Denton Jaques Snider.

Music and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic online

. (page 8 of 32)
Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderMusic and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic → online text (page 8 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

inner and outer, little pulsations of the
stricken soul, or also billowy rolling of the
water. A vibrato is produced somewhat dif-
ferently, namely by the hand pressed quiver-
ingly on the strings, and it may be called sen-
timental, and hence is not so pleasant when
excessive, reminding the listener of those
singers who in the voice employ vibrato to
excess. The vibrato is more subjective than
the tremolo, as may be inferred from their
different origin; in the former, the hand,
the whole violin and indeed tlie whole body
trembles; in the latter the trembling is exe-
cuted by the bow, and imitates many things
in nature — the wind, the susurrus in the
trees (Waldweben), and the water in ripples
and billows, as well as sound in the under-
tones of a waterfall.

It is evident that the violin as an outer
mechanical fact, splits up into distinct parts,
three of them, which have to be put together
into their process by the player. Thus his
first act is to unify what is separated —
which act may be taken as a kind of over-
ture indicating the character of this instru-
ment as well as its deepest function in the
Orchestra. How simple is the wind instru-
ment, brass or wood, in comparison with it!
For flute or horn is merely one, in spite of
the keys of the former or curves of the lat-


ter, while the violin is three which is to be
made one ere it can have any tone, which
tone thus i« the product of a triple instru-
ment, not of a single one, that is, not of one
straight or crooked tube piped off into a va-
riety of vents. Undoubtedly solid wood and
brass have some natural resonance and im-
part it to their instruments, but they have
no contrivance to produce resonance, v.'hicli
thus becomes a prominent factor in the tone
of the violin, giving to it that unique fringe
of silken vibration Miiicli is its boast.

Here lies the reason why the violin may
be called the most perfect musical instru-
ment, though it possesses not the range of the
piano, and shows other limitations. But it
has the process of the whole Orchestra with-
in itself: percussion in the bow, the sepa-
rated and specialized notes in the strings,
the fuser and unifier of this separation in a
particular part, the shell. Hence it har-
monizes itself in its own complete process,
and therewith it is able to harmonize the
other different instruments; overcoming its
own inner division and scission, it can medi-
ate what lies outside of its proper family.
Besides, through this process of itself, it
touches more directly and deeply the human
soul which has a similar process, and which
is therefore more immediately stimulated by


the violin tlian by any otlier instrument.
Hence its popularity even in its crudest
forms. That ultimate inner movement of
the Psyche (the Psychosis) feels its corres-
pondance to the above-mentioned round or
process of the violin, and answers the same
with a delight sprung of its deepest Self in

Still we are to note that the violin family
can produce a tempest, has its squalls, its
upheavals, its oppositions, its revolutions.
It may voice the murmuring multitude, the
rising storm on sea and land, within and
without, it can represent the struggle of pas-
sion against the law (note Tannhduser spe-
cially, though this use of the strings is often
found in Wagner). For the violin has sep-
aration also as a part of itself, which may
break loose and assert itself against its own
unifying nature. But such is not its gen-
eral character. It has been already empha-
sized that the term famib/ applies specially
to the violins, they have tlie common domes-
tic note of concord, though capable of out-
breaks and dissonances.

Taken together, then, the Orchestra may
be regarded as one vast sound-whorl, which
embraces an enormous variety in quantity
and quality of tones. It is one instrument
associated of many instruments, which out-


wardly manifests and inwardly stimulates
the psYcliical process which we have alreadj^
named the soul-whorl. So we reach back to
our starting-point, and find still in the com-
plexity of the Orchestra the primal basic
unit of Music (see first pages of this Intro-
duction). The simple sound-whorl with which
we began, has associated with itself an un-
told multitude of its kind, but it remains at
bottom the same process, having the same
psychical appeal.

e JfiiTC %xh.

