Unreal Nature

April 9, 2017

To Fill His Exterior with Content and Give It Life

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… it is only on the boundaries of two consciousnesses, on the boundaries of the body, that an encounter is actually realized and the artistic gift of form is bestowed.

Continuing through the essay ‘Author and Hero in Aesthetic Activity’ in Art and Answerability: Early Philosophical Essays by M.M. Bakhtin edited by Michael Holquist and Vadim Liapunov (1990):

… To what extent does verbal art have to do with the spatial form of the hero and his world? There can be no doubt, of course, that verbal art deals with the hero’s exterior and with the spatial world in which the event of his life unfolds. What gives rise to considerable doubts, however, is the question of whether verbal art has to do with the spatial form of the hero as an artistic form; in most cases, the problem is resolved in a negative sense. To resolve the problem correctly, it is necessary to take into account the twofold sense of aesthetic form.

… Man’s outer body is given; his outer boundaries and those of his world are given (given in the extra-aesthetic givenness of life). This is a necessary and inalienable moment of being as a given. Consequently, they need to be aesthetically received, recreated, fashioned, and justified. And this is precisely what is accomplished by art with all the means at its disposal — with colors, lines, masses, words, sounds.

[line break added] Inasmuch as the artist has to do with man’s existence and with his world, he has also to do with the givenness of man in space as a necessary constituent of human existence. And in transposing this existence of man to the aesthetic plane, the artist must transpose to this plane man’s exterior as well, within the bounds which are determined by the type of material he utilizes (e.g. colors, sounds, etc.).

… it is necessary to emphasize especially that both content (i.e. what is put into the hero — his life from within) and form are unjustified and unexplainable on the plane of a single consciousness; that it is only on the boundaries of two consciousnesses, on the boundaries of the body, that an encounter is actually realized and the artistic gift of form is bestowed.

[line break added] Without this essentially necessary reference to the other, i.e. as a gift to the other that justifies and consummates him (through an immanent-aesthetic justification), form fails to find any inner foundation and validation from within the author/contemplator’s self-activity and inevitably degenerates into something that simply affords pleasure, into something “pretty,” something I find immediately agreeable, the way I find myself feeling immediately cold or warm. By using a certain technique, the author produces an object of pleasure, and the contemplator passively affords himself this pleasure.

Without the application of the mediating value-category of the other, the author’s emotional-volitional tones that actively constitute and produce the hero’s exterior as an artistic value cannot be brought into immediate accord with the hero’s own directedness from within his own lived life. It is only thanks to this category of the other that it becomes possible to transform the hero’s exterior into an exterior that encompasses and consummates him totally, that is: to fit the hero’s own directedness to meaning in living his life into his exterior as into a form; to fill his exterior with content and give it life; to create a whole human being as a unitary value.

My most recent previous post from Bakhtin’s book is here.

-Julie

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