Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art is the great stimulant to life

L’art pour l’art.— The fight against purpose in art is always a fight against the moralizing tendency in art, against its subordination to morality. L’art pour l’art means: “The devil take morality!”— But even this hostility still betrays the overpowering force of the prejudice. When the purpose of moral preaching and of improving man has been excluded from art, it still does not follow by any means that art is altogether purposeless, aimless, senseless—in short, l’art pour l’art, a worm chewing its own tail. “Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!”—that is the talk of mere passion. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations … Is this merely a “moreover”? an accident? something in which the artist’s instinct had no share? Or is it not the very presupposition of the artist’s ability…? Does his basic instinct aim at art, or rather at the sense of art, at life? at a desirability of life?— Art is the great stimulant to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l’art pour l’art?— One question remains: art also makes apparent much that is ugly, hard, and questionable in life,—does it not thereby spoil life for us?— And indeed there have been philosophers who attributed this sense to it: “liberation from the will” was what Schopenhauer taught as the overall end of art; and with admiration he found the great utility of tragedy in its “evoking resignation.”— But this—as I have already suggested—is the pessimist’s perspective and “evil eye”: one must appeal to the artists themselves. What does the tragic artist communicate of himself? Is it not precisely the state without fear in the face of the fearful and questionable that he is showing?— This state itself is a great desideratum [Wünschbarkeit]; whoever knows it, honors it with the greatest honors. He communicates it, he must communicate it, provided he is an artist, a genius of communication. Courage and freedom of feeling before a powerful enemy, before a sublime calamity, before a problem that arouses dread—this triumphant state is what the tragic artist chooses, what he glorifies. - Nietzsche

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