The general purpose of the present book
is to define and put in order the , so-called
Fine Arts in accord with their psychological
evolution. It should be premised that by the
Fine Arts we mean what may be more defi-
nitely called the Sense-Arts, those which
man receives through the senses of Sight
and Hearing or that cycle of Arts beginning
with Sculpture and ending with Music. Evi-
dently in such a classification of the Fine
Arts, Poetry does not belong; it has a differ-
ent psychical starting-point, namely the im-
age; in other terms, it is not a Presentative
but a Representative Art — a distinction
which modern Aesthetic has not sufficiently



recognized. Psychically, tlien, we must in-
clude in a distinct class of tlieir own those
Arts which are taken np by us as immediate
I^ercepts, discriminating them sharply from
the Arts sprung of mediate images, which
are percepts transformed and worded.

It is evident, however, that we apply the
common term Art to both" Sense- Arts (Fine
Arts) and to Image- Arts (Poetry, Novel,
etc.). Still further. Thought has its Art, as
well as Percept and Image, and so to the two
previous divisions we must add that of the
Thought- Arts (for instance, Plato may be
well deemed an artist in Thought), though
the word Art is thus stretched beyond its
usage which confines it mostly to the Fine
Arts or Sense-Arts.

But not everything seen by me is a work of
Art, nor is everything imaged or thought by
me. I see a huge pile of stones, it is not an
artistic object; but if an architect appears
who can transform it into a Parthenon, it
becomes a wonderful work of Art, which
thrills us and which we call beautiful, even
divine. It is composed of the same material
as before, it is the same pile of stones ; and
if I could in some wav ierk out of the struc-
ture the invisible something which trans-
forms the visible, the whole of it would drop
back into its former inartistic condition. Now


the question presses forward, what has the
architect put into this dark fragment of
chaos to transfigure it into a radiant appear-
ance of tlie cosmos? We may at least think
that he has manifested a spark of that di-
vinely creative power which called forth and
ordered the universe. Or let tlie old Greek
sculptor appear and re-shape those same
stones after his Art; then will come forth
the God Himself, the original creator from
whom the artist derives his genius, and who
will find a fit abode in such a temple as the
Parthenon. In some such fashion we may
conceive Art to have descended upon our
Earth, or rather into our human conscious-
ness. The divinely creative principle had
become a Presence visible to man, and there
is no original Art without some such Pres-
ence. Herewith arises the question concern-
ing the need and the meaning of such a Pres-
ence to the beholder who is really the folk,
the little community or the great nation.
What is the use of the Pyramid to the Egyp-
tion, which he built at such an untold outlay
of physical and mental power? We have the
faith that it was a mighty national act in
which the Egyptian people beheld itself in its
God-sent greatness, and therein became con-
scious of itself as a people. Such was truly
the supreme service of the work of Art, just


that indeed which makes it a work of Art. Ut-
terly absurd is the coramon notion that the
Pyramids were constructed by forced labor
inflicted by tyrants upon their subjects and
slaves to gratify vanity or some petty per-
sonal motive. On the contrary they were a
colossal Presence to the folk of its own colos-
sal selfhood God-created, which it held up
before itself and kept rebuilding, repeating
them for a thousand years. We with our pe-
culiar mentality may not deem them artistic
products, may not deem them beautiful; let
us then widen our view of Art, and make it
something more than our pretty plaything.
It associates a people, uniting them in a com-
mon bond of national consciousness by some
grand eidolon of themselves and of their God
as their creator. And we today must project
ourselves backwards into that pyramidal
spirit of old Egypt, and see with its eyes, if
we would rightly appreciate it and its Art.

In like manner a statue of Zeus was a di-
vine Presence appearing to the Greek and
rousing in him the feeling of nationality.
Art was a manifestation of religion in Hellas
and kept its people associated when political
ties were not only loosened but quite de-
stroyed. The artist was a deeper spirit than
the statesman; Phidias could do what Peri-
cles could not — unify Greece by his Zeus set


up at Olympia. That was an example of the
true function of Art in its highest manifesta-

