Why is that we like the music we like?

Musical taste has always been imagined as a completely subjective domain. Some people like blues, other people enjoy country music, while others have great time listening to Beethoven’s symphonies in concert halls. In a sense, every time we visit iTunes and choose a new album to buy, we are exercising our free will. But, is that really true? Surprisingly, several studies in aesthetic perception of music suggest just the opposite. In statistical terms, if we have previous knowledge of a number of parameters for the listeners and for the music, we can  form a quite decent idea of whether or not certain listeners are going to like certain compositions. Needless to say, this doesn’t work for the single person but for large groups only. Let’s try to understand why our musical taste is more predictable than we think it is.

Cognitive and cultural constraints play a central role in shrinking the space of the musical compositions we may potentially like. We are born in a musical society with a rich musical tradition that inherently influences our musical taste since we are children. Exposure to specific musical styles shapes our very idea of what is music. For example, Western people are accustomed to major and minor scales, and usually find quite “unnatural” other types of pitch organisations such as Indian ragas and Arabic scales. Likewise, the opposite is certainly true. Familiarity with a specific musical tradition guides our aesthetic assessment. Numerous studies in music cognition predict that a hard rock enthusiast is more likely to enjoy a new song by Metallica than an orchestral piece by Stravinsky. Musically speaking, we are a rather conservative species seldom interested in exploring new musical territories.

mind and society

Musical taste is influenced by nature and nurture.

Shifting from the cultural domain towards the cognitive domain, we find that liking for a piece of music is related to its degree of complexity. It’s a great challenge to define musical complexity, but a way out of this conundrum is the definition provided by information theory, which measures complexity in terms of the amount of information carried by a message. In our case, we consider musical information. To better understand this concept, let’s take a couple of compositions as examples: Lullaby by Johannes Brahms and Piano Sonata No.2 by Pierre Boulez. Lullaby is harmonically, rhythmically and melodically stable: almost no section infringes our musical expectations. Music unfolds smoothly without unpredictable cracks and twists. For this reason, we can claim that this piece presents a low degree of complexity. Sonata No.2 stands on the opposite side of the complexity continuum.  This composition is highly unstable in terms of many musical parameters such as rhythm, melody, timbre, harmony and articulation. Also, the mere astonishingly number of sounds produced per second during some sections of the work contributes to increase the overall level of complexity.

What’s the relationship between complexity and liking then? In music, liking and complexity follow the so-called inverted-U relationship. In other words, humans don’t like music that is too simple and music that is too complex. We enjoy listening to compositions with the “right dose” of complexity. Too simple music is boring. Too complex music is unintelligible. Is the “right dose” of complexity the same for all humans? Of course, not. It depends on musical style, musical background and musical training. Expert musicians usually tend to like pieces which are more complex than those enjoyed by non-musicians. Repetition plays an important role as well, in that multiple hearings help lower the perceived level of complexity of a composition. And a change in complexity entails a change in liking. This explains why after listening for a while to songs which are very simple we get bored, whereas repeated hearings of a complex composition help us better appreciate the work.

inverted-U relationship for music

In music, complexity and liking follow an inverted-U relationship.

The phenomena I’ve described sound pretty straightforward but here I’ve made a very long story short; perhaps too short. The reality is that the type of relationship between liking and complexity is likely to depend on musical style. In other words, different musical styles may be described by different relationships between liking and complexity. An experiment I’ve recently conducted with Dr Mauro Vallati disproves the inverted-U hypothesis in the case of contemporary music, supporting the idea that the more complex a composition is, the less it is enjoyed. Nevertheless, the fundamental message remains unvaried: aesthetic perception in music is driven by some principles shared by all humans. Tell me who you are and I’ll tell you what music you can enjoy!

As an aside: I suppose someone might be a bit worried about this reductionist approach. Does the fact that a portion of what forms our musical taste is predetermined diminish our being human? Of course, not! People often feel threatened by scientific explanations. They think that science, when studying our species, removes from the equation all of those elements such as emotions, expectations and values which make us human. A popular idea is that science equates to prediction, and predictability doesn’t fit well with the idea we have of ourselves. I guess, human beings like to fancy they are as free as a bird. But that’s not the case. In what I’ve discussed in this post, for example, music cognition helped us uncover common patterns which all humans rely on when listening to music. These restrictions are some of the elements that make us human. And what’s more human than understanding what makes us human?

