Talk:African aesthetic

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Comment[edit]

This page should have been called "African aesthetics", as thats the proper grammar. Also, Zoe, as an administrator, I'd like you to allow for the creation of a page at African aesthetics, as we already have Japanese aesthetics and whatnot.--Urthogie 08:20, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

She doesn't have any say in the matter whatsoever, there is no "allowing". To be honest we're supposed to wait a week for DRV, but I think the consensus is becoming clear. - FrancisTyers 08:37, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
I know she shouldn't have say, but she does, so I'm asking nicely. This shouldn't go to DRV: It should be spelled properly: African aesthetics.--Urthogie 08:42, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Zoe is not omnipotent. And given her actions in this matter, I think it best if she not act to do anything further with this article. She should be completely hands-off. Once the undelete is accomplished -- which Zoe is on record as opposing (why not? she's the one who obliterated both "Cool (African aesthetic)" despite the failed Vfd and this one, without discussion), then your suggestion can be addressed. It's not a "spelling error"; there is a distinction. I'm for keeping it as-is -- and for good reason: aesthetic (noun) 1 : a branch of philosophy [emphasis added] dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. (Merriam-Webster online) Another source, more appropriate to this matter, defines it as: "noun - a set of principles [emphasis added] underlying the work of a particular artist or artistic movement." "Aesthetic" -- without the "s" is more appropriate here. The African aesthetic is considered a collective - and not just a bunch of random aesthetic principles grouped together. Deeceevoice 08:45, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Last time I checked though, there are multiple philosophies throughout black Africa-- so wouldn't there be multiple branches; multiple aesthetics?--Urthogie 08:57, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

The purpose of this article is to elucidate that particular cluster of aesthetic values and philosophical constructs that are commonly regarded as an overarching (not universal) "African aesthetic." There is room for values differing starkly from those encompassed by this aesthetic to be mentioned, and room to clarify the limits of this universe of cultural values. I didn't do so, because the article was deleted before I got the chance. Deeceevoice 07:05, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

I'm going to read up more on this. From what I've learned thus far, it seems as though a lot of scholarly opinions run contrary to Thompson: the popular opinion of the academy, and of the press, appears to be that cool is purely a result of oppression of Africans in America-- African influence is almost never discussed in a lot of theories. So if this page, or Cool (African aesthetic) is restored, then that would have to be addressed.
By the way, I'm sorry if I've disrespected you at previous points-- you've been through a lot more than me, and I really need to respect my elders. I'm still sorting out my views on a lot of this stuff. Although I don't agree with you in a lot of ways, I admire your dedication and scholarly knowledge.--Urthogie 08:35, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

That's usually because they're simply confining themselves to expressions of cool as evidenced among, usually, male African Americans and they know nothing of traditional African cultures. To read them, you'd think only black men exhibit cool. And I'm livin' proof it ain't so. :p It's got nothing to do with gender. Yeah, I've read a couple of pieces where cool is written of in strictly reactionary terms -- but that's commentary born of ignorance. African art, African culture isn't their bailiwick, and they're writing only from what relative little they know. In short, it's cultural myopia. Nothing more. Deeceevoice 21:09, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

I appreciate your personal comments. But before you go 'round just blanket-respecting old people (anyone over 30), let me tell you there are a bunch of dumb old farts out here. So, watch your step, youngun. :pDeeceevoice 21:09, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Heh. The issue is that, we still have to explain their opinions on the subject, even if they're wrong-- along with an explanation of why they're wrong (if that can be verified), because its a very notable view on the subject, wrong or not.--Urthogie 09:35, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

I haven't really even begun the research on this subject, but when I do, my focus will be on those knowledgeable of the subject matter and how best to write with clarity about some fairly abstract notions. At this point, I'm not even thinking about the uninformed/limited opinions. Deeceevoice 10:02, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Well I'll add that stuff if you won't. It's important to address them.--Urthogie 10:06, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Damn. Here we go again. Did I say it shouldn't go in? Forget it. *x* Deeceevoice 10:41, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Two questions:
  • How does the idea of cool as "making something out of nothing" necessarily ignore black women?
  • How can masculine and feminine cool be balanced in America when most of the slaves brought over from Africa were men?--Urthogie 18:48, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
  • It doesn't have anything to do with it my statement.
  • Ditto. deeceevoice 18:58, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
You said: "That's usually because they're simply confining themselves to expressions of cool as evidenced among, usually, male African Americans..." Can you support/verify that?--Urthogie 19:35, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't need to. deeceevoice 03:07, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

No, you don't have to, but it unverified stuff gets a certain tag.--Urthogie 08:36, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

What do your questions have to do with the specific material presented in the article? I don't see the connection. Kindly discuss the affixing of a tag in discussion before doing so. I've removed it until you can indicate what specific passage is unverified or disputed. deeceevoice 11:40, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

My specific concern is that scholars and other writers recognize several of these African aesthetics as actually being African-American in origin. Until this view can be proven verifiably wrong (which I doubt it can), this article can't be considered verified or npov.--Urthogie 12:35, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Whatever your specific concern is, please do not voice it in the future by slapping a wholly inappropriate tag on the article. The information that has been presented thus far is accurate and properly sourced. Again, my concern in writing this article is, for the moment, an elucidation of that set of values and standards that comprise a widely recognized African aesthetic. Further, a discussion of certain aspects of African-American culture in solely an African-American context does not obviate a discussion of where those elements plausibly originated, based on objective observation of their existence among indigenous African societies, many members of which were kidnapped, sold into chattel slavery and brought to these shores. After all, Africans brought their culture with them. While the racist propaganda of the time said otherwise, they weren't savages without culture arriving in the Americas; they were never stripped completely of their values, mores, traditions, language, etc. Nor was African-American culture created out of whole cloth on this continent -- any more than Chinese-Amercan, Italian-American and American Jewish culture suddenly sprang, newborn, in the New World. deeceevoice 13:54, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Proponents of the theory that "cool" originated with African-Americans don't claim that the Africans had no culture, or anything like that. They merely claim that the specific aesthetic of cool is African-American in origin-- a response to oppression.
As a sidenote, it appears to me as though this article and the one on cool kind of "cherry pick" various parts of scholarly opinions. For example, when Thompson says something about African cool that conflicts with another scholar thats sourced elsewhere in the article(see below example given by CoYep), the contradiction is ignored and the article appears as verifiable as any-- but its not.--Urthogie 16:27, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

What may "appear" to you may not be the case. Again, what specific passage(s) are you writing of? And if you have a specific passage that contradicts the material presented, and it is sourced, then present it here before affixing the disputed tag. deeceevoice 19:38, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

My specific dispute is that certain things are claimed as African which are more often recognized as African-American in origin. Also, I think that there are accuracy issues brought up by CoYep's analysis(which mentions specific passages).--Urthogie 07:20, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
You don't seem to understand the function of a dispute tag. The text as provided is accurate and properly sourced. If you want to include text about another perspective, then you're perfectly entitled add it, citing appropriate sources, of course. Further, I've addressed CoYep's concerns. The list isn't complete, and he's been invited to include or revise items on the list has he sees fit. So far, he hasn't done so. (I'm waiting to see if he intends to contribute constructively to the article or simply criticize.) If you have any further questions regarding the issues CoYep has raised, then feel free to join the discussion below. As far as I can see, you've raised nothing that merits a dispute tag. deeceevoice 09:08, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


"The text as provided is accurate and properly sourced." (Deeceevoice)

The text is neither accurate nor properly sourced (you can't even remember what list you were looking at when you wrote it). the lead paragraph alone is full of logical fallacies (see discussion below).


"The list isn't complete, and he's been invited to include or revise items on the list has he sees fit. So far, he hasn't done so. (I'm waiting to see if he intends to contribute constructively to the article or simply criticize.)" (Deeceevoice)

I think you should get the chance to edit your article and to share your vast knowledge and your thoroughly researched and sourced analysis without being "hacked" by abysmal ignorant folks. CoYep 10:04, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Tags[edit]

I've removed the tags due to lack of discussion on the talk page. I don't see any uncited or biased parts, perhaps the person who wishes to add the tags could point them out? - FrancisTyers 19:15, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

I've readded the tags due to the continual discussion of the lack of verification and the POV tone of the article throughout all of the DRV and AfD, and right here on this page already. User:Zoe|(talk) 20:07, 26 April 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps you could make some specific complaints? - FrancisTyers 20:39, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
Apparently, just more edit warring. I'd already removed the tags once, noting a lack of discussion of unsourced information. The tags should stay gone unless and until Zoe offers something substantive. deeceevoice 03:07, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

I wonder...[edit]

Where is the "Caucasian aesthetic," the "Latin aesthetic," the "Asian aesthetic"? I'm sure a member of any of those races would include self-promoting and confidence-boosting "traits" such as: luminosity of motion ("looking sharp"), youthfulness, smoothness (patina), clarity of form and detail, complexity of composition, and composure of the face. All of those are easily replicated in any other race by any member of it who is keen to body language and who has a quick wit and a boatload of confidence. It seems to me that the "African" aesthetic is not so much "African" as it is "rap music video." While this, "The mask of the cool, or facial serenity, has been noted at many points in Afro-American history," is certainly interesting, the elders of any culture no doubt have similar traits and to color the entire continent of Africa (and those who derive from it) with a bulleted list of supposed "aesthetic traits" is bordering on insult and hasty generalization. This article is completely distorted. MOD 12:15, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Google tests suck, but your analogy sucks too.
Why not go and write an article on the notable European aesthetic, or European aesthetics? - FrancisTyers   12:38, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
Remember to stay civil, Francis. Justforasecond 14:38, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
The man has already apologized. Leave it be, JFAS. deeceevoice 14:57, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for not only insulting me, suggesting I undertake a monumental and varied task (which requires ungodly amounts of sources), and listing completely irrelevant Google tests that weren't my point to begin with. My point to begin with was the absence of those articles on Wikipedia, I could care less about ambiguous Google searches. Next time, try and respond wisely. MOD 12:42, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
My apologies if that came across as insulting. Comparing "African" with "Latin" is imho a bad analogy. However, I had not meant to insult you, although I may have come across a bit brusque. Unfortunately this article tends to attract people who would prefer to just pile on the criticism instead of being constructive and as such it can get quite frustrating. - FrancisTyers 12:54, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

