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Notes by Alan Dix on "Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols"

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Languages of Art: An Approach to a Theory of Symbols


p. 4

representation and resemblance - an object resembles itself, but does not represent itself. me c.f. painting too like a photograph cease to be art, artistic representation seems to require at least some level of difference

p. 5

but ME of course a picture, to the extent it represents, represents the emotions and impact as much or more than the object (Goodman picks this up later)

p. 11/12

perspective and fixed viewpoint me c.f. Gibson's critique of perspective, also me because perspective creates the viewpoint as much as it represents the scene, it positions you (monocularly) in its virtual space. In a way the frame is always broken as it floods out to encompass the viewer.

p. 13 (footnote)

cornea projects, so when the eye moves there is v. slight parallax!

p. 16

parallel vertical lines should converge at infinity as much as parallel horizontal ones (me you can see this sometimes in photos), but a photo like this looks odd.

p. 24

Goodman likes to use the term 'man-picture' rather than 'picture of a man' as, for example, there is no 'real' postman represented by van Gogh's postman, the pocture is not 'of' the postman. However me this seems to belie the 'man'-ness in the 'man-picture'. Certainly some pictures invite you to look through the canvas; a 'unicorn-picture' is a picture 'of' a unicorn (even though there is no real unicorn).

p. 37

"our tendency to omit specifying a frame of reference when it is our own", here relating to cultural modes of art, but equally for perspective in art

p. 41

odd case of paintings in a commandeered gallery in war-time, where the picture might 'stand for' gun emplacements during a tactical discussion. Goodman uses this to distinguish denotation form depiction - in the context the pictures denote the gun emplacements, but to not depict them.

p. 46

'expression' used as in a picture 'expresses' heat.

p. 47

Note, actor expresses pain, but the viewer feels pity. "works of art themselves do not feel what they express, even when what they express is a feeling."

p. 48

expression (dramatalurgically) is cultural

p. 49

"Along the way I have often been obliged to teach young men how to make love, and young girls how to be predatory or flirtatious or seductive, and I've had to advise everybody how to express anxiety, alarm and endless other emotional states. They may have felt these things, but the movements for them are complete strangers." ". . . gestures are patterns of movement established by long usage among men. . . . There are many feelings which can be expressed in so many ways that there is really no one pattern for them. For example, hope has no shape, nor do inspiration, fear, or love," Doris Humphrey, The Art of Making Dances

p. 49

Goodman says "Insofar as I have been able to determine, just as there are no universal words, sound complexes, which carry the same meaning the world over, there are no body motions, facial expressions or gestures which provoke identical responses the world over. A body can be bowed in grief, in humility, in laughter, or in readiness for aggression. A "smile" in one society portrays friendliness, in another embarrassment and, in still another, may contain a warning that, unless tension is reduced, hostility and attack will follow."

p. 51/52

'picture is grey' different form 'picture is sad'. "The picture *does not denote* (me necessarily ) the color gray, *but is denoted by* the predicate "gray"" (Goodman's emphasis).

p. 56/57

Goodman talks about a sample of red-ness being problematic if the word "red" meant something different in Greek. Seems to associate exemplifying "red" the word with red the concept??

p. 58/59

exemplification a subclass of denotation. A exemplifies B (B a predicate) implies B(A), but A denotes B does not. A blue painting of the word "red" denotes red but does not exemplify it.

p. 59

self referential words: "short" "polysylabic"

p. 61

gestures as denotation "Nods of agreement, or dissent, salutes, bows, pointings, serve as labels.", but some may exemplify certain aspects - e.g. speed of conductor's baton.

p. 69

"a metaphor is an affair between a predicate with a past and an object that yields while protesting."

p. 71/72

"We categorize by sets of alternatives ..." importance of the set of labels available: red vs. no red, or red vs. orange, yellow, blue

p. 75

talking of self-denoting terms (ping/pong) "samples taking over the denotation of terms they exemplify"

p. 79/80

"Metaphor is most potent when the transferred schema effect a new and notable organization rather a mere relabeling if an old one."

