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September 30, 2007

a peculiar solitude

Our present in its universal condition is not favorable to art. As regards the artist himself, it is not merely that the reflection which finds utterance all around him, and the universal habit of having an opinion and passing judgment about art infect him, and mislead him into putting more abstract thought into his works themselves; but also the whole spiritual culture of the age is of such a kind that he himself stands within this reflective world and its conditions, and it is impossible for him to abstract from it by will and resolve, or to contrive for himself and bring to pass, by means of peculiar education or removal from the relations of life, a peculiar solitude that would replace all that is lost.


Whatever can find room in the human heart, as feeling, idea, and purpose; whatever it is capable of shaping into act – all this diversity of material is capable of entering into the varied content of painting. The whole realm of particular existence, from the highest embodiment of mind down to the most isolated object of nature, finds a place here. For it is possible even for finite nature, in its particular scenes and phenomena, to make its appearance in the realm of art, if only some allusion to an element of mind endows it with affinity to thought and feeling.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 11:07 AM

September 29, 2007

remaining firm in your choice

It is sometimes better to persist in a course elected, even when the course has not been too well considered, than to shift, in an effort to make a perfect choice, from course to course, albeit an intensity of zeal may importune, or the usual inconstant ebb and flow of mundane affairs may urge the change. Accordingly, when I had made a decision for myself in a most difficult matter, to the end that my action should be governed by wisdom as well as by my own preferences, I realized then that not only other things, but also this very business of remaining firm in my choice was made easier. Of first consideration are the various ends of action which lead each man to choose the one toward which his taste is most inclined.

All granted up to this point, the next question which arises concerns the best and most legitimate method of succeeding in a chosen career, or – of even greater moment, to my thinking – what is the most expedient? Having, then, once attained the goal in view, how to retain it, and how, finally, to draw just advantage from the end achieved, is important.


About the time when other men are wont to abandon hope of happiness I have entered into it; furthermore, as I have elsewhere said, Fortune, often on the very verge of destruction has stood by me.


You may profit more by accepting the present, than by making arrangements for the future.

Cardan - The Book of My Life

Posted by amin at 10:58 AM

September 28, 2007

for pity's sake

Is one not in love with certain photographs? (Looking at some photographs of the Proustian world, I fell in love with Julia Barter, with the Duc de Guiche…) Yet it was not quite that. It was a broader current than a lover’s sentiment. In the love stirred by Photography (by certain photographs), another music is heard, its name oddly old-fashioned: Pity. I collected in the last thought the images which had “pricked” me. In each of them, inescapably, I passed beyond the unreality of the thing represented, I entered crazily into the spectacle, into the image, taking into my arms what is dead, what is going to die, as Nietzsche did when, as Podach tells us, on January 3, 1889, he threw himself in tears on the neck of a beaten horse: gone mad for Pity’s sake.

Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida

Posted by amin at 10:23 PM

September 27, 2007

no surrender

Life is one long battle; we have to fight at every step; and Voltaire very rightly says that if we succeed, it is at the point of the sword, and that we die with the weapon in our hand. It is a cowardly soul that shrinks or grows faint and despondent as soon as the storm begins to gather, or even when the first cloud appears on the horizon. Our motto should be No Surrender; and far from yielding to the ills of life, let us take fresh courage from misfortune.

As long as the issue of any matter fraught with peril is still in doubt, and there is yet some possibility left that all may come right, no one should ever tremble or think of anything but resistance-just as a man should not despair of the weather if he can see a bit if blue sky anywhere. Let our attitude be such that we should not quake even if the world fell in ruins about us.

Our whole life itself-let alone its blessings-would not be worth such a cowardly trembling and shrinking of the heart. Therefore, let us face life courageously and show a firm front to every ill.

Schopenhauer - Counsels and Maxims

Posted by amin at 6:53 PM

September 26, 2007

this truth of mine made me restless...

In this city they nonchalantly abandon themselves to the most extravagant possibilities. In their usual existence they constantly confuse what is extraordinary with what is forbidden, so that the expectation of something marvelous, which they now permit themselves, appears on their faces as an expression of coarse licentiousness.

The awareness that I knew this city overcame me among all these self-deluding people and filled me with such a sense of opposition that I looked up, wondering how I could communicate what I was feeling. Was it possible that in these rooms there was not one person who was unconsciously waiting to be enlightened about the nature of his surrounding? Some young person who would immediately understand that what was being offered here wasn’t an enjoyment, but rather an example of willpower, more demanding and more severe than could be found anywhere else? I walked around; this truth of mine made me restless. Since it had seized me here among so many people, it brought with it the desire to be expressed, defended, proved.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 2:17 PM

September 25, 2007

the sublime

It almost seems odd to talk about the sublime today. We are programmed now to expect awe in certain circumstances, and are therefore doomed to be disappointed when, inevitably, we don’t feel it. It is the disappointment that many tourists experience when they go to see the Mona Lisa, a sublime painting, encased behind protective glass. This is because when nothing is truly strange or foreign any longer, everything having been predigested, we then demand to be shocked, shock being an experience that still seems genuine to us. Thus we mistake shock for awe.

Michael Kimmelman - The Accidental Masterpiece

Posted by amin at 12:01 PM

September 24, 2007

the heights of mountains

At the moment of his deepest satisfaction, on top of Ventoux, Petrarch is overcome by doubt. As he tells it, he picked up his copy of Augustine’s Confessions, which he had taken along, as I had taken along his writing, and by chance, he says, his eyes fell on a passage chastising people who wonder at “the heights of mountains” when they should recognize God’s presence in humbler circumstances. “I closed the book, angry with myself that I should still be admiring earthly things, I who long ago should have learned from even the pagan philosophers that nothing is wonderful but the soul. I was satisfied that I had seen enough of the mountain, I turned my inward eye upon myself, and from that time not a syllable fell from my lips until we reached the bottom again.”

Michael Kimmelman - The Accidental Masterpiece

Posted by amin at 11:48 AM

September 23, 2007

gestures of love and devotion

It is said that in 1911 Edgar Degas paid the most extraordinary tribute to his nineteenth-century hero Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres when as an old man he went every day to visit an Ingres exhibition at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. Degas was blind. He went simply to run his hands over the pictures. I imagine Degas hoped to touch Ingres’s works in the way that adults caress their children, not just out of affection but to make some physical contact through which to transcend the moment. Time briefly dissolves in these gestures of love and devotion-through these points of contact with what we cherish and deem longer-lasting than ourselves.

Michael Kimmelman - The Accidental Masterpiece

Posted by amin at 1:02 AM

September 22, 2007

great art remains eternally young

Sometimes art can be a refuge from life, and in extreme cases it’s a second chance at life. Another way to put the familiar phrase about the relative lengths of art and life is to say that what makes great art great is that it remains eternally young, while we don’t. It is a common place observation that a Henri Matisse or Pablo Picasso or Vincent van Gogh becomes like a new artist every decade his work is shown because, as time passes, circumstances change, generations change, but the artist’s work continues to have something new to say. Although a Matisse painting is a finite and finished object, it remains in flux and permanently fresh, affecting and being affected by other art over time.

That is part of its eternal attraction. We connect with art to share something larger and more enduring than ourselves. Recent history includes exceptional examples of varied young artists who have given themselves over totally to making something truly grand and previously unseen, whose ambition might have even been beyond them, which mean that their efforts carried a high risk of failure. Art being a gamble on posterity, the higher the stakes, the grander the potential reward. These artists provide us with eloquent models for living life beyond what we fear to be our creative limits – which we can’t know, after all, until we try to reach them. Such a life demands some bravery and much independence.

Art, not unlike raising a child, may entail much sacrifice and periods of despair, but, with luck, the effort will produce something that outlives you.

Michael Kimmelman - The Accidental Masterpiece

Posted by amin at 1:41 AM

September 21, 2007

color is joy

Color is joy. One does not think joy. One is carried by it.

