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Tolstoy on Art David Banach Department of Philosophy.

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Presentation on theme: "Tolstoy on Art David Banach Department of Philosophy."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tolstoy on Art David Banach Department of Philosophy

2 Tolstoy on Art David Banach Department of Philosophy

3 Tolstoy a Transitional Figure Tolstoy bridges the gap between the Realism of the Renaissance and the Relativism of the Post- Modern era. Reason, Feeling, and Suggestion are the three means of human progress, and Feeling is classed with Reason as a force for progress. Feeling is not a window onto God, nor a mere physiological reaction. It is a dimly felt connection to the mysterious under-current of tendency and force (will) that underlies the veneer of this phenomenal physical reality.

4 Three Elements of an Artwork 1. The effect or feeling that the object produces inside me, the viewer. (Feeling) 2. The artwork itself as an object. (Form) (Individuality, Clarity, Sincerity.) 3. Something beyond the object to which it points, or that it represents. (Meaning, Content)

5 Three Elements of an Artwork

6 1. The effect or feeling that the object produces inside me, the viewer. (Feeling) The function of the art work is the transmission of feeling for Tolstoy. 2. The artwork itself as an object. (Form) This is the mechanism or means of infectiousness of the artwork for Tolstoy. (Individuality, Clarity, Sincerity.) 3. Something beyond the object to which it points, or that it represents. (Meaning, Content) The quality or truth of the religious feelings transmitted affects the value of the art for Tolstoy. (Religious Feelings of Unity and Simple Universal Feelings)

7 The function of art is the transmission of feeling "If only the spectators or auditors are infected by the feelings which the author has felt, it is art." (V) "Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that others are infected by these feelings and also experience them." (V) Language communicates propositions and thoughts. Art communicates feelings. Together they are the means of human progress. Art plays a central role in the development of humankind.

8 The criterion for judging the form of art, or art as art, is infectiousness One way of judging art is by its effectiveness in performing its function of transmitting feeling, irrespective of the value of the feelings transmitted. "The stronger the infection the better is the art, as art." (XV) One can know one is infected by the feeling of the artist because one "is so united to the artist that he feels as if the work were his own and not someone else's--as if what it expresses were just what he had long been wishing to express. A real work of art destroys... the separation between himself and the artist, and not that alone, but also between himself and all whose minds receive this work of art. In this freeing of our personality from its separation and isolation, in this uniting with others, lies the chief characteristic and the great attractive force of art." (XV) The infectiousness of art is mainly determined by its form. Tolstoy identifies three conditions that determine infectiousness:

9 Three Conditions of Infectiousness 1.Individuality or Specificity: The more specific or individual the feeling transmitted, the more infectious it is. The feeling of joy one's birthday surrounded by friends is more effectively transmitted than the general feeling of joy. 2.Clarity: The more pure the feeling transmitted, and the fewer the distractions, the more infectious. 3.Sincerity: The more strongly and genuinely the artist feels the emotion to be transmitted the more infectious the feeling. This is, by far, the most important of the three conditions. One of the main causes of bad art for Tolstoy was insincerity or artificiality.

10 The Kreutzer Sonata (XXIII, ) And a terrible thing is music in general. What is it ? Why does it do what it does? They say that music stirs the soul. Stupidity! A lie!... Music makes me forget my real situation. It transports me into a state which is not my own. Under the influence of music I really seem to feel what I do not feel, to understand what I do not understand, to have powers which I cannot have.... And music transports me immediately into the condition of soul in which he who wrote the music found himself at that time. I become confounded with his soul, and with him I pass from one condition to another.... For instance, a military march is played; the soldier passes to the sound of this march, and the music is finished. A dance is played; I have finished dancing, and the music is finished. A mass is sung; I receive the sacrament, and again the music is finished.... One would have said that new sentiments, new virtualities, of which I was formerly ignorant, had developed in me. 'Ah, yes, that's it! Not at all as I lived and thought before! This is the right way to live! This music transported me into an unknown world....

11 The Kreutzer Sonata (XXIII, )

12 How does Music produce feeling? The German Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer thought that Music was a direct manifestation of the will or tendency the lies beneath the reality of the senses.

13 What is feeling? Will and Representation (Schopenhauer) Representation refers to the surface appearances governed by the laws of science. Will refers to the force or tendency beneath the surface that moves and enforms events independently of causation. War and Peace: A world of historical events necessitated by social forces and a world of social relations governed by the personalities and struggles of human agents.

