“People holding this view of art, contrary to the modern view which considers all art good as long as it affords pleasure, thought and think that art, unlike the word, to which people need not listen, is so highly dangerous in its capacity for infecting people against their will, that mankind would lose far less if all art were banished than if every kind of art were tolerated.
“Those people who rejected all art were obviously wrong, because they rejected what cannot be rejected – one of the most necessary means of communication, without which mankind cannot live. But no less wrong are the people of our civilized . . . society, circle, and time, in tolerating all art as long as it serves beauty – that is, gives people pleasure.
“Formerly, there was fear that among objects of art some corrupting objects might be found, and so all art was forbidden. Now, there is only fear lest they be deprived of some pleasure afforded by art, and so all art is patronized. And I think that the second error is much greater than the first and that its consequences are much more harmful.” ~Leo Tolstoy, What Is Art?
I love it when brilliant people crystallize things towards which I have thought but not found expression. I love truth. Ah, yes, this is the thing toward which all of my busyness is working. This is the reason I pursue difficult theorems through tangled texts, keep late hours, and am so very happy after Aesthetics class . . . green pastures, quiet waters, truth.
Tolstoy describes art as a vital means of communion among people. In other words, art is a way of unifying. Unity. The idea that something is needed to bring unity presupposes that things are not unified. That there are broken things that need to be made whole. To be restored. He restores my soul.
Last week, I read selections from Nietzsche. The editor entitled the selection “Art as Redemption.” There it is again: redemption. Restoration. According to Nietzsche, there are two varieties of art, but the one that came closest to representing reality was the one which broke down barriers between people and brought unity. Nietzsche was pretty far off the mark in most things, but he echoes a fundamental human longing. The problem is, while art brings some superficial restoration of broken relation, art cannot bring complete unity. It cannot utterly redeem.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both of us into one has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility . . .”
Unity. Restoration. He is the Truth.