This is much more pared down since I think you and I are actually coming to a point of near absolute agreement. But hopefully I didn't truncate your post too much (I read it all and kept finding myself nodding in agreement) and there's still something of interest to discuss.
Merridian wrote:I’ll admit that total subjective comparison is entirely useless when it comes to debating this sort of thing. But I still insist that a level of personal bias leaks through into how much praise someone gives a work of art—especially when the things being debated/compared are already on a common standing ground in terms of technical and thematic depth.
Sure they do. But have you ever really pondered about whether such "objective" standards are really objective and not merely a mass collection of subjective ones that a lot of people just happened to agree on? Does Citizen Kane REALLY have great cinematography or do a lot of people simply think so and thus it becomes a kind of standard? Then again, one certainly doesn't have to limit that to art; you can stretch it to morality, for example.
Merridian wrote:I think a more appropriate assertion would be that canon has simply been fragmented into some kind of hyper-canon—which, from my perspective, means that it’s still up to the individual to decide which works are more important to his/herself.
Well, if we're talking about "last 20 years" recent then we can't really talk about canon but can only predict future canon. Since canon is something that's formed over time, picking it in the present is incredibly hard, because opinions on aesthetics change with the generations and what lasts is generally what gets canonized. It's a bit like planting trees to weather the storm of time; the ones that bend and don't break are the ones you want to tie your trailer to when the hurricane comes.
A good example is if you look it Theyshootpictures top 250 films list and then their 21st century 250 films list; the latter is littered with films that I think range from really mediocre to crappy (to their credit, the top 30 is pretty solid) and will definitely fade away over the years, the former is pretty rock solid and doesn't change much except for slight variations, while the latter can change drastically each time they do it. In a way, it's a bit like looking a variance graph; the shorter the sample amount the more wavy the lines are going to be, the greater the example the more they tend towards expectation and tend to look steady.
Merridian wrote:Maybe the content has been scaled back to make a broader appeal, but the techniques have certainly made it into the mainstream.
And that's typically a product of the creators who tend to be nerds of their mediums who dig through the past and appropriate whatever techniques/devices they find useful. My point was more about the general audience being aware of these things. You wonder just how many people have seen shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, etc. and have never seen Monty Python.
Merridian wrote:there’s still that stigma attached to the monthlies, just as there’s still a stigma attached to current anime.
Well, my point was more that these works are opening up a general public to accepting that masterpieces can actually be made in these force. Logic follows that if some are made at all, then more will be. It only takes a ripple of a few people falling in love with something like Watchmen and then deciding to dig a bit deeper before you have a much larger number of people than normal getting into comics. Of course the monthlies will probably always stay on a level similar to soap operas for kids and nerds because, well, that's generally what they're aimed at.
Merridian wrote:just as Kino’s Journey, Ghost in the Shell S.A.C., and Texnohlyze all received impressive write-ups on sites and in magazines largely unrelated to anime.
I'd actually like to read some of these if you have any links. I always like reading reviews about relatively niche works from places that don't focus on those things.
Merridian wrote:I know what you mean. As far as I’m concerned, unless the artist published his/her notes or commentary on their own piece, the artist can’t expect the interpreter to get every little nuance of their work.
That, plus you also have to consider there's a great amount of unconscious, intuitive creation that goes into art. Artists rarely consciously grasp 100% of what they're saying and how they're saying it (much like people in real life). Then there's works like Paradise Lost which, let's face it, probably wouldn't have nearly the level of scholarly study devoted to it without the very unintended-by-Milton interpretation of Satan as the tragically heroic figure or, as Blake said of him "he was of the Devil's party without knowing it."
Merridian wrote:I came into contact with a clique of these crazies every day on campus last semester, and they were every bit as unjustified in their beliefs as they were unwilling to accept someone else's opinion.
The thing is that THESE are actually the kind of pretentious elitists that you can still find in the world (that term often gets tossed at anyone who genuinely likes art as anything beyond superficial entertainment) and they're also likely very easy to destroy in debate. They're the kinds that are playing a role out of arrogance and to inflate their ego than out of genuine love and knowledge. I guess I've been lucky in meeting so many genuine aesthetes online that don't fit that description and actually have a broad range of tastes that cross the boundaries of high-art, low-art, canon, non-canon and everywhere in between.
Merridian wrote:I was abruptly called out as being "one of those art faggots that hates what normal people listen to". Sad part is that I don't even criticize what someone else likes; just mentioning experimental anything is enough to get some people flustered. People are touchy, and I've just learned to stay vague about my interests.
It's a shame you've had to put up with people like that; I count myself lucky I haven't encountered them online or in real life. I think most people who ask about my interests quickly find I'm pretty damn omnivorous when it comes to the arts. Chances are I love something they love and am able to introduce to them 20 things they'll probably love because of it.
Merridian wrote:I’d summarize what I’m trying to say right here: Evangelion is fighting a number of factors when it comes to inclusion within ‘artistic canon’.
And I guess I really agree. Perhaps it's those things even more than what I initially railed about in my OP (about fans keeping in the family and downplaying its artfulness) that scare me about NGE's posterity. Social change can be a very slow thing even when the change is urgent (civil rights), so I really worry about something where people aren't even aware that things DO need to change.
Slightly OT, but I do have two life-long ambitions I want to eventually accomplish with NGE; one is to do a series-long audio commentary and two is to write and hopefully publish an as-comprehensive-as-possible scholarly-like study on the series. I really think the later is one thing that could really boost NGE's standing among the types who have the most to do with getting works canonized. And there's certainly enough of interest in NGE to publish several volumes worth since there's so damn much to cover. It would be a monumental task and I'd certainly have to have help. But... hopefully. :)