Message from the unseen

From “Art is Dead; Long Live Aesthetic Management:”

“The work of art,” Alfred North Whitehead writes, “is a message from the Unseen,” or as I would say, the unconscious. “It unlooses the depths of feeling from behind a frontier where the precision of consciousness fails.” This, I think, is the credo and intention of all true artistic creativity–to reach into the unseen depths of the psyche and bring back the pearl of original feeling from them. T.W. Adorno says something similar. “Works of art,” he writes, “do not, in the psychological sense, repress contents of consciousness. Rather, through expression they help raise into consciousness diffuse and forgotten experiences without ‘rationalizing’ them.”

Artistic expression thus undermines the pseudo-self and restores the original self. It uses unconscious feeling to undermine conscious reason. Diffuse feeling arises spontaneously, as though experienced for the first time or suddenly remembered, and so all the more meaningful. It is an unexpected message from the unknown depths, a surprise that cannot readily be explained, which makes it all the more resonant and urgent and profound–and makes the art that mediates it convincing.

–Donald Kuspit, Redeeming Art: Critical Reveries

 

  1. No Comments