p. 85

expressed = metaphorically exemplified

p. 89

"Expression, since limited to what us possessed and moreover to what has been acquired at second hand, is doubly constrained as compared with denotation."

p. 90/91

picture exemplifies various shapes and colours, but merely possesses the property of being 24 1/1 inches. "however effectively a glue factory may typify glue-making, it expresses being a glue factory literally rather than metaphorically." needs to be a "toothpick plant"

p. 92/9

"A tale of fast action may be slow" etc. (like the 24.5 inch picture)

p. 92

"Representation and description relate a symbol to things it applies to. Exemplification relates the symbol to a label that denotes it, and hence indirectly to the things (including the symbol itself) in the range of that label." (me but why the label and not the concept, or even purely analogously?) "Expression relates the symbol to a label that metaphorically denotes it, and hence indirectly not only to the given metaphorical but also to the literal range of that label."

p. 110/111

discussion of Van Meergeren's forgeries of Vermeers. -- Note discussion in next few pages seems to skip the fact that Van Meergen did not attempt to reproduce existing Vermeers, that is forger the work, but instead he attributed new paintings to Vermeer, that is forged the provenance. Much later returns to issues like this, but doesn’t tie back to this initial example.

p. 113

autographic - painting, sculpture (real != forgery) -- allographic - music, novel (reproduction normal)

p. 114

prints of etchings

p. 115-117

discussion of spelling etc., issue seems to be that music (score) and novel are information entities (reproducible)

p. 118

Goodman says neither stage of music (score and performance) are autographic, put surely performance is like painting. The performance itself can be forged (not the LSO doing the playing) or a recording could be purport to be the LSO. The former is more like Van Meergeren's Vermeers - purporting to be, not reproducing. But what about an illegal copy of a film, or an unauthorised printing of a copyright book, or even an unauthorised print from an etching?

p. 121

notation as transformer from autographic to allographic

p. 128

function of score s "authoritative identification of the work" c.f. pop music, often performed in studio, no "score" the recording becomes authoritative

p. 133

disjointness of symbols/characters in a notation. c.f. Chomsky 'binary' features.

p. 138/139

nice examples with a, d with different length stems. Mid-length stem looks like a d when next to an a, but an a when next to a d (like colours). Lovely acrostic:
- - b
a d d -- (these 'd's with slightly shorter tails)
- - d
Downwards the letter reads 'a', left to right it reads 'd'

p. 152

semantic disjointness (no overlaps or ambiguity between terms), Goodman says rules out ordinary languages. Talking about formal notations only.

p. 160/161

digital schemes discontinuous and "differentiated" throughout

p. 177

"You see no experiment can be repeated exactly. There will always be something different. . . . What it comes to when you say you repeat an experiment is that you repeat all the features of an experiment which theory determines are relevant. In other words you repeat the experiment as an example of the theory." Sir George Thomson, in "Some thoughts in Scientific Method", Lecture of May 2, 1963, printed in Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol II, p. 85.

p. 183-185

flags for semi/demi-notes and mood words. The former are OK as they can be determined exactly, but the later Goodman says are "not notational. The tempo words cannot be integral parts of a score ...". Seems to confuse compliance, recording and production. I may be able to exclude a performance without "fast" being unambiguous.

p. 223

Marshall Islander's charts

p. 225

"Science . . . is willing to accept a theory that vastly out-reaches its evidential basis if that theory promises to exhibit an underlying order, a system of deep and simple systematic connections among what had previously been a mass of disparate and multifarious facts." C. G. Hempel, "Recent Problems of Induction", p. 132.

p. 237

removes properties such as "heroic" from the score as a performance may not exhibit it - however, surely a score is a for a suitably accomplished musician, and hence such a musician would produce the desired effect - so surely it is "in" the score.