I want to transform reality with a poetic conception.

Ernst Haas

Posted by amin at 2:18 AM

September 20, 2007

the art of the upper class

Earlier, at the very beginning of the separation of upper-class art from popular art, the chief content of art was the feeling of pride. So it was during the time of the Renaissance and after, when the chief subjects of the works of art was praise of the powerful – popes, kings, dukes. Odes, madrigals, cantatas, hymns were written in their praise; their portraits were painted, their statues were sculpted, glorifying them in various ways. Later the element of sexual lust began to enter art more and more, becoming the necessary condition of every work of art of the wealthy classes.

Still later, the number of feelings conveyed by the new art was increased by the third feeling that makes up the content of the art of the wealthy classes – namely, the feeling of the tedium of living.

And, indeed, of these three feelings, sensuality, being the lowest, accessible not only to all people but also to all animals, constitutes the chief subject of all works of art in modern times.
Adultery is not just the favorite but the only theme of all novels. A performance is not a performance unless women bared above or below appear in it under some pretext. Ballads, songs – all these express lust with various degrees of poeticizing.

The majority of paintings by French artists portray female nakedness in various forms. There is hardly a page or a poem in the new French literature without a description of nakedness or the use here and there, appropriately or inappropriately, of the favorite word and notion nu [‘nude’].

And so, as a result of the unbelief and the exclusive life of the upper classes, the art of these classes became impoverished in content and was all reduced to the conveying of the feelings of vanity, the tedium of living and, above all, sexual lust.

Tolstoy - What Is Art?

Posted by amin at 1:01 AM

September 19, 2007

form and content

Defectiveness of form arises from defectiveness of content.
The more that works of art excel in true beauty of presentation, the more profound is the inner truth of their content and thought.
Only in the highest art are the Idea and representation genuinely adequate to one another, in the sense that the outward shape given to the Idea is in itself essentially and actually the true shape, because the content of the Idea, which that shape expresses, is itself the true and real content.


The content of this world is the beautiful, and the true beautiful is spiritual being in concrete shape, the Ideal; or, more closely looked at, the absolute mind, and the truth itself. This region, that of divine truth artistically represented to perception and to feeling, forms the center of the whole world of art. It is the independent, free, and divine plasticity, which has thoroughly mastered the external elements of form and medium, and wears them simply as a means to manifestation of itself.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 12:53 AM

September 18, 2007

science and religion

Science can be created only by those who are imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion. The situation might be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

Albert Einstein

Posted by amin at 12:25 AM

September 17, 2007

the outcome of independence

‘The outcome of independence is solitude.’ She quoted this extract from Benjamin Constant’s Adolphe. Alas, the only alternative is the choice between being teased and harassed throughout the whole of one’s life, like a man bound up with family ties, or being deserted by everyone and everything because one has been unwilling to submit to the least constraint; the alternative, I repeat, is inevitable.

I have been saying to myself, and I cannot say it too often for my happiness and peace of mind (they are one and the same) that I must and can live only through the mind; the food it needs is more necessary to my life than bodily food.

The secret of having no worries – at least where I am concerned – is to have plenty of ideas. Therefore I cannot afford to let slip any means of encouraging them. Good books have this effect, and especially certain books. Health is the first consideration, but even when one is feeling dull and tired these particular books can renew the source from which my imagination flows.


Neglect nothing that can make you great.

Eugene Delacroix

Posted by amin at 4:20 PM

September 16, 2007

art and mental activity

The deference between art and mental activity, which requires preparation and a certain sequence of learning (so that one cannot teach trigonometry to someone who does not know geometry), is precisely that art affects people independently of their degree of development and education, that the charm of a picture, of sounds, of images infects any man, on whatever level of development he may stand.

The business of art consists precisely in making understandable and accessible that which might be incomprehensible and inaccessible in the form of reasoning. Usually, when a person receives a truly artistic impression, it seems to him that he knew it all along, only he was unable to express it.

Tolstoy - What Is Art?

