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In his Poetics, Aristotle presents the following In his philosophical writings Schiller mastered the

simple-minded idea: All forms of art are nothing but lawfulness of the universe, and in his poems and

imitations. The human being, from childhood on, has literary writings he created works of art which repbeen

endowed with instincts, and the difference be- resent the apex of his philosophical productions. No

tween him and other animals lies in the fact that he one has written more explicitly about the fact that

excels in imitation. If one were to believe Aristotle, composing poetry is not a matter of sudden flashes of

Konrad Lorenz and the behaviorists would be correct intuition, but rather is the most rigorous of all human

in their claim that man differs from animals only in creative activities. It is worth noting that the two

degree, and that consequently the smears made by treatises in which he most directly deals with the

chimpanzees on the walls of their cages are a form of poetic method are critical reviews of the work of two

art, too. Not a few of our modern painters are known of his contemporaries, Matthison and B_irger.

to subscribe to this idea. In his essay "On Matthison's Poetry" Schiller sets

, If art is imitation, then according to Aristotle, the forth the rigorous principles which permit the evalubest

artist is the one who is best at imitation. Aristotle ation of any poem. The question to be answered is

therefore demands that, as much as possible the poet whether Matthison's poetic landscape scenes--which

should be like a stage actor, and that, for example, he depict nature only and therefore exclude the domain

can best communicate anger when he is himself anger,- of the most sublime beauty in the universe, namely,

ed, excitement when he is himself excited, and so on. man--should be included among the beautiful, or are

Thus poetry requires either quick reflexes or a sort of they merely a form of entertainment? Both entertainenthusiasm

bordering on insanity. This is, among ing art and beautiful art, says Schiller, share the

other things, the source of the belief promoted since domain of freedom, but what makes a work of art

the 19th century by British-dominated literary schools into a work of beauty is the included characteristic of

that genius and insanity are closely interrelated--a necessity.

theory which merely served to cover up the systematic

murder of such great artists as Robert Schumann. If poetry in general is understood as "putting us

Therefore, if art were merely imitation and both into certain states of feeling by means of the free

the artist and his audience became whatever they effect of our productive powers of imagination"

imagined themselves to be, then all lawfulness in art (a statement which will certainly continue to

would disappear, and absolutely anyone could simply stand up well against the many other current

set down on paper, canvas or score whatever his state statements on this question), then as a result we

of mind happened to be at the time, and that would have two additional criteria which no poet worbe

art. The religious mystic would merely describe thy of the name can neglect to fulfill. Firstly, he

his tumultuous emotions, and that would be Romantic must allow for the free play and self-activity of our

art; the schizophrenic would maniacally draw dots on own powers of imagination, and secondly, he

score paper, and that would be atonal music; the must be no less certain of his own effect on us,

sexual pervert would portray himself according to his and he must produce a definite sentiment within

own sadomasochistic fantasies, and he would then be us. These ' criteria seem at first to be mutually

a punk-rock artist. The infantile adult would gaily contradictory, since, according to the first one,

paint a meadow of flowers with concealed Easter our own power of imagination must dominate

eggs, and that would be naturalistic art; the moralist and must obey none except its own laws; accordwould

only sculpt figures of beautiful heroic people, ing to the second one, it must be subservient and

and this would be realist art.

obey the poet's law. How, then, does the poet

Now, it is well known that all this actually does resolve this contradiction? By dictating to our

happen, and that it is generally accepted as art. It imagination no other course but that which it

therefore appears all the more necessary to henceforth would have to take in full freedom and according

deny these phenomena the conceptual status of art, to its own laws, so that it accomplishesits purpose

and perhaps to use them instead as clinical psychoan- through nature and will transform external into

alytic material for the eventual therapeutic treatment internal necessity. It turns out, then, that both

of their originators,

criteria do not simply cancel each other out, but

Schiller, on the contrary, introduced the only rather, each is contained within the other; it is

concept of art which is true and adequate to man's only through the greatest determinateness that the

dignity, and we intend to make this concept univer- greatest freedom is possible.

sally recognized. And the more the outraged antihumanists

raise the cry of "Neoplatonic dictator- But how is the poet to know beforehand the

ship," the better, imaginations and associations of all conceivable read-

CAMPAIGNER/June 1980 51

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