IMO, Francis Tyers' response was dead on. Your post is snide and clearly implies that the elements of the African aesthetic are not real, but some sort of ersatz, "self-promoting and confidence-boosting" mumbo-jumbo. If you see a need for a new article, there is a place on the website where you can put the topic on an ever-lengthening list of articles to be created. You would do well to read my post to User:Urthogie above. You call yourself an "amateur hip-hop producer." Then, perhaps, you should take some time to understand and appreciate the deeper origins of certain elements of African-American culture that you apparently appreciate. And you would do well to read the lead paragraph again. It makes no assertion that the African aesthetic is universal among all African peoples. In the future, why don't you do some research before jumping to unfounded and insulting conclusions? And one more thing. Latino is not a "race." *x* deeceevoice 14:01, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

In your opinion? Then it holds about as solid a validity as my opinion that the moon is made of cheese? And my post is "derogatory in a malicious, superior way?[1]" What supremacist planet were you born on? It doesn't matter if the article was about whites, spaniards, or orientals. I'd still make the same cricism that an aesthetic a bulleted list does not make. "You should take some time to understand and appreciate the deeper origins of certain elements of African-American culture that you apparently appreciate." Thanks for the hasty suggestion. I could care less what you think I think about African culture (-American? How PC). I know enough and I don't sit on my laurels all day researching it, I go outside and see what's happening. How many times a day do you see black folks? By the time you spend on Wikipedia, I'm guessing not a lot. Go outside sometime, that "fore and aft" rocking is long gone and all those ego-stroking vague compliments thinly disguised as traits are barely present in the average black person. And as I review the lead paragraph again, I not only reaffirm my original point, I come to another conclusion: the African aesthetic is so generic it has no "African" in it. Thank you for making me see the light that this article is a sham to begin with. And one more thing, neither is African-American, if you catch my drift. MOD 19:40, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
"I know enough and I don't sit on my laurels all day researching it, I go outside and see what's happening. How many times a day do you see black folks? By the time you spend on Wikipedia, I'm guessing not a lot. Go outside sometime, that 'fore and aft' rocking is long gone and all those ego-stroking vague compliments thinly disguised as traits are barely present in the average black person." How many times? Uh, every time I look in the mirror. And you say you were born and raised in in St. Petersburg? ROTFLMBAO. deeceevoice 19:49, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
So instead of a rational response, you choose to roll on the floor laughing maniacally? And then you expect me to take you seriously as an alleged expert on "blackness" (seeing as being black makes you an expert on the culture, much like being Spanish makes you a world-renowned expert on the history, economy, and language of Spain)? I'm not buying it. Oh, and in case your ignorant self is wondering, blacks DO exist in Russia. Your sheltered existence is no excuse for your naïveté. MOD 19:59, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
You asked a question, and I answered it. It seems to me you got your jaws all tight 'cause you didn't anticipate/don't like the response. :p And, yes, black people are just about everywhere, but you're hardly in a position to comment on whether my existence has been "sheltered" or not; you know nothing of me -- just as you clearly originally assumed I was not black, you assume me "naive." Suffice it to say I'm in a far better position, as an African American and someone who has studied both African and African-American history and culture for a very long time, to comment on the matter than someone born and raised in Russia who seems unable to trace African-American cool beyond a phenomenon that is a scant few decades old. I find that pretty amusing. Despite your obviously strong convictions, I see your remarks as founded on ignorance and relatively limited observation -- nothing more. But stay tuned and watch this space. We just might all learn something. deeceevoice 23:47, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't think you've ever heard of "ad hominem," but I doubt it'll help much. Regardless, where did I originally assume you're not black? I think it's extremely obvious you're black. If not, you're a very dedicated "scholar" of a different race. And since when did I trace this "phenomenon" in rap (which I assume is what you're vaguely referring to)? I don't think you've ever heard of a "straw man" either. I'm in no disagreement that your being black and (apparent) stature in age play an important role in your contributions, but your character, attitudes, and zealotry take away from the relevance and wisdom one would assume an educated African-American would have. Also, how is it that I'm unable to trace "cool" beyond rap? Where did I ever prove this to be true? You're putting words in my mouth, attacking straw men you build, and insult my intelligence based on my place of origin. Since you say you're African-American, this implies you were born in the United States. What in the hell would you know about Africa or its people? Just because I'm born in Russia doesn't mean I know millions of details about my culture or people, nobody Russian does who isn't a dedicated academic scholar (and you are definitely not, seeing as you're hellbent on personal attacks, logical fallacy one after another, and perpetuating a victim attitude beyond comparison). I've lived long enough in America and imagine that, have heard of black people back in Russia (yes, the American variety) to make a few observations, connect enough dots, and distinguish dogmatic propaganda from undisputed truth. Whether or not my "observation" is limited (And to what extent? Yours is too) plays no important part. Whether I've immersed myself in the black culture for 2 or 8 years is irrelevant, as long as it has been longer than the hours most people have been immersed in it. You falsely generalize anyone who disagrees with you as an ignorant peon who watches Viacom television 24/7, buys every Top 40 charting rapper's CD ever, propagates ignorance and social retardation (via rap music, of course, but that's a logical fallacy as well), and then gets mad when a supposedly informed black person disagrees with their stereotype of African-Americans. If you've managed to read this far, do respond. MOD 00:23, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

