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2.4 Form In A Work of Art


All right, once again a piece of art is a message. It goes from the author to the audience and it is about the author's true and important feelings, ideas, and inventions. How is this message built? We know already, the message paradoxically presents a new virtual world, which is strange (and therefore interesting) and, at the same time, is ours, understandable and touching (and thus important).

What makes a piece of art a projection of a new world? The work consists of ideas which are organized and expressed in some aesthetic form. Obviously, if we have the ideas simply listed (remember a newspaper article!), they would attract only philosophers and would not necessarily invoke any feelings. On the other hand, I am sure that everybody can recall many examples of artworks which they found deeply involving, while those works bear almost no ideas, or bear ideas that are insignificant, or maybe important but not for us. For example, I adore the musical 'Chicago', but can barely list any ideas in it. So, how does art purify and signify matters for us?

We can assume that the aesthetic form plays the major and the essential role here. It is the form that organizes different details into related ones, tied to each other in virtual space-time. It is the form that comprises something whole, something total, that exact kind of reality which is the new world built in and by a work of art. Again, it is the aesthetic form that brings reality into the new world created, and it is the form that makes it touching and interesting. It is through form that ideas emerge and speak to us.

Now, let us recall that an intrinsic feeling of the author must stand in the center of the imagined world and dictate its aesthetic form.

Rules For Creator

And so, the feeling dictates, thus the author obeys, although this may sound strange. Here are some general thoughts before we proceed. We have learned a few things about a work of art, but is art something entirely comprised of works? Or is there such a thing as "art'' itself?

The first answer is easy: yes and no. Why ''yes?'' When we say "sculpture," this implies a general notion, which, in turn, makes a work of art be a sculpture in our eyes. More importantly, it makes it one in the eyes of its creator. Most importantly, it was a sculpture in the creator's mind before it was created. How about some other phenomena, reflected in such diverse general terms as "Baroque," "Comedy," "Antiquity," et cetera? There appear to be some kind of general patterns working beyond artworks, and thus, we can definitely say that ''art'' in itself does exist.

Why ''no?'' It is so, because these patterns do exist and develop in works of art only. While talking about art, we have no substance to look and point at, other than works of art. Art does not exist beyond works of art. Art in itself is a paradox, and this paradox is the exact reason art develops by its own laws.

Let us make the ideas behind the ''yes'' more concrete. The patterns mentioned above translate into some more or less articulated rules that an artist has to obey. This, by the way, returns us to another question: whether or not there are laws of culture to obey in order to make it work its best. Yes, there are laws. They are implemented in works of art, and they are developed in works of art.

An artist obeys and develops at least tree sets of rules.

The first set of rules is concerned with the laws of categories of art (meaning genres, mediums, et cetera). Obeying these laws is one of the conditions required to construct a work of art into its perfect form. Let's take look at movies based on a books. Simply rewriting a book as a script cannot work because things that have to be said in a book, can simply be shown in a movie. Inversely, things that can be explained in a book, can't be shown in a movie. In this respect, some movies based on the Bible are not convincing at all for that exact reason. ''The Passion of the Christ'' can serve as a counter example, because Mel Gibson adhered to the laws of his medium.

The second set of rules to obey is concerned with canon. From ancient Greek tragedy and sculpture to Medieval poetry to Classical music and so on, arts have always been developed through a cycle: invention of a canon, development within the canon, offshoot of a new canon... You either learn an existing means of expression, which was invented by someone else, or invent new means yourself. But you still have to follow some rules, so that your creation will fit into a cultural context. This makes your work readable, visible, understandable, recognizable, and so forth.

The third set of rules is the most mysterious. It is concerned with the ''dictatorship'' of the author's own work. In other words, this set represents that unique world that is implied in every single work of art. No matter what it is: a novel, a short story, a song, a play, a painting, a poem, et cetera, it is a whole new different world. To reiterate from before, it is new and it is real. And it becomes real when all its elements play together without a single false note. In short, the new world is real if it is shaped in a perfect form, as I have said before.

We can always hear a false note when it is played; we can always see when a painter makes the wrong stroke; in general, we can feel when an author breaks the rules of the world he has created. That is, we can always feel when an aesthetic form is broken, when its perfection is undermined. I always remember a very compelling example: Clive Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia. It happened, when, I think, Lewis started to worry that his message of Christian love was not clear, so he turned to direct preaching. In my view, he destroyed that beautiful world he created; he had ripened its form for the sake of religion and morality. What should Lewis have done to keep Narnia alive? He should have followed her rules. He shouldn't have directly preached, but kept Narnia's form as perfect as it was. . .

This may seem contrary to the idea that an author's feeling dictates the form, but it's not. That means that the form must represent the author's feeling. It follows then, that the virtual world should be free to dictate its rules. The more talented an author is, the better he is able to follow the rules of the world of his creation. We can even put it this way: the more talented an author is, the more independently acts his creation. If we agree that an imagined world is, in a sense, a living one, then we see it as independent, independently acting, independently developing.

The main rule for a creator is paradoxical and is thus: be free to follow your creation!