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8 thoughts on “Why is that we like the music we like?

  1. I hear the Boulez with no “unpredictable cracks and twists”. “Unstable in terms of many musical parameters such as rhythm, melody, timbre, harmony and articulation”—again, not how I hear it. It would be nice if you provided a cogent basis for distinguishing complexity.

    Anyway, the first problem I see with the argument is that, by presupposing taste is grounded in an aesthetic framework contingent upon one’s exposure and development, the prescriptive behavior should reflect varying valuations of complexity depending upon the cultural subset. If it is indeed true that one’s conditioned reaction to complexity hinges on one’s discrete aesthetic views, then each examined subculture in society ought to treat complexity differently. For instance, an individual with maximalist or hyperformalist proclivities or interest various experimental electronic genres, would likely use an aesthetic schema that values greater complexity indefinitely, would see incomprehensible music as “the ideal” goal toward which he/she is becoming. This would place analyses of valuation of complexity firmly within the boundaries of social constructivism, meaning that scientific research is not useful for analyzing the subject matter.

    “Is the “right dose” of complexity the same for all humans? Of course, not. It depends on musical style, musical background and musical training.”

    Which seems to imply, based upon your conclusion, that you did not survey aesthetic subsets or were choosey in who you researched, not studying unusual groups of individuals to verify the universality of your claim or to see if the exception proves the rule, although such an observation is hearsay, since I do not know what you actually did. I would love to read your research or at least your sources, but you haven’t provided access to any.

    The second problem I see is that there are no discrete aesthetic views for nor discrete boundaries between musical genres and styles in the first place, meaning that such research has to occur within the framework of an aesthetic understanding that has already predetermined genre and aesthetic demarcation within an Analytic philosophical framework. It is not necessary to analyze genre nor utilize this concept. In fact, I find the use of genre in academic research to be highly distortive to its actually use in society. If the goal is to conduct a scientific analysis of musical taste, then a scientific taxonomy would have to be proposed first. But that scientific analysis will never reflect actual social conceptualization. So go ahead and do it, musicians and listeners will not adopt it because that is now how they see their work, and how they see their work, how the instantiate their identity and perception within their activity…their “raison d’être”.

    The band that calls their genre “folkcore” and the band that calls their genre “avant-metal” and the composer who calls their music “postminimalist” have different social and semiotic agendas in mind. It is assumed within an academic community that the taxonomical system is centralized around conceptually salient distinctions that are unified under a common generative idea, when in the case of genre, it is not at all. Maybe avant-metal and folkcore are even the same genre! Who knows? There is no finite determination between them and therefore they can overlap as much as one wants depending upon one’s interpretation.

    I think the analysis of societal preference for complexity has a core aesthetic ideological agenda, and that given various societies of music, such as the Ars Subtilior, existed, or that, in general, various treatments of complexity by society throughout history, any research into the sociological behavior of people nowadays proves nothing but this-is-how-it-is-now within a narrow philosophical perspective, but it needn’t be this way as determined by any such neurological properties.

    As I said, I would want to read the research, but there is none provided. I would love to know how you applied information theory to music given that the semantic and semiological properties of music have been up in the air for close to a century, and I would love to know what made you think this was an appropriate framework to subject ALL of music to. I mean, what about presentational forms? Or autographic works within alternative notation system: the amount of relevant information distinctions is indeterminate for such forms, since they are presentational symbols, not denotational or representational.

    Lastly:

    “People often feel threatened by scientific explanations”

    There are certain phenomena that have not been able to yield themselves to scientific analysis. Cultural behavior, for instance, is so variant and particularist to inter-correlations, that generalizing from a scientific perspective will necessarily fail in rigor and sophistication to capture the conceptual, symbolic and doxastic dependencies of cultural behavior. And as I mentioned earlier, even academics such as myself and others are opposed to universal dominion scientific analysis because it does not capture what comes to the heart of the matter of ART: the “raison d’être” the phenomena, personal meaning and ideation of the work—the subjective and intersubjective interpenetration of identity, self-concept, perspective.

    Positivistic psychology, sociology and cultural analysis have failed to produce the same determinate scientific principles as other scientific fields, such as physics. And the reason why an individual such as me would hold your research with such great skepticism is primarily because my aesthetic viewpoints are grounded in continental philosophy, and how my philosophical views impact my aesthetic behavior is something that the field of your research is ill-equipped to analyze and must simply pass over the conceptual understanding of the individual subject in silence. In other words, your scientific project denies prior to analysis, that my philosophical persuasions exist and are rational.

