June 2011

Byronic Hero, Then and Now

Where is Byron when we need him? This is what George Gordon Lord Byron, sexual magnet and progenitor of the Byronic hero, looked like: // Thomas Lawrence, "Lord Byron" / Oh, the melancholy tilt of the head, the dark eyes shining with sensitivity, his pale skin so delicate, so caressable! And that mouth! Small wonder Byron was the toast of London’s social circuit in 1812, celebrated and sought after.  Woman, especially, thrilled to the handsome, capricious, lame-footed man who exploited female emotionalism with calculated aforethought:
Who does not write to please the women?
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The Responsibility of the Artist

A small gem of a book that artists should have on their shelves is Jacques Maritain’s The Responsibility of the Artist. Together with Jacques Barzun’s The Use and Abuse of Art, it is all anyone needs to think or talk about the artist’s ultimate purpose. Dover keeps Barzun in print. Sadly, it does not do the same for Maritain. But scout around for a used copy. (First published in 1960, there exists also a 1972 edition.) Neglect is owed, most likely, to Maritain’s dual ambition: the pursuit of scholarship and the pursuit of sanctity. Continue Reading
Being an Artist vs. Making Art

BEING AN ARTIST AND MAKING ART are not the same. One is self-conscious, the other is directed outward, as Jacques Maritain observed, to the good of the work—to the perfection of the work of one’s hand (if you are a visual artist) in its service to the eye and a cultivated sensibility. The first is largely a theatrical posture, the second is a commitment to something larger, more enduring than oneself. That something, it is hoped, graces its time in some incalculable way. Continue Reading