Art in General. We are now to grasp the
fact that Art in its widest aspect is educat-
ive; it teaches man his associated, his insti-
tutional life and character; we may call it a
branch or department of the complete edu-
cative Institution. It is not a College or Uni-
versity, or the Common School, as we ordi-
narily see them; still it is a School in wdiich
man is to acquire his supreme self-knowl-
edge, knowing himself not merely as individ-
ual but as social. We often hear that the ul-
timate end of education is ethical, and if we
take this W'Ord not merely as moral, but also
as embracing the social and institutional
man, it can be accepted. For w^e do not grasp
the full scope of education till we see that it
includes every individual of every age and vo-
cation, who is through it to be trained into an
institutional consciousness internally and in-
to an institutional life externally. Take 1mm-
l)le Arithmetic and bethink that man could
hardly live at present as a member of society
and act with his fellow-man without some
knowledge of that branch. In a very differ-
ent w'ay Art in one form or another has al-
ways been needed for human association,
and for expressing the deepest fact of human


consciousness. The Roman Pantheon, for
instance, both manifests and associates the
Roman Empire, associating in one temple
the Gods who associate Rome. Something
of the kind one can hardly help feeling at
the view of the Capitol at Washington; it
unifies and nationalizes its people. So did
the sight of the Pyramid for the old Egyp-

We afifirm, then, that Art is not its own ex-
cuse for being, that Art exists not for Art's
sake merely, that Art is not self-end ulti-
mately, though it has within limits its own in-
dependent sphere of production. Art is for
man's education, is properly a stage or de-
partment of the total Educative Institution,
or the University of Civilization ; its supreme
object is not pleasure, though it may give and
ought to give pleasure, nor morality, even
if Art can stimulate the virtues. But its chief
content is to keep alive and active in the indi-
vidual man the associated man, not neglect-
ing indeed the individual. Hence, Art at last
belongs to the Educative Institution, whose
highest function is to reproduce and preserve
the whole institutional world in every human
learner, old and young.

A question enters at this point concerning
the origin of this world of institutions.
What is the essence or power which makes


man associative, which creates his institu-
tions, for instance his State and its law? The
Oriental mind has generally declared that
these were the work of the God. The law was
of directly divine origin to the Hebrew, and
the God Ptah was the primal builder to the
Egyptian. So to certain peoples the immedi-
ate Presence of the God, the creator of their
social and institutional life, became a supreme
artistic need, and thus we have Sculpture.
But our consciousness, the modern one, is in-
clined to take the man, the great man of the
age as the builder of the new institutional
order. Accordingly, Art must somehow cast
his impress and that of his w^ork to the end
of making the people conscious of them-
selves and of their hero, who represents and
indeed is their very selfhood made personal.
America, or at least our part of it, has such
a hero in Abraham Lincoln. Since his death
many have been the attempts to express him
and his supreme deed in Art. A struggle
which we might almost call desperate has
been witnessed to manifest him at salient mo-
ments of his career in Painting, Sculpture,
Poetry. We read in the newspapers that the
Nation through Congress has voted to erect
to his memory a vast architectural edifice
whose construction is to begin this year
(1913). In tlie line of Biography also the at-


tempts to set liim forth as lie ought to be are
getting multitudinous. Whatever may be
deemed the success of these portrayals of
Lincoln, they certify at least to the national
longing to see him truly and eternally visaged
in Art. He is now recognized to have stood
at an epochal turn in the Nation's destiny,
yea, at a significant node of the World's His-
tory. Can you reveal, artist, this universal
side of him in some individual shape or act
of his, so that we, the People, can feel or even
see his greatness? For it is just that upper,
world-historical, eternal Lincoln who is to be
brought down from the invisible or ideal
world and made visible in a work of Art, so
that all will exclaim : Yes, there he is ! behold
the grand epiphany ! Lincoln is a name which
associates a great people in a new institu-
tional order, has united them in a new Union
literally. This is what an artistic memorial
of him should recall and re-animate in every
beholder. Such a work would be, therefore,
educative, a sort of national training-school
to keep alive nationality, an institute to make
man institutional. Therein lies the highest
function of Art.

