AC Douglas responds to my post below: "Alone among the arts, music addresses and speaks directly to the center of feeling, bypassing altogether, and with no need of the interposition of, the intellectual faculty." It's an elegant paraphrase of Schopenhauer, who wrote, "Because music does not, like all the other arts, exhibit the Ideas or grades of the will's objectification, but directly the will itself, we can also explain that it acts directly on the will, i. e., the feelings, passions, and emotions of the hearer, so that it quickly raises these or even alters them." I agree with ACD and AS that music can have a tremendous blindsiding effect, but I don't see why other art forms aren't capable of doing the same. Turner's paintings affect me in ways that I could never hope to put into words. Then again, I'm not an art critic, so it's easy for me to gesture vaguely toward the unspeakable sublimity of Turner and leave it at that. (Checking my links, I find that Scott Spiegelberg has written a post almost identical to this one, and more thoroughly argued.)
Felix Salmon has a thoughtful response to my post about City Opera's Daphne last week. He's wrong to suggest that I was trying to be nice at all costs; I simply wanted to avoid repeating myself. But he generally has a good point, which is that classical music critics might be so afraid of injuring their allegedly endangered art that they become, in Spiro Agnew's deathless phrase, pusillanimous pussyfooters. This is a topic for the music critics' symposium next month; Justin Davidson and I have been e-mailing about it. More than once I've heard a colleague say at intermission, "God, this is awful," and then read a review with sentences like, "While the singers were not always in perfect form, the performance was a worthy effort all round." Perhaps I've done it myself. As Justin wrote to me the other day, the important thing is to be both passionate and honest — at once an evangelist for the art and a skeptical recorder of its follies. The prime disease of CM criticism is being polite.
Here is a classic post by Greg Sandow on and around the issues Felix raises. As a rule, I don't like talking about criticism and other critics — it's like yodeling about yodeling. "Not ideas about the thing but the thing itself...."