8.27.2014

"Kierkegaard" aka "porque é que dizer sim ao Absoluto é mais corajoso que dizer-lhe não?"

Meu Deus
chamei-te e chamei-te
à atenção, disseste Não
fui eu foram
os meus.

Mas não
foram os teus,
meu Deus,
foste tu,
meu Deus,
e chamaste
os teus
à atenção.

8.24.2014

Art under Plutocracy

[...] Now I do not wonder that those who think that these evils are from henceforth for ever necessary to the progress of civilization should try to make the best of things, should shut their eyes to all they can, and praise the galvanized life of the art of the present day; but, for my part, I believe that they are not necessary to civilization, but only accompaniments to one phase of it, which will change and pass into something else, like all prior phases have done. I believe also that the essential characteristic of the present state of society is that which has so ruined art, or the pleasure of life; and that this having died out, the inborn love of man for beauty and the desire for expressing it will no longer be repressed, and art will be free. At the same time I not only admit, but declare, and think it most important to declare, that so long as the system of competition in the production and exchange of the means of life goes on, the degradation of the arts will go on; and if that system is to last for ever, then art is doomed, and will surely die; that is to say, civilization will die. I know it is at present the received opinion that the competitive or "Devil take the hindmost" system is the last system of economy which the world will see; that it is perfection, and therefore finality has been reached in it; and it is doubtless a bold thing to fly in the face of this opinion, which I am told is held by the most learned men. But though I am not learned, I have been taught that the patriarchal system died into that of the citizen and chattel slave, which in its turn gave place to that of the feudal lord and the serf, which, passing through a modified form, in which the burgher, the gild-craftsman and his journeyman played their parts, was supplanted by the system of so-called free contract now existing. That all things since the beginning of the world have been tending to the development of this system I willingly admit, since it exists; that all the events of history have taken place for the purpose of making it eternal, the very evolution of those events forbids me to believe.

For I am "one of the people called Socialists"; therefore I am certain that evolution in the economical conditions of life will go on, whatever shadowy barriers may be drawn across its path by men whose apparent self-interest binds them, consciously or unconsciously, to the present, and who are therefore hopeless for the future. I hold that the condition of competition between man and man is bestial only, and that of association human; I think that the change from the undeveloped competition of the Middle Ages, trammelled as it was by the personal relations of feudality, and the attempts at association of the gild-craftsmen into the full-blown laissez-faire competition of the nineteenth century, is bringing to birth out of its own anarchy, and by the very means by which it seeks to perpetuate that anarchy, a spirit of association founded on that antagonism which has produced all former changes in the condition of men, and which will one day abolish all classes and take definite and practical form, and substitute association for competition in all that relates to the production and exchange of the means of life. I further believe that as that change will be beneficent in many ways, so especially will it give an opportunity for the new birth of art, which is now being crushed to death by the money-bags of competitive commerce.

My reason for this hope for art is founded on what I feel quite sure is a truth, and an important one, namely that all art, even the highest, is influenced by the conditions of labour of the mass of mankind, and that any pretensions which may be made for even the highest intellectual art to be independent of these general conditions are futile and vain; that is to say, that any art which professes to be founded on the special education or refinement of a limited body or class must of necessity be unreal and short-lived. ART IS MAN'S EXPRESSION OF HIS JOY IN LABOUR. If those are not Professor Ruskin's words they embody at least his teaching on this subject. Nor has any truth more important ever been stated; for if pleasure in labour be generally possible, what a strange folly it must be for men to consent to labour without pleasure; and what a hideous injustice it must be for society to compel most men to labour without pleasure! For since all men not dishonest must labour, it becomes a question either of forcing them to lead unhappy lives or allowing them to live unhappily. Now the chief accusation I have to bring against the modern state of society is that it is founded on the art-lacking or unhappy labour of the greater part of men; and all that external degradation of the face of the country of which I have spoken is hateful to me not only because it is a cause of unhappiness to some few of us who still love art, but also and chiefly because it is a token of the unhappy life forced on the great mass of the population by the system of competitive commerce.