14 Rage

15 Tranquility

16 Despair

17 Delight

18 The criterion for the content of art is the religious quality of the feelings Thought progresses through language, and the feelings of Man progress through art. The value of the feelings transmitted by art is determined by the religion of the time, which is the highest level of understanding of the meaning of human life attained by the society of an age. The religion of Tolstoy's time, according to Tolstoy, was the view that our well-being "lies in the growth of brotherhood among men--in their loving harmony with one another" (XVI) Two types of feelings are in consonance with this religion:

19 Two criteria for judging the content of art 1.Religious feelings of the unity of man with God and neighbor, as well as feelings of disapproval for things that divide men. Art that divides classes, races, or nations would, therefore, be bad. 2.Simple Universal feelings common to all. Those feelings that are common to all men, independently of class, education, and culture most effectively bring about a state of union of man with man which is the meaning of life according to our highest understanding, or religion. Universal art is good. Exclusive art is bad.

20 Examples of Painting

21 Tolstoy disliked portrayals of the miraculous.

22 Vasnetsov Flying Carpet 1880 and Alioneshka

23 Jean-François Millet – Man with a hoe

24 It is apparent that the naked woman pleased the artist very much, but that Anthony did not concern him at all ; and that, so far from the temptation being terrible to him (the artist) it is highly agreeable. And therefore if there be any art in this picture, it is very nasty and false. XIV JC Dollman Temptation of Saint Anthony

25 And one feels that the artist loved this girl, and that she too loves. And this picture, by an artist who, I think, is not very widely known, is an admirable and true work of art.XIV Walter Langley Motherless" 1895

26 Examples of Music

27 Richard Wagner, Siegfried

28 Beethoven 9 th Symphony

29 Bachs Aria on a G String Fritz Kreisler ( ) rec. 1903; Berlin

30 Chopin, Nocturne

31 Literature Promoting Higher Religious Feeling according to Tolstoy The Robbers by Schiller Victor Hugos Les Miserables The novels and stories of Dickens: The Tale of Two Cities, The Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and others Uncle Toms Cabin Dostoevskys works especially his Memoirs from the House of Death Adam Bede by George Eliot.

32 Bad Literature Baudelaires poetry War and Peace Anna Karenina

33 God Sees the Truth but Waits 1872 Shorter version of story is told by peasant (Platon Karataev) to main character (Pierre) of War and Peace Identified by Tolstoy as his best work. Published in collection of tales for children. What makes it so good? What is its religious meaning? Why does God wait?

34 Tolstoys Critique of Modern Art (1) Lost its religious subject matter and attempted only to produce pleasure. The art of his time produced mainly feelings of Pride, Sexual Desire, and of the Worthlessness of Life (2) become exclusive; since different classes and cultures were pleased by different things, art became more specialized to the tastes and experiences of certain peoples and less universal. (3) Insincere: As art became a way of making money, schools sprang up that taught techniques of producing certain types of pleasure. Artists could master these techniques and please an audience without having anything new to say or without really feeling anything.

35 Art and the Meaning of Life Religion is the best solution to the problem of the meaning of life. Why is the meaning of life a problem and what kind of solution do we need. How do we continue to take our actions and affairs seriously and engage in them as if they matter in a world what is increasingly foreign and detached from the basic concerns of human life? Where do we get the spark or Umphh to move through life?

36 What does our Art say about our view of the Meaning of Life. What is the highest answer to the problem of the meaning of life to which our generation has reached? Have we made the progress that Tolstoy envisioned?

37 Katy Swiftpinkclarkgagaswiftson What is this saying about the meaning of life?

38 Freaky Leashed Sonic Teen Institutionalized Spirit Mastadon Hearts

39 Feistaelson Owlcolbyael

40 Views of Art and Views of Reality A.Michelangelo's Neo-Platonic View: There is more to the world than meets the eye, and it is directly visible to us through the use of the faculties given to us by God. Not only can we directly apprehend the more basic forms that are the reality that lies behind the world, but to an artist whose soul is alive, this material world is like a ghost world filled with windows through which shine the more vibrant realities of another world. Art aims at opening these windows for others and the transmission of these forms or realities. Art transmits realities. B.Tolstoy's Nineteenth Century View: There is more to the world than meets the eye but through reason and language we cannot reach it. We only see our own representations of the more basic reality or Will that lies beneath the surface. (Arthur Schopenhauer, ). Feeling objectifies or expresses this reality more immediately than language. Art transmits feelings. C.The Post-Modern View (Picasso?): There is no more to the world than what meets the eye, and we create how it meets the eye and can transform it. Because science has made feelings seem to be states of the brain and made it hard to see how we could transmit these feelings, we can no longer understand Tolstoy's theory. And once we see science as just another way that the world appears to us, just another point of view, it appears that the specifically human activity is art, the construction of realities. Art transmits points of view.

41 Art, Reality, and the Artist

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