Fundamentals

Vik RubenfeldPoem2 Comments

Nothing is more fundamental to the subject at hand, than the question of what it is that art communicates.

My teacher, the great Mrs. Bettina Olivier, taught that:

Art is form; art is the form of emotional insight. Emotional insight communicates the emotion, and the meaning of the emotion.

Let’s think about that for a second: “the meaning of the emotion.”

Emotion has a meaning that is not limited to the intellectual.

Let’s take an example, from The Double Vision of Michael Robartes, by Yeats:

Oh, little did they care who danced between,
And little she by whom her dance was seen
So that she danced. No thought,
Body perfection brought,

For what but eye and ear silence the mind
With the minute particulars of mankind?
Mind moved yet seemed to stop
As ’twere a spinning-top.

Now, it’s easy to talk about what the intellectual meaning of these lines is or may be. The chick is just dancing, she doesn’t care who’s watching, she feels that everything is perfect, yadda yadda yadda. But there’s much more than that here. You can feel what Yeats is feeling about her. And those mind-blowing last two lines: there’s a powerful emotional meaning to them that you can feel, and that you cannot communicate in a merely intellectual restatement.

Art communicates something in addition to intellectual insight; art communicates emotional insight. When we get into the subject of the meaning of emotion, we are approaching the realm of the holy, the godlike, and the spiritual.

Is there a work of art that has moved you? If so, post something about it in the comments section.

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