I would like to see someone do some contemporary intellectual work on how indirect communication – communication by signals and pointers and gestures rather than direct statement – produces the best art.
The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple. ~ Oscar Wilde
Communication whose style and content is dictated by constraints imposed by the rules of a scene is more creative, even more joyful, even if the realities of the life that produces the thought is very difficult.
Jean Baudrillard did some of this work in bemoaning the loss of the scene itself, which is the stage for the distinction between good and evil that we all navigate. Without the binary antipodes of cultural constraint, do we really find motivation to do anything of importance?
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it. ~ Oscar Wilde
Art communicates what cannot be expressed by other means. There is more truth in fiction and in art than in any amount of moralizing speech.
When homosexuality could not be spoken, thinkers and artists – and even politicians – discovered ways to indicate what was already known, and to do it without speaking it. We love to bust these out into the open, but the art was all about indications and play.
It made great art. Plays, paintings, poetry, speeches, philosophies…
Oppressed people can create the most amazing stuff – amazing music, amazing fiction. Think of Russian novelists. Think of black gospel music compared to the dirge-like church music of privileged white colonizers. It’s true that abject poverty can also denigrate people below any ability to create, too, but among them… always a genius, a prophet.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s not at least part of what is meant by not being “of this world.” The rewards of this world – money, power, and so on – are rewards in themselves. They are rewards for now, to be enjoyed now. But that’s all.
The rewards of those who are censored and constrained and even oppressed are, by their very structure and nature, more complex – more insightful – more subtle – more deeply real. When you care enough to work around tough rules of expression, you find a way – like life itself always finds a way.
It will be a marvelous thing – the true personality of man – when we see it. It will grow naturally and simply, flower-like, or as a tree grows. It will not be at discord. It will never argue or dispute. It will not prove things. It will know everything. And yet it will not busy itself about knowledge. It will have wisdom. Its value will not be measured by material things. It will have nothing. And yet it will have everything, and whatever one takes from it, it will still have, so rich will it be. It will not be always meddling with others, or asking them to be like itself. It will love them because they will be different. And yet, while it will not meddle with others, it will help all, as a beautiful thing helps us by being what it is. The personality of man will be very wonderful. It will be as wonderful as the personality of a child. In its development it will be assisted by Christianity, if men desire that; but if men do not desire that, it will develop none the less surely. For it will not worry itself about the past, nor care whether things happened or did not happen. Nor will it admit any laws but its own laws; nor any authority but its own authority. Yet it will love those who sought to intensify it, and speak often of them. And of these Christ was one. “Know Thyself” was written over the portal of the antique world. Over the portal of the new world, “Be Thyself” shall be written. And the message of Christ to man was simply “Be Thyself.” That is the secret of Christ. ~ Oscar Wilde
The traditions of men serve to stabilize communities, but they also create boundaries that are made to be flirted with – deconstructed. As you toe the line, you doodle all around that line. Without a line, you can’t… doodle.
It’s not brazen. It’s not open. It’s not honest. And yet – isn’t it more truthful to experience? Doesn’t it really address you all the more forcefully?
It does me.
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind— ~ Emily Dickinson
“…music is the perfect type of art. Music can never reveal its ultimate secret. This, also, is the explanation of the value of limitations in art. The sculptor gladly surrenders imitative colour, and the painter the actual dimensions of form, because by such renunciations they are able to avoid too definite a presentation of the Real, which would be mere imitation, and too definite a realisation of the Ideal, which would be too purely intellectual. It is through its very incompleteness that art becomes complete in beauty, and so addresses itself, not to the faculty of recognition nor to the faculty of reason, but to the aesthetic sense alone, which, while accepting both reason and recognition as stages of apprehension, subordinates them both to a pure synthetic impression of the work of art as a whole, and, taking whatever alien emotional elements the work may possess, uses their very complexity as a means by which a richer unity may be added to the ultimate impression itself.” ~ Oscar Wilde