"It seems to me that the 'African' aesthetic is not so much 'African' as it is 'rap music video.'" Okay. :p I'm sure you'll forgive me if I don't read your post in its entirety. As much as you'd like to make it, this really isn't about me. I've got just three words fuyyah: "Google 'African aesthetic.'" deeceevoice 06:30, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Oh why the laze? Are a couple of paragraphs too much work for your overly intelligent self or are you afraid you're really wrong? I did Google "African Aesthetic."[2] Thanks to you I now have even more reasons to dislike the lead. What does Vogel's classification of art have to do with African people? People who lived in the Baroque era didn't live more vivid or more detailed lives. Oh and I haven't found much else besides Vogel's art description. So the part of the article I have the problem with (justifiably so) is about art, not people. Can you weasel and sidestep your way out of this one? I mean, maybe Picasso's children had two eyes on one side of the face, I don't know. As far as I can see, the attribution of art to people is like attributing milk to the cow. And this isn't about you, it's about a particularly badly sourced lead in a sham of an article. MOD 11:51, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Same response: Don't like it? Fix it. I'm not going to waste my time reading insults from, or trading insults with, you. deeceevoice 12:04, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Sigh. So instead of using your "African and African-American history and culture" knowledge that you've studied "for a very long time," you'd prefer someone else to do it, someone whose verifiability and integrity you question. How strange. However, if you don't care that much about an article you started, I suppose I'll have to do some weekend reading. MOD 13:19, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I haven't taken a page from your book and ever questioned your "verifiability" [sic] or your integrity -- just challenged your knowledge of the subject matter. You say you intend to read up? Good. Then, I'm glad to see you onboard. deeceevoice 13:39, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

So much for sic. The only reason I'm reading up is because you're refusing to make the content of the article either more objective or more relevant to the title of it. I'll see you around.MOD 16:51, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

MOD , consider reporting this user for incivility at the administrator's noticeboard -- WP:ANI. S/he is on probation for racially-related incivility and personal attacks ("rotflmbao", calling your post "snide" and agreeing that it "sucks" are not the paths to good encyclopedia). Justforasecond 21:47, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
I believe that won't be necessary, although it is a kind and noble gesture on your part. DCV has been previously involved in a myriad of Africa-related controversies and if her reign of terror hasn't been stopped yet, why attempt the impossible now? Even after she's "quit" Wikipedia, she's come back full force, inserting her uninformed opinions into everything African, regardless whether or not it's true or even relevant. This is, after all, a talk page, where the (relative) diplomacy of the Main namespace is shed for real talk. So we'll see where this goes and if DCV keeps it up, there's better ways to keep her ways under control. MOD 22:03, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

"Latino is not a "race." *x*" (Deeceevoice)

True. Just like "Caucasian" or "Negro" are not races either because from a biological standpoint, human races do not exist. CoYep 14:22, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Your comment is irrelevant to the discussion. And, whether you agree with them or not, racial classifications do exist -- and "Latino" is not, and has never been, among them. deeceevoice 14:55, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't think the question is whether racial classifications exist, but rather whether they have a biological basis, in the sense that biologists mean when they divide the Dark-eyed Junco into "races". It turns out the answer to that question is no, however anybody feels about that. Race among humans has a slight biological component and a strong cultural component. Whatever. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:09, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
It is true that "Latino"/"Non-Latino" is essentially orthogonal to "Negro"/"Caucasian". We're all just ducks, y'know. -GTBacchus(talk) 15:11, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
Actually, the question was a snide comment about the subject of this article. :p This is simply an irrelevant aside. deeceevoice 16:44, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
That's as may be – I've been known to participate in irrelevant asides. It's just that I'm aware of the fact CoYep was referencing, and it's a bit of a pet-peeve of mine when people misinterpret it. I'd happily continue the discussion on a different talk page, or here, or let it drop. The next section down is much more interesting anyway... -GTBacchus(talk) 16:57, 27 April 2006 (UTC)
No, thanks. I don't see it as a productive discussion -- just a distraction. I think so, too. I'm hoping he'll take the time to make the relevant changes per my response. If not, I'll drop in and do it later. deeceevoice 19:52, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

Questions[edit]

The article states:

"Taken collectively, these values and standards have been characterized as comprising a generally accepted African aesthetic, the constituent components of which have been termed [3]:

luminosity of motion ("looking sharp")

youthfulness

smoothness (patina)

clarity of form and detail, complexity of composition

composure of the face"


