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  • Films Seen: Listology Scoreboard 2015   3 days 14 hours ago

    Update 21

    We had several changes this time. Julesyoung shot 2 levels, watching 44 films, and snagging a strong hold on 9th. Danvers rose to 13th which had not been so lucky for nukualofa. Lendoxia clambered to 20th and hinterland scrambled to 23rd. Good jobs all.

    As a group we logged 159 movies in the week for a total of 4117 films. For the next update on 2 August, the numbers for 1 and 2 films per day are 214 and 428, respectively. Happy viewing and see you next week! God willin' and creek don't rise.

  • Greatest EPs   4 days 8 hours ago

    I've listened to it a number of times now and I'm still not sure I like it. The creepy Cole Porter "hommage" is my favorite. Kraftwerk meets Suicide. What's your take on it?

  • Favorite albums   4 days 20 hours ago

    I don't think it's impossible to resolve. I already agree with relativism; others just have to accept that when people talk about objectiveness they aren't necessarily talking about essential, eternal, totally universal things. In the original context of the conversation, objectiveness explains why two people can have the same taste in music: it is the same reason people have the same views on everything, like morality and health (some people are the exact same types of vegetarians for example - how did they come to the same conclusion?) By analogy one can be a "Scaruffian" for the same reason one can be an ovo-lacto vegetarian. One just has to accept, additionally, that music contains roughly the same emotions for all people, just like food has roughly the same nutrients for all people, for the most part. And to explain why slight differences don't naturally occur as much as they should, it is because I am biased toward Scaruffi's lists just like we are biased toward what scientists theorize.

    What makes calling something objective so undesirable is that it sounds arrogant; I am saying something is "without bias," implying everyone else is biased. But in journalism and science, work is called "objective" simply when some bias (for example confirmation bias) is removed so as to make way for the truth. If all personal feelings and opinions had to be removed, objective would probably be a useless word. Somehow it is not controversial to say vegetables are better than candy, but it is to say this artist is better than that artist.

    However, even though I don't think it is impossible to resolve, I don't want to continue this conversation much further.

  • Favorite albums   5 days 10 hours ago

    ...

  • Favorite albums   5 days 10 hours ago

    Interesting conversation that I briefly considered joining but I think you guys have already covered the usual (inevitably circular) tracks (with an added game of semantics). The fundamental problem with arguing for objectivity is that the viewpoint of a person is of course subjective in the first place, which will always color his perception of "objectivity" -- therefore rendering it "in-objective" (though I do realize calvinandhobbes has defined objective a bit differently here). What I'm pointing out isn't anything new and I am sure you both realize it, but it makes the problem/conversation being posed (probably) impossible to fully resolve and (believe me) you can get into the darnedest, most infinite, conversations about it if you persist down that rabbit hole.

    It might be useful to recognize (or re-recognize if you already have) that nothing in this world/universe ever stays exactly the same.

    I might not have added anything new or important to discuss; just thought I'd throw that in there.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 days 12 hours ago

    You could say that it's about on par with stating Morphine is a pretty direct descendant of The Doors -- obviously true, but they were also doing and developed their own format and clearly have their own style as well. By descendant, I do not mean a negative connotation such as is often meant by "derivative" or other like terms.

  • Favorite albums   5 days 15 hours ago

    There are multiple, sometimes contradictory ways to be objective but there are also ways to be objectively wrong, which relativism denies. In reality there's no necessary contradiction between relativism and objectivism/universalism. Objective means either "without personal bias" (in science) or "external to the mind." Bias may not have a precise definition but once you grant some biases to be biases (like confirmation bias), the lack of those subjective biases amounts to objectiveness. Once you eliminate those "objectively wrong" things, you do not get just one thing. It also does not really mean "perfect" or "absolute." One can be "relatively objective."

    I agree with your comments about journalism; I am not denying that historians and the like are subjectively biased and cannot be perfect. But they can be objectively better or worse. Universally, truth is an "objective" good. The restrictions on the word objective that make truth not an objective good make nothing an objective good. Yet the word continues to be used everywhere. If it can be used in science, it can be used in art.

    Instead of going too deeply into the rest of what you wrote, I will just say that it all is relatively true, and to some extent we are just arguing about the word. In my opinion you are thinking objectively and are telling me it is objectively good to be relativist. I agree with that. Also, by world view I did not actually mean what it usually means; I meant "every way you think about the world," which includes the way you think about art. "I don't care if people are relativist or not, but I strongly feel that one should" is undeniably an objective statement to me. It doesn't matter that opinions emerge from the past. Nobody (including the objectivist) disagrees that it does. Objective value emerges from external reality. If human brains evolved differently, one's objective values would be different. That does not suddenly make them subjective. If a word evolved differently it would have a different meaning, but the dictionary definition would still be objective. It is a style of opinion, not something above opinion. It is my opinion that one should do the objectively good things x and y. If I am wrong, I am still thinking objectively.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 days 19 hours ago

    Regarding Live at the Matrix, I haven't heard that one yet and don't doubt that you're right about how great it is.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 days 20 hours ago

    I heard I Could Live in Hope today. Great album. Sometimes it kinda sorta reminded me of some parts of Candy Says.