The Fine Arts organized. It has been al-
ready stated that the main object of this
book is a treatment of the Fine Arts, that is,
of the Sense- Arts, which are taken up and


appropriated by man tlirougli the senses,
specially those of Sight and Hearing. In
Art the thing sensed is primarily a simple ob-
ject of sensation, but it brings with itself
something far more than mere sense-knowl-
edge; it gives along with the created thing
the creator; the supreme work of Art is to
suggest to the Ego of the beholder or hearer
the divinely creative Ego in its process. To
be sure not every thing called artistic shows
such a power; still this is what originally
brought it forth, and what produced the tech-
nical skill of the artist, though this skill may
be afterwards employed for lower purposes.
But all true Art is permeated with a univer-
sally creative suggestiveness. When you
merely see a block of marble, it has no ex-
plicit indication of its own generative prin-
ciple; but in a temple or statue filled with
the artist's genius, it is endowed with a new
capacity; it speaks to the spectator, to the
recipient Self there before it, of the supreme
creative Self, the world-maker, who has spe-
cially made that institutional world in which
he and his people live. Such at least was the
God made visible to the senses in the antique
time; today the artist can hardly rely upon
a popular faith of that sort, and hence he
falls back upon the Great Man or Hero. But
if the shape which he produces he can irrad-



iate with an immortal sun, so that all can
behold its sheen, then his work will be beau-
tiful in the best sense.

We may well think that every object which
lies before us out yonder in the world of
mere sensation, has within it a vastly higher
potentiality of being; it is to be made over,
to be re-created by Art, so that it attains its
true destiny, which is to manifest directly
the exalted semblance of the Divine Self who
originally created it. That is what the artist
in his highest mood is to see and to embody
so that we too may see it and commune with

This gives the supreme point of view from
which we are to regard the Fine Arts, and
also to put them into their just order, which
should also reveal their inner psychical pro-
cess. They are divided as follows :

I. The Somatic Arts; the Arts which em-
ploy the body, especially the human body as
the sensuous bearer of what is highest. It is
evident that Sculpture belongs here first of
all, then Painting, then what w^e class as ki-
netic Arts, those of the body's motion, the
dance, games, festival, etc.

II. Architecture; this, when seen aright,
must be deemed to be the second or separat-
ive stage in the total movement of the Fine
Arts ; in the previous stage the separation of


the spirit from the form was only implicit,
potential, in the bud so to speak. But in
Architecture that separation becomes ex-
plicit, developing into the twofoldness, which
we see realized in the outer dwelling-place of
the inner spirit, even of the spirit's body, as
the statue of the God indwells his temple.

III. Music; this is given by a different
sense from the two previous stages, that of
Hearing with its world of sounds based on
time; thus it takes up into itself not merely
the one point of action, but the total process.
Music, therefore, moves and makes Art move
with it in a round which is ultimately psy-
chical in itself as well as in its appeal to us.
The elemental unit of Music, the sound-
whorl, we have already seen to be a going-
forth and a coming-back, a continual self-re-
turn which stimulates the corresponding-
movement of the Ego. And finally we are
to conceive this self-return of Music sweep-
ing back to Sculpture, the first Art, and
starting the universal creative Self which
has there become fixed in stone to moving in
its own right and to manifesting its own
creative process in action, without being con-
fined to one crystallized moment, though it be
the most significant.

Such, then, are the three divisions or stages
of the total cycle of the Fine Arts, which are


to be grasped not by some outer description
of facts and details, but in the very tlirob of
their inner soul, whose process must be first
felt and then seen to be one with our own.
All the Fine Arts will thus be found to be
inter-related psychically. The special forms,
Sculpture, Painting, Architecture, Music (to
which list Poetry is usually added) have long
been separately designated and duly recog-
nized; books on Aesthetic have sought
to put them into some system and to classify
them in one way or other. Not much atten-
tion can be paid here to these theoretical
views of Art, though they have their history
and form of themselves an interesting and
suggestive evolution. In our opinion they
must all be reconstructed and be organized
afresh upon a fundamental principle which is
psychical. Using a somewhat technical ex-
pression, we would call the above triple round
the Psychosis of the Fine Arts. We hold that
they form in their true conception a rounded
whole in whose process each has its charac-
teristic part. We shall, accordingly, seek to
show each of these Fine Arts in its own spe-
cial movement as well as in the higher move-
ment in which it participates.


