The Kosmos Biblioth

Roger E. Eichorn's Blog: Fantasy, Philosophy, and whatever else I feel like writing about

Artistic Conventions

(For R. Scott Bakker…)

Artistic conventions. — Three-fourths of Homer is convention; and the same holds true for all the Greek artists, who had no reason to adopt the modern rage for originality. They were completely lacking in any fear of convention; this was precisely what held them together with their public. Conventions, namely, are the aesthetic means that have been conquered for the sake of the audience’s understanding, the laboriously acquired common language with which the artist really can communicate himself. If he, like the Greek poets and musicians, sometimes wants to triumph immediately with each of his works of art—because he is used to contending publicly with one or two competitors—the first condition is that he also be understood immediately: which is, however, possible only by means of convention. What the artist invents beyond the conventions, he voluntarily attaches importance to and wagers himself upon, succeeding in the best of cases in creating a new convention. Originality is ordinarily seen with astonishment, sometimes even worshipped, but rarely understood; stubbornly diverting from convention means: wanting not to be understood. Toward what, then, does the modern rage for originality point?

– Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow, §122

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One response to “Artistic Conventions

  1. rsbakker August 19, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    Truly, he is my father.

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