    I'm glad you're done :)

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 days 20 hours ago

    I agree, there are obvious differences as well. I dont think they're trying to knock them off...

  • Music Ratings & Notes   5 days 20 hours ago

    I'm not aware that Scaruffi has ever posed anything about Low relative to the Velvet Underground so I don't know what you're talking about with such a blanket assumption and pointless piece of "advice". I agree that all those artists share at least as many attributes to VU as Low does, and probably more (especially Dream Syndicate). If you honestly feel there's as much to unravel on their third album as Escalator Over the Hill, then Im done and now understand why this argument hasn't gone anywhere.

  • Favorite albums   5 days 21 hours ago

    If you're saying that there may be multiple, even contradicting, views that are objective, then I have nothing to really disagree with. That's relativism right there, though perhaps the vocabulary is different. I'm wary of analogies because they can sometimes encourage false equivalencies. For one, I don't think there is anything objective about journalism. Chomsky and Herman showed this quite clearly with Manufacturing Consent. The simple choice to write about a particular event, or certain facts, or whatever, emerges out of an intersection of personal and institutional negotiations a journalist must make. Jackson Lears has brilliantly shown how the writing of an important academic like Jared Diamond is unmistakably stamped by a particular ideology. Science, mathematics and physics are constantly in a flux; the most famous example being Einstein and his critique of Newtonian mechanics. Neils Bohr would, in turn, show lapses in Einsten's thinking. We're constantly finding out how little we know. The world of nutrition is, in any case, hazy; a couple of decades ago they were saying eggs were bad for one's health. Similarly, contradictory reports keep emerging about the perceived benefits of red wine. (Sugar is wonderful, Carême said: "The Fine Arts are five in number: Painting, Music, Poetry, Sculpture, and Architecture–whereof the principle branch is Confectionery.") The Beethoven / Spears example circles back to 'interpretive circles', people who agree about what constitutes good music will likely reach the same opinions about both artists. For me, Beethoven is unfathomably better (I've been spending a lot of time with his sonatas lately, supplemented by Schiff's lectures) but this is a personal truth, not a universal one. To say the human brain is "destined" for something is to inscribe a teleology that doesn't really fit with reality, as it fails to account for why people go their whole lives eating poorly, reading trashy gossip, not looking after their health, not listening to classical music, etc.

    I'm struggling to fully grasp your second paragraph, but a few thoughts: For one, I don't think a work of art has to conflate with my worldview in order to be considered good. That would be amazingly self-indulgent. Leavis's brilliant essay on Eliot's "Four Quartets", in which he appreciates the poetry but rejects the Christian worldview, is an example of how one's ideology need not completely interfere with an engagement with the arts. If "Art can be objectively good or bad" sounds better to my ears than "Art can't be objectively good," despite the latter's agreeable message, then I am happy to exalt the former. Furthermore, I'm not certain why a personal opinion would be called objective. I don't care if people are relativist or not, but I strongly feel that one should, for example, not support Israel's foreign policy. Even though I wish everyone else was on board with that opinion that doesn't mean I'm being objective. Rather, it's a point of view that unmistakably emerges out of material circumstances; personal, sociological, and historical. I guess, like so many times on Listology, things come down to semantics. The word "objectivity" to me signifies a universal, incontestable, perhaps provable truth. Like I said earlier, however, I don't think we're in complete disagreement, just perhaps our diction differs. And I feel there are less certainties in this world than you do. ("There are no fixtures in nature. The universe is fluid and volatile. Permanence is but a word of degrees....")

  • Music Ratings & Notes   6 days 5 hours ago

    Clearly a descendant, yet ultimately not quite that similar. However, I've only listened to I Could Live in Hope, other albums such as Trust may be better suited to the comparison.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   6 days 6 hours ago

    Dear Lord, send us a bag full of delete buttons. Amen.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   6 days 6 hours ago

    There's as much to unravel in the Velvet Underground as there is in Escalator Over the Hill. Not to a biased listener, of course. You have to let go of that whole "Scaruffi right! Everybody else wrong!" thing.

