Artistic Philosophy

The excerpt below was translated from German some time ago. Some of the words and one phrase in particular are outmoded. And I’ve changed some pronouns to include everyone. Because I know exactly how it feels to be left out of society. And I’m aware that the philosophy below does not reflect all aspects of my work. But nobody’s perfect. And who the hell wants to be?

Friedrich von Schiller (1759–1805)

"…Before art introduced its own symmetry and method into the world, all was chaos. You, the artists, contemplated nature, and learned to imitate; you observed the light shaft of the cedar, the shadow on the wave. Thus rose the first column of the Sculptor—the first Design of the Painter—and the wind sighing through the reed suggested the first Music. Art's first attempt was in the first choice of flowers for a posy; it's second, the weaving of those flowers into a garland—i.e. Art first observes and selects—next blends and unites—the column is ranged with other columns—the individual Hero becomes one of a Heroic army—the rude Song becomes an Iliad. The effect produced by Homeric Song, in noble emulation,—nor in this alone; Human Beings learn to live in other woes than their own—to feel pleasure beyond animal enjoyments. And as this diviner intellectual feeling is developed, are developed also Thought and Civilization. In the rudest state of Human Beings, you, the Artists, recognize in their breast the spiritual germ, and warm it into life—true and holy Love awoke with the first Shepard's love song. It is you, the Artists, who generalizing, and abstracting, gather all several excellences into one ideal. You thus familiarize Human Beings to the notion of the Unknown Powers, whom you invest with the attributes they admire and adore. Human Beings fear the unknown, but they love its shadow. You suffered the nature around them to suggest the Prototype of all Beauty. You make subject to your ends—the passion, the duty, and the instinct—All that is scattered through creation you gather and concentrate, and resolve to the Song or to the Stage—Even the murderer who has escaped justice, conscience-stricken by the Eumenides on the scene, reveals himself—Long before Philosophy hazarded its dogmas an Iliad solved the riddles of Fate—And with the wain of Thespis wandered a Providence. Where your symmetry, your design fail in this world, they extend into the world beyond the grave—If life be over too soon for the brave and good, Poetry imagined the Shades below, and placed the hero Castor amongst the Stars. Not contented with bestowing immortality on Human Beings—you furnish forth from them, the ideal of the Immortals—Virgin Beauty grows into a Pallas—manly Strength into a Jove. As the world without you is thus enlarged and the world within you agitated and enriched, your Art extends to Philosophy:—For as the essentials of Art are symmetry and design, so the Artist extends that symmetry and that design into the system of Creation, the Laws of Nature, the Government of the World;—Lends to the spheres its own harmony—to the Universe its own symmetric method. The Artist thus recognizing *Contrivance* everywhere, feels their life surrounded with Beauty—They have before them in Nature itself an eternal model of the Perfect and Consummate—Through joy—grief—terror—wherever goes their course—one stream of harmony murmurs by their side—The Graces are their companions—their life glides away amidst airy shapes of Beauty—Their soul is merged in the divine ocean that flows around them. Fate itself which is reduced from Chance and Providence, and which furnishes them with themes of pleasurable awe, does not daunt them. You, Artists, are the sweet and trusty companions of life—You gave us what life has best—Your reward is your own immortality and the gratitude of People’s hearts. You are the imitators of the Divine Artist, who accompanies power with sweetness, terror with splendor, who adorns themselves even when destroying—As a brook that reflects the evening landscape, so on the niggard stream of life shimmers Poetry. You lead us on, in marriage garments, to the Unknown Bourne—As your Urns deck our bones your fair semblances deck our cares.—Through the history of the world, we find that Humanity smiles in your presence and mourns in your absence. Humanity came young from your hands, and when it grew old and decayed, you gave it a second youth—Time has bloomed twice from seeds sown by Art. When the Barbarians chased Civilization from Greece, you transplanted it to Italy—and, with civilization, freedom and gentle manners—Yet you sought not public rewards for your public benefits—In obscurity you contemplated the blessings you had diffused. If the Philosopher now pursues their course without obstacles—if they now would arrogate the crown, and hold Art but as the first Slave to Science—pardon his vain boast.—Completion and Perfection in reality rest with you.—With you dawned the Spring, in you is matured the Harvest, of the Moral World. For although Art sprung first from physical materials, the clay and the stone—it soon also embraced in its scope the spiritual and intellectual—Even what Science discovers only ministers to Art.—The wisdom flowers, as it were, into beauty—it but returns to the service, and is applied to the uses of its instructor.—When the Philosopher contemplates the Natural World, side by side with the Artist—the more the Latter accumulates images of beauty, and unites the details of the great design, the more the Former enriches their sphere of their observation—the more profound their research—the more bold their speculations—The Imagination always assists the Reason—And Art which teaches Philosophy to see Art (i.e. Symmetry and Design) everywhere, may humble the Philosopher’s pride, but augments his love.—Thus scattering flowers, Poetry leads on through tones and forms, ever high and higher, pure and purer, till it shall at last attain that point when Poetry becomes but sudden inspiration and instantaneous intuition of Truth;—when in fact the Art sought by the Poet, the Truth whom we have hitherto served as the earthly Venus, the Beautiful—shall reassume her blazing crown—and Human Beings, to whose earlier and initiatory probation she has gently familiarized her splendor, shall behold her without a veil—not as the Venus of Earth, but as the Urania of Heaven—Her beauty comprehended by them in proportion to the beauty of their soul took from her—So from the Mentor of their youth shone forth Minerva to Telemachus. To you, O Artists, is committed the dignity of Human Beings—It sinks with you, it revives with you. In those Ages when Truth is persecuted by the Bigotry of her own time, she seeks refuge in Song.—The charm she takes from the Muse but renders her more fearful to her Foes. Aspire then constantly, O Artists, to the Beautiful—covet no meaner rewards.—If Art escape you, search for her in Nature.—Remember that the excellent and the perfect ever must be found in whatsoever fair souls esteem fair.—Do not bound yourselves to your own time—Let your words reflect the shadow of the coming Age—It matters not what paths you select—You have before you the whole labyrinth of being—but all its paths for you unite at one throne—As the white breaks into seven tints, as the seven tints re-dissolve into white—so Truth is the same, whether she dazzles us with the splendor of variegated colors, or pervades the Universe in one Stream of Light.”

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