The Somatic Arts.

There is need of a term under which to
"classify the three Arts which, taken together,
are co-ordinate with Architecture and Music.
Sculpture, for instance, stands in a much
closer relation to Painting than to Archi-
tecture ; yet both these Arts, in fact all three
of them, are usually classed side by side as if
they were equally related. It is plain, how-
ever, that Sculpture and Painting employ es-
sentially the human form as the bearer of
their artistic message, while Architecture
eschews it (or ought to do so), as well as
Music. We must accordingly put together
under a common rubric the Arts which seize
upon the organic, in contrast with those
which use the inorganic, be it dead heavy
matter (Architecture) or the undulations of
air producing sound (Music). Very differ-

. (13)


ent, therefore, is the material employed by
these different Arts, wherein lies the primal
difference of tlieir character. So it comes
that we shall apply to the organic Arts tlie
term somatic (from the Greek word soma,
which means primarily the living body) as
uniting them in a common bond distinct from
the other Fine Arts.

With the Somatic Arts, then, the start is
to be made in organizing and unfolding the
present sphere, being the first and most im-
mediate form of artistic presentation. Va-
rious objects of sense may be taken and made
over b}^ them ; but in the main they seize up-
on the highest visible thing to express the
invisible. This is the human organism which
is not only the home but the organ of spirit,
is that through which it acts and therein ut-
ters itself. Moreover, it is the external seen
manifestation of the very self, whose inner
process it suggests in outer shape, with its
two symmetrical halves in vital unity and
process. Hence the artist instinctively
chooses the natural home of the individual
Ego, the physical human Body, recreating
the same in a sensuous material, which he
thereby transforms into the image of the
universal Ego, through his creative genius.

The Somatic Arts will fall into three kinds
or stages, in which again the student will


see an inner psychical movement. Tlius
they are primarily conceived as in a pro-
cess among themselves. The first Art in
this somatic process is Sculpture which for
the most part reproduces the Body in its im-
mediate sensuous fullness, preserving its
three dimensions, length, breadth and thick-
ness. To be sure this field will embrace
other partial forms like low and high relief;
the whole has been called the Plastic Arts.
Next is Painting in which the Body is set
forth not in its three dimensions, but in its
three abstract magnitudes — surface, line,
point — which may be given in a varied play
of colors or only in black and white. Here
too are several departments which may be
summed up as the Graphic Arts. This is
manifestly the second stage of the process
of the Somatic- Arts since the Body is sepa-
rated from its concrete spatial fullness, and
is made into a kind of shadow or ghost to
uncover what is within or the soul. The
third division we call tJie Kinetic Arts, which
employ the Body in motion, and thus pro-
duce animated pictures whose content may
be elevated into Art representing the High-
est, yea the God, as often in the ancient Dance
and Procession {kinesis in Greek means mo-
tion). So this third sphere may be said to
return to Sculpture and to take up its solid


forms again, which, however, it starts to
moving from their fixed position whereb}'
they can be made into a painting of living-

In this way we can glimpse in advance the
inner psychical movement which threads
through and organizes the somatic division
of the Fine Arts — their Psychosis. For it
is this which unifies into an organized knowl-
edge as well as brings into their inner kin-
ship, the largest sweeps as well as the small-
est parts of a great theme like Art. The stu-
dent has to realize in his thought that every
division of a whole must have the process
thereof in order to be a division of that
whole. So we shall find all the divisions and
sub-divisions of our science (often called
Aesthetic) to be inter-related and indeed
inter-organized through the one basic pro-
cess of the self whose semblance as univer-
sal is just what Art at its best seeks to em-
body. This fact we are now to witness in its
primal and perhaps most striking applica-
tion, which we take to be Sculpture.

But before passing on, let us grasp again
and turn over in mind the thought which
not only permeates and holds together, but
creates the entire Art-world. This we may
call truly a Tlieophany, the appearance of
the God in finite form to his people who thus


Online LibraryDenton Jaques SniderMusic and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic → online text (page 8 of 32)