    It's obvious that our ideas of what makes two albums similar are really different, so let's just put an end to this boring dialogue about it. I'd chose Modern Lovers, the Feelies, the Dream Syndicate and Yo La Tengo as artist s who released albums that clearly resemble VU's music, not Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. That's what makes sense to me. Still, my opinion and yours are equally significant and equally worthless.

    Did I mention the 2-disc Live at the Matrix set that came with the 6-disc box set of The Velvet Underground just a few months ago? Fucking fantastic stuff, man. If you're into the 1969 Live set and you like great sound quality you owe it to yourself to grab a copy. The big fat cherry on top: they play a stoned-out-of-their-minds 36-minute Sister Ray that ...

    Go ahead, just listen to it!

  • Favorite albums   6 days 9 hours ago

    Objective is a fine word to use. It is acceptable to use it in science so it should be acceptable to use it with regard to art. What makes a scientist or journalist objectively good? Truth is objectively good (this does not mean it is perfectly good or absolutely good), so if he tells the truth he is praised for being objective. A statement about objective goodness is not a generalization; even if suddenly only 1% of people like the truth, truth is still objectively good, assuming nothing else has changed, given how our minds work and the world works. (Of course to some extent what people like and dislike determines what is good and bad.) There are some bad ways to practice journalism. If you make things up, you are a bad journalist. Nutrition: Coca-Cola is bad. Child psychology: severely whipping a child is bad. In art, Britney Spears is bad. The human brain is destined (not eternally, just now) to respond better to Beethoven's music just like we respond greatly to vegetables, accurate news, good medicine, exercise, etc. The greatest emotional experience that one can get from Beethoven (without being delusional) is greater than the one gotten from Spears. A 10 year old girl that prefers Spears ought not to prefer Spears. Vegetables are better than sugar: a sugar addict ought not to prefer sugar. Food is objectively good: an anorexic person ought not to have an eating disorder. I am skeptical of the idea that art is not the same way. If you define objective in such a way that nothing can be objective, then I agree with you, but if child psychology, journalism, medicine are objective then art is as well. If you concede that Beethoven is objectively better than Spears, then everything in between can also be compared. We may not agree in those comparisons, but objectivity does not imply one world view. There can be multiple world views that are each objective.

    Words themselves are subjectively understood, yet dictionaries try to find objective definitions. It is really not much different: instead of "regular" language we are looking at musical language. There is not just one answer or just one list; there are multiple lists that are all true, like there are multiple definitions of words. But you can make an objectively bad list. The "objectivism" of dictionaries moves according to how we use the words and subjectively understand them anyway; objectivism already takes into account relativism. You probably believe a person should be a relativist, and that is an objectivist position. Even if you do not believe all people should be relativists (just like an atheist might prefer a world with religions), you still believe that, looking at the world at this moment in time, one should be a relativist. By telling me you believe that an artwork cannot be objectively good, you are contradicting yourself: you are suggesting that an album called "Art can't be objectively good" (that is precisely about its title) is objectively better than an album called "Art can be objectively good or bad." I know that would not just be a subjective opinion because you are trying to persuade me of it and are appealing to a truth and a logic that I can recognize. Thinking about things objectively isn't putting truth and rationality on a pedestal; it is also a different style of opinion. Technically, something that is subjective and not objective is a delusion.

  • Favorite albums   6 days 12 hours ago

    Rather than objective I think a better term would be inter-subjectivity, where a group (an 'interpretive community') comes together around a shared criteria. Saying that a work has more "compassion" than another isn't scientifically verifiable, but you are likely to reach the same conclusions as someone else who has come to the same social agreement as to what constitutes a good, and a bad, piece of art. This, I think, explains why people have lists that are so similar to Scaruffi. Or Rolling Stone magazine. Or B.H. Haggin. (Well, that or ideological indoctrination). While I don't think there's such a thing as objectivity in the arts, I also don't believe in extreme subjectivity. Each of us are embedded in a complex social framework that shapes our perception.

    I'm too much of a relativist to think that something like morality, let alone art, can be discussed scientifically or objectively. Cultural anthropologists have shown this time and time again.

    I can't resist quoting Emerson on influence (and by doing so I fall into the trap he describes):
    "Meek young men grow up in libraries, believing it their duty to accept the views, which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon, have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke, and Bacon were only young men in libraries, when they wrote these books."

  • Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me   6 days 16 hours ago

    Will do, thank you

  • Music Ratings & Notes   6 days 16 hours ago

    I stand by exactly what I've said and nothing more. Low is clearly a descendant of The Velvet Underground (and La Monte Young, probably Nick Drake) particularly the several tracks I mentioned from their third album (or, rather, every song except Murder Mystery, Some Kinda Love) as well as Sunday Morning and possibly ideas behind spellbinding, slo-motion still-life of All Tomorrows Parties and maybe something from the hypnotic, suspenseful dirge of Venus in Furs.

