The Aesthetic Impulse


Over the weekend, I read two books: The Substance of Style by Virginia Postrel and An Introduction to a Philosophy of Music by Peter Kivy. Postrel explores the rise of "look and feel" within advanced societies in the last 50 years, and argues that the aesthetic is an independent realm of value, separate from ethical values but important nonetheless. Kivy's book provides an overview of his views on the nature of music (on which topic he has been prolific), specifically his view that instrumental music neither paints a picture nor tells a story, but derives its meaning and importance from the grammatical connections between musical tones. He calls this "enhanced formalism" or "musical purism": the meaning of music is to be found in its own sounding and syntax, not in referents to extra-musical events, ideas, or emotions. Unfortunately I don't have time to write on these books in depth at the moment, but I hope to return to the philosophy of music in the near future.

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal