The Aesthetics of Silence

‘’The impulse to create beings – often terribly and fearfully in a tunnel of silence’’ – Adrienne Rich

However the several decades before in the Aesthetic’s of Silence , Susan Sontag examines how silence mediates the role of art as form of spirituality in increasingly secular culture.

S.S. says: ’’art is form of consciousness” – about nine kinds of silence….

Susan Sontag writes that every era has to reinvent the project of spirituality for itself ( spirituality = plans, terminologies, ideas of deportment aimed at the resolving the painful structural contradiction inherent in the human situation, at the completion of human consciousness, at the transcends.)

In the modern era, one of the most active metaphors for the spiritual project is “Art’’ . The activities of the painter , the musician, the poet, the dancer, once they were grouped together under that generic name, have proved a particularly adaptable site on which to stage the formal dramas besetting consciousness, each individual work of art being a more or less astute paradigm for regulating or reconciling these contradictions.

Naturally , the site needs continual refurbishing . Whatever goal is set for art eventually proves restrictive, matched against the widest goals of consciousness. Art, itself a from of of mystification , endures a succession of crises of demystification; older artist goals are assailed and, ostensibly, replaced; outworn maps of consciousness are redrawn.

By Susan Sontag modern art is much form of consciousness as an answer to our longing for all anti – consciousness, speaking to what she calls ‘’the mind’s need or capacity for self-estrangement “.

Art is no longer understood as consciousness expressing and therefore, implicitly, affirming itself. Art is not consciousness per se, but rather its antidote – evolved from within consciousness itself.

By all her means, art usurps the role religion and mysticism previously held in human life – to satisfy something actually “ our craving for the cloud unknowing beyond the knowledge and for the silence beyond the speech.’’ Challenge is for the artist by Susan Sontag to strive to silence. For each serious artist , silence becomes like meditation for spiritual ripening, an ordeal ”that ends in gaining the right to speak.’’

Speaking about contemporary times connected with this essay The Aesthetic’s of Silence, – published on 1969 in her collection Styles of Radical Will, Susan Sontag sounds as prophet, visionary looking for her unknown future of our age of XXII century. She speaks about tyrannical expectations regarding artist’s engagement with social media.

Silence is artist’s ultimate other – worldly gesture: by silence, he frees himself from servile bondage to the world, which appears as patron, client, consumer, antagonist, arbiter, and distorter of his work.

Supposing that artist has demonstrated that he possesses genius and demonstrates that genius authoritatively. By craving to silence is to be, ARTIST is superior to everyone else. Yes he should and have to ask many questions than common people but he possesses stronger nerves and higher standard of excellence.

Modern art could be today very displeasing, in attempts to be provoking, politically aggressive – than regarded as limited – due her shallow, artificial message. Social media use to push such art as most desirable, attractive, pointing on her artistic value as axiom. But sometimes that could not deceive eye of spectator, human being which looks in art more than daily entertainment either something what is dictated by contemporary art historian.

Conceptual art gets bad rap. It’s just very sick, stupid butt of endless jokes with human reasonable thinking. Could such so called art work to communicate with consumers, we would say so that she probably could not. But works of such genre that where nominated for the high prize were called as movement not a style?! Seriousness of ideal aesthetics would not accept such works as art either something what did have real touch with consciousness and it is more – less phoneme of anti – art. The ugly and discordant and senseless become ”beautiful” . Unfortunately the history of art is a sequence of successful transgressions.

And we are refereeing what Susan Sontag points out that the power of art is located in its power to negate, the ultimate weapon in the artist’s inconsistence war with his audience is to verge closer to sophisticated silence.

“There is no neutral surface, no neutral discourse,, no neutral theme, no neutral form. Something is neutral only with respect to something else / like an intention or an expectation. As a property of the work of art itself, silence can exist only in a cooked or non – literal sense.” – Susan Sontag

Sontag’s illustrated this issue with the classic scene from Lewis Carroll’s Trough the Looking Glass, where Alice encounters the shop ”full of manner of curious things” and yet whenever she looks closely at any of shelf, it appears ’’ quite empty, though the others round it were crowded full as they could hold”.

What is art, technique for focusing attention, for teaching skills of atention.

Manu years later Susan Sontag would advice aspiring writers to learn to pay attention to the world. as the most important skill of storytelling. World should be appreciated as most respectful member of dialogue between artist and his audience.Maybe in reception in effect , annihilates the perceptive subject….but it is part of a program of cultural therapy, often on the model of shock therapy. In this sense the art works of Peter Greenaway’s present highly sophisticated manners to express arcane cultural information.

Pillow book (1996) by Peter Greenway

As always, Susan Sontag’s essay anticipated cultural shifts. Today her precious words could teach us more than any post modern pattern about art, creativity, ever – evolving human beings – so human need of artist to create and work in silence.

Credit to following sources :

  • Ljiljana Bursać, Logos a Word about a Lettter
  • Maria Popova, The Aesthetics of Silence
  • Susan Sontag, Styles off Radical Will

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