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When does a creative work become timeless? This thought came to me as I listened to the performances at the Alaska International Piano-e-Competition 2018. All of the competitors were spectacular. My preference, and third overall, was Su Yeon Kim of South Korea. Her performance of Rachaninoff for the finals round is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn-UXp8_F8U&t=597s The piece actually starts about seven minutes into the video.

Although a piano competition prompted the question, the thought can be applied to any product of the human mind. What lifts a work out of its own time and culture and allows it to speak to everyone at all times? The Mona Lisa? Michelangelo’s David? Basho’s haiku?

For philosophers, the examples are more difficult to find, because they require the examination of individual works. Spinoza’s Ethics, which I have never read, probably comes close. The works of some philosophers would need an almost paragraph-by-paragraph review. Still, beneath the dross there is gold.

What makes human effort timeless?

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    I don't know if this is exactly what you are looking for or not. Bergson's influence on Proust and Elliot. bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/… – Gordon Jun 1 '18 at 20:22
  • Is there anything timeless in the history? There could be ancient people who were masterful but got forgotten. And we don't know if legacy of those people whose impact considered timeless really won't vanish... – rus9384 Jun 1 '18 at 20:30
  • On Bergson's Duration: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duration_(philosophy) – Gordon Jun 1 '18 at 20:35
  • Let me see if I can put this better. There is a reason we have this use "timeless", because great art, for instance, can raise us up above the mundane while we are still in time. Timeless. And I think Ficte may be suggestive here too. Daydreaming does this too. Humans who can help us transcend like this we admire them. With some people, nature brings this about. – Gordon Jun 1 '18 at 20:55
  • The nature of artistic value is controversial, but there were "canons" of desirable features developed within specific arts striving for Kantian "objectivity and universality". But... "genius" can hardly be canonized, it is supposed to go above and beyond canons. And it is doubtful that Spinoza’s Ethics "speaks to everyone at all times", or for that matter masterpieces of Western art do, without shared cultural heritage they do not speak at all. So the answer is probably "nothing", but one can still find artistic traits with cross-cultural appeal. – Conifold Jun 1 '18 at 22:42
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Although a piano competition prompted the question, the thought can be applied to any product of the human mind. What lifts a work out of its own time and culture and allows it to speak to everyone at all times? The Mona Lisa? Michelangelo’s David? Basho’s haiku?

A very interesting and useful question, but I will just limit myself to this part of it.

I am curious as to whether it is actually true that, say, the Mona Lisa and Rachmaninoff's Third are globally appreciated. My hunch, based on dealing with many people as part of my work on a day-to-day basis is, that if in need, the canvas of the Mona Lisa would be used as toilet paper, and if the radio was playing Rach, another channel would be selected.

I think that there is certainly a subset of "cultured" people for whom there are timeless expressions of beauty, but I would suspect that the majority of folks couldn't care less.

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