The Enjoyment of the Arts

The Enjoyment of the Arts

The Enjoyment of the Arts

The Enjoyment of the Arts

Excerpt

In the Preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus Joseph Conrad defines art as the single-minded attempt to bring to light the very truth underlying every aspect of the visible universe by finding "in its forms, in its colours, in its light, in its shadows, in the aspects of matter and in the facts of life what of each is fundamental, what is enduring and essential-- their one illuminating and convincing quality--the very truth of their existence." In his quest for the truth of nature the artist is therefore one with the scientist and thinker; but whereas the facts unearthed by the scientist, and the ideas evolved by the thinker, appeal to our common sense and our intelligence, and fit us best "for the hazardous enterprise of living," the artist "speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder," the part of our being which although less loud, less distinct, and sooner forgotten, is nevertheless more profound, more stirring and permanently enduring than the changing wisdom of successive generations. Art is "the appeal of one temperament to all other innumerable temperaments whose subtle and restless power endows passing events with their true meaning," and since an appeal to temperament can be made only through the senses, the artist struggles to blend form and substance to a perfection that may "arrest for the space of a breath, the hands busy about the work of the earth, and compel men entranced by the sight of distant goals to glance for a . . .

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