    • Dear Justin,

      thanks a lot for your comments. I’ll try to respond to your objections one by one.

      First, it’s not true that “I haven’t provided access to my research”. If you look better in the blog post, you’ll find a I linked to a paper I wrote along with Mauro Vallati which is going to be published in the proceedings of the ESCOM 2015 conference. This article is called “The Effect of Repetition and Expertise on Liking and Complexity in Contemporary Music” and can be found at https://goo.gl/sPxGYk. I avoided to overload my post with references, because, in my view, a blog post is not meant to be an academic paper. But since you requested them, here are some relevant references for this topic: Russell (1982), Walker (1980), Vitz (1962), Vitz (1964). For a comprehensive list, please refer to my paper.

      The fact that you didn’t find “unpredictable cracks and twists” in the musical unfolding of Boulez’ Sonata is probably due to your extensive knowledge of the contemporary music repertoire. What we found in our study is that people with no previous musical training actually felt that this piano sonata has lots of “unpredictable cracks and twists”. At the same time, expert musicians found this sonata much more unstable than other contemporary pieces we proposed them, that were initially identified as less complex, according to a measure derived from information theory. Indeed, this complexity measure seems to work, in that there is a substantial agreement between the relative order of objective complexity and subjective complexity provided by participants both in the case of experts and novices. To measure objective complexity, we used a strategy already employed by Steven and Latimer (1991), which has proved to be consistent with the measures of subjective complexity several times. The measure is based on feature analysis, and its implementation is described extensively in my paper.

      I honestly don’t see how the fact that the optimal degree of complexity is different for different groups of people might undermine the validity of the central claim of the post. The two propositions: “there is an optimal degree of complexity”, and “complexity is a function of musical expertise and familiarity with a piece of music” can easily get along together. Obviously, I didn’t survey all people on planet Earth so I cannot be sure my claim might apply to every single human being; but that is the way cognitive science work. You look at a representative sample, and hope to find some significant correlations.

      “There are certain phenomena that have not been able to yield themselves to scientific analysis”, seems to me a quite personal statement. Since you’ve rightly asked for evidence for my claims, I’m quite sure you recognise the need to support this claim with sound evidence as well.
      .
      “Positivistic psychology, sociology and cultural analysis have failed to produce the same determinate scientific principles as other scientific fields, such as physics”. There’s nothing wrong with this. Not all phenomena are born equal, and therefore they can be tackled with different approaches, which lead to different descriptions. As you certainly know, there are some subfields of physics such as chaos/complexity theory whose results are not as “precise” as those of classical dynamics and electromagnetism. From what I understand of your philosophical position, you would that complexity theory “failed to produce the same determinate scientific principles as other subfields of physics”. But that’s not true. Complexity theory as well as cognitive science are all sciences, in that they rely on the scientific method. .

      Finally, I find extremely hilarious that a person who flaunts the philosophical approach – which by definition doesn’t rely on a shred of evidence – may conduce a methodological attack against some research which has been backed up by several experiments over a timespan of more than 50 years. I also want to remind you that these results not only apply to the musical domain, but also to other fields such as visual arts and visual pattern recognition, to name just a couple. This points to the fact that there is probably something fundamental in these ideas, whether you like it or not.

      • I apologize for being a bit daft and confrontational in some of my response. I am pissy when I just wake up.

        ———————““There are certain phenomena that have not been able to yield themselves to scientific analysis”, seems to me a quite personal statement. Since you’ve rightly asked for evidence for my claims, I’m quite sure you recognise the need to support this claim with sound evidence as well.”——————-

        Your clarifications of your methodology makes me realize that pressing the point on qualia would not really be convincing. The methodologies of information theory may be certain they are able to study such phenomena and have their evidence to stake their claim; I disagree that what is being studied is qualia…primarily I disagree with the intersubjective basis for such—the objective-subjective binary distinction. Aside from that…I would say cultural objects (or art object, if you will) which are simultaneously observable and symbolic—the symbolic operation being unobservable and embedded in an impregnable network of other symbols and language, at some level undifferentiated.

        You did address some of my puzzlement concerning your methodology. And I thank you for the clarification. I will also read the research. I hadn’t realized that you embedded links.

