Art Philosopher's Cabinet: Being Salient Passages from the Works on Comparative Aesthetics of George Lansing Raymond ..

Art Philosopher's Cabinet: Being Salient Passages from the Works on Comparative Aesthetics of George Lansing Raymond ..

Read FREE!

Art Philosopher's Cabinet: Being Salient Passages from the Works on Comparative Aesthetics of George Lansing Raymond ..

Art Philosopher's Cabinet: Being Salient Passages from the Works on Comparative Aesthetics of George Lansing Raymond ..

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The epigram, that most convincing form of argument, while it effectively destroys unsound opinions prevalent among people who let some one else do their thinking, may itself become the mother of error when it is in turn accepted without examination as to its positive truth.

Of this the popular epigrammatic definition of critics, so effectively used by Benjamin Disraeli in his novel of Lothair, as "the men who have failed in literature and art," is an example. It attacks unwarranted pretense on the part of those assuming to be authorities in these subjects, and unquestioning acceptance of them as such by the general public, and, at the same time, appeals by its slur to the element of malice latent in the human breast which springs gleefully into expression when that which is conceived to be a mask concealing real character and motives is removed. For these reasons, this epigram has been successful in its purpose where a plain statement of the need of examining the credentials of those sitting in judgment would have made no impression.

The error which the epigram propagates is in its sweeping assertion that all those who assume to be critics are failures as creative artists,—a patent untruth, but accepted for the sake of the slur without regard to the injurious effect that it may have on uninformed minds. Thus this epigram has been popularly exalted to a postulate; qualification to criticize has been accepted as proving inability to create; and, as an inevitable corollary, criticism has been deemed an inferior form of writing, indeed practically worthless.

To confute these errors, a plain statement of facts showing that great artists like Leonardo da Vinci and great poets like Coleridge have been supreme critics does not seem all that is demanded. Those who surrender to the force of epigrams appear often to bring about situations from which none but the champions of other epigrams can . . .

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