*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Beauty without symbolic depth results in ornament. Symbol without beauty results in psychoanalysis. Only when the two meet can we speak of art. The artistic works that combine the two elements most compellingly are what are called the classics. In his magisterial book The Analogical Imagination, the theologian David Tracy defines the classic as a work exhibiting a permanent “excess of meaning.” We speak of classics as “timeless,” he says, not because they belong to time, but because they are perpetually timely; their relevance never wanes, and each generation, each percipient, must interpret them anew. According to Tracy, we know we are dealing with a classic when a work makes us realize that our general outlook on life is not as complete as we thought it was, that “something else might be the case.” In the light that the classic emanates, things suddenly seem less clear-cut than they used to seem – we find ourselves in the presence of something greater than we are, something potentially infinite. Classics take us to the apex of the numinous, the point of what Werner Herzog calls “ecstatic truth.”
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
A work of art can start you thinking about some aesthetic or philosophical problem; it can suggest some new method, some fresh approach to fiction. But the relationship between reading and writing is rarely so clear-cut…
To be truthful, some writers stop you dead in your tracks by making you see your own work in the most unflattering light. Each of us will meet a different harbinger of personal failure, some innocent genius chosen by us for reasons having to do with what we see as our own inadequacies. The only remedy to this I have found is to read a writer whose work is entirely different from another, though not necessarily more like your own – a difference that will remind you of how many rooms there are in the house of art.
Francine Prose in Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them
Comments are welcome!