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Greatness?

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    I thought I'd start a debate just before I pop off to bed. I was in the bath this morning and I thought "What defines greatness (or indeed genius)?"

    Why do we read Shakespeare and say he is a "great" writer and not when we read Carol Ann Duffy? (no offence to any of her fans.)

    Why is Mozart often said to be the greatest composer to ever live and why is he more highly rated than, let's say, Britten?

    What is it, in your opinion, that makes something a great work or a work of genius rather than simply good?

    Greatnight,

    Adam
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    (Original post by englishstudent)
    I thought I'd start a debate just before I pop off to bed. I was in the bath this morning and I thought "What defines greatness (or indeed genius)?"

    Why do we read Shakespeare and say he is a "great" writer and not when we read Carol Ann Duffy? (no offence to any of her fans.)

    Why is Mozart often said to be the greatest composer to ever live and why is he more highly rated than, let's say, Britten?

    What is it, in your opinion, that makes something a great work or a work of genius rather than simply good?

    Greatnight,

    Adam
    Better PR?

    Actually, I mean this in all seriousness. *tries to look serious*

    I doubt if most people could give any reason, or see any difference, between that which we are told is good, and that which we are told is great. Afterall, most Mozart stuff sounds the same and some plays penned by the Bard stink (in fact, all the comedies.)

    But we all know that one person is 'greater' than the other.
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    [QUOTE=platinumki] most Mozart stuff sounds the same and some plays penned by the Bard stink (in fact, all the comedies.)QUOTE]

    Not true!
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    I agree!!!

    Hi Kate it's me!
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    Probably the general enjoyment of the persons talents e.g Michael Jacksons music is more appreciated than say S Club 7 or any other (below ) average group, so we can say he is better or greater than them. If we call somebody great then they are one of the greatest, I think?
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    One element of greatness is "speaking for all times". Shakespeare's greatness- compared with his contemporaries- was only recognised or created later. There are poets, composers, novelists, artists who were greatly admired when they lived who are forgotten by everyone but dedicated historians- most of them gave their age what their age wanted. It turned out nobody else wanted it though. It's a reason for not saying our contemporaries are great, no matter how good they seem. We are too close to judge properly.
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    (Original post by platinumki)
    Better PR?

    most Mozart stuff sounds the same and some plays penned by the Bard stink (in fact, all the comedies.)
    Believe me, Mozart stuff sounds the same just like all Chinese look the same to us. It's only by a less superficial knowledge that you start to discriminate, and appreciate differences.

    I can't say much about Shakespeare though (i don't know it well enough). I agree that some of it is very boring for the non-specialist (for me, however, never as boring as the Quran)
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    One element of greatness is "speaking for all times". Shakespeare's greatness- compared with his contemporaries- was only recognised or created later. There are poets, composers, novelists, artists who were greatly admired when they lived who are forgotten by everyone but dedicated historians- most of them gave their age what their age wanted. It turned out nobody else wanted it though. It's a reason for not sayiong our contemporaries are great, no matter how good they seem. We are too close to judge properly.
    Yes, but surely there must be some inate and objective greatness in Shakespeare. He was appreciated by his contemporaries.

    Something lasts because it is great, it isn't great because it lasts. So if someone came along and wrote a work as "great" as Shakespeare's best work, we couldn't be too close to judge could we?
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    (Original post by platinumki)
    Better PR?
    some plays penned by the Bard stink (in fact, all the comedies.)
    As well as the comment about Mozart, I disagree with your statment about Shakespeare. I saw 'Twelfth Night' in Stratford and it was the most hilarious play I've ever seen - it had everyone in stitches, even the teachers! Definitely a truly great play and performance.
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    Cultural conditioning?
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    (Original post by englishstudent)
    Yes, but surely there must be some inate and objective greatness in Shakespeare.
    That is why he lasted better than his contemporaries.
    He was appreciated by his contemporaries.
    So were many others, half-forgotten now: Beaumont and Fletcher, Chapman, Dekker... Others remembered for only a few works: Jonson, Middleton, Tourneur...

    Something lasts because it is great, it isn't great because it lasts. So if someone came along and wrote a work as "great" as Shakespeare's best work, we couldn't be too close to judge could we?
    Perhaps not: but if we thought someone was as great as Shakespeare, later generations might wonder what we were talking about. Artists may be unjustly forgotten; not many are unjustly remembered.
    Reputations vary strangely. Many people today think John Donne is one of the greatest poets in English: a hundred years ago, he was thought of as an interesting eccentric. Dryden- another fine poet- thought Shakespeare needed drastic rewriting.
    In the eighteenth century Dr Burney founded the Academie of ancient Music to ensure minor but interesting composers like J S Bach weren't completely forgotten. In the nineteenth century many people thought the greatest composer ever was Mendelssohn, and Arthur Sullivan was nearly as good.
    GF Watts was "the Michelangelo of England", Landseer far surpassed Turner.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    That is why he lasted better than his contemporaries.So were many others, half-forgotten now: Beaumont and Fletcher, Chapman, Dekker... Others remembered for only a few works: Jonson, Middleton, Tourneur...