    The band themselves references VU as one of their main influences.

    I wholeheartedly agree that VU's third isn't as intense as those others, and that one's idea of their relative intent/success is mostly, if not entirely, subjective.

  • Favorite albums   6 days 16 hours ago

    My movie list is also almost identical to Scaruffi's decade lists. The simple answer is that I listen to his choices and end up agreeing with him. I will give a more elaborate answer. A person who either is disposed to have the same values as X or wants to have the same values as X by learning from X will become X. There is an incentive to keep learning from X in an isolated way if (1) X is comprehensive, and (2) X is consistent with themselves. The more consistent the "theory" is, the more interesting it is to keep learning it until one is done with it. There is nothing wrong with this unoriginal and imitative way of learning; I am learning about art whether I am "deriving" my ideas about it or getting them from someone else. It is inconvenient to try to learn something without taking in someone else's ideas, especially if that person has written an entire history about it. If I am learning evolution and I only read one biologist's work, I will end up becoming that biologist. My trust in Scaruffi isn't blind because I make sense of his opinions, but it is blind in that I try to get his order of things to be true in my own mind in a biased way. But once they become true, they seem to remain true, and that increases and solidifies my trust. The trust accelerates my learning but ultimately my own opinions will take over. Confirmation bias is natural in all learning. Learning about evolution naturally involves pretending that what the biologist is telling me is true. I am unable to really be sure until a later point when I have enough knowledge to scrutinize it from the top. I can scrutinize it in the middle; it is just not fully possible, so you need trust and motivated reasoning. That is how you learn anything. You accept the theory first blindly and slowly but surely see how it fits into your views. It is possible that one day I will entirely disagree with Scaruffi. In addition, while I am learning his ideas I can even be a teacher of those ideas rather than a student, because I can elaborate on them. The process is analogous to a scientist improving or trying to improve on another's work. Hence the specific order and ratings of his choices (according to my opinion) can be useful to someone who is also wondering how they might be since he is not entirely specific. I am interpreting his opinions. I am a critic of a critic. By being interested in both Scaruffi's taste and his fans' tastes, one becomes a more sophisticated "Scaruffian"... People write about the same topics and repeat the same thoughts everywhere all the time and on purpose. Knowledge is not original.

    Your confusion may also come from the idea that art is too subjective for a person to agree so exactly with someone else. It is simply not true. It is too easy to think like other people. Furthermore, music is very subjective, but it is also objective. I think compassion is the "highest" emotion one can experience, for example, and Rock Bottom and Velvet Underground & Nico have more compassion than White Light/White Heat, and Stooges has more than Fun House does, and North by Northwest has a lot of compassion because it deals with mistaken identity, both a personal and a universal conflict, with a lot of suspense, humor, and pathos. If we can first agree on what emotions and concepts are in a work and then agree on which emotions and concepts are the most important (a discussion that can be approached scientifically and objectively, like morality), then we easily come to the same conclusions. It is just hard to have that discussion since it is so abstract.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   6 days 16 hours ago

    I think what Amirkhosro is saying is that for more than half of the album's content, the comparison with those other albums doesn't work, and the album as a whole certainly isn't very similar to them. I personally think that the songs aren't nearly as intense as those albums at their most depressing are, which is not a failure to achieve those same heights of intensity but a sign of a somewhat different intention behind the album IMO.

    Also, to Amirkhosro: Low don't really play VU-ish music, they're a slowcore band.

  • Music Ratings & Notes   6 days 17 hours ago

    No, I listened to it a few days ago. But it wouldn't matter; we're not unraveling Escalator Over the Hill here. You should check out Low's Trust as its the most similar out of those I mentioned, but much better. It has way more emotional depth and is significantly more powerful.

    Aside from that, the comparisons with Low, Cohen, and to a lesser extent, Red House Painters are pretty clear; the main exception being all 3 dilated/extended the forms/intensity/majesty of songs like Candy Says, Pale Blue Eyes, I'm Set Free, Beginning to See the Light, Jesus... Low pretty much tackled and surpassed all the main ideas on the album except Murder Mystery.

    Also, I think you're taking my aside that: "One might be able to stretch that to Tonight's the Night (fundamentally)" much too "assertively" or reading more into it than what I said and later clarified.

  • Please Recommend Music, Films or Paintings to Me   6 days 20 hours ago

    Add Casablanca to the list as well.

  • Favorite albums   6 days 20 hours ago

    I see. One reason I asked (apart from the fact that I think Faust is a very fascinating album) was that I was curious as to how come your ratings for albums are almost exactly the same as Scaruffi's, especially considering how unique your movies list is. Perhaps this is an unfair question.