Writing about Adele's dreary song Hello - in a piece quoted in today's excellent Dabbler post on the mystery of melody - Clive James uses the wonderful phrase 'yawning with admiration'. Wonderful and widely applicable: just think how many admirable works of art leave you, yes, admiring, but yes also, unmoved, bored, even on the verge of nodding off.
I'm sure we could all compile our own list, but mine would have to include a great many of the contemporary 'literary' novels I used to read - clever, neatly executed but unengaging and unsatisfying. So-What Fiction I call it, and there's an awful lot of it around. At a more exalted level, where the admiration is vastly more merited, I would include in my list - let's see... Poussin's paintings, Reynolds' virtuoso portraiture, much of Haydn's music (yes, I know, I know) and even some Mozart, a lot of 18th-century classical architecture and many stately home interiors, the sculpture of Barbara Hepworth, much jazz of the 'cooler' kind, and, I have to admit, quite a lot of Jane Austen (Emma, Mansfield Park) and of Henry James when he's spreading himself in those big novels. I suspect there's an awful lot more than that fairly random sample - perhaps a deal of yawning with admiration is the price we pay for taking an interest in these things. But that's enough confessional for now... Anyone else?