Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On "Essences and the Signs of Art" ...

“But whatever the importance of this process of analogy in art, art does not find its profoundest formula here. As long as we discover a sign’s meaning in something else, matter still subsists, refractory to spirit. On the contrary, art gives us the true unity: unity of an immaterial sign and of an entirely spiritual meaning. The essence is precisely this unity of sign and meaning as it is revealed in the work of art.” (p. 40)

“Art therefore has an absolute privilege, which is expressed in several ways. In art, substances are spiritualized, media dematerialized. The work of art is therefore a world of signs, but they are immaterial and no longer have anything opaque about them, at least to the artist’s eye, the artist’s ear. In the second place, the meaning of these signs is an essence, an essence affirmed in all its power. In the third place, sign and meaning, essence and transmuted substance, are identified or united in a perfect adequation. Identity of a sign as style and of a meaning as essence: such is the character of the work of art.” (p. 50)

(Gilles Deleuze, Proust & Signs. Trans. Richard Howard)

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