Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

although the main appeal must be in the book viewed as a whole. Take a drama or picture. How does it convince? Not by its realism. Quite the contrary; the greatest and most convincing drama and art of the world has been least realistic. It convinces by its own consistency within itself,-its inherent unity. It has no necessary relation to that which is outside itself.

The whole Greek mind was permeated by this artistic outlook. It is not that they were not scientific. They were. But it was the development of both the scientific and artistic, excluding neither, the absence of all exclusiveness and specialism that made them what they

were.

Herodotos might be taken as a case in point. I have called him elsewhere the artistic historian and said that he presents a drama. We might almost say that for the Greek mind he presents the drama,-the tragedy of ßpus and the triumph of the higher over the lower. The greatness of Herodotos is in the convincing completeness of his rounded theme, which can be quite clearly distinguished from the scientific qualities that he may also possess. Whether the facts of his history are scientifically correct matters little. Indeed if the whole

thing were a fiction its eternal truth would remain unaltered.

Greek sculpture and especially Greek portraiture furnishes an even more telling illustration. The piece of sculpture is excellent in itself without reference to nature. The portrait is the perfection of the self, toward which the individual is ever tending. The Greeks had a saying that there is something more like ourselves than we are ourselves; and it is this self, that we never reach, but which is th perfection of the given Individuality, which was the aim of the Greek portrait painter.

What we have to concern ourselves with here is that true self of Hellas, or of ourselves, which is the perfection of that toward which each age, in its own peculiar essence, tends.

The details may lack clearness; indeed, with regard to Greece, there is much that is controversial; but the main tendency, the Hellenic spirit, is unmistakable.

When our people can understand Greek portraiture, say as opposed to Roman portraiture, then they will have grasped the attitude of mind, the mood in which our subject must, indeed can only, be approached. It is not enough even to understand scientifically what

Greek portraiture is. We must not know it as something outside, we must feel it, must know. it from within; and we must feel that from this point of view, from this side of our being, so to speak, the Roman is not a portrait at all. (We must get out of the Roman or scientific mood or world into the Greek or artistic. And in this mood, this world, our argument or appeal proceeds. It is, as we shall see, only one world in a larger kosmos; but without it we are bt men at all.

The judgment, in this world artistic, is immediate; but it is none the less valid, or, at least, nothing can be more valid. It is the ultimate judgment, the judgment that cannot be reduced to lower terms. We might perhaps say that it is an argument by universals. Science is an argument from particular to universal or at most from universal to particular. The artist so to speak bases his whole appeal immediately on the universal.

It is not a question of the validity of the passage from particular to universal or universal to particular. This is the function of science: it is indeed all that we mean by science. It is the final assessment, the last word. Science for instance may show that such and such a condition involves chaos or

that such and such a condition involves system. Which will we have ? There is no further argument. This is the judgment of the artist in man. Though in the above instance we say,-system means being, chaos means not being, we practically only shift our terms. Will we have being or not being? It cannot be argued, we have reached the bedrock.

Simularly when we examine our picture, science may analyse and say,—this picture involves this or amounts to that or can be summed up thus. Another picture involves, amounts to or can be summed up as something else. This picture involves balance, that picture involves lack of balance. Balance or not balance, which is it to be? This final judgment is the judgment of the artist.

The "pictures" in this lecture may be summed up scientifically and we may state the result as completeness or insufficiency. The final choice is for the artist. If he chooses insufficiency there is no more to be said. Cadit quaestio. But will we, as artists, choose insufficiency, that insufficiency which is less than complete, not the infinite that is more than complete? Surely not.

THE GREEK GENTLEMAN

« ZurückWeiter »