        I will profess that I do not have the background that you do in the particular methods you are using, but that I am not the kind of individual to take a blog post on faith regardless of credentials. My area of study primarily involves phenomenological, hermeneutic, and poststructuralist theories; It is not likely to be the case that you or your colleagues respect this “lack of cognitive content” and all that, so it is not likely that you will address the heart of my criticism.

        What about my criticisms surrounding fact-value distinction, demarcations of the subject matter, self-concept and ideation? No, they are not necessarily a matter of evidential argumentation, since they primarily deal with the logical and philosophical framework of such studies…primarily serving as deconstructive ambiguities that question coherence.

        In any case, maybe I am just anomalous, but I really haven’t run into any music I haven’t liked. And I’ve tried to, but almost immediately I find an operative philosophical notion that fascinates, or am able to discern several interpretations of the work that problematize aesthetic valuation…and in terms of shear enjoyment, it is all the same to me. None of the listening results in repugnance or displeasure, regardless. I can sit through pop music, Penderecki and traditional Azerbaijani music all the same. Given that I am an expert violinist and proponent of new music and that I regularly work with composers, I do not see anything inconsistent with your assertions.

        But from my perspective, I do not see any limit of complexity, nor any need of an analysis of complexity as I examine the meaning of works from a variety of philosophical perspectives—there may be a limit on perceptive comprehensibility, of identifying significant minutiae, which many psychological theories have explored…but such does not instill any discomfort nor even touches upon the boarders of why I and others love and make music…especially when we have a highly rational views of our motivations.

        I guess I don’t see how studies in complexity such as this are pragmatically useful to artists and those who enjoy art, who primarily understand their work in a philosophical context. I mean, think what you will of critical theory, continental philosophy, religious mysticism, other non-positivistic aesthetic theories, formalism, etc….you are analyzing artists who created work that seeks to explain, present or envelope these conceptions. What about the mathematical organization used by Boulez in composing his hyperserialist music and his philosophical motivations for doing so? All of these ideations are embedded in the artists’ training: you questioned expert musicians for their perspectives and surveyed their responses, yet these dispositions and perspectives are conditioned by an upbringing that involves such abstractions as “beauty”, “sublimity”, “aesthetic value”, “ideology” etc. and other “non-existent philosophical entities”. Studying observable differences between the trained and untrained ear, and musical preferences of professionals versus listeners with no background is fine. You observe the pattern, the pattern exists.

        But, with regard to the attempt to reduce the aesthetics that govern the production and understanding of artwork, the aesthetic attitude is often a closed philosophical system or one that is de-centered or post-structural. And you cannot provide an explanation of the patterns that captures how the artwork, preference and social behavior of the music world is intertwined with the conceptual dispositions, perspectives and viewpoints…primarily cultural and not scientific objects…

        So as far as what you write here,

        ——————-“I honestly don’t see how the fact that the optimal degree of complexity is different for different groups of people might undermine the validity of the central claim of the post. The two propositions: “there is an optimal degree of complexity”, and “complexity is a function of musical expertise and familiarity with a piece of music” can easily get along together. “——————-

        yes, there is nothing inconsistent about these propositions…But the idea that the definition of complexity differs from subset to subset and from musician to musician does matter and does cause problems of coherence, which is primarily what I was addressing. How they are “perceiving complexity” is also dependent upon how they understand complexity within their aesthetic attitudes—qua participation in philosophical theories. Maybe some artists do not perceive any difference in complexity. I can imagine an artist who feels every work to be indeterminately complex because they view complexity as possible interpretive aspects, which are not finitely determined, and the artist may not be willing to comment upon perceived complexities within this framework or think they involve “music itself”, since they would view the art object being an ineffable concatenation of these possible interpretations—an inaccessible object.

        In any case, if every artist had a different understanding, surveys would appear to analyze reports of the same condition, intentional state, what-have-you, when they do not.

        And that is just it: contemporary aesthetics and art lends itself to fragmentation into subcultural groupings centered around divergent philosophical viewpoints which include differing treatments of complexity: serialism, minimalism, postmodernism, expressionism, absurdism, surrealism, realism. Some of these even go so far as to celebrate the anomaly, difference, or deviance as the center of their aesthetic theories, reveling in the atheoretical. Given that all of this falls under “art”, “music”…and artists are in heavy disagreement about what actually does fall under “art”, “music”…I see the cognitive approach to be limited only to being able to describe large-scale trends without being able to make the conceptual move from these descriptions to aesthetic theory…you seem to want to do this in the move toward explaining preference, but preference also falls within aesthetic theories as well…unless you are seeking to describe desire modalities within the reductionist system, in which case, artists might say that you are not talking about art any more but conditioned responses to certain colors, lights and sounds.

