25 January 2009

Knowing When (and Outside Commentary Notwithstanding)

Art is working on something until you like it, and then leaving it that way.

Legend on a T-shirt in
The Hamster Factor, & Other Tales of 12 Monkeys


Cato said...

"The process of success consists in marching with the others; the process of glory consists in marching against the others." — from The Mediocre Man by 19th-century French philosopher Ernest Hello.

Karl, the epigram and the previous comments on Stravinsky brought to mind Hello's ideas on Art, and how the self-esteem of the artist must be controlled, lest the artist become ridiculous. In fact, he explained that anyone's actions are tainted as soon as one's "self-esteem" comes into play.

What Stravinsky might have been trying to imply with his comment on "music expresses nothing" (but it does) is that the composer is striving to create a selfless and timeless expression, one that transcends the composer's sadness in e.g. March 1962 and "expresses" sadness as "a thing unto itself" as Kant would say.

As soon as the composerconsciously concerns himself with expressing his personal emotions in a work, he becomes "ridiculous" as Ernest Hello would say, because the artist is then concerned with expressing himself directly to an audience for his self-esteem, and not for something transcendent. His work becomes navel-gazing rather than to-heaven-ascending.

Karl Henning said...

In The Manchurian Candidate, Raymond Shaw makes a strained joke which humanizes him a bit just when Fate is about to close its jaws tighter . . . he calls himself Gaucho Marx.

If our 19th-century Frenchman Hello had named one of his philosophical monograms Je dois partir, it would appear in English footnote citations as:

Hello, I Must Be Going

Cato said...

Karl! With that joke you are definitely in the club!

And as Groucho would say, any club that would let him in he would not want to join!