1. Susan M. Vogel's luminosity refers to the "smooth surface" of most African figural sculptures, and not to "looking sharp" or to a "luminosity of motion". Quite the opposite:

"Excerpts from For Spirits and Kings, African Art, by Susan Vogel, reveals that most African art was made not for the mere admiration of people but in the service of spirits and kings. It is functional, not decorative. It was, and still is, made to express and support fundamental spiritual values that are essential to the survival of the community. For this reason, African sculpture is seldom concerned with movement, gesture, or anecdote, but rather seeks to portray a timeless essence." [4]

Davisart supports this notion: "The human figure is usually carved in a formal, motionless pose which reflects the spiritual composure of the ideal member of society." (AFRICA: WEST AFRICAN SCULPTURE)[5]

2. Why was "Self-composure" modified to "composure of the face"? (see spiritual composure above)

3. "smoothness (patina)" belongs to "luminosity" and/or "Clarity of form and detail, complexity of composition, balance and symmetry, smoothness of finish"

4. Why was the aesthetic element "Resemblance to a human being" not included in the list? CoYep 15:00, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

When I wrote the intro, I was (and still am) under some fairly tight deadlines. The article was started and composed somewhat hastily to prevent what I viewed as the hijacking of the subject, as well as certain text, from "Cool (African philosophy)" to an inappropriate venue, that of Cool (aesthetic), an article expressly devoted to pop-culture cool. I had looked at two or three sources, had only one in front of me, and was working pretty much from memory regarding the rest. I think I've already said above (or in the voluminous discussion elsewhere on this piece) that the list is partial. Before I could return to it, it Zoe had deleted the article. That's why the list is partial. Also, the language used varies from list to list. If you'd like to add or otherwise modify the list (I think "self-composure" is better, because it's more general), then feel free.
"Looking smart" and "luminosity of motion" are from Thompson, "of motion," because in that particular context Thompson was referring to movement (the work from which that information was taken being African Art in Motion in which, among other things, he comments on dance; however, he does also address "smoothness" in static art and clarity of form, as well. (In approaching this subject, one must be careful not to think in terms of only the static expressions, or plastic "art" in the Western sense, but of utilitarian art, which means it is, indeed, frequently in motion; it is danced -- like a mask, for example, or the dance itself. So, while a statue may be a still pose, certainly this would not be so in dance, or walking, or the process of sitting or standing. This subject, as the lead states, is also about comportment, human interaction, standards of beauty (in itself a complex thing encompasssing not just the physical), etc. What you're addressing is the fact that the list of attributes/concepts varies among authors somewhat in the way they are organized/grouped and named, which is to be expected. If you have a strong preference one way or the other, that's fine; I don't. The elements as listed aren't actually in conflict with one another. One more comment: the "of motion" can be omitted because, like "of the face," it is specific, rather than general. And the article really should go from the general to the specific. There's ample room to discuss the specific aspect of facial composure later on. Good looking out. deeceevoice 16:01, 27 April 2006 (UTC)


"Cool (aesthetic), an article expressly devoted to pop-culture "cool." (Deeceevoice)

The article is named "Cool (aesthetic)", not "Cool (pop culture)", that it is "expressly devoted to pop culture" is your interpretation only.

"I had looked at two or three sources, had only one in front of me, and was working pretty much from memory regarding the rest." (Deeceevoice)

I would like to have a look at the other lists you were looking at, especially the one you had in front of you when you wrote this passage, since it obviously wasn't the Vogel list. Can you provide the links please?

""Looking smart" and "luminosity of motion" are from Thompson, "of motion," because in that particular context Thompson was referring to movement (the work from which that information was taken being African Art in Motion in which, among other things, he comments on dance" Deeceevoice)

Exactly, Thompson is talking about elements of African dance, Vogel is talking about African sculptures - apples and oranges. They have one common denominator, along with Christian and Hindu Iconography (the latter also expressed in dance), namely the interpretation of religious and spiritual symbolism. But the displayed elements vary, and are expressed differently in dance or sculptures or masks. Also, the Orisha communities, for instance, display different spiritual values with different symbols and different elements than, lets say, members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, while the African Muslims do not manufacture these kind of sculptures or masks at all since icon-making is strictly forbidden in Islam.

That leads me to another question: The article states:

"certain standards of beauty in artistic expression and physical appearance, of propriety of comportment and demeanor are held in common among various indigenous African societies and are not exclusive to any one tribe or society"

Source: Adams, M. (1989) "African Visual Arts from an Art Historical Perspective" in African Studies Review

As far as I know, in this paper Adams analyzes "Sub-Saharan" art. Can I have an accessable source which supports the article's assertion? Thanks in advance. CoYep 02:20, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


