Saturday, 23 October 2010

Paul Bailey and the theory of art

Fantasy Bob has heard that during the glittering social affair that was the East of Scotland Cricket Association dinner, eminent cricket administrator and Holy Cross batter Paul Bailey was moved to comment on FB's legendary match reports as published on the Carlton website.  This is all very flattering.  However FB has been led to believe that Mr Bailey has suggested that he sometimes comes to the end of these reports without realising who had won the game being described.

FB takes this concern seriously and would like to assist Mr Bailey's approach to the interpretation of his work.  In the first place he is significantly impressed that any reader should stumble to the end of these reports.  He thought most readers would sensibly give up when the joke about the toss being narrowly lost came round yet again.  But, more importantly, FB is concerned about such literal mindedness in the approach of such an eminent classical scholar.

Mr Bailey will need no reminding of Aristotle's theory that art should imitate nature (or life as some versions have it).  This is close to FB's own philosophy that life should imitate art.  His match reports are clearly works of art and it is up to the players in each game to act accordingly.   Some do this more successfully than others.  Just as in life we do not know how things will end, so it is with great works of art like FB's reports.

But Aristotle's aesthetics are a little limiting and do not deal adequately with more contemporary concepts of abstraction or individuated interpretation.  It is probably the newness of these approaches and FB's overt modernism that the classically educated Mr Bailey is stumbling on.  Aesthetic theory here allows the reader, the audience, the viewer to make his or her own meaning.  The thought that the writer had anything by way of meaning in mind is irrelevant.  Readers will rapidly recognise how accurately this applies to Fantasy Bob's work.  There is clearly nothing in his mind at any time.  Indeed this quality equally applies to his bowling and batting.  So on these theories, the result is what the reader takes it to be.  But there are clues - the scores are generally given in a box above the text, alongside which there a big W or L.

I trust this assists Mr Bailey and adequately prepares him for next season's intellectual labour.

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