It has somewhat violently come to my attention over the past couple of years that my ideas on the origin and meaning of art in general result in a bit of a clash and breakdown not only theoretically, but pragmatically in everyday practice. Though my gut reaction has typically been to tread lightly on the visible exterior and remain privately faithful to my own stubborn intuitions, it is not difficult to predict the inevitable destruction that not-so-patiently awaits me there. It proves dangerous territory not only in terms of intellectual risk, but in that as a musician and professional the implications and repercussions of the outcome are tremendous. The time has come to devastate my philosophy: it cannot only suffer the dismantle/repair, it must be rebuilt from the bottom up.
What is art, then? Where does it come from? It is action or motion, necessarily existent ex-something or other, or reaction? Can it be borne solely via some lofty internal emotion, or must it come from a type of universal awareness and harmony? One question is easily answered: it is not derived simply of motion; it is action. At it’s very base art requires consciousness, therefore it cannot lie in the solely biological and animal aspect. It must assemble from the neurological and symbolic: the heart of dramatism.[i]
One catastrophic event in particular that has become almost the norm for some is the temptation to jump ahead of oneself and ask the “what may” and “what should” questions before coming to grips with the act and the purpose (the “what is” and “why”). As in any philosophic, psychoanalytic or scientific quest, if one does not set out from the very beginning with all unfounded assumptions aside, the task’s entire integrity becomes vulnerable to limitation and error. If the terms of the hypothesis are not clearly understood, by the time one attempts at an end result the outcome can only be adulterated.
So I find myself here again: Where does art originate? In Hegel’s Lectures on Aesthetics, he states the following:
“At the very origin of art there existed the tendency of the imagination to struggle upward out of nature into spirituality. But, as yet, the struggle consisted in nothing more than a yearning of the spirit, and, insofar as this failed to furnish a precise content for art, art could really be of service only in providing external forms for mere natural significations, or impersonal abstractions of the substantial inner principle which constitutes the central point of the world.”[ii]
He goes on to express that though it may have begun this way, it does not remain so. His notions on Classic Art assert that spirituality now realizes the basis and principle of content: it becomes external form. By the union of the spiritual and idealization of the natural, it would seem that “Classic Art” makes up the perfect and absolute personification of the ideal.
But already I am ahead of myself. I am yet unequipped to venture into the differences in Classic, Romantic, Symbolic Art or formalism until I better understand where (on or apart from earth) it comes from. As I work my way through Hegel’s Philosophy of Art[iii], I will continue to share my findings and ideas (and hopefully one day, a re-born concept of what art should be).
For now, I leave you with a glimpse of inexpressible significance to me as I sort through these issues. Poor is what I am, but if I am forced to take what I cannot yet afford, I shall continue to steal from the richest-
[i] Kenneth Burke. The Philosophy of Literary Form. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.