Origins of Art: A Psychological & Sociological Inquiry

By Yrjö J. Hirn | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XVII
EROTIC ART

WHEN from the discouraging examination of decorative arts as connected with sexual selection we turn our attention to the department of poetry and drama, we reasonably expect to attain some less ambiguous results. In every work of literary art one should think that the subject ought to afford some indication as to its purpose. The dances, songs, and pantomimes of the lower tribes are, however, in this respect not very instructive. No doubt there can be quoted a great number of artistic manifestations in which love is represented or described in all its phases. But we are not thereby justified in assuming that these dramas, pantomimes, and poems were called into existence by the preferences of the other sex. It would be absurd to adduce the pornographic art of modern times as proof of sexual selection. And it is equally absurd to cite in favour of Darwin's thesis travellers' tales of indecent dances or ceremonies in which no mention is made of the presence of the opposite sex.

On the other hand, it must be conceded that the influence of sex on the evolution of art cannot, as Mr. Spencer seems to think, be completely disproved by an appeal to the mere fact that erotic motives occupy so

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