Posted by amin at 4:13 PM

September 15, 2007

the immortal sense of beauty

It is this admirable, this immortal sense of Beauty which makes us regard the Earth and its sights as a glimpse, a correspondence of Heaven. Our insatiable thirst for everything which is beyond and which is revealed by life is the most living proof of our immortality. It is at once by and through poetry, by and through music that the soul catches a glimpse of the splendors which lie on the other side of the grave; and when an exquisite poem brings tears to our eyes, these tears are not the proof of excessive enjoyment; they are much more the sign of an irritated melancholy, a nervous postulation, a nature exiled in an imperfect world which would like to take possession at once on this very earth of a revealed paradise. Thus the principle of poetry is strictly and simply human aspirations towards a higher beauty and this principle appears in an enthusiasm which is completely independent of passion, which is the intoxication of the heart, and of truth which is the field of reason. For passion is a natural thing, too natural, indeed, not to introduce a painful, discordant note into the realm of pure beauty; too familiar not to scandalize the pure Desires, the gracious Melancholy, the noble Despair which dwell in the supernatural regions of poetry.


Posted by amin at 10:58 PM

September 14, 2007

the foundation of morality

Very often I let things go, thinking, I will not do this or that, so as not to give offense to anyone. But in really serious things one must not act according to public opinion, nor according to one’s own passion. One must keep to the A B C which is the foundation of every morality: Act so that you can answer for it to God.

van Gogh

Posted by amin at 8:01 PM

September 13, 2007

my own rules of conduct

* I have been in the habit of returning thanks to God for all that has happened to me. Both for the gracious favors he has bestowed me and in the very extremity of my suffering.

* My second noteworthy observation was that I ought ever to pray to know the purpose of God

* A third rule was that when I had lost, I should not be content merely to redeem the loss, but should always obtain something in addition. I am, no less, one of few men who enjoy experimenting with life as well as acting from carefully deliberated motives.

* I made it a practice that I should take the most careful account of my time. As I rode or are or conversed, or as I lay in bed sleepless, I was ever meditating upon something, for I had in mind that common adage: “The many small things soon make one size!”

* By a fifth rule I observed that it was well to cultivate the society of elderly men and be with them frequently.

* A sixth practice was to observe all things, and not to think that anything happened fortuitously in nature; whereby it has come about that I am richer in the knowledge of Nature’s secrets than I am in money.

* Always to set certainties before uncertainties has been a seventh guiding principle.

* My eighth axiom bids me never to be persuaded, for any reason whatever, to persist willingly in any course which is turning out for the worse.

* Unless I am at leisure, I undertake no particularly disputatious engagements, not only because it is more expedient, but because in this way I do not waste time.

* I never slash at a friendship that has proved faithless.

* Flee any occasion to let familiarity breed contempt.

* As far as I have been able, I have trusted less to my memory, and more to the written word.

Cardan - The Book of My Life

Posted by amin at 1:47 AM

September 12, 2007

to love is to endure

Isn’t the earth still warm with you, and don’t the birds still leave room for your voice? The dew is different, but the stars are still the stars of your nights. And isn’t the whole world yours? For how often you set it on fire with your love and saw it blaze and burn up and secretly replaced it with another world while everyone slept. You felt in such harmony with God, when every morning you asked him for a new earth, so that all the ones he had made could have their turn. You thought it would be shabby to save them and repair them; you used them up and held out your hands, again and again, for more world. For your love was equal to everything.


Women who are loved live poorly and in danger. If only they could surpass themselves and become women in love. Around women in love there is sheer security. No one is suspicious of them any more, and they aren’t in a position to betray themselves. In them the mystery has become inviolate; they cry it out whole, like nightingales; it is no longer divided. They lament for one man; but the whole of nature joins in with their voice: it is the lament for an eternal being. They hurl themselves after the man they have lost, but even in their first steps they overtake him, and in front of them there is only God. Theirs is the legend of Byblis, who pursued Caunus as far as Lycia. The urgency of her heart drove her through many lands on his track; until at last she came to the end of her strength; but so powerful was the mobility of her innermost being that, sinking to earth, she reappeared, beyond death, as a fountain, hurrying, as a hurrying fountain.


