Thursday, April 21, 2005

Art and Beauty

Thanks once again to all my friends who keep up with my blog. Some of you tell me about it by email but I would love it if you left me a note! You can leave Anonymous comments without signing up, so remember to leave your name at the bottom.
Your comment exchanges with each other are soooo amusing!!!

I am in a hellishly literary mood tonight.

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.
The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

Oscar Wilde, preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray

So today I decided to give you something other than A Room with a View, and yet it is George Emerson in this book who brought Dorian Gray to mind.
One day last week, the two merged into one for me. Why didn't I see it before? One with occasionally the profound silences of George Emerson, broken with momentary currents of a deeply-flowing philosophy, as well as a little tremor of uncertainty and discovery. In better moods, there is the grace of Lord Henry, his beautiful voice and the world captured in phrases that work their charm on Dorian...............................

"...that is one of the great secrets of life -- to cure the soul by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul. You are a wonderful creation. You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know."
Lord Henry, The Picture of Dorian Gray

......................................or on me.

Snap out of it! OK, when I spoke of Marx and Ruskin in Issues & Contexts, I could have connected their treatises to what Wilde said at the end of the aforementioned preface:

All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

(Isn't that ending little bit Ruskin-y?)

Wilde, however, goes on to snatch the profundity away by adding "All art is quite useless."
Which could be the logical conclusion to his argument, though I see it as a little Wildean thumbing his nose at us before signing off.

I came home this afternoon about 6.30 pm. From the dark stairway, even before I reached my room, I could see the sun bursting from under the doorway. I opened it with tremulous expectation, and was enveloped by pure golden light...!


Jia Li said...

this is where I found the pic!

Anonymous said...

nice to read a bit on art and literature....