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his first, The Birth of Tragedy,” in spite of the title, does he offer us a real theory of art; what appears to be theory is the mere expression of the author's feelings and tendencies. He shows a kind of anxiety concerning the value and aim of art and the problem of its inferiority or superiority to science and philosophy, a state of mind characteristic of the Romantic period of which Nietzsche was, in many respects, a belated but magnificent representative. To Romanticism, as well as to Schopenhauer, belong the elements of thought which issued in the distinction between Apollinesque art (that of serene contemplation, to which belong the epic and sculpture) and Dionysiac art (the art of agitation and tumult, such as music and the drama). The thought is vague and does not bear criticism ; but it is supported by a flight of inspiration which lifts the mind to a spiritual region seldom if ever reached again in the second half of the nineteenth century. The most notable aesthetic students of that time were perhaps a group of persons engaged in constructing theories of particular arts. And since—as we have seen *—philosophical laws or theories of individual arts are inconceivable, it was inevitable that the ideas presented by such thinkers should be (as indeed they are) nothing more than general aesthetic conclusions. First may be mentioned the acute Bohemian critic Eduard Hanslick, who published his work On Musical Beauty in 1854; it was often reprinted and was translated into various languages.” Hanslick waged war against Richard Wagner and in general against the pretension of finding concepts, feelings and other definite contents in music. “In the most insignificant musical works, where the most powerful microscope can discover nothing, we are now asked to recognize a Night Before the Battle, a Summer Night in Norway, a Longing for the Sea, or some such absurdity, should the cover have the audacity to affirm that this is the subject of the piece.” ". With equal vivacity he protests against the sentimental hearers who, instead of enjoying the work of art, set themselves to extract pathological effects of passionate excitement and practical activity. If it be true that Greek music produced effects of this kind, “if it needed but a few Phrygian strains to animate troops with courage in the face of the enemy, or a melody in the Dorian mode to ensure the fidelity of a wife whose husband was far away, then the loss of Greek music is a melancholy thing for generals and husbands; but aestheticians and composers need not regret it.”” “If every senseless Requiem, every noisy funeral march, every wailing Adagio had the power of depressing us, who could put up with existence under such conditions 2 But let a real musical work confront us, clear-eyed and glowing with beauty, and we feel ourselves enslaved by its invincible fascination even if its material is all the sorrows of the age.” “ Hanslick maintained that the sole aim of music is form, musical beauty. This affirmation won him the goodwill of the Herbartians, who hastened to welcome such a vigorous and unexpected ally ; by way of returning the compliment, Hanslick felt obliged in later editions of his work to mention Herbart himself and his faithful disciple Robert Zimmermann who had given (so he said) “full development to the great aesthetic principle of Form.” “ The praises of the Herbartians and the courteous declarations of Hanslick both arose from a misunderstanding : for the words “beauty" and “form " have one meaning for the former and quite another for the latter. Hanslick never thought that symmetry, purely acoustical relations and pleasures of the ear constituted musical beauty;” mathematics, he held, are utterly useless to musical AEsthetic.” Musical beauty is spiritual and significative : it has thoughts, undoubtedly ; but those thoughts are
A n asthetician
* Die Geburt der Tragödie oder Griechenthum und Pessimismus, 1872 (Ital. trans., Bari, 1907).
* See above, p. 114.
* Wom Musikalisch-Schönen, Leipzig, 1854; 7th ed. 1885 (French trans., Du beau dans la musique, Paris, 1877).
musical. “Sonorous forms are not empty, but perfectly
* Op. cit. p. 65.
Hanslick's concept of form.
filled ; they cannot be compared with simple lines
Leipzig, 1887. Collected with others of same author in Schriften über die Kunst, ed. H. Marbach, Leipzig, 1896.
language. “Art begins exactly where intuition (perception) ends. The artist is not differentiated from other people by any special perceptive attitude enabling him to perceive more or with greater intensity, or endowing his eye with any special power of selecting, collecting, transforming, ennobling or illuminating ; but rather by his peculiar gift of being able to pass immediately from perception to intuitive expression ; his relation with nature is not perceptive, but expressive.” “A man standing passively at gaze may well imagine himself in possession of the visible world as an immense, rich, varied whole : the entire absence of fatigue with which he traverses the infinite mass of visual impressions, the rapidity with which representations dart across his consciousness, convince him that he stands in the midst of an immense visible world, although he may quite well be unable at any one instant to represent it to himself as a whole. But this world, so great, so rich, so immeasurable, disappears the moment art seeks to become its master. The very first effort to emerge from this twilight and arrive at clear vision restricts the circle of things to be seen. Artistic activity may be conceived as continuation of that concentration by which consciousness makes the first step towards clear vision, which it reaches only by self-limitation.” Spiritual process and bodily process are here an indivisible whole, which is expression. “This activity, simply because it is spiritual, must consist of forms wholly determinate, tangible, sensibly demonstrative.” Art is not in a state of subjection to science. Like the man of science, the artist desires to escape from the natural perceptive state and to make the world his own ; but there are regions to which we can penetrate not by the forms of thought and science but only through art. Art is, strictly speaking, not imitation of nature ; for what is nature save this confused mass of perceptions and representations, whose real poverty has been demonstrated already ? In another sense, however, art may be called imitation of nature inasmuch as its aim is not to expound concepts or to arouse emotions, that is to create values of
intellect and feeling. Art does create both these values, if you like to say so ; but only in one quite peculiar quality, which consists in complete visibility (Sichtbarkeit). Here we have the same sane conception, the same lively comprehension of the true nature of art which we found in Hanslick, only expressed in a more rigorous and philosophical manner. With Fiedler is connected his friend Adolf Hildebrand, who brought into high relief the activistic, or architectonic as opposed to imitative, character of art, illustrating his theoretical discussions especially from sculpture, the art which he himself followed.”
What we chiefly miss in Fiedler and others of the same tendency is the conception of the aesthetic fact not as something exceptional, produced by exceptionally gifted men, but as a ceaseless activity of man as such ; for man possesses the world, so far as he does possess it, only in the form of representation-expressions, and only knows in so far as he creates.” Nor are these writers justified in treating language as parallel with art, or art with language; for comparisons are drawn between things at least partially different, whereas art and language are identical. The same criticism can be made in the case of the French philosopher Bergson, who in his book on Laughter * states a theory of art very similar to that of Fiedler and makes the same mistake of conceiving the artistic faculty as something distinct and exceptional in comparison with the language of everyday use. In ordinary life, says Bergson, the individuality of things escapes us; we see only as much of them as our practical needs demand. Language helps this simplification ; since all names, proper names excepted, are names of kinds or classes. Now and then, however, nature, as if in a fit of absence of mind, creates souls of a more divisible and detached kind (artists), who discover and reveal the riches hidden under
Narrow limits of these theories.
* Das Problem der Form in der bildunden Kunst, 2nd ed. 1898 (4th ed., Strassburg, 1903).
* See above, pp. 12-18.
* H. Bergson, Le Rire, essai sur la signification du comique, Paris, 1900, pp. 153-161 (Eng. tr., London).