This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think. -Kierkegaard
all art is quite useless???????
It’s one of Oscar Wilde’s most famous aphorisms, taken from the Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray. It’s a rejection of the theory of utility in art, i.e. that the value of art is quantifiable according to some external measure, such as moral goodness, didacticism, capacity to impart political sensibilities, truthfulness—and that a work of art should be primarily evaluated according to that measure.
Instead, he’s articulating the view that art is autonomous, self-sufficient; utility does not inhere in art, but is put upon art by those who apprehend it. He’s perhaps most famously associated with the saying “art for art’s sake”.
"All art is at once surface and symbol.
Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.”
He’s expounding a theory of radical aestheticism: all that matters is Beauty, the subjective, irreducible, and often inexpressible sensation of pleasure created in a person when they apprehend art.
(NB: that this theory appears in the Preface to Dorian Gray, a book which gestures toward the immorality of lives lived purely according to immoderate aestheticism, is a good reason not to take this saying completely seriously.)
I don’t fully agree with this idea, but I very often prefer it to a view that demands art be “useful”, which is poisonous to artistic flourishing. (Is a human being “useful”?)
1890. Projet d’une traversée du pole Nord en ballon.
Print at bottom shows a cross section of the basket beneath the balloon, “Le Sivel” during its expedition to the North Pole. Interior of cabin includes a central living area occupied by four men, an area for housing several dogs at left, and a work and supply area occupied by one man at right. Print at top left shows the balloon in flight; a line hangs from the balloon and rests on the ice.
(vía Library of Congress).
December 23rd 1823: ‘The Night Before Christmas’ published
On this day in 1823, the poem' A Visit from St. Nicholas' or 'The Night Before Christmas' was published anonymously in a local newspaper in New York state. The poem is now considered to have been written by Clement Clarke Moore, who accepted authorship in 1844. Moore supposedly wrote the poem for his children, and as a distinguished professor did not want to be publicly associated with the poem. However debates endure as to the poem’s true authorship. The poem helped to establish in popular imagination the idea of Santa Claus.
"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there”
(read the full poem here)
John Singer Sargent in his studio in Paris, c.1884, with the painting “Madame X” on the background. Sargent is shown working on his painting “The Breakfast Table”. Unidentified photographer.
Beware Friday the 13th…
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951) was the father of twelve-tone composition. Pictured above with Roddie, his (absolutely adorable) Irish setter, Schoenberg established the techniques and teachings the came to define the aesthetic of 20th-century classical music.
Schoeberg suffered from triskaidekaphobia — fear of the number 13. He died on July 13, 1951 — incidentally (or not), a Friday. Listen to the 13th movement of one of his most famous works, Pierrot Lunaire, here.
(Photo source: Subito Music)
In any right triangle, the area of the square whose side is the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the areas of the squares whose sides are the two legs (the two sides that meet at a right angle). In other words: a² + b² = c²
Hey, look, all the triangles are the same size…and yes, this one is dedicated to Piet Mondrian!
© Copyright 2010 Michæl Paukner. All Rights Reserved.
Basilica of Santa Maria, Alicante, Spain
Baroque facade by Juan Bautista Borja, 1728
Rogelio de Egusquiza. Detail from Tristan and Isolt, Death, 1910.
Thirty-six prominent American writers including Eugene O’Neill, Dorothy Parker, and John Steinbeck, sent this telegram to President Franklin Roosevelt in November 1938, less than a week after Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” during which synagogues, homes, and Jewish-owned businesses across Germany were plundered and destroyed by the Nazis. They expressed outrage and asked the president to sever trade relations and declare an embargo on all “Nazi German goods.” Their telegram was just one of hundreds of telegrams and letters sent to U.S. government officials at the time expressing similar feelings of anger and dismay.
Telegram from 36 American Writers to President Roosevelt, 11/16/1938
RIP George Harrison
Feb. 25, 1943 - Nov. 29, 2001