Saturday, August 18, 2007

Century after Century of Puked Beauty

"In each human heart terror survives
The ravin it has gorged: the loftiest fear
All that they would disdain to think were true:
Hypocrisy and custom make their minds
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.
They dare not devise good for man's estate,
And yet they know not that they do not dare."

Shelley, Prometheus Unbound

Can art survive the knowledge that art isn’t inspired, (engendered by the breath of a deity,) while never ceasing to acknowledge that any art worthy of the name requires an absolute conviction?

One is well aware of imperfection and impotence, and after the glorious certainty of early childhood has passed, one looks with dreary sadness at the mismatch of what one has made and what one had hoped to make, what one has made of oneself, and what one had hoped to make of oneself.

One also gets kind of used to the experience of this mismatch...It's tolerable. I fall short of my self-set mark, but so do most others.

I compare myself favorably to some, so what's to be concerned about? I'll get along...We'll all get along. This isn't a dire situation, even if it is peculiarly and anxiously nagging.

One can learn to live with and manage one’s sorrowful shortcomings – one can adapt, continue to edify oneself, and become satisfied with increments of improvement.

Strategies of amelioration, not transformation... If to ameliorate was as far we could go, I do not believe we could ever speak of such a thing as human creativity.

If "terror survives the ravin it has gorged" (psychic strategies of amelioration fail to eliminate fear or to create boldness) and the "loftiest fear is of all that they would disdain to think were true" (idealism succeeds in casting psychic shadows but fails to create an ideal reality), one is left with a wager or a dare as a creative option. No dare, no creation? Do we dare? Do we know that we do not dare? Why isn't it more obvious to us, one way or the other?

What is the nature of the dare?


Blogger Orla Schantz said...

Thank you, Yusef, for your recent thoughtful posts. Naturally revolutionaries are mess makers but they also often share the "glorious certainty" of early childhood and the dogmatic utopianism of puberty.

There is, it seems, a curious dialectics between rapture and rupture, religion and politics, art and "art".

Nietzsche also touched upon this,

A delusion in the theory of revolution. -- There are political and social fantasists who with fiery eloquence invite a revolutionary overturning of all social orders in the belief that the proudest temple of fair humanity will then rise up at once as though of its own accord. In these perilous dreams there is still an echo of Rousseau's superstition, which believes in a miraculous primeval but as it were buried goodness of human nature and ascribes all the blame for this burying to the institutions of culture in the form of society, state and education.

The experiences of history have taught us, unfortunately, that every such revolution brings about the resurrection of the most savage energies in the shape of the long-buried dreadfulness and excesses of the most distant ages: that a revolution can thus be a source of energy in a mankind grown feeble but never a regulator, architect, artist, perfector of human nature....

<(Human, All Too Human, vol. I, sec. 463, tr. Hollingdale)


3:21 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Thanks for your kind comment.

I ended up changing the post and may change it again because I now discover several conflicting thoughts where I previously thought there was one harmonious thought.

Please use the Nietzsche quote in a post -- it is extremely relevant to the inquiry.

4:19 PM  

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