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All art is but imitation of nature

When we begin to live, what is sweet is so sweet to us, and what is bitter so bitter, that we inevitably direct all our desires towards pleasures, and seek not merely for a 'month or twain to feed on honeycomb,' but for all our years to taste no other food, ignorant all the while that we may really be starving the soul.I remember talking once on this subject to one of the most beautiful personalities I have ever known: a woman, whose sympathy and noble kindness to me, both before and since the tragedy of my imprisonment, have been beyond power and description; one who has really assisted me, though she does not know it, to bear the burden of my troubles more than any one else in the whole world has, and all through the mere fact of her existence, through her being what she is - partly an ideal and partly an influence: a suggestion of what one might become as well as a real help towards becoming it; a soul that renders the common air sweet, and makes what is spiritual seem as simple and natural as sunlight or the sea: one for whom beauty and sorrow walk hand in hand, and have the same message.

“All art is but imitation of nature.”

Some Beauties yet, no Precepts can declare,

For there's a Happiness as well as Care.

Musick resembles Poetry, in each

Are nameless Graces which no Methods teach,

And which a Master-Hand alone can reach.

If, where the Rules not far enough extend,

(Since Rules were made but to promote their End)

Some Lucky LICENCE answers to the full

Th' Intent propos'd, that Licence is a Rule.

Thus Pegasus, a nearer way to take,

May boldly deviate from the common Track.

Great Wits sometimes may gloriously offend,

And rise to Faults true Criticks dare not mend;

From vulgar Bounds with brave Disorder part,

And snatch a Grace beyond the Reach of Art,

Which, without passing thro' the Judgment, gains

The Heart, and all its End at once attains.

In Prospects, thus, some Objects please our Eyes,

Which out of Nature's common Order rise,

The shapeless Rock, or hanging Precipice.

But tho' the Ancients thus their Rules invade,

(As Kings dispense with Laws Themselves have made)

Moderns, beware! Or if you must offend

Against the Precept, ne'er transgress its End,

Let it be seldom, and compell'd by Need,

And have, at least, Their Precedent to plead.

The Critick else proceeds without Remorse,

Seizes your Fame, and puts his Laws in force.

Greenberg: Avant-Gardde and Kitsch

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) - Guide to …

A perfect Judge will read each Work of Wit

With the same Spirit that its Author writ,

Survey the Whole, nor seek slight Faults to find,

Where Nature moves, and Rapture warms the Mind;

Nor lose, for that malignant dull Delight,

The gen'rous Pleasure to be charm'd with Wit.

But in such Lays as neither ebb, nor flow,

Correctly cold, and regularly low,

That shunning Faults, one quiet Tenour keep;

We cannot blame indeed--but we may sleep.

In Wit, as Nature, what affects our Hearts

Is nor th' Exactness of peculiar Parts;

'Tis not a Lip, or Eye, we Beauty call,

But the joint Force and full Result of all.

Thus when we view some well-proportion'd Dome,

The World's just Wonder, and ev'n thine O Rome!)

No single Parts unequally surprize;

All comes united to th' admiring Eyes;

No monstrous Height, or Breadth, or Length appear;

The Whole at once is Bold, and Regular.

First follow NATURE, and your Judgment frame

By her just Standard, which is still the same:

Unerring Nature, still divinely bright,

One clear, unchang'd and Universal Light,

Life, Force, and Beauty, must to all impart,

At once the Source, and End, and Test of Art

Art from that Fund each just Supply provides,

Works without Show, and without Pomp presides:

In some fair Body thus th' informing Soul

With Spirits feeds, with Vigour fills the whole,

Each Motion guides, and ev'ry Nerve sustains;

It self unseen, but in th' Effects, remains.

Some, to whom Heav'n in Wit has been profuse.

Want as much more, to turn it to its use,

For Wit and Judgment often are at strife,

Tho' meant each other's Aid, like Man and Wife.

'Tis more to guide than spur the Muse's Steed;

Restrain his Fury, than provoke his Speed;

The winged Courser, like a gen'rous Horse,

Shows most true Mettle when you check his Course.

