"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

21 February 2006

"On Moral Fiction"

Reading John Gardner's On Moral Fiction, I found some ponderings on the purpose of art that strike me as profoundly true:

"Moral art in its highest form holds up models of virtue."

"Great art celebrates life's potential, offering a vision unmistakably and unsentimentally rooted in love."

"In art, morality and love are inextricably bound: we affirm what is good -- for the characters in particular and humanity in general -- because we care."

"True art [. . .] clarifies life, establishes models of human action, casts nets toward the future, carefully judges our right and wrong directions, celebrates and mourns. [. . .] It designs visions worth trying to make fact. [. . .] It strikes like lightning, or is lightning; whichever."

Therefore:

"We need to stop excusing mediocre and downright pernicious art."

5 comments:

GrumpyTeacher1 said...

Those are great observations! I continually struggle with a decent personal definition of what art is anyway, and Gardner's ideas seem insightful. Thanks for the post.

alaiyo said...

You would love this book, Scott! (Is it okay to tell *you* to buy books, too? :) )

Beth

GrumpyTeacher1 said...

Okay? Yes!

Safe?

Er, probably not. Too late, though.

Megan said...

Does Gardner discuss the difference between moral fiction and moralizing fiction? Sometimes the line between the two seems a bit thin.

alaiyo said...

Megan -- absolutely. He isn't the least bit interested in seeing fiction "moralizing" about life. He is concerned with fiction showing truth -- and truth is undeniably a moral issue.

Scott -- oh, good -- I can corrupt the whole family's economic system this way! :)

Thanks both of you for visiting --

Blessings,

Beth

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