Judaism Rejects The Notions Of Beauty That Underscore Christian Classical Music From Bach To Mozart- But Still The Music Speaks To Us
David P. Goldman tackles the notion of beauty in the linked article from Tablet Ezine.
If one follows Jewish ezines one soon comes to the conclusion that Jews believe that the only worthwhile contributions to world culture come from Jews. All else is worthless. Thus Jewish zines publish endless scrolls showing how the world, especially Western Culture is indebted to the Jews. The logic is very shaky.
Goldman posits: Among all the arts, Western classical music is the only true innovation of the modern West….
One is at a loss to know what this means. I construe the modern West to begin in 1789 with the French Revolution after Western orchestral music was fairly well developed. Indeed, as David’s title indicates he includes Bach and Mozart who preceded Modern Europe to be moderns.
But then ignoring his condition of the West as opposed, one supposes, to Asia, the Middle East or Africa he shifts from a global horizontal perspective to a vertical historically based West.
We can read Aeschylus or Pindar just as we do Shakespeare or Keats…
Not exactly true as we can read Shakespeare or Keats in the original English while with the exception of classicists we have to depend on translations for the Greeks. Perhaps a quibble.
…But the ancient world produced nothing that resembles Josqin des Prez, let alone Mozart. Alone among the arts classical music is an artifact of the modern Christian West, and it is hard to extract it from its Christian context.
Of course with the Jewish belief in creationism it is impossible for David to understand that the human mind has evolved from the ancient mind to the modern mind which bears little relation to the ancient mind hence there is no basis for comparison. The Ancients were merely a stage in the development of consciousness. As noted previously des Prez and Mozart are not modern while the post-1789 modern world is definitely more anti-Christian, on the religi0us level than Christian while Science not only undermines Piscean Christianity but invalidates the Arien, actually Taurian, Age Judaism.
So, let’s just say that David’s premises are shaky to begin with.
But then he sets up a dialogue between himself and a Catholic priest he calls Father A who is completing his course of study in philosophy. So David imagines himself to be demolishing the most learned of Catholics.
While dining with the Padre in a kosher restaurant, home turf no less, he has Father A pompously pose the question: “What is your definition of beauty? My opinion of you will depend a great deal on your answer?” Myself, I would have excused myself from the insufferable bastard and left in the face of such arrogance but the crafty David is going in for the kill.
David then defines beauty as being composed of the elements of harmony and surprise. Harmony is OK but what does surprise have to do with beauty? David, the giant killer, constructs his argument:
There are a number of things that meet the criterion of harmony- for example, geometrical constructions, crystal patterns and so forth but we don’t necessarily consider this beautiful, they may be as dull as they are harmonious…. The experience of beauty requires the sense of discovery of harmony we hithertoo did not perceive and whose existence we did not expect.
Or, perhaps that we dully failed to notice. Of course, speaking for himself as well as Father A David isn’t going to lose the argument. However one might question whether the beautiful can ever be dull. A sunset or a flower for instance require no surprise to illuminate the beautiful. I find that David’s argument is based on a series of false premises.
For instance as David continues: “Would you agree that the concept of surprise is bound inextricably to the concept of expectation?”
Alright, but that relates in no way to beauty.
Let’s take the example of Mozart. [Already failing to meet the modern classification.] Close to the end of the Andante of the 21st piano concerto, Mozart brings back the opening F-major theme not in its original key, but rather in the remote key of A-flat major. Would that qualify as a beautiful surprise?
As expected Father A concedes.
But the reader has only conceded that surprise and exptection are bound beauty having no part in it. As to the surprise, surprise to whom? To Mozart? Does David mean to say that Mozart’s intent was surprise? Why? Certainly in a Freudian sense Mozart had other intentions not excluding musical intentions that David may be too dull to perceive. Nevertheless the beauty does not come in the surprise but the suitability of the chord. Father A, David nor myself being qualified to judge the musicality compared to Mozart, his use of the unexpected chord may come as a surprise but coming from Mozart not unexpected while beauty always is.
David concludes his argument based on false premises with a circular argument:
If the perception of beauty requires surprise, and surprise depends on expectation, have we not reached the conclusion that beauty is not absolute, but depends in some way on the expectations of the beholder?
Hm. And Jewish expectations are different from Christian expectations and hence Jewish ideals of beauty as the Chosen People are superior to the expectations of Christians?
David fails to note that Father A did not concede that the perception of beauty requires surprise. Surprise was only bound up to the concept of expectation with no reference to beauty.
There is no connection between the absolute and beauty in David’s argument hence we have reached no such conclusion. Apparently the philosophy graduate is unable to spot David’s false premises.
But then David can’t lose, he’s only talking to himself. Would that he had left it that way and not published this nonsense.