The other important things f64 did was provide a great way to teach photographic principles and "measure" the results of exercises. f64 principles gave hobbyists a way to compare work, compete in a friendly manner (who is best at his craft?), and it made a market for magic bullets that could get "us" closer to that f64 standard.
Pictorial work in contrast uses more abstract concepts. One of the big problems that the soft focus world faced, for example, was that amateurs had a tough time getting good results because focussing was an artistic endeavor rather than a technical one. It's pretty easy to judge sharp, it's much tougher to judge what version of the warm fuzzies will look good. (Some info on the soft focus crowd http://hdl.handle.net/10023/505 )
IMO that "f64 artistic norm" and "measurement of results to that norm" has in many ways become a creative straight jacket though, it instills the guilt talked of earlier in the thread.
Don't get me wrong here, I truly believe that the principles taught by AA are invaluable in understanding photography as a craft. I can and do shoot f64ish on occasion but I don't want to pigeon hole myself there.