Actually, you are incorrect. I know, because I wrote the lead-in to Cool (aesthetic): "Cool in popular culture [emphasis added] is an aesthetic of comportment, demeanor, motion, physical appearance and style." You will note that the disambiguation page for "Cool" also very clearly indicates the subject of the article: "Cool (aesthetic) an aesthetic with varied meanings in popular culture [emphasis added]." deeceevoice 06:34, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I didn't bookmark them, but if you Google "African aesthetic," there are listings of the various attributes. They are all pretty much similar, so it shouldn't be too difficult to come up with a list that reasonably includes all of them in some form or fashion -- if that's your aim. deeceevoice 06:14, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
So, what's your question regarding motion, then -- seriously? deeceevoice 06:14, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
The lead paragraph states very clearly that the African aesthetic is held in common across "various" peoples; it does not say it is a universal phenomenon across Africa. Finally, African masks are not "icons," per se. The applicable injunction here is against making a representation of the human form, since only God can make man. In Islam, such a practice is haram, or forbidden. Still, there is a considerable and varied body of art, across traditional African societies, from ancient times through to the present day -- granery doors, stools, masks, jewelry, house posts, sculpture, textiles, gold weights, etc. -- in which the human face and form are clearly in evidence. Many traditional African societies, despite being Muslim, still retain their indigenous cultural practices (other Muslims produce such art as purely an economic enterprise) -- and others have remained essentially animist, rather than Muslim. deeceevoice 06:59, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand your question. How do you see the passage from the article and Adams' emphasis on art of sub-Saharan Africa as being in conflict? deeceevoice 06:14, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


"Actually, you are incorrect. I know, because I wrote the lead-in to Cool (aesthetic): "Cool in popular culture [emphasis added] is an aesthetic of comportment, demeanor, motion, physical appearance and style." (Deeceevoice)

Because you wrote the lead-in to cool and because you decided that the article should only deal with cool in popular culture doesn't make it right or valid. As I said before, it's your POV interpretation.


"I didn't bookmark them, but if you Google "African aesthetic," there are listings of the various attributes. They are all pretty much similar, so it shouldn't be too difficult to come up with a list that reasonably includes all of them in some form or fashion" (Deeeceevoice)

So you can't tell what list you were looking at or where to find it or who wrote it?


The lead paragraph states very clearly that the African aesthetic is held in common across "various" peoples; it does not say it is a universal phenomenon across Africa. (deeeceevoice)

The lead paragraph doesn't state that this is NOT a universal phenomenon across Africa, it states the opposite, that it is not exclusive to any one tribe or society and that Collectively, these values and standards have been characterized as comprising a generally accepted African aesthetic.


"Finally, African masks are not "icons," per se" (Deeceevoice)

Africa is a land with many different tribes and many different customs. It consists of tiny villages and communities scattered amongst each other. Yet while these tribes all have different beliefs and ways of life, many believe in the wonderful and magical power of masks. African masks are the resting place for spirits of any kind. The appearance of the mask and the way it is made indicates what type of spirit resides in it. Masks are very highly respected because of this. There are many different types of spirits, like the harvest spirits, or the spirits of childbirth. Each spirit has a different value and some are more important than others.[Willet pg. 177] [6]

Faces of the Spirits -- Making the Spirits Visible [7]

In traditional Africa, masks were considered to be very crucial objects because they played the essential role of the spirits in the African belief system. The original intent in creating an African mask was to create it for a particular ceremony or societal ritual. Unlike the Western concept in which a mask is considered to be the means of "representing" a spirit, masks in traditional Africa were understood to be where a spirit is "created". In other words, when a person wears the mask along with a costume that conceals him from head to foot, the masked person actually "becomes" the figure whom the disguise is intended to represent, bringing it to life through his gestures, sounds, activities, and often his possessed state. Therefore, African masks are tangible beings transformed from the abstract concept of the spirits' images among African people. African masks are not seperable from African masquerades, which can be described as a process of the mask possessing a spirit. [8]

Masks are unique to each specific African society and their shape and accessories have special meanings for the different cultures. [9]

few of us stop to consider that African masks are far more than beautifully carved faces. Some were created to be worn during important rituals; most are regarded as powerful symbols of spirituality and the afterlife. [10]

If you have different informations and sources, feel free to share them here. CoYep 09:37, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Nope. Again, if the list isn't to your liking, then revise it. It isn't completely to my liking, either. Again, I was in a rush and didn't take the time to parse out the differences in terminology among the various sources and come up with a complete list. But that's the beauty of Wikipedia -- ongoing revision. I haven't touched it since our exchange began out of deference to you. Again, be my guest -- assuming your intention is to contribute substantively to the article. deeceevoice 11:03, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
One of the basic tenets of good writing is that it is affirmative -- meaning that it states what something is, rather than what it is not. The passage states that these values and standards "are held in common among various [emphasis added]] indigenous African societies" -- which clearly indicates not "all." If the lead is not sufficiently precise for your taste, then you are, of course, perfectly free to modify it. And because you are free to modify it, as with all article content (for the most part, anyway), if you choose not to modify it, then presumably it is acceptable to you. deeceevoice 10:56, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
I wrote the lead to Cool (aesthetic) quite some time ago, and it has remained through successive edits, because it states accurately and succinctly the nature of cool as a pop culture phenomenon, which is the commonly accepted subject of the article. Until the information from the now defunct "Cool (African philosophy)" was added after its illegal deletion, that is also what comprised the body of information presented in the article itself. Now that that erroneously inserted information has been removed, pop-culture cool is once again what is covered in the article. Again, this is echoed by the text disambiguation page -- which, incidentally, I did not write. (I checked the edit history. I did! Almost two months ago. :p The same with the article itself. If people disagreed, there has been ample time for people to change the wording. But they haven't. For an obvious reason: it fits.)
Uh-huh. And what's your point here, exactly? What are you trying to get at by simply reproducing paragraphs of text about the (rather well known) significance of masks? deeceevoice 10:56, 28 April 2006 (UTC)


"Again, I was in a rush and didn't take the time to parse out the differences in terminology among the various sources and come up with a complete list." (Deeceevoice)

Yes, editing an article for 2 years is indeed too short time to cover the basics. I wonder if an incorrect edit is better than none?


