Re: A comment

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Posted by R. John Howe on January 24, 1999 at 22:05:30:

In Reply to: A comment posted by Tom Cole on January 24, 1999 at 20:42:57:

Dear Tom et al -

Thanks for your comment. It is my impression that you are recognized as one of the more experienced and knowledgeable folks in our collector/dealer community. More, although your personal responses to great rugs might have their visceral aspects, you have on occasion shared some thoughts in writing cogent enough to be seen as having a not inconsiderable intellectual content.

It seems frequently the case that when one tries to access Chris Alexander's aesthetics that one encouters difficulty. That is part of what Mr. Salingaros is attempting here, to make that difficulty less so. I would only ask these questions. Did you attempt to use these rules and find that experience unsatisfying in some way or do you reject the experiment at the outset?

It seems to me that the question of aesthetic quality is so central to our collecting/studying/dealing experience that it is important to be self-conscious of the ground we stand on when we speak of it. If it is strictly a matter of individual subjectivity, there would seem little reason for any of us ever to talk to any of the rest of us much about it since there would not be much shared experience to talk about. But I doubt that your position is that extreme and I expect that you, like most of us, assume that some communcation about aesthetic quality is possible.

This is merely an effort to take a pair of formalists at their word about their view of aesthetics and to make some aesthetic judgments in terms of the rules they recommend. They are saying some quite radical things. They believe that they can demonstrate that human aesthetic judgments are largely "hard-wired."

It may well be that after applying their rules we will find their theory unsatisfactory in one or more senses but won't we be on better ground to have tried it concretely and to know on the basis of that experience rather specifically what its virtues and defects might be?

I would argue that it is a bit too easy to say that this exercise is too difficult, perhaps too myopic without trying. (I would not claim that all of these rules are easily undestood on their face. I am having trouble grasping some of them myself as I do the work of this salon.)


John Howe

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