:50:08 (#8 of 20)

I honestly don't know what it means to be challenged when it comes to art.

I only know whether it's something that

(a) I like and get fascinated and want to know more, or

(b) I don't like but still get fascinated and want to know more, or

(c) I don't like and not interested (let alone fascinated) and have no inclination to know more.

All of those can be either somewhat familiar, unfamiliar, or very very unfamiliar.

As nowadays the world and politics is getting very challenging, I am often stressed out. When I am stressed out, I resort to something comforting, whether it's food, my own bed, or people or the arts.

When I'm comforting myself with familiar music/art, nearly always I find myself going deeper into it, and looking things up around the piece of art or music, finding out more and more about the artist, performer, composer, and the social history about them, as well as around the particular art form and its genre.

With a given opera, for example, I find myself not only learning more and more about the piece itself, the music, the libretto and the stage directions, etc., but also the original novel/play/mythology that the story line comes from. And occasionally, I find parallels in myths and story lines from other cultures. And of course I'd be studying and comparing the different recordings with different conductors and performers of different eras and fashions and styles. And so on it goes.

In Uran's book I'd be sticking to the familiar and not challenging myself with new stuff and not wanting to broaden my horizon.

That interpretation can't be further from the truth. There are people who spend entire lifetimes studying one composer in depth, for example. I'd hardly think of them to be sticking to the unchallenging.

This is why I've been irritated by Uran's pet project of denigrating or just being perplexed by anyone who doesn't like what he likes, and how he likes to be forever challenging himself with pieces of music that's new to him as if that's somehow superior.

thisonehasalittlehat - 05 Dec 2017 13:52:26 (#9 of 20)

It can become (and I don't know in the given example if this is fair) a bit like the cultural version of those real ale buffs who have to taste every ale on the menu, but just take a sip and then disregard so they can tick it off on their list.

Agaliarept - 05 Dec 2017 13:55:23 (#10 of 20)

but just take a sip and then disregard so they can tick it off on their list.

I think that's a fair comparison. I'm sure there are some who feel having seen or read things makes them superior just by that fact.

I doubt they are in the majority though, just as most ale drinkers aren't Real Ale Twats.

WibbleAgain - 05 Dec 2017 13:56:07 (#11 of 20)

Last night's BBC Four programme on Mexican art, for example, for somewhat unfamiliar, though not entirely. And I was fascinated, even thought the style of presentation was dull and annoying.

I tried to look up Amazon to buy books of Mexican art, such as exhibition catalogues, so I could look at more paintings by Mexican artists. I didn't find any that interested me enough to buy, but I'll be on the look out for future exhibitions that I may have a chance to go and see.

I won't call that challenging or unchallenging. It's art which interested and fascinated me enough to want to see and know more.

thisonehasalittlehat - 05 Dec 2017 13:58:53 (#12 of 20)

There's a period in the early twentieth century emerging in modernism where good art has to be difficult art. So you find that the books become hard work, the paintings become hard work, the music becomes hard work, and so on. The important thing to recognise about this is, however, that this is a reaction to mass culture and popular culture - a way of warding off the masses with their vulgar ways and tastes - and I think we're a bit beyond that kind of thing now.

browserbutton - 05 Dec 2017 14:04:55 (#13 of 20)

People don't even seem to have dinner parties any more -- except Nigella.

WibbleAgain - 05 Dec 2017 14:06:52 (#14 of 20)

But now we are in the 21st century, post post modernism. We are far more educated and enlightened than a hundred years ago.

Globalisation has made the world smaller and everyone's our neighbour. For example, my yoga school has a huge Mexican contingent, and I met hundred of them in the Indian and American ashrams. This is why Mexican art isn't entirely unfamiliar to me.

The ashrams always have a vibrant and rich arts contingent, and the arts are very much used as expressions of people's personal spiritual journey, incorporating their backgrounds and personal history.

I went to learn to meditate and to attainment eventual enlightenment in the Indian way. In the process I've been exposed to more cultures and arts than I'd anticipated.

My experience is hardly unique, given that thousands and thousands of people have had similar exposure.

browserbutton - 05 Dec 2017 14:10:22 (#15 of 20)

That's what I mean about the demise of the dinner party -- cultural capital has gone the way of the Zimbabwe trillion dollar note.

WibbleAgain - 05 Dec 2017 14:27:14 (#16 of 20)

Incidentally, that garden with strange concrete sculptures in a Mexican jungle features last night on BBC Four was also featured in Monty Don's Round the World in 80 Gardens, so it wasn't unfamiliar. I loved it the first time, and still love it.

surferbaublewhatever - 05 Dec 2017 14:35:25 (#17 of 20)

A. 9

B. 5

C. 5

D. 1

E. 5

F. 0-1

Low marks for a play simply because I very rarely see plays and live in a place where it would be hard to see a challenging one even if I wanted to. If I lived somewhere like London and could afford it, I'd probably give it a try. Low to zero marks for poetry because I rarely really enjoy poetry, and I think I have to understand it to have any chance of enjoying it at all.

Visual art would be my best bet because seeing new visual art is something I do enjoy but a rare-ish treat for me, and I'd be going into it with a "prepared to see something unexpected" frame of mind whether it was challenging or not. The other three can sometimes be enjoyable precisely because there's something unexpected about them, but sometimes also because there's something familiar (or at least dealing with familiar themes) and comforting about them. There's got to be a reason why so many books and films have roughly the same story arcs.

thismorning - 05 Dec 2017 18:50:24 (#18 of 20)

Here comes me bus. Cheers.

uranrising - 06 Dec 2017 10:50:53 (#19 of 20)

thank you everyone for interesting responses.

carterbrandon - 07 Dec 2017 22:43:03 (#20 of 20)

#18: Heh. And don't do anything while you're uncle's there, as yer man says. I take it your brother won't look at an egg?

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