Windswift Press

Wonders are there many - none so wonderful as man. His is speech and windswift thought. Sophocles


"To Make You See"

Posted by John L. Pattillo on September 12, 2010 at 3:35 PM


     According to Ayn Rand, an artist projects his values by making them concrete.  For example, a hero is someone who is courageous, determined, honest, has integrity, and so forth.  But merely to state those things makes you a philosopher, or a moralist, not an artist.

     The artist must make those abstractions concrete through the particular medium of his art form.  He must create a specific image that embodies them.  So, for example, in literature Dumas creates the image, the personality, the character of D'Artagnan.  In sculpture, Michelangelo creates the image of David, or French creates the Minuteman.  In painting, Leutze creates the image of "Washington Crossing the Delaware," in poetry, Kipling creates the Colonel's son in "Ballad of East and West."

      In literature, the writer of fiction or poetry must use words, which are audio-visual symbols standing for abstractions, in order to make you, the reader, perceive in your imagination a very specific image. 

     This, I believe, is what Joseph Conrad meant when he said that the serious author must say to all who come to his novel, "My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel -- it is, before all, to make you see.  That -- and no more, and it is everything."

     Conrad’s sense of life is not mine, but I believe that he succeeded in making his readers see.  He made his abstract view of the essential nature of men and their actions into concrete characters and events. Through these concretes you can see into Conrad’s soul.

     By your response to that concrete vision, or those within any other true work of art, you come to know your own soul.



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