  2. Dear Justin,

    thank you for this great response. I really enjoy constructive criticism!

    I appreciate that you don’t “take a blog post on faith regardless of credentials”. I personally question the soundness of the articles which appear in prestigious academic journal all the time.

    Apart from divergences on particular points, I guess we look at the world with different eyes. My idea is that the scientific method can help us figure out what are the big trends in aesthetic perception. Obviously, I don’t claim this can be pushed to the limit of predicting the aesthetic response of the single. But if you think about it, the same is true also for medicine. We don’t know a priori what would be the reaction of a person who takes some drugs. We have a broad idea of what could happen based on statistical studies though. Nonetheless, when we are ill we take drugs and trust medicine will help us get better. The same is true for cognitive sciences as well. All of these fields are indeed inexact sciences by definition. But still, in my view, it’s better to have this kind of understanding rather than resorting to the claim that these topics cannot be explored systematically. If all people thought like this, we would still die of pneumonia.

    I’d like you to think about the technologies we are developing right now. There are machines capable of generating music (i.e., EMI, Iamus) and other systems able to suggest users compositions they are likely to appreciate. These systems often exploit theoretical and experimental results from cognitive science. The fact that some of these systems work quite well is an indirect proof that there is nothing special about music and other art forms, and that they can, at least in part, be examined by the means of the scientific method.

    What I see here, is a very old attempt to reject science by resorting to muble jumble arguments without a shred of evidence. This happened often in history (e.g.., cosmology, life), but every time it turned out that science was better equipped than other approaches to solve the issues at hand. .

    I’d just want to clarify one passage in your comment. The fact that “the definition of complexity differs from subset to subset and from musician to musician…” doesn’t logically undermine the two claims: “there is an optimal degree of complexity” and “complexity is a function of musical expertise and familiarity with a piece of music”. The three claims can live together perfectly. In fact, the first is implied by the third. So, where is the inconsistency here?

    Moreover, you claim that ““perceiving complexity” is also dependent upon how artist understand complexity within their aesthetic attitudes—qua participation in philosophical theories”. But, who told you that artists participate in philosophical theories? I know hordes of musicians which haven’t the faintest ideas of what philosophy might be. Finally, you seem to ignore that we are biological creatures with numerous cognitive constraints. You can claim whatever you want, but if I read you a list of 1000 words and ask you to repeat it, I doubt you’ll be able to remember all of it. A similar thing happens in music as well. There are some constraints we cannot get rid of because of the way we are “built”. As a consequence, perceived complexity of course depends on nurture, but it is also strongly based on nature. In my view, you as well as many scholars from the humanities seem to overestimate freedom of man, by ignoring the role of cognitive constraints. But this way of thinking is simply incorrect. Proof of this is that cognitive science, that aims to uncover universal patterns which inherently constrain the behaviour of man, exists and it is sound.

  3. “What I see here, is a very old attempt to reject science by resorting to muble jumble arguments without a shred of evidence.”

    Not at all. I actually quite appreciate the research you are doing. I find the approach to be nuanced, and it is able to capture various schema of the ordering of complexity across differing segments of the listening population. I teach my students analyses of wave forms for understanding intonation on the violin and how the perception of certain intervals and their tonal characteristics dependent upon how cognitive makeup and cultural orientation affects treatment of the harmonic properties of the interval.

    My goal only ever has been to open up a discursive space for philosophical explorations that run parallel to scientific theory, but not necessarily always concordant. Statistical theories cannot account for the individual belief or individual work or art, which is why critical theories that focus on difference, absence and otherness are necessary. A postmodern or critical study examines the individual conception of complexity and attempts to understand what is “meant” by it from an interpretive framework, but it does not presume that meaning translates across usage within other frameworks. A statistical measurement accounts for a cluster concept or a set of representative data—the concept being disjunct with each and every individual conception. It is in that epistemic void between statistic and particular that we find the discorrelation between critical and scientific perspectives.

    These irreconcilable aspects have been called “the differend” by Lyotard. Žižek also writes on similar topics in “The Parallax View”, grounded initially in a neuroscientific viewpoint, from which he eventually breaks.

