The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Spontaneous impression


In every work of genius we rec­og­nize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a cer­tain alien­ated majesty. Great works of art have no more affect­ing lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spon­ta­neous impres­sion with good-humored inflex­i­bil­ity then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow a stranger will say with mas­terly good sense pre­cisely what we have thought and felt all the time…

“A certain alienated majesty”—I love that.


Tim says…

Reminds me of David Hume; there’s some good writing about Hume’s impact on art & literature in the 19th century, from Emerson to Jane Austen:

Early in the Enquiry, Hume makes the startling epistemological claim, over and over, that “the most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation” because “all our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones.” And again: “All ideas, especially abstract ones, are naturally faint and obscure,” whereas “all impressions, that is, all sensations, either outward or inward, are strong and vivid.” To test the validity of an idea, therefore, “we need but enquire from what impression is that supposed idea derived” (emphasis added).

And so onto the role of the artist:

Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration;
the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which humanity casts upon
the present; the words which express what they understand not;
The trumpets which sign to battle, and feel not what they inspire;
the influence which is moved not but moves. Poets are
the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
– Shelley

Oh, we’re sunk enough here, God knows!
But not quite so sunk that moments,
Sure tho’ seldom, are denied us,
When the spirit’s true endowments
Stand out plainly from its false ones,
And apprise it if pursuing
Or the right way or the wrong way,
To its triumph or undoing.

There are flashes struck from midnights,
There are fire-flames noondays kindle,
Whereby piled-up honours perish,
Whereby swollen ambitions dwindle,
While just this or that poor impulse,
Which for once had play unstifled,
Seems the sole work of a life-time
That away the rest have trifled.

Some long-time favorite stanzas from “Cristina”, by Robert Browning.

Which is I guess to say that once in a long while you have those great ideas yourself, and the alienated majesty is still there.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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