How am I supposed to reconcile this with the way I function in the artistic field? I'll give an example - aesthetics. Beauty is a central concept in the arts, at certain times even prized higher than values like truth and goodness. Here's an imaginary scenario of myself in a conversation with someone else upon graduation out of this academic institution...
(looking at an abstract form in marble in a sculpture exhibition)
Friend: This is beautiful...
Me: Why do you think so?
Me: As in justify your statement, why is it beautiful?
Friend (hesitatingly, for now his
Me: Let's work this out one by one. How does black marble make it beautiful? How does the colour itself and material itself trigger your aesthetic nerves?
Friend: It just comes together. Marble, polished with such meticulous care, painted in black, would result in such a beautiful effect.
Me: So it's the shiny surface of marble. What if he had used glass or a form of well-polished metal for it? Wouldn't it achieve the same effect?
And so the conversation can go on and on, questioning each individual quality in the sculpture, to the way they interact and even on to our perception of beauty, the way we perceive it. (One might argue that aesthetics is such subjective issue that it shouldn't be subject to any justification or any form of rules or trend in the first place, how about issues like capital punishment, euthanasia etc? Aren't there so many perspectives and controversies around these issues? Despite that, they're still being brought up for discussion in such a systematic scientific way.)
How destructive such learning concepts are to the appreciation of artistic objects and forms. And here, in this renowned institution, such skills (based on these concepts) are honed until they're second nature to the student! The picture now. This institution, or rather most academic institutions locally, instil this raging desire to question, research, reason and justify in order to learn. All to the point that without an answer, they wouldn't be satisfied. No satisfaction without an answer. The students are pushed until they can see the inner workings and mechanisms of it all. Going far too fast. How can one fully appreciate and learn about an artistic work and form in such a manner? Can one learn about an artistic work after taking it apart into its smallest components like the way a technician learns?
I'll end off here with a passage by "Speaking of Beauty" by Denis Donoghue.
In "The Artist of the Beautiful" (1844) Hawthorne tells of Owen Warland, a young man who works as a watch-repairer but who lives his true life in search of the beautiful. He is gifted with a acute sense of the delicate and minute. Mind and hand are turned towards the exquisite. Owen thinks of his work as a tribute to Annie Hovenden, whom he loves and regards as his ideal companion, best recipient of the beautiful. For her, he makes a metal butterfly that perches on one's hand, flies off, and returns. It is a work of extraordinary refinement. But Annie marries Robert Danforth, the local blacksmith, a man of iron, and they have a child who resembles his father in that respect. Peter Hovenden, was once a watchmaker and Owen's master, but he is now retired. He is a materialist and despises Owen's yearning for the exquisite. (...) The implied narrator is on Owen's side, because he believes that the "deeds of the earth, however ethereralized by by piety or genius, are without value, except as exercises and manifestations of the spirit." After many tribulations and lapses during which he ceases "to be an inhabitant of the better sphere that lies unseen around us," he succeeds in making the butterfly, giving it his own life. One evening he shows it to Annie, Robert, their child, and Peter:
Annie thinks it beautiful and wants to know if it is alive. Robert laughs at it. Peter wants only to see how it works. The child grabs it. In a few moments, meeting those roughness and vulgarities, the butterfly loses its beauty and dies...
Nature's ideal butterfly was here realized in all its perfection, not in the pattern of such faded insects as flit among earthly flowers, but of those which hover across the meads of paradise for child-angels and the spirits of departed infants to disport themselves with. The rich down was visible upon its wings; the luster of its eyes seemed instinct with spirit, the firelight glimmered around this wonder - the candles gleamed around it; but it glistened apparently by its own radiance, and illuminated the finger and outstretched hand on which it rested with a white gleam like that of precious stones. In its perfect beauty, the consideration of size was entirely lost. Had its wings overreached the firmament, the mind could not have been more filled or satisfied.