    “But, who told you that artists participate in philosophical theories? I know hordes of musicians which haven’t the faintest ideas of what philosophy might be.”

    Well, I do not particularly care about those musicians and do not base my idea of what music is upon their undereducated views, but that is besides the point. Philosophy of music is still a very new field. And a critical theory of music is inchoate.

    Music theory may find a place in critical theory, but incorporation of critical theory from the visual and literary arts to music is a very recent trend. Even last year I attended a lecture on “death of the composer” when Barthes’ “death of the author” has been around since the 60s.

    As such, music theory is very adept at describing music, composition, musical symbolism, and functionality. And music theory would be a system I would assert that most professional musicians are familiar with (classical musicians may understand the philosophical idioms of formalism and expressivism, or Romantic era views of composers like Brahms, this is all taught within the conservatory)—not merely determination of style, but of aesthetics. John Cage’s stochastic processes differs in its philosophical intent (being influenced largely by eastern philosophy) from Messiaen’s use of limited transposition and modes (seen by him as a means of conveying his religious and mystic attitudes) from Schaeffer’s and d’Essai’s musique concrète (influenced by theories on the virtual). If you survey more composers and musicians involved in composition, I think you will find that they are very aware of the philosophical implications of their work.

    I think the primary problem is that we have read divergent bodies of literature. I feel it is quite important for this cross-disciplinary dialogue to occur, however, especially in the arts, which is disposed to interdisciplinary commentary.

    “You can claim whatever you want, but if I read you a list of 1000 words and ask you to repeat it, I doubt you’ll be able to remember all of it.”

    No, I readily admit that it is not likely that I could do this even with an exceptional memory. At the same time, I could potentially accomplish it by developing mnemonic techniques, and were these to fail, then that would establish a reasonable belief in limitation upon my cognitive aptitudes. Yet at the same time I would remain uncertain and skeptical based upon unknown possible error. Even considering that, maybe I would take a sudden change of direction and dedicate my life to designing an implantable microchip that augments memory. Given it is not possible to enumerate the shear number of possibilities and routes by which one may arrive at a certain state of affairs, and that the causal relations are not finitely determined, freedom is just as strong as it ever before reductionist accounts. In being unable to describe the particular hard limits upon an individual’s cognitive makeup which is always changing, a statistical theory cannot arrive at any conclusion on the limitation of free will…but it may comment upon societal trends based upon cognitive tendencies.

    I guess I was fine with the project, but not necessarily fine with some of the various asides made concerning other possible philosophical projects. Not everything is either science or an unscientific assault on science. And I know plenty of scientists are not logical positivists.

    “I’d just want to clarify one passage in your comment. The fact that “the definition of complexity differs from subset to subset and from musician to musician…” doesn’t logically undermine the two claims: “there is an optimal degree of complexity” and “complexity is a function of musical expertise and familiarity with a piece of music”. ”

    It doesn’t logically conflict, but there is a problem of coherence caused by what I mentioned above in the definition of “complexity” and whether the statistical usage of complexity correlates with the individual subject’s conceptions of complexity—differing definitions makes one wonder what is being measured versus what is thought. And once one starts to think critically of a definition of complexity, this may change the way an individual views complexity, enabling a degree of freedom in deciding what theory of complexity an individual may apply within their life and how they will analyze music or other such things based upon it…hence the initial mention of social constructivism.

    “I’d like you to think about the technologies we are developing right now. There are machines capable of generating music (i.e., EMI, Iamus) and other systems able to suggest users compositions they are likely to appreciate.”

    I am very familiar with these systems. But I do not agree with their implementation—I would argue that it could contribute to rampant aesthetic complacency already present in the US, and music needn’t be about enjoyment, especially given the motivations for creating confrontational or obfuscating music across the previous centuries.

  4. Imagine what useful or helpful task either/both of you could have accomplished during the time you wasted on this pointless abstract exchange. The world falls apart because “experts” prefer words to reality.

    • Coming back to this blog out of curiosity.

      I just read your reply Walkt, and I am quite curious why you feel compelled to criticize “pointless abstractions” with regard to artwork? Should the mere existence of a concrete problem preclude one from ever exercising one’s mind for it’s own sake? Or enjoying contemplation and discourse?

      Pointless abstractions surround us, governing and pervading a plethora of human activities, regardless if agents are aware of them. And this pointless abstraction is highly relevant as artists.

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