I can’t read Kant for long before my parody switch flicks on. The grand architecture of his work is inaccessible to my intelligence. But sometimes bits I’ve read stick in my mind, buried, until they turn up unexpectedly.
In the Critique of Judgment, while comparing the aesthetic value of the various arts, Kant says, “music has a certain lack of urbanity about it. For owing chiefly to the character of its instruments, it scatters its influence abroad to an uncalled-for extent (through the neighborhood), and thus, as it were, becomes obtrusive and deprives others, outside the musical circle, of their freedom. This is a thing that the arts that address themselves to the eye do not do, for if one is not disposed to give admittance to their impressions, one has only to look the other way.”
Passage - Mockery - Setting - Kant - March
This passage has often been quoted in mockery, but it came usefully to mind not long ago in a setting Kant himself couldn’t have imagined. In March of this year, my wife, Wendy, and I went with our friends Gary and Kathy Gnidovic to the House of Blues in Chicago (which is also an unofficial “gallery” of folk art). The headliners that night were The Oh Hellos (Gary and Kathy had heard them once before); a duo called Lowland Hum opened (none of us were familiar with them), and we arrived midway through their set.
We were sitting in high opera-style seats, and my aging ears don’t hear as well as they once did. I could only pick up fragments of the lyrics, though those bits were interesting. What struck me most from our perch was the interaction between the two of them (I didn’t know then that they were husband and wife, but there was a magnetism between them), the way they seemed to communicate...
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