Interesting point, jdef, and I thought about it, but everything everyone writes is just their opinion, isn't it? So, my understanding is that it goes without saying that what I, and others write here is just their opinion. What else could it be?

To my knowledge, I do not believe I ever tried to keep anyone from voicing their opinions. And, as should be obvious, I do not mind being challenged. In fact, I embrace it. Being challenged forces me to be more articulate, and I never shrink from it either on these forums or in person. It forces me to grow. If I did not welcome challenge, why would I even bother to participate in these forums the way I do.

It does so happen that I have thought about many of the types of "philosophical" questions that come up here for many, many years. That does not make my answers any more "right" than anyone else's. But as a result, it does seem to have made me fairly articulate about what I believe and have found to be true. Sorry, truly, if it sounds to you as if I am pontificating, when I write things like "Great art is informed by intellegence, but is not about ideas." But the truth of that is something I realized to be true (for myself, of course). To say, "In my opinion great art is informed by intellegence, but is not about ideas," is really saying the same thing, just in a "nicer", a more politically correct, way. I'm not PC. Sorry. Can't help that. Never was. Never will be. That kind of thing always struck me as being somehow dishonest. Not a downright lie, but a way of "positioning" one's statements so they will be easier for others to take. Perhaps the right word is "manipulative" rather than dishonest. In any case, I don't trust it for a moment.

I do have great respect for clearly articulated positions that are different than mine, even though I may strongly disagree with them. What is aggravating, and what I do not have respect for, is the one-liner answer or rsponse when something serious is being discussed. For those answering in that way, the discussions are not serious--just a chance to be a smart-ass.

It really is something sometimes. If a discussion is about craft and someone (maybe even me) says that having your craft down perfectly is a crucial element if one is to produce meaningful art, someone is bound to answer something on the order of, "all the craft in the world never made anyone an artist," as if that was what the person who made the previous statement was saying. Having exemplary craft would be a necessary, but not sufficient condition for making meaningful art (hey, I never put it quite that way before--see I do this so that I will learn something). If, on the other hand the conversation is about the soul of an artist, someone will pipe up with a one-liner about how important craft is and that without it this soul stuff is just so much nonsense. Yes, it really is something sometimes.

I participate in threads like this so that I can clarify my own thinking (tough for me to do that just writing to myself), and yes, to provoke thought in others so that they, in turn, will provoke thought in myself. And I also do it to teach others. I admit I have the temerity to think that, yes, I do know something, that they years of work and thought about these things, have not been for nothing. There are many who participate in these forums who know far more than I do about specific things, and there are a number of contributors who would make my head spin and leave me far behind in philosophical discussions. But, I have learned some things, and from all accounts am a fine teacher. Many have written to me that a phrase I used or a sentence I wrote (like the "ideas" sentence quoted earlier), helped make things clear for them. They have been most grateful. That, in turn is gratifying to me.

"For it is still the truth about life that it is greater to give than to receive," wrote one of my favorite poets.

Since you were addressing me, jdef, I tried to answer as best I could. Sorry I rambled on.