Literary, musical, artistic and architectural bullying

All art constantly aspires to the condition of music.
Walter Pater, Fortnightly Review, 1877.

  • If you have heard a piece of music so museless that it made you depressed and pessimistic, and sounded like lost souls crying in the House of Hades;
  • if you have read a book so full of negation that it has loosened the ties of your belief in human nature;
  • if you have seen a painting or sculpture that has made you turn your eyes away;
  • if someone has designed and erected a building so rebarbative in its threatening ugliness that it lowers your quality of life every time you see it (what Bill Bryson calls the f*** you style of architecture);

then the question may arise—did the Greeks and Romans have a divinity who inspired people to create offensive things?

There was none; and if there had been, (s)he would have come up, like Alecto or Megaera, from the Underworld, summoned by the gods if ever they wanted to demoralize mortals.

Cacophilia: the Greeks didn’t have a word for it. A glance at any of Pindar’s Odes, luminous with the iridescence of things, may suggest why.

Next post: classicists and language.

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