3 Personality can become an aesthetic object. It
can be related to aesthetically. (These mean the same
3.1 We call the personality of the artist, when viewed
3.11 Personality and sensibility are not the same
3.111 There is a fact/value distinction in Aesthetics.
(Perhaps it is even called a fact/value distinction.)
3.112 How can such a sharp distinction exist in nature?
It does not exist in nature.
It is stipulated by us.
3.1121 There are places where gardens are art. (Not
among us, of course.)
3.1122 Venetian Noblemen masturbated, viewing the very
same paintings that Schopenhauer, some centuries later,
would claim the contemplation of which extinguishes
sexual desire. These noblemen regarded the paintings
aesthetically, just as Schopenhauer did. They were not
confused about what they were looking at.
3.11221 (They didn't think they were looking
3.11222 To say that Schopenhauer was right and the
noblemen wrong, or vice versa, is to suggest there is
some fact of nature that will tell us when a
psychological response to something is an aesthetic
response and when it's not.
3.1123 There are no psychological dispositions that come
marked in nature as aesthetic responses, no
psychological responses (even pleasurable ones at the
aesthetic ones; there is no aesthetic faculty -- in the
visual cortex, say -- no aesthetic module in the mind.
(Or in the brain.)
3.11231 An aesthetic reaction to something is surely a
reaction of pleasure, we'd say. Of course. But not
just any pleasurable sensation is aesthetic -- tickles,
for example, are not aesthetic (so we say).
3.11232 And, we also say, some things that do not give us
ordinary pleasure nevertheless give us aesthetic
3.112321 But this is a mistake. We see two people yelling
at each other on stage, and we think, "If this were
happening for real I would be repulsed." But we cannot
imagine what we think we can imagine: To take away the
audience and the stage is to change the experience. To
leave the audience and the stage, but change the
assumption that what is happening is staged, is still
to change the experience. And, of course, if it were
happening for real, and I did not know it, I would not
3.1124 We stipulate which pleasures are aesthetic and
which are not. And the proof is that different
cultures stipulate these things differently.
3.1125 All sorts of (causal) factors influence where we
stipulate the border between aesthetic pleasure and
mere pleasure. Call the study of this the sociology of
art. It looks striking that we are so labile in what
we treat as aesthetic only if we forget that the border
3.11251 It is a hard question to answer to what extent
what gives us pleasure is biologically fixed and to
what extent it is not.
3.11252 (But this is not a
question in Aesthetics.)
fictional narrator can speak in the first person,
true of the author. But this is not the source of the
fact/value distinction in Aesthetics. For even if the
fictional narrator says everything that the author
believes to be true, and if her sentences all show
things which are true of the author, there is still the
distinction between the personality of the author and
the sensibility of the fictional narrator.
3.114 We say that the sensibility of the fictional
narrator is depicted by the work of art (if it is) or
shown by the work of art.
3.115 We never say that the personality of the author is
depicted or shown by the work of art (unless we are
confused). We say that the personality of the author
is the cause of the work
3.116 We can aesthetically condemn the sensibility
depicted or shown in a work of art. We can't morally
condemn that sensibility. (But if we are confused, we
can try to.)
3.1161 (When we are confused, we sometimes try to do
something impossible. We succeed in doing something
else, which is what always happens when we try to do
3.1162 (We seem to morally condemn characters in fiction:
"Raskolnikov is a bad man," we might say. And we might
even say this in an angry tone of voice. But this is
like saying "Raskolnikov has a sister," or "Pegasus has
wings." We often say such things (and so it is alright
to say them), but we should be clear about what we're
doing (and saying); what we must be doing (and
3.117 We can morally condemn an author. (We may, for
example, aesthetically condemn the sensibility depicted
in a work of art, and morally condemn the author for
creating that sensibility.)
3.118 Dostoyevsky is a racist. His German or Polish
characters are always presented quite negatively. Are
there aesthetic flaws in his work as a result?
Secondary characters in novels can be one-dimensional
-- good or bad -- or just minor. (This is allowed
aesthetically.) Dostoyevsky's Polish and German
characters are always minor ones.
3.12 No work of art is autobiographical.
3.2 Poetry is the most idiosyncratic of written
3.21 One aim of good prose is to show sensibility
despite the apparent uniformity of what prose shows.
3.22 In poetry we are expected to show new
3.221 This is a directive to poetry: this is a point
about how poetry and prose are institutionally divided
today; we can feel this difference between them because
of what we are allowed to do.
3.2211 (There are always exceptions. And some of the
greatest work is exceptional.)
3.23 It is always easier to like new prose than it is
to like new poetry.
3.231 You have to get used to new poetry. You have to
get used to new people.
3.2311 (Unless, of course, they're just like people
you've met before. Or: they speak -- pretty much --
like people you've met before. Or: you avoid being
intimate with them.)
3.232 Once upon a time, poetry was popular.
3.2321 Once upon a time, poetry had a different role. It
did not show sensibility. (That was not its job.)
3.2322 It is hard (nowadays) for poetry to be popular.
It is hard for people to be popular and intimate with
the people they are popular among.
