I feel I haven't said anything very new or interesting in my lecture for today.
You wasted my time, Henry!
What underlies this impulse toward "the real" - whether it be history, or the symbol grounded in experience?
Isn't art a playground of indifferent materials, scribbled & folded & shaped into something utterly new - something totally & joyously irrelevant & free? & isn't that - exactly that - how it says the most profound & simple things about life (if it bothers to say anything at all)? Doesn't it refresh life so, with pure disinterested self-fulfillment? Isn't that its perfection?
that's only half the story.
The other half is about saving the world. How? Through taking on the most terrible things, the most frightening things, the most "sublime" things - and domesticating them, humanizing them, making them intelligible. Why? Because somehow joy doesn't want to live in a ghetto, surrounded by misery. It doesn't want to close its eyes or clasp itself by the arms - it wants to open its eyes & arms & clasp you.
Hence those great grave messy emotional symbols - Beethoven (not only Mozart), Dostoevsky (not only Pushkin) - those plangent art works which fuse suffering & joy. Pushkin : "my sadness is luminous". Art in a minor key.
[Some would call this not sublime, but simply realistic (life is mortal, timebound, essentially divided - spirit & flesh). So the strange dance of the children goes on, happy & sad by turns.]