Thanks to listener David Emerson for suggesting this video on plurality of tastes (in response to some of the things we said back on our Danto episode, but equally applicable to our other aesthetics one on Goodman):
The point is not that people's tastes differ, that everyone has different favorites (i.e. that taste is subjective) but that there are different ideals, and once an ideal is selected, then you can talk about how best to meet that ideal. Gladwell, though, doesn't seem to distinguish between plurality and subjectivity here. His hair is f'ing crazy looking qua hair but pretty damn cool qua 'fro. The fact that I have to consider it aesthetically according to its category doesn't mean that we get rid of standards altogether, though of course I may not be immersed enough in the world of that breed of hair to adequately assess his 'fro within that category.
Brian Loftus says
I waited patiently for him to grab a trumpet, have the band come out, and bust into some Tower of Power.
Speaking of music, I can see parallels in the music industry. While manufactured bands and artists are designed to fit some platonic “dish”, they still need to compete with these small groups that have diversified amongst small crowds.
Like the small coffee clusters, the independent or alternative artist doing something out of pure enjoyment or to capture some unique sound they have buzzing in their head, they bring into the world something that many people’s taste can appreciate. Many of these groups had no motivation to fit the universal mold of artist, but they wind up pleasing people on a universal level.
However, isn’t this just the way the old world spaghetti sauce was formulated. I mean, didn’t someone out there try something new and hook the people, to a point where it becomes the traditional universal platonic form? Isn’t Howard just one of those people who can see past the bullshit because he is interested in doing so, like an artist looking to break out of the same old mold. Miles Davis plugged in and it turned out people like this sound, now we get to feel relaxed at the dentist office or shoprite because Miles hired a few stoned hipsters. I exalt Bitches Brew, but the seeds he had sown reverberate through the dentist’s drill.