The pleasure which ought to go with the making of every piece of handicraft has for its basis the keen interest which every healthy man takes in healthy life, and is compounded, it seems to me, chiefly of three elements; variety, hope of creation, and the self-respect which comes of a sense of usefulness; to which must be added that mysterious bodily pleasure which goes with the deft exercise of the bodily powers. I do not think I need spend many words in trying to prove that these things, if they really and fully accompanied labour, would do much to make it pleasant. As to the pleasures of variety, any of you who have ever made anything, I don't care what, will well remember the pleasure that went with the turning out of the first specimen. What would have become of that pleasure if you had been compelled to go on making it exactly the same for ever? As to the hope of creation, the hope of producing some worthy or even excellent work which without you, the craftsmen, would not have existed at all, a thing which needs you and can have no substitute for you in the making of it - can we any of us fail to understand the pleasure of this? No less easy, surely, is it to see how much the self-respect born of the consciousness of usefulness must sweeten labour. To feel that you have to do a thing not to satisfy the whim of a fool or a set of fools, but because it is really good in itself, that is useful, would surely be a good help to getting through the day's work. As to the unreasoning, sensuous pleasure in handiwork, I believe in good sooth that it has more power of getting rough and strenuous work out of men, even as things go, than most people imagine. At any rate it lies at the bottom of the production of all art, which cannot exist without it even in its feeblest and rudest form. Now this compound pleasure in handiwork I claim as the birthright of all workmen. I say that if they lack any part of it they will be so far degraded, but that if they lack it altogether they are, as far as their work goes, I will not say slaves, the word would not be strong enough, but machines more or less conscious of their own unhappiness. [...]

It was this system, which had not learned the lesson that man was made for commerce, but supposed in its simplicity that commerce was made for man, which produced the art of the Middle Ages, wherein the harmonious co-operation of free intelligence was carried to the furthest point which has yet been attained, and which alone of all art can claim to be called Free. The effect of this freedom, and the widespread or rather universal sense of beauty to which it gave birth, became obvious enough in the outburst of the expression of splendid and copious genius which marks the Italian Renaissance. Nor can it be doubted that this glorious art was the fruit of the five centuries of free popular art which preceded it, and not of the rise of commercialism which was contemporaneous with it; for the glory of the Renaissance faded out with strange rapidity as commercial competition developed, so that about the end of the seventeenth century, both in the intellectual and the decorative arts, the commonplace or body still existed, but the romance or soul of them was gone. [...]

I tell you the very essence of competitive commerce is waste; the waste that comes of the anarchy of war. Do not be deceived by the outside appearance of order in our plutocratic society. It fares with it as it does with the older forms of war, that there is an outside look of quiet wonderful order about it; how neat and comforting the steady march of the regiment; how quiet and respectable the sergeants look; how clean the polished cannon; neat as a new pin are the storehouses of murder; the books of adjutant and sergeant as innocent-looking as may be; nay, the very orders for destruction and plunder are given with a quiet precision which seems the very token of a good conscience; this is the mask that lies before the ruined cornfield and the burning cottage, the mangled bodies, the untimely death of worthy men, the desolated home. [...]

William Morris. Art under Plutocracy (1883). Aqui.

8.16.2014

On the Value of the Determination of Authorship

If the determination of the authorship of an individual work of art most certainly is not the ultimate and highest task of artistic erudition; even if it were no path to the goal: nevertheless, without a doubt, it is a school for the eye, since there is no formulation of a question which forces us to penetrate so deeply into the essence of the individual work as that concerning the identity of the author. The individual work, rightly understood, teaches us what a comprehensive knowledge of universal artistic activity is incapable of teaching us.

Goethe’s works were published under his name; nothing is attributed to him or declared not to be by him. One might imagine that the understanding of Goethe’s language, spiritual nature and development would be greater than it is, if scribes would have had gradually to put together his œvre. They would scarcely have performed their task with complete success, but they would have learnt a a good deal as a result of their efforts.

Over long stretches of time the determination of authorship seems to be impossible. Many productions, notably of architecture, can be fixed in time — in the case of architecture the localization is always, and in the case of sculpture often, available — but they are not recognized as the expressions of individual talents. Anonymity is a symptom of deficient knowledge, even if the deficiency often is inevitable. Strictly speaking, every work of man is the product of a personality with qualities, existing once and unique. Whoever arrives in China, thinks at first that all Chinamen look alike; it is only gradually that he learns to distinguish individualities. A similar experience is that of the connoisseur who approaches the ‘dark’ periods. Admittedly a personality reveals itself according to the period more or less definitely in its activity. The ultimate, the most fruitful question, even if it cannot be answered, is and remains that which concerns personality.

