HALE, Christopher John

MMusPerf University of Melbourne 2011 Pages: 40

Not skilled, but divine : Plato's Ion and the surrender of the human element in music performance

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Link to Thesis: http://repository.unimelb.edu.au/10187/10769

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Is the human element of music sacrificed for the idea of ‘divine inspiration’? What are the reasons for and implications of Ion’s surrender of his own creative agency in his performance, and of surrendering the human element of music making to the concept of a divine or supernatural source?
The Ion dialogue of Plato poses a challenging question to artists: are they worthy of being moral teachers, do they “know what they are talking about?” (Plato 1987, 39). Socrates interrogates the rhapsode Ion about the skill, the techné, of his performance, and after catching him in outrageous claims to knowledge and expertise he does not have, decides that he is “not skilled, but divine” (1987, 65) and can perform only in a state of divine inspiration and madness. Ion accepts this appraisal of his art after some protest, and then only as a more favourable alternative to being thought dishonest. In doing so Ion surrenders ‘ownership’ of his abilities and accepts that he is only able to perform if possessed by a supernatural force. ...

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