3.23221 (This is not a remark about
lack of time.)
3.23222 The work of any poet is an
3.23223 (Except in cases of love
at first sight.)
3.233 Originality in poetry today is only a matter of
creating a new sensibility.
3.2331 (New to the canon, of course.)
3.2332 There are no schools in poetry. ("School," in the
sense of "school of fish".)
3.23321 Poetry does not "celebrate one's ethnicity". Or
3.233211 (I could have written: "Poetry should not
'celebrate one's ethnicity'," for, just as with logic,
merely stipulative constraints are often transformed
into the normative language of law and proscription.)
3.2333 Formalist experiments in poetry have a way of
looking alike (the variations introduced don't coalesce
into patterns, or if they do, they seem to be the same
patterns other formalists invent.)
3.23331 (We sometimes suspect all formalist poetry has
been written by the same person, even if the tricks are
3.23332 (They all show the same sensibility.)
3.2334 Confessional poetry fails when it doesn't show a
3.23341 (New to the canon, of course.)
3.23342 Syvia Plath didn't have a
new sort of personality:
we've seen all this before.
3.233421 (Sylvia Plath couldn't write short
3.23343 Sylvia Plath invented a new sensibility: We hadn't
seen that "voice" before. Not in poetry. (Where it
3.2335 Lyric poetry is not autobiography.
3.23351 Lyric poetry imitates autobiography.
3.233511 "Imitate," is a good word. It puts a gap between
the thing being imitated and the thing doing the
3.233512 Nevertheless, we often confuse the thing imitated
and the thing imitating.
3.2335121 (Perhaps it is no coincidence that the poet -- in
English -- we know least about is one we think is the
3.23352 Poetry does not settle scores.
3.233521 Have poets taken revenge on relatives and friends
through their poems? Of
3.2335211 (People stab each other with screwdrivers too.
And yet, no instruction manual on screwdrivers
describes the best way to do this.)
3.2335212 Have mathematicians taken revenge on others by
proving new theorems? Perhaps. Perhaps some have
thought they were doing this.
3.2335213 (The psychological process of transference is
3.233522 The desire for revenge (in an author) may cause a
poem to have certain qualities.
3.233523 We can condemn an author (morally) for creating a
poem with certain qualities.
3.233524 We cannot condemn the poem (aesthetically) because
certain causes gave rise to certain qualities in it.
3.2335241 (God may visit punishment of the father's sins
unto his children: We are more logical than that.)
3.233525 We can only evaluate a poem's qualities
3.23353 Poetry is only designed to provide aesthetic
3.233531 This may make us think: If that is true, only gods
could write poetry.
3.233532 But we have created an unreal problem.
3.2335321 Pleasure is an end in itself.
3.23353211 Sexual pleasure is an end in itself.
3.2335322 Perversity is the introduction of goals other than
pleasure into the process of enjoying a pleasure.
3.23353221 (De Sade was a pervert.)
3.2335323 Those who have sex for the purpose of procreation
3.23353231 (This doesn't mean, of course, that someone who
wants children is perverted.)
3.2335324 (Evolution's "purposes" cannot
be our purposes.)
3.2335325 Suppose someone says: "But there would be no sex
if procreation were unnecessary." (Amoebas don't have
3.2335326 To talk about purposes in the case of evolution is
really only to talk about causes.
3.2335327 And if A is the cause of why B gives me pleasure,
it never follows that A is the reason why I pursue B.
(Pleasure is always an end in itself.)
3.23353271 (Unless I'm perverse.)
3.2335328 Perversity (in poetry) is mediocrity.
3.2335329 The goal of a poet is to create poetry
3.23354 One's political
views are part of one's biography.
3.233541 A poem does not express an author's political
3.233542 (An author's political views can cause a poem to
have certain qualities.)
3.233543 A poem can imitate a political tract, of course.
(Or a philosophical tract.)
3.233544 Only a confused author would try to change the
world by writing poetry.
3.2335441 (Unless, of course, he was only pretending to
write poems, and was really trying to do something
3.2335442 (In this case he would not be confused, although
he would still be incompetent. And not necessarily as
3.2336 Some playwrights have created new sensibilities.
Shaw, for example. We should not confuse the
sensibility shown by a writer with the fictional
personae depicted (or shown).
3.2337 Can an artist create more than one sensibility?
Is this what a dramatic poet does?
3.23371 Perhaps we do not allow artists
to do this.
3.23372 (Unless the artist adopts a pseudonym we never
3.22373 This, too, is
a matter of stipulation.
3.23374 Characters in plays show their "personalities" by
what they do when they say things. Dramatic poets also
have characters that show their "personalities".
3.233741 For a character to show his personality is not the
same as for the poet to show his sensibility. Even if
both of them do it by means of exactly the same words.
(At the same time.)
3.2337411 No narrator is only her words.
3.23374111 (This is why two types of narrators, using exactly
the same words, can nevertheless show different things
have different properties that they show.)
3.23374112 (This is why nested narrators don't create
philosophical problems the way a statue and the clay it
is composed of does.)
3.2337412 Everything can be imitated.
3.23374121 This is a licence we extend to art.