Sunday, August 21, 2016

Djinn/Theory 7 (Schiller)

"If one could give to an artificial flower by means of the most perfect deception, the appearance of nature, if one could carry the imitation of the naive in morals up to the highest illusion, so would the discovery, that it be imitation, completely destroy the feeling of which we are speaking. From this it is clear, that this kind of pleasure in regard to nature is not aesthetical, but rather moral; for it is produced by means of an idea, not immediately through contemplation..."

"... [Nature] will always express something of this effect even on those most lacking in feeling, because the predisposition to morality, which is common to all men, is already sufficient thereto and we are all driven to it in the idea..."

"So soon, however, as we have reason to believe, that the childish simplicity be simultaneously a childlike one... no incapacity, but rather a higher (practical) strength, a heart full of innocence and truth, which out of inner greatness disdains the help of art... the mockery of simpleness passes over into admiration of simplicity..."

† "Art," I suppose, in the sense of "craft" or "overt intent." --JB

"Every true genius must be naive or it is not genius. Its naivetè alone makes it genius, and what it is in the intellectual and the aesthetical, it can not deny in the moral. Unaware of the rules, the crutches of weakness, the taskmaster of perversity, guided only by nature or instinct, its protecting angel, it walks calmly and safely through all the snares of false taste... It is only given to the genius, to be always at home outside the known and to enlarge nature, without going beyond it."

"So soon, however, as that experience [of corruption, away from innocent nature --Ed.] has once been undergone and natural innocence has disappeared from morals, so are they sacred laws, which a moral feeling may not infringe upon. They are held true in an artificial world with the same justice, as the laws of nature reign in the world of innocence. But precisely that, indeed, constitutes the poet, that he annuls everything in himself, that recalls an artificial world, that he knows how to establish nature once again in its original simplicity. [...]

Therefore, as to these kinds of freedoms, the following can be established.

Firstly: only nature can justify them... for we never forgive the will, which is always directed according to moral laws, for showing favoritism to sensuousness. They [those freedoms --Ed.] must therefore be naivetè. In order, however, to be able to convince us, that they actually are this, we must see them supported and accompanied by everything else, which is likewise grounded in nature, because nature is to be known only by the strict consistency, unity, and uniformity of its effects. [...]

Secondly: Only beautiful nature can justify freedoms of this kind. They, therefore, ought not to be a one-sided outbreak of the appetites; for everything which originates from mere poverty is contemptible. These sensuous energies must therefore issue forth from the totality and from the fullness of human nature..."

"Should the modern [person] feel the Greek spirit enough, to wrestle with the Greeks [...] on their own field, namely in the field of naive poetry, so may he do it entirely and do it exclusively and place himself apart from any requirement of the sentimental taste of his age."

"Actual nature, that is; but true nature, which is the subject of naive compositions, can not be carefully enough distinguished from this. Actual nature exists everywhere, but true nature is all the more seldom, for an inner necessity of existence belongs thereto. Actual nature is an even common eruption of passion, it may even be true nature, but it is not a truly human nature... Actual human nature is all moral baseness, but true human nature is hopefully not such; for the latter can never be other than noble. It is not to be overlooked, to what absurdities this confusion of actual nature with true human nature has led in criticism as in practice: what trivialities does one allow in poetry, yes extol, because they unfortunately (!) are actual nature: how one rejoices to see caricatures, which already cause one alarm in the actual world, carefully preserved in the poetic, and portrayed 
according to life. Of course, the poet may also imitate depraved nature, and this indeed brings with itself already the concept of the satirical; but in this case, his own beautiful nature must carry over into the object and the common subject matter not drag the imitator with it to the ground. Be he only, at least at the moment when he paints, himself true human nature, so does it not matter what he paints for us; but we can endure a faithful painting of reality absolutely only from such an one."

- Friedrich Schiller's On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry

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