Art leaves nobody out, but it cannot condescend, we have to climb
up if we want the extraordinary view.
The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.
All art is in the individual. The greatest masterpieces are not
the result of the progress of art. They are expressions of outstanding
individuals whose feelings only act as revelations and not as progress
for the rest of humanity. . . . The greatest works of art do not
make art greater. Art does not succeed itself just as one is not
able to transmit beautiful sentiments. . . . There is no history
of art-there is the history of artists.
We are, on the whole, a cowardly, homicidal bundle of appetites endowed
with seemingly limitless in-stincts of destruction and self-destruction.
We are the wasters of the planet and the builders of the death camps.
Ninety-nine percent of humanity conducts lives either of severe deprivation-physical,
emo-tional, cerebral-or contributes nothing to the sum of insight,
of beauty, or moral trial in our civil con-dition. It is a Socrates,
a Mozart, a Gauss or a Galileo who, in some degree, compensates for
man. It is they who, on fragile occasion, redeem the cruel, imbecile
mess which we dignify with the name of history. . . . To grasp, to
be able to transmit to others some modest paraphrase of the beauty
in a Fermat equation or a Bach canon, to hear the hunter's halloo
after truth as Plato heard it, is to give life some excuse. . . .
But the fact that such a conviction will strike the vast majority
of educated Americans as effete or even (politically, socially) dangerous
nonsense, may not be without relevance. . . .