Sunday, July 26, 2009

An antidote to German aesthetics

But Art remains, nevertheless, in the order of Making, and it is by drudgery upon some matter that it aims at delighting the spirit. Hence for the artist a strange and saddening condition, image itself of man's condition in the world, where he must wear himself out among bodies and live with the spirits. . . And if the condition of the artist is more human and less exalted than that of the wise man, it is also more discordant and more painful, because his activity does not remain wholly within the pure immanence of spiritual operations, and does not in itself consist in contemplating, but in making. Without enjoying the substance and the peace of wisdom, he is caught up in the hard exigencies of the intellect and speculative life, and he is condemned to all the servile miseries of practice and of temporal production. . .

The Middle Ages knew this order. The Renaissance shattered it. After three centuries of infidelity, prodigal Art aspired to become the ultimate end of man, his Bread and Wine, the consubstantial mirror of beatific Beauty. . . Rimbaud's silence perhaps marks the end of a secular apostasy. In any case it clearly signifies that it is folly to seek in art the words of eternal life and the repose of the human heart; and that the artist, if he is not to shatter his art or his soul, must simply be, as artist, what art wants him to be -- a good workman.
Jacques Maritain, "Art and Scholasticism," V.

As an aside to anyone in the publishing industry (you never know, right?), I'd like to point out that "Art and Scholasticism" is badly overdue for a new edition. The text is in the public domain, but the only edition currently in print is poorly bound and contains many typos but no endnotes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Recent "spirtitual" research has shown that pure aesthetics is the use of the formulas of a universe without participating in any Game.

Beauty/Ugliness is aesthetics plus game considerations.

Thus aesthetics is precisely NON-functionality!! Which is a partial explanation of the life-problems of many a fanatical artist . . . if one is doing ONLY art, then one is, by definition, not functioning in the Game (such as the game of Survival).

See my Blog for some more details on related stuff . . .