Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Nature and Aim of Writing

"Art is a word that immediately scares people off, as being a little too grand. But all I mean by art is writing something that is valuable in itself and that works in itself. The basis of art is truth, both in matter and mode. The person who aims after art in his work aims after truth, in an imaginative sense, no more and no less."

Flannery O'Connor, The Nature and Aim of Fiction, in Mystery and Manners

The question “what is art” can be answered in a thousand different ways, from many varying points of view. All such points all carry an element of weight, especially to the one who formulated the argument; however there must be some linking aspect that makes art art. In Flannery O’Connor’s essay “The Nature and Aim of Fiction”, she discusses the practice of writing and what explains the difference between works of writing that are works of art as opposed to those that are simply writings for monetary gain. Although Flannery O’Connor is speaking about writing, her ideals can also be applied to art. Art as she describes it is “something that is valuable in itself and that works in itself.” Truth must be at the core of art. More than fame or fortune, producing just what is popular for good reviews, the true artist aims solely after truth.

A true piece of art is not something calculated, and there exists no formula for creating a piece of artwork. Art must spring forth organically from its material; therefore it is impossible to create two works alike. A writer is able to place within their work symbols that lead the reader into many varying levels of understanding and comprehension of the work, just as the painter is able to place a deeper meaning and commentary of the surrounding world through their work. In both fields a deeper understanding of the nature of things surrounding us is first and foremost the goal of the artist. It is such passion and commitment to organic creation that gives artwork the life to live on long after the artist has accomplished the work.


Boris Zakic said...

thanks Leah. Beyond the phrase "little(?) too grand," I believe there is also a hint toward the overuse of the term as well, further aiding to its "functionlessness".

In these cases, as a rule of any college-crit-think-seminar goes, take stock of the who, the when, and to which ends, etc. whenever these terms, whether "art," "truth" and anything else for that matter, are raised. This is actually most exciting aspect of our field to me. Makes for the most stimulating activity for daily routine. A bientot--

Earl Grey said...

In light of your post, I question what it is that makes O'Connor a master of the short story and/or fiction? What makes it organic, symbolic, iconic? If the first goal is to understand the nature of things, then why put it into words or pictures?

GC::VA said...

I would agree with Dr Decker on her points. I am curious about the phrase organic the most. Depending on the medium this can tick and tack. Digital works or painting or some ceramics vs say stone carving or engraving. There is very little organic growth in these processes. Errors mean changing your idea or starting over most of the time. If you change your mind you make something new so in respect to the "product" produced from the original idea there is no organic out spring. If you are referring to growth through the process of production. And plenty of people create two works alike, what about people that create work in multiples or the serial? Printmakers as a whole, or artists like Jeff Koons or Gregor Schneider.

What is difference between true piece of art vs a piece of art in respect to it being a work of art? It is like saying something is a "true fact".

Prof. Darrell Kincer said...

I would note that our dear friend Mr. Thomas Kinkade is very formulaic and extremely repetitive in making works alike. Alas, perhaps he is ultimate not an artist after all. But this leaves me confused concerning his bankruptcy since his "work" must obviously be for monetary gain.