Unreal Nature

August 13, 2019

Suddenly Able to Swim

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… We achieve this only by patient education, and finally by a leap and not by a graduated progress …

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

… Usually [the art recipient] has need of a whole series of mediators and instruments of mediation in order to understand what the author intended with his work and what means he used in order to formulate his vision and organize his material. A new formal language still unknown to the general public loses its strangeness and unapproachability only through the agency of these mediators. The aura of the secret, the magic of the miracle that something which is beyond form and apparently ineffable should achieve a form is never lost by art if it really is art.

The work of art not only means, but is something and remains a sort of fetish which owes its inexplicable, or partially inexplicable, effect to its peculiar existence, which is mixed up with its meaning but is independent — sometimes alienating, sometimes beguiling. And just as a work of art not only means something but also is something which is simply inexplicable, it forms both an autonomous as well as a committed point of view toward the world and reality.

… We have these mediations to thank for the fact that a vulgata develops out of an apparently secret “mandarin” language, the nonconformist avant-garde acquires a more or less acceptable sense, and their rebelliousness, which is aimed mainly at bewilderment, becomes tractable and to some extent respectable.

[line break added] he routine of regular art criticism in the daily newspapers and journals, popular literature on the theory of art, and picture books which deal with the history of art, of prescribed visits to art collections and exhibitions, of the constant presentation of new products in drama and music, of constant television and radio programs may in themselves be of questionable value, but they create an atmosphere in which art becomes an everyday phenomenon even if it is for the most part neglected.

… An artistic experience which is achieved by the dilution and vulgarization of its substratum is not an achievement, for we do not arrive at the adequate evaluation of high art by tolerating what is inferior. The ability to appreciate authentic art assumes an arduous path toward the formation of taste. We achieve this only by patient education, and finally by a leap and not by a graduated progress from imperfect and mediocre products to more and more genuine and more and more demanding ones.

[line break added] The development does not consist in change of objects but in change of attitude. No matter how many assumptions and preconditions it may require, we suddenly discover what real art is, as if everything which had been experienced and learned beforehand had nothing to do with the revelation. We comprehend what art is as if by chance, just as we are suddenly able to swim.

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

-Julie

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