Tuesday, October 09, 2007

a worm chewing its own tail

Theodoros Pelecanos, 1478
L'art pour l'art. The fight against purpose in art is always a fight against the moralizing tendency in art, against its subordination to morality. L'art pour l'art means: "The devil take morality!" But even this hostility still betrays the overpowering force of the prejudice. When the purpose of moral preaching and of improving man has been excluded from art, it still does not follow by any means that art is altogether purposeless, aimless, senseless—in short, l'art pour l'art, a worm chewing its own tail. "Rather no purpose at all than a moral purpose!"—that is the talk of mere passion. A psychologist, on the other hand, asks: what does all art do? does it not praise? glorify? choose? prefer? With all this it strengthens or weakens certain valuations. Is this merely a "moreover"? an accident? something in which the artist's instinct had no share? Or is it not the very presupposition of the artist's ability? Does his basic instinct aim at art, or rather at the sense of art, at life? at a desirability of life? Art is the great stimulant to life: how could one understand it as purposeless, as aimless, as l'art pour l'art?
Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

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