"The passage states that these values and standards "are held in common among various [emphasis added]] indigenous African societies" -- which clearly indicates not "all."" (Deeceevoice)

I see, and "not exclusive to any one tribe or society" and "Collectively" "generally accepted values and standards" means what?


"It states accurately and succinctly the nature of cool as a pop culture phenomenon, which is the commonly accepted subject of the article" (Deeceevoice)

Commonly accepted by whom?


There has been ample time for people to change the wording. But they haven't. For an obvious reason: it fits.)Deeceevioce)

Yes, that may be. Or, it may be that all edits by other editors, among them the attempts to broaden the definition of "cool", were removed by one certain editor since day one. For instance "revised to reflect slang usage only" [11], or deleted as "unnecessary and isn't related to "cool" in this article" [12], and reverted because one certain editor felt that "This article is about "cool" in the vernacular, pop culture sense -- nothing else" [13], and that it's "Not applicable to the cool aesthetic" [14] and that it "Possibly belongs on disambig page, but read the definition of cool. This doesn't at all fit the opening framework of this article" [15] and "deleted, because as "Cool (aesthetic)" is defined, there is no connection" [16]. And we don't want to talk about the amok run the other week ... do you have an idea who that editor is?


"What are you trying to get at by simply reproducing paragraphs of text about the (rather well known) significance of masks?" (Deecceevioce)

I just thought it might be helpful to provide some informations since this "rather well known) significance of masks" slipped of your memory a few paragraphs above.


Back to topic: It is impossible to separate the anthropology of African religion from the aspects of African aesthetics per Vogel or Thompson. Unless, of course, you drop Vogel and Thompson in favor of Welsh Asante's africentric approach. But then, Welsh Asante has made up her very own set of African aesthetic elements, unfortunately, without the concept of "mystic coolness", which should, according to your opinion, be the foundation for your articles. By the way, do you remember where the concept of "mystic coolness" has it's origins? CoYep 10:57, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Actually, no. To say the subject "slipped of [my] memory [sic] a few paragraphs above" is a complete misinterpretation/mischaracterization of my comments. To say that masks are not icons, per se, is not to say they do not have spiritual significance or that they do not, in many cases, represent spirits. The spiritual and religious significance of masks in African art and life is widely recognized/known, but my statement is correct. They are, indeed, not icons in the traditional, European sense of the term; people do not pray before them or offer up prayers to them. My point was that the specific Islamic stricture against masks and figural sculpture is related to the notion that it is haram to produce representations of the human form, as only God can make man. That is all. deeceevoice 13:17, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
And precisely. That is why I have urged you not to think of "aesthetics" in simply the context of plastic art (which is what you seemed to be doing in your comment about the static poses of traditional sculpture and the notion of "art in motion," or performance art) and why it extends to human interaction and comportment, physical movement, concepts of propriety and beauty, etc. Further, the goal of this article is to examine the "African aesthetic" in its complexity and totality. Here, it is removed from Thompson's overarching rubric of "cool" and its component parts as Thompson has grouped them (as well as others), examined as independent elements, with composure (and "cool") as one of those constituents. As a consequence, I believe this piece is more aptly named and probably less confusing than using Thompson's original rubric of "cool" -- which he seems to have altered somewhat (this speaks to grouping and organization of the constituent elements, but no change in the nature of the elements themselves) in subsequent years. deeceevoice 13:23, 30 April 2006 (UTC)
I'm still waiting for a response with regard to: "I don't understand your question. How do you see the passage from the article and Adams' emphasis on art of sub-Saharan Africa as being in conflict?" Or, have I answered your question? deeceevoice 13:17, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

You win[edit]

I've been threatened with blocking if I edit this page, so you win, I'll keep away from it, even though it is an egregious violation of Wikipedia policy. User:Zoe|(talk) 23:23, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Please. "I've been threatened with blocking if I edit this page" is not accurate. I said that if you kept edit warring over tags while not discussing them, then I would block you when you cross 3RR. It's right here; you can read it. I have invited and entreated you to edit the page amid discussion. I repeat: Zoe, please help make this page better. Please do it by making a specific, actionable suggestion, then another, then another. Throwing tags on a page that other editors don't see the need for, and then refusing to say what the need is, just gesturing contemptuously towards the backlog, is immature and unproductive behavior. Why not be helpful? I'm confident you could improve the article considerably if you wanted to; show us. -GTBacchus(talk) 23:54, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

