By Irvin Ehrenpreis
Read Online or Download Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen (The Beckman Lectures, 1978) PDF
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Additional resources for Acts of Implication: Suggestion and Covert Meaning in the Works of Dryden, Swift, Pope, and Austen (The Beckman Lectures, 1978)
For the artist, the inverse seems to be true: An artist’s problems begin when Plato hits the exit and everyone else stays. ” If one sense of artistic mediocrity is anything that fails to achieve completion and perfection (Horace/ Benn), a second sense is implied in Cicero: Instead of reaching the highest, one reaches the masses. In the world of fine art, the judgments “average” and “mediocre” are often reserved for works that have an immediate resonance by appealing to the majority irrespective of their level of taste.
Kant depicts the battle between genius and taste, between unbounded creativity and its regulating force, as internal to the working of the artist. Within this internal economy, it is imperative that genius be educated, mentored, and even disciplined. The original exceptionality of genius must be moderated and given a measure by taste. This measured or contained notion of genius brings originality in line with a rule (as a rule-giving Exemplarity and Mediocrity 33 force) without subsuming it to a rule.
For Kleist, the mediocre artwork can only be enjoyed when it is purged or cleansed of its disfiguring traits, its capricious and contradictory elements, a skill that demands a discursive ability to name, explain, and sort out the middling elements. Thus, to praise Goethe or Schiller proves nothing at all. Only in the face of mediocre art—a work mixing disfiguration and beauty—can one display exemplary taste. Equally important in this text is Kleist’s claim that without mediocre art, one would never know beauty.