How right that poetess had been: when she knew that sexual union means nothing but increased solitude; when she broke through the temporal aim of sex and reached its infinite purpose. When in the darkness of embracing she delved not for fulfillment but for greater longing. When she despised the thought that of two people one had to be the lover and one the beloved.


To be loved means to be consumed in flames. To love is to give light with inexhaustible oil. To be loved is to pass away; to love is to endure.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 2:58 AM

September 11, 2007

the significance of a work of art

Goethe says: ‘The highest principle of the ancients was the significant, but the highest result of successful treatment, the beautiful.’

If we look closer at what this opinion implies, we find in it again two elements: the content or the matter in hand, and the mode and fashion of representation. In looking at a work of art we begin with what presents itself immediately to us, and after that go on to consider what is its significance or content.

The former, the external element, has no value for us simply as it stands; we assume something further behind it, something inward, a significance, by which the external semblance has a soul breathed into it. It is this, its soul, that the external appearance indicates. For an appearance which means something does not present to the mind’s eye itself and that which is qua external, but something else; as does the symbol for instance, and still more obviously the fable, whose moral and percept constitutes its meaning. Indeed every word points to a meaning and has no value in itself. Just so the human eye, a man’s face, flesh, skin, his whole figure, are a revelation of mind and soul, and in this case the meaning is always something other than what shows itself within the immediate appearance. This is the way in which a work of art should have its meaning, and not appear as exhausted in these more particular lines, curves, surfaces, borings, reliefs in the stone, in these colors, tones, sounds, of words, or whatever other medium is employed; but it should reveal life, feeling, soul, import and mind, which is just what we mean by the significance of a work of art.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 10:33 PM

September 10, 2007

the saint

Wherever there is someone who gathers himself together, some solitary person, for example, who wants to rest roundly upon his whole circumference, day and night, he immediately provokes the opposition, the contempt, the hatred of those degenerate objects which, in their own bad conscience, can no longer endure the knowledge that something can actually hold itself together and strive according to its own nature. Then they combine to harass and frighten and confuse him, and they know they can do that. Winking to one another, they begin the seduction, which then grows on into the infinite and sweeps along all creatures, even God himself, against the solitary one, who will perhaps endure: the saint.


But then, when he didn’t look up, they began to think. They suspected that in all this they had been acting as he had wanted them to; that they had been strengthening him in his solitude and helping him to separate from them for ever. And now they changed their tactics and picked up their final weapon, the other form of resistance, the deadliest of all: fame. And at this noise, there was hardly a single one who didn’t look up and let himself be distracted.


I could imagine that long ago such things had happened to saints, those overhasty zealots, who wanted to begin with God, right away, whatever the cost. We no longer make such demands on ourselves. We suspect that he is too difficult for us, that we must postpone him, so that we can slowly do the long work that separates us from him. Now, however, I know that this work leads to combats just as dangerous as the combats of the saint; that such difficulties appear around everyone who is solitary for the sake of that work, as they took form around God’s solitaries in their caves and empty shelters, long ago.


Fate loves to invent designs and patterns. Its difficulty lies in complexity. But life itself is difficult because of its simplicity. It has just a few elements, of a grandeur that we can never fathom. The saint, rejecting fate, chooses these and comes face to face with God.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 9:25 PM

September 9, 2007

experience and boldness

Experience is absolutely necessary in order to learn all that may be done with one’s own instrument of expression, and more especially to avoid what should not even be attempted. When a man is immature he plunges into all kinds of senseless experiments, and by attempting to force his art to yield more than it either can or should concede, he fails to reach even a small degree of superiority within the bounds of what is possible. Experience alone can give even to the most talented artist the confidence that he has done everything that could possibly be done. Only fools and weaklings torture themselves by trying to achieve the impossible.

And yet we need to be very bold. Without daring, without extreme daring even, there is no beauty. We must therefore be almost beyond ourselves, if we are to achieve all that we are capable of! Happy are they who, like Voltaire and other great men, can reach a state of inspiration on fresh water and a plain diet.

