Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oscar Wilde on Art

After completing the marathon of Les Miserables, I started and finished a book called "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby. I then discovered that apparently the book falls into a well known structure referred to as "Kierkegaard's Narrative". It is so called because the storyline involves a guy living a hedonistic existence who is going through the motions and questioning his identity before finding it in making a relational commitment. With such strong Kierkegaardian themes, no wonder I liked the book. I'd analyse it a bit more thoroughly, but I simply couldn't be bothered committing the time tonight.

I have now started to read a new book - "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde. Thus far I have only read the preface, but considering that I wrote about art last night, I thought I might provide you with Wilde's take on the subject:

The moral life a man forms part of the subject-mattter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved.

No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style.

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of art.

Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.

From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type.

All art is at once surface and symbol.

Those who go beneath the surface do so at their own peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their own peril.

It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.

Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.

When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself.

We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is useless.

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