First, please do not use this topic to bash people who LIKE atonal music and do not use it to bash people who think atonal music sounds like a cat running across a keyboard console!
I just want to get a good, somewhat empirical discussion going as to WHY certain people genuinely enjoy such music and why others will never ever find it attractive. My main motivation is from looking at the comments in certain You Tube videos by modern serial composers and modern atonal composers (Boulez and Carter respectively). Some people love the music and get a real emotional response from it (like myself). But there is just as equal of a camp who thinks that it lack any emotion and is just an academic exercise.
I think both camps are right, because you can only make an opinion from your OWN personal experiences. So a person who genuinely cannot get an emotional response from such music will clearly just view it as a novel academic exercise and I think those folks should not get bashed upon.
This brings me to the topic: WHY do some people like such music? Obviously, the fans must get a strong emotional response from the music and also get strong stimulation from it, or else they wouldn't like it. Music is generally considered "good" if it brings forth novel and strong emotions, good or bad or neutral.
I honestly do not have an answer to the question, so that is why I pose it here to see if anyone has any hypotheses.
I will chime in with my own "atonal timeline" after a few posts are written.
Again, no bashing each other!