VII : Signal To Noise
This kind of grand aesthetic theorising invariably lands me into hot water, especially after implicitly accusing somebody's favourite artist of having impure intent. Nevertheless, two things: firstly, this is objective theory, not subjective - what you or I personally enjoy seeing or listening to isn't at issue; and secondly, this isn't an argument for snobbery - intent is being judged on its own terms, that is (in this case) artistically speaking. If, on the other hand, one's intent (through art) is to get laid, then fair enough, but the measure of the work is going to be notches carved in your bedstead and no more; likewise, if the super-objective is to make money, then let's measure it in dollars.
In mediaeval times and much earlier, being a musician or painter or sculptor was a specialised vocation with extremely limited opportunities that required an enormous personal commitment. Compare that to our current age where nearly everyone has easy instant access to technological and educational resources for creativity, whether it be visual arts, writing, or making music; moreover, zero commitment is asked for. Naturally, it would be churlish to resent that kind of universal opportunity - if people are having fun with it, then so much the better. The price paid for that is that floodgates for all types of lazy intent are opened, most concerned with non-artistic gratification, which in turn means the very nature of artistic endeavour has been altered, perhaps irreversibly, to the extent that any nascent pure form is effectively drowned by the numerically vastly superior impure forms. Aversion therapy by default.
In a huge room full of everyone talking at once, how can we possibly ascertain if there's anything significant being said? And how can there be meaningful expression in such an environment?
William Bennett (2009)