« IndietroContinua »
objects, in the presence of which is renewed the same tumult of impressions as that caused by natural objects, “... then the proposition is evidently false. The coloured waxen effigies that imitate the life, before which we < 2. stand astonished in the museums where such things are shown, do not give aesthetic intuitions. Illusion and * * hallucination have nothing to do with the calm domain of artistic intuition./But on the other hand if an artist paint the interior of a wax-work museum, or if an actor give a burlesque portrait of a man-statue on the stage, we have work of the spirit and artistic intuition. Finally, if photography have in it anything artistic, it will be to the extent that it transmits the intuition of the photoher, his point of view, the pose and grouping which
he has striven to attain. And if photography be not quite an art, that is precisely because the element of nature in it remains more or less unconquered and ineradicable. Do we ever, indeed, feel complete satisfaction before even the best of photographs 2 Would not an artist vary and touch up much or little, remove vo or add something to all of them 2
The statements repeated so often, that art is not know- Criticism of an ledge, that it does not tell the truth, that it does not jo. belong to the world of theory, but to the world of feel- notatheoretical ing, and so forth, arise from the failure to realize exactly so..." the theoretic character of simple intuition. This simple and feeling. intuition is quite distinct from intellectual knowledge, as it is distinct from perception of the real; Wand the statements quoted above arise from the belief that only intellectual cognition is knowledge. We have seen that intuition is knowledge, free from concepts and more simple than the so-called perception of the real. Therefore art is knowledge, form ; it does not belong to the world of feeling or to psychic matter. The reason why so many aestheticians have so often insisted that art is appearance (Schein), is precisely that they have felt the necessity of distinguishing it from the more complex fact of perception, by maintaining its pure intuitiveness. And if for the same reason it has been claimed that art
Criticism of the theory of asthetic senses.
is feeling the reason is the same. For if the concept
also enter into it, but only as associated." But this dis
tinction is altogether arbitrary. Æsthetic expression is lo
synthesis, in which it is impossible to distinguish direct. and indirect. All impressions are placed by it on a level, in so far as they are aestheticized. A man who absorbs the subject of a picture or poem does not have it before him as a series of impressions, some of which have prerogatives
and precedence over the others. He knows nothing as . . . . . .
to what has happened prior to having absorbed it, just
the moment in which it dominates; and so does every expression. Unity and Another corollary of the conception of expression as o, activity is the indivisibility of the work of art. Every art. expression is a single expression. Activity is a fusion of the impressions in an organic whole. A desire to express this has always prompted the affirmation that the work of art should have unity, or, what amounts to the same thing, unity in variety. Expression is a synthesis of the various, or multiple, in the one. ****The fact that we divide a work of art into parts, a poem into scenes, episodes, similes, sentences, or a picture into single figures and objects, background, foreground, ... etc., may seem opposed to this affirmation. But such division annihilates the work, as dividing the organism into heart, brain, nerves, muscles and so on, turns the living being into a corpse. It is true that there exist organisms in which division gives rise to other living beings, but in such a case we must conclude, maintaining the analogy between the organism and the work of art, that in the latter case too there are numerous germs of life each ready to grow, in a moment, into a single com- plete expression. It may be said that expression sometimes arises from other expressions. There are simple and there are compound expressions. One must surely admit some difference between the eureka, with which Archimedes expressed all his joy at his discovery, and the expressive act (indeed all the five acts) of a regular tragedy.—Not in the least : expression always arises directly from impressions. He who conceives a tragedy puts into a crucible a great quantity, so to say, of impressions: expressions themselves, conceived on other occasions, are fused together with the new in a single mass, in the same way as we can cast into a melting furnace formless pieces of bronze and choicest statuettes. Those choicest statuettes must be melted just like the pieces of bronze, before there can be a new statue. The old expressions must descend again to the level of
impressions, in order to be synthesized in a new single expression. To By elaborating his impressions, man frees himself Art as from them. By objectifying them, he removes them * from him and makes himself their superior. The liberat- wo ing and purifying function of art is another aspect and another formula of its character as activity. Activity is the deliverer, just because it drives away passivity.
This also explains why it is usual to attribute to artists both the maximum of sensibility or passion, and the maximum of insensibility or Olympian serenity. The two characters are compatible, for they do not refer to ~ the same object. The sensibility or passion relates to the rich material which the artist absorbs into his psychic organism ; the insensibility or serenity to the form with which he subdues and dominates the tumult of the sensations and passions.