A Safe Distance

Because in general we approach the arts and entertainment from outside, because we go to art, we regard it as external to the main part of our life. We go to the theatre, to the cinema, the opera, the ballet; to museums; to sports fields (for a part of all great games is as much art as theatre or ballet).

Even our reading is outside the main occupations of our day; and even the art that is piped into our homes we feel comes from outside.

If we consign art to the leisure outprovinces of our lives, and even there experience it mostly in some indirect form, it becomes a mere aspect of good living - that is, a matter of facts, not feeling; of placing, of showing off cultural knowledge; of identifying and collecting.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos ('The Importance of Art'), p.199, 200

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When the chief fields for intellectual expression and the main channels for the stating of personal views of life were theology and philosophy, the artist was able to remain in closer contact with a public.

But now that art has become the chief mode of stating self, now that the theologian-philosopher is metamorphosed into the artist, an enormous gap has sprung.

The only person who might have stopped this schism between the artist and the non-artist are the critics. But the more obscure and the more ambiguous a work of art the more need there is for interpreters. There are thus excellent professional reasons for critics to encourage the schism.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos ('The Importance of Art'), p.198


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