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James Joyce

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Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.
--
Notebook entry, Paris (1903-03-28), printed in James Joyce: Occasional, Critical and Political Writing (2002) edited by Kevin Barry [Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-192-83353-7], p. 104

 
James Joyce

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"Purity" of and in art any art, including music and dance is an illusory notion, of course. It may be remotely conceivable or imaginable, but it can't be realized because it can't be recognized any more than a "pure" human being or a "pure" (or, for that matter, gratuitous) act can be. All the same, for Western art in its Modernist phase "purity" has been a useful idea and ideal, with a kind of logic to it that has worked, and still works, to generate aesthetic value and maintain aesthetic standards as nothing else in our specializing culture has over the last hundred-odd years.

 
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Painting is aesthetic enjoyment; I want to be a "poet". As an artist I must conform to my nature. My nature has a lyrical as well as a dramatic disposition. Not one day is the same. One day I feel wonderful to work and I feel an expression, which shows in the work. Only with a very clear mind on a clear day I can paint without interruptions and without food because my disposition is like that. My work should reflect my moods and the greatest enjoyment I had when I did the work...

 
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...aesthetic Socratism, the chief law of which is, more or less: "to be beautiful everything must first be intelligible" a parallel to the Socratic dictum: "only the one who knows is virtuous."

 
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It is of course not sufficient to appeal to the authority of Marx, Hegel, or any of their contemporaries follower to establish the validity of the direction of History. In the century and a half since they wrote, their intellectual legacy has been relentlessly assaulted from all directions. The most profound thinkers of the twentieth century have directly attacked the idea that history is a coherent of intelligible process; indeed, they have denied the possibility that any aspect of human life is philosophically intelligible.

 
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