Tuesday, August 26, 2014


"...'reality' is neither the subject nor the object of true art which creates its own special reality having nothing to do with the average 'reality' perceived by the communal eye."
~Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire

Friday, August 15, 2014

Getting Rid of "Nothing Buttery"

Roger Scruton on the fundamental human need for the sacred:
"Atheists [...] tell us that the ‘self’ is an illusion, and that the human person is ‘nothing but’ the human animal, just as law is ‘nothing but’ relations of social power, sexual love ‘nothing but’ the procreative urge and the Mona Lisa ‘nothing but’ a spread of pigments on a canvas. Getting rid of what Mary Midgley calls ‘nothing buttery’ is, to my mind, the true goal of philosophy. And if we get rid of it when dealing with the small things — sex, pictures, people — we might get rid of it when dealing with the large things too: notably, when dealing with the world as a whole. And then we might conclude that it is just as absurd to say that the world is nothing but the order of nature, as physics describes it, as to say that the Mona Lisa is nothing but a smear of pigments. Drawing that conclusion is the first step towards understanding why and how we live in a world of sacred things."
I think getting rid of "nothing buttery" is the true goal of art and literature as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Chemical Life

The Irish-born poet Paul Muldoon, poetry editor for the New Yorker, believes artmaking is a drug:
‘We see a connection, and endorphins or whatever go nuts. So I’m sure that a certain amount of art-making has to do with chemical dependency…that feeling, that extraordinary buzz that may be akin to a drugs buzz or an alcoholic buzz or a chemical buzz. Auden, as you know, referred to it as the chemical life.[...]Basically, I think all artistic lives are chemical lives. Why do people keep on doing this? Why do they keep on going back for more, more of the same, when there are so few rewards? It’s a drug. Art-making is a drug. I’m sure what keeps me going back for more is the particular ecstasy that one feels when — and of course it may be completely misplaced, that’s the problem with it — something comes together.’
Actually, when Auden referred to "the chemical life," he was not talking about art-making as a drug, but the drugs he took in order to produce his art: Benzedrine (an amphetamine) to activate his mind in the morning and Seconal (a sedative) to make him sleep at night. This reportedly went on for twenty years. And he wasn't alone. Graham Greene, Ayn Rand, and Jean-Paul Satre used amphetamines regularly, too. Auden said they were one of several "labor-saving devices in the mental kitchen," along with alcohol, coffee and tobacco.