• Aesthetics

    Why my Guitar Gently Weeps

    I have played the guitar since I was 14. One of its chief attractions for me is the guitar’s capacity to express emotion. To be honest, I’m not that good at expressing mine in any other way. ‘I feel sad’ doesn’t quite capture emotion in the same way a lengthy wailing bend on my B string can. And nothing says ‘I’m annoyed’ as well as a tritone. My influences were all players who knew how to ‘speak’ with their guitars (see here, here, here, or here for examples). For some reason, I hear emotions in some sounds. I don’t merely mean that the music causes me to have an emotion.…

  • Aesthetics,  Art,  Ben Holloway

    Art: Crisis, Creativity, and Christianity

    In the early part of the twentieth century, a crisis took place in the art world. Objects that were not beautiful were hung in galleries as art. Most famously, in 1917, Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) submitted a urinal to an exhibition in New York. His piece was called “Fountain” (1917). If that could be considered art, then surely anything can be. The art crisis provoked questions. What counts as art? What is the nature of art? What makes it valuable? Definition of Art What kinds of objects count as art? Think of as many pieces of art as you can. You will probably come up with a list that includes things like paintings,…

  • Aesthetics

    What Makes Art Valuable?

    What makes a work of art valuable? I don’t just mean the price that is paid for a work of art but what makes a work of art good and how good a work of art is. In order to answer the question, Christians often appeal to God’s artistic works in nature. Francis Schaeffer writes: “A work of art has value…because a work of art is a work of creativity, and creativity has value because God is the creator.” This sounds good, but what is the argument here? If it is something like this: All God’s works are works that have value Some of God’s works are creative works  Therefore, all…

  • Aesthetics,  Ethics

    Why There’s an Ought in Art

    In his controversial essay, On Moral Fiction, John Gardner argues that art is “essentially serious and beneficial, a game played against chaos and death, against entropy.” He argues that truly great art shows the story of humanity; it takes the random experiences of life and shows their worth: “Life is all conjunctions, one… thing after another, cows and wars and chewing gum and mountains; art—the best, most important art—is all subordination: guilt because of sin because of pain.” Ever since a certain artist nailed a urinal to a wall and called it fountain, much art has subverted this idea. It is now more concerned with fragmentation, disjunction and the doing away with any idea of human nature related to a guiding narrative.…