    Perhaps not: but if we thought someone was as great as Shakespeare, later generations might wonder what we were talking about. Artists may be unjustly forgotten; not many are unjustly remembered.
    Reputations vary strangely. Many people today think John Donne is one of the greatest poets in English: a hundred years ago, he was thought of as an interesting eccentric. Dryden- another fine poet- thought Shakespeare needed drastic rewriting.
    In the eighteenth century Dr Burney founded the Academie of ancient Music to ensure minor but interesting composers like J S Bach weren't completely forgotten. In the nineteenth century many people thought the greatest composer ever was Mendelssohn, and Arthur Sullivan was nearly as good.
    GF Watts was "the Michelangelo of England", Landseer far surpassed Turner.
    In the 22nd Century someone might quote you, and remark "this strange guy seemed to deny that Mendelssohn is the greatest composer ever, and Arthur Sullivan nearly as good"
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    That is why he lasted better than his contemporaries.So were many others, half-forgotten now: Beaumont and Fletcher, Chapman, Dekker... Others remembered for only a few works: Jonson, Middleton, Tourneur...

    Perhaps not: but if we thought someone was as great as Shakespeare, later generations might wonder what we were talking about. Artists may be unjustly forgotten; not many are unjustly remembered.
    Reputations vary strangely. Many people today think John Donne is one of the greatest poets in English: a hundred years ago, he was thought of as an interesting eccentric. Dryden- another fine poet- thought Shakespeare needed drastic rewriting.
    In the eighteenth century Dr Burney founded the Academie of ancient Music to ensure minor but interesting composers like J S Bach weren't completely forgotten. In the nineteenth century many people thought the greatest composer ever was Mendelssohn, and Arthur Sullivan was nearly as good.
    GF Watts was "the Michelangelo of England", Landseer far surpassed Turner.
    Interesting. So you're essentially saying there is no such thing as objective greatness and that time will tell?

    I think perhaps you're right. It's an interesting question.
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    (Original post by englishstudent)
    Interesting. So you're essentially saying there is no such thing as objective greatness and that time will tell?

    I think perhaps you're right. It's an interesting question.
    The two go together "Shakespeare is for all time." The fact that he has been admired in many different times [ and across cultures] is pretty good evidence for greatness.
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    God is the greatest. People who have the same attributes as God are also great. Sufism is to assume the previous statement, as ibn 'Arabi once said. All Sufi masters are great people. This is my unimposing belief. The voice is coming, soon. Corruption will end for a while and all will be well. All praise to God, the Lord of the universe. The most beneficent, the most merciful. Sovereign of the day of judgment.
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    (Original post by 786)
    God is the greatest. People who have the same attributes as God are also great. Sufism is to assume the previous statement, as ibn 'Arabi once said. All Sufi masters are great people. This is my unimposing belief. The voice is coming, soon. Corruption will end for a while and all will be well. All praise to God, the Lord of the universe. The most beneficent, the most merciful. Sovereign of the day of judgment.
    How do you know this?
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    (Original post by 786)
    God is the greatest. People who have the same attributes as God are also great. Sufism is to assume the previous statement, as ibn 'Arabi once said. All Sufi masters are great people. This is my unimposing belief. The voice is coming, soon. Corruption will end for a while and all will be well. All praise to God, the Lord of the universe. The most beneficent, the most merciful. Sovereign of the day of judgment.
    Shut up. I made this thread and I don't want it hijacked by people reciting their indoctrinated beliefs at us.
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    (Original post by 786)
    God is the greatest.
    Examining god's creation from an aesthetic point of view, you are obviusly mistaken. Look at god's works: enormous, sprawling, vulgar, more over-the-top than a film directed by Cecil B deMille and Russ Meyer in collaboration, starring Bette Davis and Orson Welles, with music by Gustav Mahler performed by Queen, sung by Elton John and Madonna, sets by Salvador Dali, putdoor design by Turner, decor by Paul Delvaux. Even this impossible monstrosity is restrained and aesthetically moral compared with the productions of God Inc.
    People who have the same attributes as God are also great.
    People who have the same attributes as god are locked up for life in maximum security psychiatric hospitals.
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    The vision with which you see is veiled, if you cannot see God. However there are people whose vision is not veiled and they can see God everywhere. If you accept this statement then you must agree God exists. Unless you claim that they are lying. In which case we will just have to agree to disagree. "You are in love with me, I shall make you perplexed".
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    (Original post by 786)
    The vision with which you see is veiled, if you cannot see God.
    What colour and shape is god, if you can see him?
    However there are people whose vision is not veiled and they can see God everywhere. If you accept this statement then you must agree God exists. Unless you claim that they are lying.
    It is perfectly possible for people to be mistaken without lying. They may be suffering from optical illusions, mental or physical illnesses, wishful thinking...There is a famous story, The Emperor's New Clothes, about how peolpe see what they expect and want to see.
    "You are in love with me, I shall make you perplexed".
    You are mistaken You're not my type at all.
Updated: November 4, 2004
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