pressing lidless eyes and waiting

“Mathematics as the very model of intelligibility has been the central citadel of rationalism.  Now it turns out that even in his most precise science –  in the province where his reason had seemed omnipotent – man cannot escape his essential finitude:  every system of mathematics that he constructs is doomed to incompleteness.”  pg. 39

“Modern art thus begins, and sometimes ends, as a confession of a spiritual poverty.  That is its greatness and its triumph, but also the needle it jabs into the Philistine’s sore spot, for the last thing he wants to be reminded of is his spiritual poverty.  In fact, his greatest poverty is not to know how impoverished he is, and so long as he mouths the empty ideals of religious phrases of the past he is but as tinkling brass.  In matters of the spirit, poverty and riches are sometimes closer than identical twins:  the man who struts with borrowed feathers may be poor as a church mouse within, while a work that seems stark and bleak can, if genuine, speak with all the inexhaustible richness of the world.”  pg. 45

“Better to reject the trappings of culture, even art itself, if that would leave one a little more honest in one’s nakedness.  To discover one’s own spiritual poverty is to achieve a positive conquest by the spirit.”  pg. 46

“The subjectivity that is generally present in modern art is a psychological compensation for, sometimes a violent revolt against, the gigantic externalization of life within modern society.  The world pictured by the modern artist is, like the world meditated upon by the existential philosopher, a world where man is a stranger.”  pg. 49

“The deflation, or flattening out, of values in Western art does not necessarily indicate an ethical nihilism.  Quite the contrary; in opening our eyes to the rejected elements of existence, art may lead us to a more complete and less artificial celebration of the world…

Any such break with tradition, where a serious reversal of values is involved, is of course dangerous, for the artist runs the risk of losing the safeguards that the experience of the past has erected for him.  A good deal of modern art has clearly succumbed to this danger, and the result is disorder in the art and the artist; but the danger is the price that must be paid for any step forward by the human spirit.” pg. 59

“Naturally enough, this faceless hero is everywhere exposed to Nothingness.  When, by chance or fate, we fall into an extreme situation – one, that is, on the far side of what is normal, routine, accepted traditional, safeguarded – we are threatened by the void.  The solidity of the so-called real world evaporates under the pressure of our situation.  Our being reveals itself as much more porous, much less substantial than we had thought it…” pg. 62

“If we are to redeem any part of our world from the brute march of power, we may have to begin as modern art does by exalting some of the humble and dirty little corners of existence.”  pg. 65

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