Somewhere in between and overlapping with Nelson Goodman and Kierkegaard, I subjected myself to one of Stephen King's recent books, Duma Key. Serendipitously, it's about artistic creation, and while he of course throws in supernatural/horror elements, the way he does this actually plays off some of our preconceptions about art creation and viewing that I think are worth spelling out:
When the artist main character is doing something really great, he goes into some sort of a trance. He doesn't understand his work, doesn't know where it comes from, doesn't really know much about art history. He does recognize as he's doing it and when it's done when a work seems really great to him are viewed by others, amateur and professional alike are entranced, such that stylistic comparisons become irrelevant. (It's of course great for an author that he doesn't have to actually produce the works; descriptions are inevitably vague enough that they could fit either a masterwork or a piece of amateur crap, so King is able to sell their quality via character reactions and mood elements. This will be more difficult when it inevitably becomes a movie or mini-series.)
This picture of intimate contact with a great work has a highly intuitive appeal, and I think might be the source of Jay's resistance during the podcast to Nelson Goodman's view as not fitting his experience as an artist. Goodman's thesis, which I've tried to lay out here for those of you who weren't clear about it from the podcast, posits (among other things) that we understand works by associating them to other works, and our experiences of the objects (if any) being depicted, and to other experiences like dreams (in the case of surreal art, which is what the artist produces in Duma Key). But does this analysis, which seems to stick all these other references in a sense between us and the work, contradict our experience of intimacy with that work?
No, it doesn't, because Goodman is not doing phenomenology: he's not just describing our experience of works. He's doing some sort of analysis, and the question is what sort? It's seems akin to Hume's associationist account, which for his time would count as psychology though it wouldn't count as any part of today's science of psychology. I think we might want to call it a logical or maybe semantic account, meaning he's exploring the content of our conceptions of artistic (and other kinds of) understanding and what kind of theory they underlyingly imply. This analysis does look at the mass of our experiences, but it's not a theory-free description of this experience. Goodman explicitly turns his analysis of ways of understanding in general upon his own aesthetic approach, saying that he's trying in his philosophy to create a way of understanding our relation to art through worldmaking practices: he's creating a framework that he thinks emphasizes interesting aspects of the phenomena and helps us make sense of the wide difference in artistic approaches and in the connections between art and other kinds of knowledge.
However, when you start clairvoyantly painting things with your missing limb and your paintings drive people into homicidal rages and accomplish other feats of magic, it's time to put down the brush. Such are the important lessons of this timeless King classic.
(Actually, the book was fine; pretty much in line with his other recent work, which I find generally entertaining with only some irritation with the dialog and a few just plain silly plot moments like when one character suddenly reveals his boyhood fondness for ventriloquism, which is then immediately put to use in channeling some entity though a doll to reveal crucial bits of exposition. Also, there's some seemingly well researched bits about what it's like to recover from a serious accident, with mood swings and aphasia and phantom limb syndrome and the like, so while it's not exactly Tom Wolfe-level research, it makes it actually educational to a point.)
(This image is from a wonkette.com article on "World's Wost Obama Paintings," which points in turn to www.badpaintingsofbarackobama.com.)