The clockwork muse : the predictability of artistic change /
Colin Martindale.
New York : Basic Books, c1990.
xiv, 411 p. : ill.
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New York : Basic Books, c1990.
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Appeared in Library Journal on 1990-11-15:
In this book Martindale (psychology, Univ. of Maine) develops an evolutionary theory of aesthetic history based upon computer analyses and quantitative experiments with human subjects. He compares his abstract evolutionary theory with theories in pure science, arguing that demand for novelty gained with the least effort drives art history in an orderly and predictable fashion. He outlines his theory in the first two chapters and spends the remainder of the book describing his experimental proofs. Martindale states that his theory is objective and based on a deterministic view of reality--an assertion at odds with contemporary chaos theory and gender or ethnic criticism. Martindale insists that such approaches are philosophy, not science, but his experimental samples are predominantly white, Western, and male. Recommended only for libraries serving subject specialists.-- Lucy Patrick, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1990-08-17:
Martindale contends that the quest for novelty is the engine driving artistic and literary creation. He also believes ``art tends to evolve in a social vacuum. . . . With a few exceptions, poetry has always been written for other poets. Painters really paint for each other.'' Applying computerized content analysis to everything from Chaucer to French poetry, Gothic architecture, classical music and Egyptian painting, this University of Maine psychology professor attempts to prove his evolutionary theory to the effect that the ``artistic muse'' operates like clockwork, with trends in aesthetic styles occurring in extremely regular, periodic fashion. His massive number-crunching yields paltry insights. But students of Harold Bloom's literary theories may find this hermetic approach of interest for its discussion of ``arousal potential'' and ``primordial content'' in creative works. (Oct.)
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, August 1990
Library Journal, November 1990
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