"You win." Interesting. Looks like someone sees this as a contest? A pissing match? And "it is an egregious violation of Wikipedia policy"? You must be referring to your reversion and then protection of that version of that same article Cool (aesthetic). Or, maybe "it" is the precipitous deletion of the text of "Cool (African aesthetic)" and its botched redirect. Possily "it" is your deletion of this article without going through proper channels? (Just trying to keep track.) deeceevoice 03:20, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

You two should go out on a date. Like peas in a pod. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:38, 29 April 2006 (UTC) I'm sorry, that was unhelpful. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:17, 29 April 2006 (UTC)

(chuckling) I know I shouldn't have (bad!) -- but I couldn't didn't resist. :p deeceevoice 00:17, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Please "resist" making uncivil remarks and personal attacks, deeceevoice. GTBacchus, remember to have a neutral policy with editors. You've threatened Zoe with a block, don't forget to speak to Deeceevoice (who is on probation for, among other reasons, being extraordinarily uncivil to Zoe "What? U want me 2 hold your little, white hand and sing Kumbaya"? What the hell kinda comment is that?[17] etc). Justforasecond 01:17, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

JFAS, give it a rest. A simple recap of Zoe's actions in the matters addressed above is hardly uncivil. And your endless campaigning against me is beyond tiresome and long ago reached the point of harassment. Watch yourself. deeceevoice 03:20, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Sources[edit]

The Sublime Dance of Mende Politics: An African Aesthetic of Charismatic Power by William P. Murphy American Ethnologist November 1998, Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 563-582

In this ethnography of politics, the theory of the sublime is used to clarify the aesthetics of power among the Mende of Sierra Leone. A key formal dimension of this aesthetics is the dialectic of extraordinary visible effects caused by powerful hidden means, which is analyzed through the cultural analogy of dance and politics. This dialectic is also shown to link the aesthetics of the sublime with the politics of charisma as expressing similar logics of expressive power. Aesthetics is treated as an ethnographic heuristic for understanding political power and agency. The Mende political sublime raises broader questions for social theory about the relationship between aesthetics and agency as modeled by the opposition in aesthetic theory between beauty and the sublime. It also addresses the implications of this aesthetic opposition for the typology of agency found in the period ization of premodern, modern, and postmodern social conditions, [the sublime versus beauty, aesthetics of power, charisma, West African political culture, premodern versus postmodern agency]

Africa By Mary Roberts

Summary

Linking concepts:

  • Words for beauty and goodness often intersect, as Susan Vogel has noted among the Baule peoples of Côte d'Ivoire and others have discerned among the Lega and Songye of the Congo and the Igbo, Edo, and Ibibio of Nigeria, among others.
  • External perfection and internal moral excellence are linked
  • Physical perfection and ideal social order, also linked.
  • For many African cultures, how an object looks is related to the way it works, according to strict aesthetic specifications, for protection, healing, communication, mediation, or empowerment.

Terms(All these terms imply a power-knowledge relationship):

  • For Bantu-speaking peoples of central, eastern, and southern Africa, a power called nkisi is manifest in sculpture and other expression
  • For Mande-speaking peoples of western Africa, secret and instrumental knowledge is called nyama.
  • For African Muslim mystics, baraka is a blessing energy emanating from saintly tombs, written and spoken verses, and visual forms.

Occult knowledge(These can be highly esoteric and understood only by the initiated):

  • As is true for many other African philosophies, Yoruba aesthetics also privilege knowledge that is allusive, indirect, and enigmatic, through: Patterns in textiles, designs on ceramics, houses, and sculpture, graphic inscriptions on walls, masks, and the body, and verbal arts such as proverbs, epics, and songs.
  • Geometric patterns on Bamana bogolanfini textiles from Mali encode women's herbal medicinal recipes.
  • In other cases, patterns connote resistance, as did the surreptitious painting of African National Congress colors on homes by southern African women during apartheid.

Another characteristic of many African aesthetic systems is that objects, narratives, songs, and performances are interpreted by audiences in many different ways through intentional semantic variability.

  • Among Luba peoples of the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, thrones and staffs embody beauty and royal authority but are also mnemonic devices stimulating the making of history.
  • The process of making art is often more valuable than the final products, and such dynamism is the essence of aesthetic experience.
  • Objects may have ephemeral usage before being destroyed or progressing to the next phases in layered histories.
  • An anti-aesthetic is also common, as in certain satirical masquerades among the Mende of Sierra Leone and the beauty-beast performances of the Igbo and Ibibio of Nigeria.

Recent study of African aesthetics includes two critically important thrusts:

  • popular urban arts
  • diasporic art forms of the black Atlantic, and an Indian Ocean world linking eastern Africa with South Asia

As Karin Barber notes, African popular arts fall between the cracks of "traditional" and "elite" or "modern" art. The hybridized forms of Africa's dynamic popular urban arts reflect not only constant absorption of ideas from the outside but also long-standing adaptive processes through which Africans have always been innovative players in world forums.

futurebird 17:26, 20 February 2007 (UTC)