to the populace's level and "went slumming" among ble through a spiritual freedom, a self-activity

them; Schiller, on the contrary, demanded that in which supercedes the domination of the passions.

those poems directed specifically to the popular audience

only the highest criteria must be observed. Thus, . Precisely what Aristotle described as the essential

once again, the poet's primary criterion is idealiza- requirement of poetic art--namely, that the poet must

tion, ennoblement, without which he does not qualify work himself up into a frenzy bordering on insanity--

for his profession.

Schiller has rejected as what deprives a poem of all

Bfirger was unable to practice the art ofidealiza- artistic value. Concerning Bfirger himself, Schiller

tion because he did not first develop himself, but says that his enthusiasm verges on the edge of insanity,

rather merely described his own sensual impressions; and that his fire often turns into fury.

hence he usually produces a thoroughly unpoetical Instead of touching the heart of the population in

result, as the following lines quoted by Schiller its tenderest and most impressionable place, and setdemonstrate:

ting its feelings to a purer and more spiritually

enriched text, these street poets do tremendous dam-

To howl out his pain, age by degrading the population's soul rather than

Howl! I must howl out from within him. improving it.

... Schiller repeatedly and in many locations ap-

How I get so terribly anxious, pealed to the great moral responsibility which must

So hot and then so cold again!

be felt by the artist. He has not the slightest interest in

the population per se, but only in the population he

Such statements in verse form are nothing except the aspires to educate. For him, adapting himself in any

writer's description of himself in his own specific way to the population would be the death of poetry,

individual situation; hence, they do not meet the and during his lifetime he made many enemies with

criterion of general truth, not to mention how very such comments as, "The majority are fools." Conuninteresting

they are. As Schiller rightly says, what cerning the family dramas which were then in vogue

makes them bad as verse is not only the fact that they (comparable to today's TV soap operas), he said they

are depictions of such feeling states, but also that they merely served to clean out the tear ducts and to

are the offspring of frankly unpoetic internal attitudes, pleasantly relieve the vascular system, while the mind

For Schiller, Aristotle's theory that all art is merely remained empty. And what he said about music

imitatiofi, and that the poet must therefore feel like a remains true for today's audiences:

stage actor, is the grossest violation of all poetic art,

and one to which Bfirger fell victim. Further, he The music of the moderns also seemsaimed only

proves that Aristotle's views on dramatic art are just at sensualeffects and thus caters to the prevailing

as wrong as are his ideas on poetry,

taste, which wants only to be pleasantly tickled,

and not seized, not powerfully moved, not ele-

An indignant stage actor can hardly be expected

vated. Preference is therefore given to everything

to honestly portray anger; a poet must take care

sentimental,and whereas the concert hall is ininot

to celebrate pain whenever he is experiencing

tially filled with so much bustle and chatter,

pain. To the extent a poet is a mere passiveobject,

everyone suddenly becomes all ears the moment

his sentiments will inevitably sink below their a sentimental passage is pla)_ed. A sensuous

idealistic generality and into imperfect individu-

expression verging on the bestial is apt to appear

ality. He can compose his poems from sweeter

on all faces a_such times; the drunken eyes swim

and more fleeting memories, and the more he has

with tears, the mouth gapes lustfully; a voluptuexperienced

what he celebrates, the better; but he ous tremor seizes the entire body, the breathing '

must never do so under the immediate rule of the

becomes rapid and weak--in short, all the syrupemotions

which he intends to convey to us as

toms of intoxication appear--a clear proof that

beautiful.Even in those poems whereof it is said

the sensesare being gratified while the mind, the

that the poet's paintbrush was guided by his own

principle of man's freedom, is being plundered by

love, friendship, etc., he always had to start out

the violence of the assaulton the senses.

by becoming estranged from himself, disengaging

the object of his excitement from his own individ- Unfortunately, this description of pathos in a

uality and viewing his passion from a mellowing piece of self-styled art accurately fits the absolute

distance. The ideal-beautiful only becomes possi- majority of the music performed today; whether it is

54 June 1980 / CAMPAIGNER

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines