The Basic Dilemma of the Artist

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

The function of bridgingrepparttar gap between an idiosyncratic language (his or her own) and a more universal one was relegated to a group of special individuals called artists. Theirs isrepparttar 122437 job to experience (mostly emotions), to mould it into arepparttar 122438 grammar, syntax and vocabulary of a universal language in order to communicaterepparttar 122439 echo of their idiosyncratic language. They are forever mediating between us and their experience. Rightly so,repparttar 122440 quality of an artist is measured by his ability to loyally represent his unique language to us. The smallerrepparttar 122441 distance betweenrepparttar 122442 original experience (the emotion ofrepparttar 122443 artist) and its external representation -repparttar 122444 more prominentrepparttar 122445 artist.

We declare artistic success whenrepparttar 122446 universally communicable representation succeeds at recreatingrepparttar 122447 original emotion (felt byrepparttar 122448 artist) with us. It is very much like those science fiction contraptions which allow forrepparttar 122449 decomposition ofrepparttar 122450 astronaut's body in one spot - and its recreation, atom for atom in another (teleportation).

Even ifrepparttar 122451 artist fails to do so but succeeds in calling forth any kind of emotional response in his viewers/readers/listeners, he is deemed successful.

Every artist has a reference group, his audience. They could be alive or dead (for instance, he could measure himself against past artists). They could be few or many, but they must exist for art, in its fullest sense, to exist. Modern theories of art speak aboutrepparttar 122452 audience as an integral and defining part ofrepparttar 122453 artistic creation and even ofrepparttar 122454 artefact itself.

But this, precisely, isrepparttar 122455 source ofrepparttar 122456 dilemma ofrepparttar 122457 artist:

Who is to determine who is a good, qualitative artist and who is not?

Put differently, who is to measurerepparttar 122458 distance betweenrepparttar 122459 original experience and its representation?

After all, ifrepparttar 122460 original experience is an element of an idiosyncratic, non-communicable, language - we have no access to any information regarding it and, therefore, we are in no position to judge it. Onlyrepparttar 122461 artist has access to it and only he can decide how far is his representation from his original experience. Art criticism is impossible.

Granted, his reference group (his audience, however limited, whether amongrepparttar 122462 living, or amongrepparttar 122463 dead) has access to that meta language, that universal dictionary available to all humans. But this is already a long way towardsrepparttar 122464 representation (the work of art). No one inrepparttar 122465 audience has access torepparttar 122466 original experience and their capacity to pass judgement is, therefore, in great doubt.

Onrepparttar 122467 other hand, onlyrepparttar 122468 reference group, onlyrepparttar 122469 audience can aptly judgerepparttar 122470 representation for what it is. The artist is too emotionally involved. True,repparttar 122471 cold, objective facts concerningrepparttar 122472 work of art are available to both artist and reference group - butrepparttar 122473 audience is in a privileged status, its bias is less pronounced.

Normally,repparttar 122474 reference group will userepparttar 122475 meta language embedded in us as humans, some empathy, some vague comparisons of emotions to try and grasprepparttar 122476 emotional foundation laid byrepparttar 122477 artist. But this is very much like substituting verbal intercourse forrepparttar 122478 real thing. Talking about emotions - let alone making assumptions about whatrepparttar 122479 artist may have felt that we also, maybe, share - is a far cry from what really transpired inrepparttar 122480 artist's mind.

We are faced with a dichotomy:

The epistemological elements inrepparttar 122481 artistic process belong exclusively and incommunicably torepparttar 122482 artist.

The ontological aspects ofrepparttar 122483 artistic process belong largely torepparttar 122484 group of reference but they have no access torepparttar 122485 epistemological domain.

Andrepparttar 122486 work of art can be judged only by comparingrepparttar 122487 epistemological torepparttar 122488 ontological.

Norrepparttar 122489 artist, neither his group of reference can do it. This mission is nigh impossible.

Thus, an artist must make a decision early on in his career:

Should he remain loyal and close to his emotional experiences and studies and forgorepparttar 122490 warmth and comfort of being reassured and directed fromrepparttar 122491 outside, throughrepparttar 122492 reactions ofrepparttar 122493 reference group, or should he considerrepparttar 122494 views, criticism and advice ofrepparttar 122495 reference group in his artistic creation - and, most probably, have to compromiserepparttar 122496 quality andrepparttar 122497 intensity of his original emotion in order to be more communicative.

I wish to thank my brother, Sharon Vaknin, a gifted painter and illustrator, for raising these issues.

ADDENDUM - Art as Self-Mutilation

The internalized anger of Jesus - leading to his suicidal pattern of behaviour - pertained to all of Mankind. His sacrifice "benefited" humanity as a whole. A self-mutilator, in comparison, appears to be "selfish".

His anger is autistic, self-contained, self-referential and, therefore, "meaningless" as far as we are concerned. His catharsis is a private language.

But what people fail to understand is that art itself is an act of self mutilation,repparttar 122498 etching of ephemeral pain into a lasting medium,repparttar 122499 ultimate private language.

They also ignore, at their peril,repparttar 122500 fact that only a very thin line separates self-mutilation - whether altruistic (Jesus) or "egoistic" - andrepparttar 122501 mutilation of others (serial killers, Hitler).

About inverted saints:

About serial killers:

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Web site:

Dreams of Reality - The View, and the Point of View

Written by Sam Vaknin

Continued from page 1

Roberto: Admittedly, if we mix that powerful imagination, anarchy, with a superior order, then we surely will encounterrepparttar superior works of art: Shakespeare, Cervantes, Velazquez, Goya, Beethoven, Ernst Junger, Borges, Goethe, Leonardo, Brunelleschi. But it is not a necessary condition.

Art does not depend on anything. It has nothing to do with order or anarchy, with politics, with technical conditions, with perfection... with nothing. None of all this affects Art. It deals withrepparttar 122436 deepest reality. Withrepparttar 122437 sense that is hidden beyondrepparttar 122438 Wall of Time. Withrepparttar 122439 secret of human beings, their inextricable condition of being inrepparttar 122440 middle between matter and energy. That is what touches our heart like a knife when we see a superior work of Art: itís a promise, a shared secret. It isrepparttar 122441 View of Something, that artist, going uprepparttar 122442 Wall of Time , sharing this with us. It doesn't have to do withrepparttar 122443 "mundane", itís just its opposite,repparttar 122444 other side ofrepparttar 122445 coin. Itísrepparttar 122446 view which transcends "materia".

You said that feeling is incommunicable, but there is a kind of collective memory- aka Jungian archetypes. This seems quite correct. And, of course, itís a plastic land, with degrees. But there are leaps - for instance,repparttar 122447 genius. There exist some basic points:repparttar 122448 mystical,repparttar 122449 religious,repparttar 122450 feeling of art. This isrepparttar 122451 reason for allrepparttar 122452 persecutions: Christians, Albigenese, Eleusians, Jews, Buddhists, Palestinians, Macedonians, etc... Here, sadly, cold alienated facts contravene you. Mystic questions are very nearrepparttar 122453 line that separates human beings and causes massacres.

When you talk about drugs, you talk fromrepparttar 122454 mundane side of things. You can talk about drug-addicts, their problems, you can talk aboutrepparttar 122455 effects of drugs on humans but you should never talk about drugs. The Shuīar men, commonly known as Jibaros, orrepparttar 122456 head-shrinkers, experience time completely differently from Western people. It is impossible to explain it in brief, it has to do with a change inrepparttar 122457 direction ofrepparttar 122458 flow of time, with dreams and future-past. But, one ofrepparttar 122459 consequences is that they donít knowrepparttar 122460 meaning of luck. And, if we believe anthropologists, it seems to be impossible for them to understand its meaning. Same goes for drugs, orrepparttar 122461 mystical experience.

Art can make possible this miracle, to search deeper inside us to meet these unknown feelings provoked byrepparttar 122462 artist. To look below our surface, to take stock of childhood and its innocent anarchy, to access collective memories and dreams, whererepparttar 122463 material is already indivisible.

This, and no other thing is, if we may say so, what defines Art. The capability of getting trough matter to show us what is behind it. Here, there is no possible agreement. Not to see Art that way is not to see Art, period. Itís like music, if you donít dig what it is about, that inextricable thing: "the real thing", then, itís like eating onlyrepparttar 122464 skin of a banana, letting go of its flesh. Here lies my fanaticism, inasmuch as we all are fanatics: I do believe in Art.

Sam: This was a long dissertation in favour ofrepparttar 122465 possibility to communicate fromrepparttar 122466 vantage points of private languages. Onrepparttar 122467 one hand, you admit that we are all trapped in our private hells, unable to communicate with each other except through massacres motivated by atavistic collective archetypes. You say that some experiences (drugs, for one) can not be communicated torepparttar 122468 uninitiated. Than, in a magnificent reversal, you say that Art isrepparttar 122469 communicative bridge. It is through it that we, poor, isolated, humans can march to meeting points where a deeper sort of information is provoked byrepparttar 122470 artist inrepparttar 122471 art consumer. Moreover, you seem to claim that Art contains both a functional sample ofrepparttar 122472 world andrepparttar 122473 rules of language (of connecting objects to its idiom). In other words, you seem to be saying that art is monovalent, it will provokerepparttar 122474 same emotional reactions in its consumers regardless of their identity. This is to say that Art is a universal language. Wittgenstein said as much about natural languages. He deniedrepparttar 122475 possibility that private languages with privileged access exist. He wrote that evenrepparttar 122476 speaker of a private language will not be able to understand it. Your version is softer: we all do have semi-private languages and a modicum of privileged access. But Art isrepparttar 122477 great dictionary which containsrepparttar 122478 vocabulary ofrepparttar 122479 human condition. Trapped as we are betweenrepparttar 122480 spirit andrepparttar 122481 flesh, between energy and matter, angels and demons, heaven andrepparttar 122482 hell which is our lives Ė Art comes to our help. It bandages our wounds, it talks to us inrepparttar 122483 ancient, unintelligible sounds of our collective archetypes, it soothes us as our mothers did. It then continues to offer to usrepparttar 122484 possibility to communicate with each other through its objects, really throughrepparttar 122485 person (or shall I say, persona?) ofrepparttar 122486 artist. Art, therefore, to you, is a liberating act. It breaks throughrepparttar 122487 glass containers of our very private existence which otherwise cannot be communicated benignly. I must say that I share your views with one modification, introduced byrepparttar 122488 ďscientistĒ in me: there is no way of ascertaining that Art works.

That Art provokes emotions is undeniable. That it, therefore, must be connected to our private languages (=largely, our emotions) follows. To interact with our private languages it must gain access to what hitherto has been a shrine accessed by a priesthood order of one, ourselves. Art demolishesrepparttar 122489 privileged access maxim. Still, can we be sure that it MEANSrepparttar 122490 same to all its worshippers? Of course not. Rather it would be safer to assume that an object of art would mean different things to different people. Art resonates with our private languages precisely because it is a private language (ofrepparttar 122491 artist). The affinity provokes empathy andrepparttar 122492 latter is misinterpreted as understanding. Art is as unintelligible as any other private language. Its relationship torepparttar 122493 emotions that it evokes in its beholder Ė is equal torepparttar 122494 relationship between a trigger pulled and a wounded, aching soldier. It resounds, it reverberates through us, inrepparttar 122495 process wounding us because it reminds us how IMPOSSIBLE it is to communicate, how absurd our existence is, how LONELY we are, how privileged our access is to a language which even we do not fully grasp or understand. Yes, we are sealed off from ourselves as well. This is what we discover through Art. The echoes of our very own languages perishing inrepparttar 122496 caverns of our minds.

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He is a columnist for Central Europe Review, United Press International (UPI) and eBookWeb and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

Web site:

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