Teaching Idea Generation in Art

Aristotle: Politics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Hugo's LES MISERABLES, Baudelaire's FLEURS DU MAL, the note of pity in Russian novels, Verlaine and Verlaine's poems, the stained glass and tapestries and the quattro-cento work of Burne-Jones and Morris, belong to him no less than the tower of Giotto, Lancelot and Guinevere, Tannhauser, the troubled romantic marbles of Michael Angelo, pointed architecture, and the love of children and flowers - for both of which, indeed, in classical art there was but little place, hardly enough for them to grow or play in, but which, from the twelfth century down to our own day, have been continually making their appearances in art, under various modes and at various times, coming fitfully and wilfully, as children, as flowers, are apt to do: spring always seeming to one as if the flowers had been in hiding, and only came out into the sun because they were afraid that grown up people would grow tired of looking for them and give up the search; and the life of a child being no more than an April day on which there is both rain and sun for the narcissus.It is the imaginative quality of Christ's own nature that makes him this palpitating centre of romance.

And feeling, with the artistic nature of one to whom suffering and sorrow were modes through which he could realise his conception of the beautiful, that an idea is of no value till it becomes incarnate and is made an image, he made of himself the image of the Man of Sorrows, and as such has fascinated and dominated art as no Greek god ever succeeded in doing.For the Greek gods, in spite of the white and red of their fair fleet limbs, were not really what they appeared to be.

The Literary Alchemy of César Aira | Quarterly …
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MODERN AND POSTMODERN - Sharecom Industries Ltd.

Francis was the true IMITATIO CHRISTI, a poem compared to which the book of that name is merely prose.Indeed, that is the charm about Christ, when all is said: he is just like a work of art.

Aristotle: Poetics | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Returning to our Russian peasant for the moment, let us supposethat after he has chosen Repin in preference to Picasso, the state'seducational apparatus comes along and tells him that he is wrong,that he should have chosen Picasso -- and shows him why. It isquite possible for the Soviet state to do this. But things beingas they are in Russia -- and everywhere else -- the peasant soonfinds the necessity of working hard all day for his living andthe rude, uncomfortable circumstances in which he lives do notallow him enough leisure, energy and comfort to train for theenjoyment of Picasso. This needs, after all, a considerable amountof "conditioning." Superior culture is one of the mostartificial of all human creations, and the peasant finds no "natural"urgency within himself that will drive him toward Picasso in spiteof all difficulties. In the end the peasant will go back to kitschwhen he feels like looking at pictures, for he can enjoy kitschwithout effort. The state is helpless in this matter and remainsso as long as the problems of production have not been solvedin a socialist sense. The same holds true, of course, for capitalistcountries and makes all talk of art for the masses there nothingbut demagogy.

The Poetics of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) is a much-disdained book

It is a platitude that art becomes caviar to the general whenthe reality it imitates no longer corresponds even roughly tothe reality recognized by the general. Even then, however, theresentment the common man may feel is silenced by the awe in whichhe stands of the patrons of this art. Only when he becomes dissatisfiedwith the social order they administer does he begin to criticizetheir culture. Then the plebian finds courage for the first timeto voice his opinions openly. Every man, from the Tammany aldermanto the Austrian house-painter, finds that he is entitled to hisopinion. Most often this resentment toward culture is to be foundwhere the dissatisfaction with society is a reactionary dissatisfactionwhich expresses itself in revivalism and puritanism, and latestof all, in fascism. Here revolvers and torches begin to be mentionedin the same breath as culture. In the name of godliness or theblood's health, in the name of simple ways and solid virtues,the statue-smashing commences.

English Essays: Sidney to Macaulay

In the Middle Ages the plastic artist paid lip service at leastto the lowest common denominators of experience. This even remainedtrue to some extent until the seventeenth century. There was availablefor imitation a universally valid conceptual reality, whose orderthe artist could not tamper with. The subject matter of art wasprescribed by those who commissioned works of art, which werenot created, as in bourgeois society, on speculation. Preciselybecause his content was determined in advance, the artist wasfree to concentrate on his medium. He needed not to be philosopher,or visionary, but simply artificer. As long as there was generalagreement as to what were the worthiest subjects for art, theartist was relieved of the necessity to be original and inventivein his "matter" and could devote all his energy to formalproblems. For him the medium became, privately, professionally,the content of his art, even as his medium is today the publiccontent of the abstract painter's art -- with that difference,however, that the medieval artist had to suppress his professionalpreoccupation in public -- had always to suppress and subordinatethe personal and professional in the finished, official work ofart. If, as an ordinary member of the Christian community, hefelt some personal emotion about his subject matter, this onlycontributed to the enrichment of the work's public meaning. Onlywith the Renaissance do the inflections of the personal becomelegitimate, still to be kept, however, within the limits of thesimply and universally recognizable. And only with Rembrandt do"lonely" artists begin to appear, lonely in their art.

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