Friday, October 1, 2010

Concerning the Spiritual in Art, by Wassily Kandinsky

"The apt use of a word (in its poetical meaning), repetition of this word, twice, three times or even more frequently, according to the need of the poem, will not only tend to intensify the inner harmony but also bring to light unsuspected spiritual properties of the word itself. Further than that, frequent repetition of a word (again a favourite game of children, which is forgotten in after life) deprives the word of its original external meaning. Similarly, in drawing, the abstract message of the object drawn tends to be forgotten and its meaning lost. Sometimes perhaps we unconsciously hear this real harmony sounding together with the material or later on with the non- material sense of the object. But in the latter case the true harmony exercises a direct impression on the soul. The soul undergoes an emotion which has no relation to any definite object, an emotion more complicated, I might say more super- sensuous than the emotion caused by the sound of a bell or of a stringed instrument. This line of development offers great possibilities to the literature of the future. In an embryonic form this word-power-has already been used in SERRES CHAUDES. [Footnote: SERRES CHAUDES, SUIVIES DE QUINZE CHANSONS, par Maurice Maeterlinck. Brussels. Lacomblez.] As Maeterlinck uses them, words which seem at first to create only a neutral impression have really a more subtle value. Even a familiar word like "hair," if used in a certain way can intensify an atmosphere of sorrow or despair. And this is Maeterlinck's method. He shows that thunder, lightning and a moon behind driving clouds, in themselves material means, can be used in the theatre to create a greater sense of terror than they do in nature."

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