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Archive for May, 2013

What Art is for

I had some days ago finished reading a collection of short stories by Mark Samuels and though I was able to appreciate them, being fine examples of the weird tradition in the current literature of this kind, I cannot say that I enjoyed them particularly.  Yet threaded throughout were a number of well considered thoughts wonderfully expressed.  One pseudo excerpt in particular, the author having attributed it to Thomas De Quincey is still rattling around my head.  It runs thus:

“We continually regard what is miraculous as merely commonplace by virtue of extreme familiarity.”

I agree.

In short, for those in search of the miraculous: look no further but rather, Look!

The author is of course concerned with language, something that is suggestive of great mystery; a proof, he says, that this cosmos is not easily explained!  It’s occurred to me that, perhaps coeval to speech, there was a desire to express our wonder at what came to us through the eyes so that image making may not have been too long upon the heels of the spoken word.  Between what is written and what is painted there has always been a shared affinity; a constant since antiquity when it was chiefly the poet who determined in what manner a thing ought to be represented – its secondary detailing and embellishment alone being left to the creative powers of the artist to suggest.

It follows – and I do not fancy this to be mere conjecture – that the concerns of both Artist and Author are closely united.  Each unveils in a manner appropriate to their mode of expression a facet of the common place heightened to the imminence and reality of experience renewed; a peak experience as Colin Wilson terms it, divested from the short sighted preoccupations of immediate physical and emotional concerns.  An artist wishes to replace the opinions and fancies one might have about a thing with the thing itself uncoloured by our doubts and miseries.

We must retain our curiousity and wonder, otherwise the world becomes a boring and benighted procession of catalogued forms pointlessly self repeating.  Not only is our will sapped when an unbalanced view of this kind prevails but we soon find our depth of experience prey to the emptiness of promised novelty and distraction.  Only a debased view of the world contracts fine art and great literature to a condition of mere entertainment.

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