Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, April 20, 2004  

Art ain't for sissies

"The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs. It is a disease which arises from men not having sufficient power of expression to utter and get rid of the element of art in their being. It is healthful to every sane man to utter the art within him; it is essential to every sane man to get rid of the art within him at all costs. Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily, or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament. Thus, very great artists are able to be ordinary men-- men like Shakespeare or Browning. There are many real tragedies of the artistic temperament, tragedies of vanity or violence or fear. But the great tragedy of the artistic temperament is that it cannot produce any art... " Chesterton On Heretics via The Derb.

I've never read a better explanation for what ails my fellows (and at times, myself when young) as to the preening foppery, self-promoting pathos, and the "look at me, ma! I feel everything so much more deeply than everyone else!"

I have encountered so many "bohemians" who are horrible artists, but convinced of their own grandeur. En masse, they share the belief that thinking they are great makes them so. I have often challenged artists to tell me what Beauty is, and if that is not the thing we ought to be presenting to others. The stammering and stupidity they then display as they try to justify why such a question isn't fair to them is rather amusing.

I have also noticed the chaos that such people leave in their wake - the fatherless or motherless children, the broken marriages, the serial adulteries, the drug and alcohol abuse - all the while convinced that they are the ones who are suffering for art's sake.

They also castigate commercial artists regardless of their talent for having the temerity of wanting to make a good living. THe bohemian despises sentimentality in art, but since he can't present the Profound, his only recourse is to celebrate ugliness and sarcasm.

An art like music can do one of two things. It can attempt to manipulate the auditor's emotions, or it can merely attempt to appeal to the emotions (particularly the higher emotions of virtue). But to manipulate emotion is lugubrious, and thus to be shunned; while the attempt to appeal to nobility and beauty is virtuous (and requires a source from within the artist to transmit), the bohemian lacks such depth and intelligence.

But if you have enough aggressive poseurs to take over an art world, modern art is what you get.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:44 AM |