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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Art, Craft, and Kitsch

When on vacation earlier this summer, I borrowed from the library of the hotel where we were staying Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution. It was fascinating reading, but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to finish reading it before we had to check out. I read the chapters that seemed as though they would have the most meaning for me (it was hard to select which those would be), and I jotted down the following quotes in my notebook (which could contain errors as I wrote them quickly and by hand). I will buy a copy and finish this book soon, but in the meantime:

"Craft, Collingwood agreed, is skilled work purposefully directed toward a final project or designed artifact; the craftsman knows in advance what the end product will look like. The craftsman’s foreknowledge is required by the very idea of craft. …..Art in this respect is an entirely different domain ….  in the sense of using skill to produce a preconceived result, creative artists strictly speaking never know what they are doing …. The arts, Collingwood argued, are always open to the unexpected ….He distinguishes the artistic expression of emotion from the more craftlike practice of emotional arousal. Arousal is manipulative, which is why we speak of a formulaic movie or novel designed to elicit a predetermined sadness as a ‘tearjerker.’ …The artist, on the other hand, probes the content of human emotional life with an eye toward articulating, or making clear, a unique emotion, an individual feeling."
     ~Denis Dutton The Art Instinct, p227-8

"The first tear is what we shed in the presence of a tragic, pitiful, or perhaps beautiful event. The second tear is shed in recognition of our own sensitive nature, our ability to feel such pity, to understand such pathos or beauty. A love of kitsch is therefore self-congratulatory....Kitsch shows you nothing genuinely new, changes nothing in your bright, shining soul; it congratulates you for being exactly the refined person you already are."
      ~Denis Dutton The Art Instinct, p241-2


carole yocum said...

yes. Thanks Jessica for these. I love it.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Carole, this is such an interesting book. I can't wait to finish it.