Eugene Delacroix

Posted by amin at 11:36 AM

September 8, 2007

living according to our own laws and standards

Even if the future gave us no cause for hope – the fact of our existing at all in this here-and-now must be the strongest incentive to us to live according to our own laws and standards: the inexplicable fact that we live precisely today, when we had all infinite time in which to come into existence, that we posses only a shortlived today in which to demonstrate why and to what end we came into existence now and at no other time. We are responsible to ourselves for our own existence; consequently we want to be the true helmsman of this existence and refuse to allow our existence to resemble a mindless act of chance. No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone. There are, to be sure, countless paths and bridges and demi-gods which would bear you through this stream; but only at the cost of yourself: you would put yourself in pawn and lose yourself. There exists in the world a single path along which no one can go except you: whither does it lead? Do not ask, go along it. Who was it who said: ‘a man never rises higher than when he does not know whither his path can still lead him?’

Nietzsche - Schopenhauer as Educator

Posted by amin at 12:07 PM

September 7, 2007

you who are without an equal

O mother: you who are without an equal, who stood before all this silence, long ago in childhood. Who took it upon yourself to say: don’t be afraid; I’m here. Who in the night had the courage to be this silence for the child who was frightened, who was dying of fear. You strike a match, and already the noise is you. And you hold the lamp in front of you and say: I’m here; don’t be afraid. and you put it down, slowly, and there is no doubt: you are there, you are the light around the familiar, intimate things, which are there without afterthought, good and simple and sure. And when something moves restlessly in the wall, or creaks on the floor: you just smile, smile transparently against a bright background into the terrified face that looks at you, searching, as if you knew the secret of every half-sound, and everything were agreed and understood between you. Does any power equal your power among the lords of the earth? Look: kings lie and stare, and the teller of tales cannot distract them. Though they lie in the blissful arms of their favorite mistress, horror creeps over them and makes them palsied and impotent. But you come and keep the monstrosity behind you and are entirely in front of it; not like a curtain that it can lift up here or there. No: as if you had caught up with it as soon as the child cried out for you. As if you had arrived far ahead of anything that might still happen, and had behind you only your hurrying-in, your eternal path, the flight of your love.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 7:00 PM

September 6, 2007

a pure spirit with a virgin ear

Ah Malte, we pass away like that, and it seems to me that people are all distracted and preoccupied and don’t really pay attention when we pass away. As if a shooting star fell and no one saw it and no one made a wish. I don’t think there is such thing as fulfillment, but there are wishes that endure, that last a whole lifetime, so that anyhow one couldn’t waif for their fulfillment.


There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.


It is of course imagination on my part to say now that at that time I already felt something had entered my life which I alone would have to walk around with, forever and ever. I see myself lying in my little bed, unable to sleep, and somehow vaguely foreseeing that life would be like that: full of truly strange experiences that are meant for one person alone and can never be spoken. What is certain is that gradually a sad and heavy pride arose in me. I pictured to myself how a person could walk around full of inner happenings and silent. I felt a passionate sympathy for grownups; I admired them, and made up my mind to tell them that I admired them.


Richest in nearly incomprehensible experiences, though, were the birthdays. You already knew, of course, that life took pleasure in not making distinctions; but on this day you got up with a right to joy that couldn’t be doubted. Probably the feeling that you had such a right had developed in you at a very early age, the age when you grasp at everything and really get everything; when, with the unerring power of the imagination, you take the Things you happen to have and raise them to the primary-color intensity of the desire that just happens to possess you.

But then, all at once, come those strange birthdays when, fully established in the consciousness of this right, you see the others becoming uncertain.


Master, if some pure spirit with a virgin ear were to lie down beside your music: he would die of bliss; or he would become pregnant with infinity, and his fertilized brain would explode with so much birth.

Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge

Posted by amin at 6:58 PM

September 5, 2007

music and poetry

Music, which concerns itself only with the undefined movement of the inward spiritual nature, and deals with the musical sounds as, so to speak, feeling without thought, needs little or no spiritual content to be present in consciousness. It is for this reason that musical talent generally announces itself in very early youth, while the head is still empty and the heart has been but little moved, and is capable of attaining to a very considerable height in early years, before mind and life have experience if themselves.

The reverse is the case with poetry. In poetry all depends on the representation – which must be full of matter and thought – of man, of his profounder interests, and of the powers that move him; and therefore mind and heart themselves must be richly and profoundly educated by life, experience, and reflection, before genius can bring to pass anything mature, substantial, and self-complete.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 12:14 AM

September 4, 2007

shape and idea

Inasmuch as the task of art is to represent the idea to direct perception in sensuous shape, and not in the form of thought or of pure spirituality as such, and seeing that this work of representation has its value and dignity in the correspondence and the unity of the two sides, i.e. of the Idea and its plastic embodiment, it follows that the level and excellency of art in attaining a realization adequate to its idea must depend upon the grade of inwardness and unity with which Idea and Shape display themselves as fused into one. Thus the higher truth is spiritual being that has attained a shape adequate to the conception of spirit.

The character of concreteness as belonging to both elements of art, to the content as to the representation, is precisely the point in which both may coincide and correspond to one another; as, for instance, the natural shape of the human body is such a sensuous concrete as is capable of representing spirit, which is concrete in itself, and of displaying itself in conformity therewith.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 11:25 PM

September 3, 2007

revelation of the divine nature to consciousness

As regards the worthiness of art to be scientifically considered, it is no doubt the case that art can be employed as a fleeting pastime, to serve the ends of pleasure and entertainment, to decorate our surroundings, to impart pleasantness to the external conditions of our life, and to emphasize other objects by means of ornament. In this mode of employment art is indeed not independent, not free, but servile. But what we mean to consider, is the art which is free in its end as in its means.

Fine art is not real art till it is in this sense free, and only achieves its highest task when it has taken its place in the same sphere with religion and philosophy, and has become simply a mode of revealing to consciousness and bringing to utterance the Divine Nature, the deepest interests of humanity, and the most comprehensive truths of the mind. It is in works of art that nations have deposited the profoundest intuitions and ideas of their hearts; and fine art is frequently the key – with many nations there is no other – to the understanding of their wisdom and of their religion.


Art liberates the real import of appearances from the semblance and deception of this bad and fleeting world, and imparts to phenomenal semblance a higher reality, born of mind. The appearances of art, therefore, far from being mere semblances, have the higher reality and the more genuine existence in comparison with the realities of common life.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 6:14 PM

September 2, 2007

the absolute need of man

Art appears to arise from the higher impulse and to satisfy the higher needs, at times, indeed, even the highest, the absolute need of man, being wedded to the religious interests of whole epochs and peoples, and to their most universal intuitions respecting the world.

The universal need for expression in art lies, therefore, in man’s rational impulse to exalt the inner and outer world into a spiritual consciousness for himself, as an object in which he recognizes his own self. He satisfies the need of this spiritual freedom when he makes all that exists explicit for himself within, and in a corresponding way realizes this his explicit self without, evoking thereby, in this reduplication of himself, what is in him into vision and into knowledge for his own mind and for that of others.

Hegel - Lectures on Aesthetics

Posted by amin at 12:49 PM

September 1, 2007

what makes a poet

What makes a poet a poet is the fact that he sees himself surrounded by figures who live and act before him, and into whose innermost essence he gazes…What allows Homer to depict things so much more vividly than all other poets? It is the fact that he looks at things so much more than they do. We talk so abstractly about poetry because we are usually all bad poets. Fundamentally the aesthetic phenomenon is simple; one only has to have the ability to watch a living play continuously and to live constantly surrounded by crowds of spirits, then one is a poet; if one feels the impulse to transform oneself and to speak out of other bodies and souls, then one is a dramatist.

Nietzsche – The Birth of Tragedy

Posted by amin at 2:17 AM