Fairly frequently one hears the plausible-sounding objecting that we know that there were hundreds of painters, yet all the existing works are divided up amongst comparatively few names. A statistical computation may serve as a defence against these misgivings. It is chiefly the prominent works that have survived, and of the surviving ones it is against the best ones that are collected, exhibited in museums and accessible to art lovers. Finally, I possess hundreds and hundreds of photographs of Netherlandish pictures of the 15th and 16th centuries which I cannot attribute, of which scarcely two seem to be by the same hand. These nameless pieces mostly are valueless and devoid of character. From this I think one may conclude that the many painters who are unknown to us have mainly produced unimportant things; and that, on the other hand, the better works with which the determination of authorship concerns itself are due to relatively few artists. This calculation applies to Netherlandish and German painting of the 15th and 16th centuries; it may not be valid, or is perhaps valid in a lesser degree, for other countries and other periods.

Max J. Friendländer. On Art & Connoisseurship - Capítulo XXIII. Tancred Borenius (trans.) Bruno Cassirer (1942)

Ficámos nós a hesitar / Por entre as brumas do futuro

8.11.2014

Dias de '14

Mas que tempos doces.

As pessoas andam talvez um pouco mais tristes
Mas vivem mais tempo e podem,
Mesmo quando escolhem não o fazer,
Reflectir sobre o sentido da tristeza.

Naqueles sítios onde se morre,
Ainda se morre,
Mas morre-se menos, eu acho.

As cidades têm mais lâmpadas à noite
Que só de vez em quando fundem
E poucos dias depois vem sempre
Alguém que compõe.

8.10.2014

Pitagorismo e charlatonice

Vieste comigo e contámos os mortos
Sem temor ou moral, sem melodrama,
Sem estatística até. Mas absortos
Nos números, reuindo a gama

De nomes e vultos. E sabemos haver
Um final: Se do nada surgimos, um tempo
Existiu em que na terra nenhum ser
Humano vivia. E não há um Além. Por

Isso é que somos contáveis. Todos
Aqueles que sofrendo aprenderam a fala.
Desde o princípio, dos bisontes nas rudes
Cavernas, dos velhos que esperam na ala

Enterrada dos reis da montanha,
Nados-mortos, aqueles por amor inventados
Mas que o mundo de troça e de manha
Chutou aos leões com enfado,

Deuses e fetos e outros protagonistas
De contos e livros. Mas há no teu corpo
Mais células do que gente avistada
No mundo e que agora é pertença do Orco.

8.09.2014

A Origem da Nicotina

Origo Nicotianæ (Fabula Arabum)

Propheta aliquando in agro ambulans serpentem invenit frigore pæne exstinctum. Quem misericordia commotus sustulit et focillavit.
Quum jam serpens animum recepisset, dixit: "Dive propheta, scito quod te nunc mordebo."
"Eccur?" quærit Mohammed.
"Quia genus tuum hoc meum persequitur et exstirpare conatur."
"Nonne etiam genus tuum," inquit propheta, "adversus meum quotidie bellum gerit? Insuper quomodo potes tam ingratus esse tamque cito oblivisci, me vitam tibi reddidisse?"
"Gratitudo," respondet serpens, "in mundo non exstat. Etiamsi tibi parcere vellem, tamen alius generis tui postea me interficeret. Nomine Allah, mordebo te!"
"Quum nomine Allah jurasti, ego causa esse nolo, quod juramentum frangas." Quo dicto, propheta manum serpenti ad os præbuit.
Serpens eum momordit; Mohammed autem venenum e vulnere exsugit et in terram exspuit. Eodemque loco planta est exorta, quæ venenum serpentis et misericordiam prophetæ in se conjungit. Hanc plantam homines nicotianam vocant.

(Præco Latinus, 1896, Vol. II, Nus. 5)

 textkit inventum

8.02.2014

Facas

«Of course he has a knife, he always has a knife, we all have knives! It's 1183 and we are barbarians! How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we are the origins of war: not history's forces, nor the times, nor justice, nor the lack of it, nor causes, nor religions, nor ideas, nor kinds of government, nor any other thing. We are the killers. We breed wars. We carry it like syphilis inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love one another just a little? That's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children. We could change the world.»

Anthony Harvey. The Lion at Winter (1968)