Unreal Nature

January 29, 2019

Emotional Distance

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:47 am

… the successful representation of emotional states presupposes a certain emotional distance …

Continuing through The Sociology of Art by Arnold Hauser, translated by Kenneth J. Northcott (1982):

… Art … shows this strange combination of spontaneous and unspontaneous forces in relation to the sincerity of the feelings it expresses. The contradiction — which Diderot observed and which he dubbed the “paradox of the actor” — between what the artist appears to feel and what he actually feels revolves entirely around the presuppositions of the artistic illusion.

[line break added] The true meaning of Diderot’s thought does not actually consist in the discovery that the false and insincere can produce a quite spontaneous and natural effect in art but in the recognition that this effect is produced only because it is more or less false and unspontaneous, carefully thought out and exactly calculated.

[line break added] Diderot recognized that the successful representation of emotional states presupposes a certain emotional distance rather than too strong an emotional link, and he does not hesitate to declare that the artistic expression is often that much weaker, the stronger and more genuine feelings are which have to be expressed. The dilettante generally has more feeling and is more honest than the artist.

[line break added] Furthermore, even if the truth value of a poem does not necessarily stand in an inverse proportion to the truthfulness of the poet, a work of literature with fictive emotions is on firmer ground than one with genuine ones. The mouth twitching with emotion and the eyes wet with tears are that much more expressionless, the more uncontrolled the passion which grips the heart. The artist is concerned not with feelings but with the presentation, the imago, of feelings.

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

-Julie

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