Marshall Ingwerson

1 karmaJoined Feb 2022


This is a great framework, and it clearly is incredibly productive based on your engaging output. But I sometimes feel as though you move too fast through what you reference in footnote 2 here – criteria.  So for example your discussion recently about whether our times can still produce  Beethoven-level artistic achievement sent me off wondering about what one would want to measure in answering that question. My own not-too-formed examples might look  like this:

  1. Expressive power: How deeply does it resonate and how widely does it resonate – across different people and through different times? Shakespeare still resonates through the thick barrier of his complex and archaic language because it nails so many points of human experience so profoundly.   Ditto Beethoven.  No idea how to measure this one, but there are probably clever ways.
  2. Craft: How admired is this work by other people who are really good at what this artist is doing? Those who know how hard the achievement was to do.
  3. Door opening: How much have others built on innovations made by an artist or a work?

So, Pet Sounds? I think it's getting cred on 2 and 3, but on 1? Hey, I like The Beach Boys, but mainly it's nostalgia for how they captured a certain California dream at a certain cultural moment. Will our great grand children be moved? Hmm. 

So these may not be great or well-articulated criteria, but my point is that zeroing in on the criteria deserves a fair amount of focus.

One more thought about the above: The possibilities for craft and innovation have multiplied a hundredfold across all the arts. People still write plays for the stage, compose music for orchestras, paint on canvas, and write novels for ink and paper. But the forms and platforms beyond those are endlessly rich and layered. The scale has changed by orders of magnitude. But on the level of human perspicacity and insight, the scale has not changed. If anyone writing today is more perceptive and articulate than Shakespeare, or Tolstoy, then they need a better agent. 

So it may appear like I'm responded to the wrong post, but this criteria point seems critical to me. Not that you've ignored it, but that it is even more central to most of the questions you plumb than you have made it.