Friday, August 01, 2008

The Fleshly Character of Human Art

Among the arts of which man is the material, that which comes after the art of the body is the art of the mind, poetry. Thought can become the material of art only because it itself has its own body, namely language, the embodiment of the word. It is here that we see how all human art is necessarily carnal. Purely spiritual beings, who could communicate directly without the means of audible words in the form of sounds, would perhaps possess an art of the mind, but we cannot imagine what it would be like. Poetry is a human art like the rest only because it first of all addresses itself to the ear. Words, spoken, heard and understood, constitute its material.

Etienne Gilson, Forms and Substances in the Arts, p. 210.

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