Criteria of artistic value: actualization of the basic concept

Автор: . 25 Січ 2016 в 0:09

Petro Ivanyshyn


Criteria of artistic value: actualization of the basic concept.


Issues of the criteria of artistic value in the field of literary criticism should be refered to the basic category. Alongside with literary values and belles-lettres, aesthetics and intantionality, text and work of art, author and reader, literature functions and literary process etc. Without their adjusted delineation on the methodological level of reserch consciousness one hardly can speak about scientific method of the art of word understanding, it woud rather be more or less succesfull intuitively-subjective literary conjectures, often trivial, chaotic, partial and not enough convincing.
It seems, that the very lack of such basic notions delineation is observed in that part of the present-day literature, that is trying to coopt somewhat extravagant in the scientific meaning postmodernism ideas and its varieties (poststructuralism, deconstructivism, neofeminism, neo-Marxism and others ).
Quite in the spirit of antispiritual imperatives of the post war epoche as the period of “catastrophic collapse of cultural values” (Zh.Ryus) appear conviction of absence of artistic criteria: so to say, everything may be an art, if to name it in such a way [7, 126]. The utterance of the English researcher V.Leych exactly represents the essence of postmodern position: “The best way to view literature as the name given by people, from time to time and for diverse reasons, to the definite type of writing, within that, what Michel Foucault called «discursive practices»” [2, 132].
This, in its essence, antiartistic tradition takes beginning as early as an avant-gardism (partly in some ideas of Enlightenment), directives of which in postmodern are rather changed than denied. It is worth to notice the idea of Polish aesthetics Vladyslav Tatarkevych, which writes about prevailing of avant-gardism in a euroatlantic region after the first, and especially, after the second world wars:
“If by modernism to name an advance-guard at war, then one can say, that the period of postmodernism began with stopping of wars. Strictly speaking, there is already no advance-guard, as there is only an advance-guard”[6, 44]. The traditional ideas about art, after V.Tatarkevich, induce to view him as part of culture, which appears due to the mastery of author, makes a “separate mainland in the world” and exists exceptionally in artistic works. Avangardn-postmodern theories but assert other position, in which an art arises as the “enemy of culture” (Zh.Dyubyuffe), arises as something opposite to mastery, – that is why “All is an art” (G.Arp) or “Everything that is able to accumulate on itself attention, becomes an artistic work” (M.Porembskyi), becomes identical to any, even everyday activity – thence the idea of longshoreman as artist (G.Rozenberg), appearance of the so-called “concrete poetry”, “plastic sound”, performances and others, finally, an art unstucks from artistic works, arises as abstract “creation” – that is why, for example, for R.Morris is enough the existence of a scheme, but not the very work: “There are already no artistic works, there are only artistic situations” (A.Mol) [6, 45-47].
Distinctly nihilistic conception of postmodernism results not only in appropriate, from point of distorted, antiexistance logics, ideas about “death of art”, but also to the next conclusion – about “death of theory of literature” (G.Tikhanov).This exactly, manifests in the denial of criteria of artistic value and in the field of art of word, actually, in helplessness before the estimation of any writing reality. But helplessness far not innocent, but with clear ideological – liberal – direction. “Presumably, – justly marks I.Il’in, – never in art from times of Enlightenment the element of didactics orientation was not so strongly felt in literature, consciously oriented to re-education of reader tastes, on alteration of stereotypes of his perception” [2, 166].
Therefore the cut cow heads in glass cubes, which so kindly suggested to enjoy recently one of the Kyivan centers of “modern art”, are fully consonant in an aspect of cultivations of sense of disgust to the “writting” of some modern Ukrainian authors, not groundlessly taken by critics to “genital literature” (V.Panchenko). Although for others – not scientific, but postmodern critics – it is “normal” or “actually” literature. Though, as they were able to define it “artistic and literary values” at the terms of principle absence in postmodernism of concept of literature and criteria of its determination, remain a complete secret. Perhaps, on a smell or telepathically.
Interestingly, that the spirit of postmodern and avant-garde relativism chaotically influenced (and influences, judging from some responses of senior on works of young writers, hitherto) even on those Ukrainian authors which with their literary practice witnessed the confession of high artistic standards. The article “Concerning «Cathedral» by Oles Gonchar” (1968) of Ulas Samchuk, in which known Ukrainian prose writer and critic, former visnykivets, taking into account a diaspora-foreignculture context, forced rather ill at ease to hide, than assert the criteria of literary: “In this our speech about this book «Cathedral» I consciously avoid its artistic and literary parts, I am not a critic, and it is not my professional realm. In my opinion, nowadays there are no iron-bound canons of formal determination of artistic or not artistic work. All styles are now mixed – old, new, from the past and future, an art is revolved in the stormy world of cyclones and contrcyclones, and that is why the book is the book only then, when it tells us something, flusters us, we like it or conceive a hatred. Not an art, this is the weakness of idea, utterance, paint” [5, 77].
Presumably, foremost literary criticism in general suffers most from absence or vagueness of criteria of artistic value and concrete literary critics. A theorist can easily appeal to the works tested by time (and usually does so) as material of research, the historian of literature mainly systematizes already approved creative experiences and only a critic must give an estimation to the current literary process, appealing to works, a measure and degree of artistic value of which makes a secret. Here even authority of the name of writer not always is able to help, because a good prose writer often appeared a mediocre poet or dramatist and vice versa. There were cases in history of Ukrainian literature when talented artists (for example, P.Tychyna) for some reasons or other sustained “corrosion of talent” M.Kotsyubynska), being transformed on the producers of political agitational material.
Problems of literary criticism in a postimperial period can be explained only partly by absence of systematic high fees, shortage of the proper magazines or absence of high-quality literature (though all of it is also partialy present). Principal reason of its chaoticness, inequality, amateurishness, in my opinion, – are installed in critical consciousness of the denials, doubts, and uncertainty concerning the criteria of artistic value. Is it possible, actually that these criteria do not exist and everything may be literature?
Historical experience of the Ukrainian people and other people of the world convinces that it is far not so. Other question, that the concept of art, literature, its functions and criteria indeed could be changed in different cultural and historical epoches. However literary values of “Iliad”, “Slovo o polku Igorevim”, “Don Kikhot”, “Tartyuf” or “Pilgrimage of Child Harold”, seemed to suffer not very much from it. Therefore, presumably, there still are some means of cognition and estimations which allow to differentiate artistic literature among other types of writing.
So what are these means? Befor we proceed to their propaedeutic delineation, we should note two observations. At first, it is easy to notice that there are plenty of these means – from the estimation of originality of work to, so to say, external appearance of edition, – but not all of them will be basic, attributive. And from the other side, just to find out the most meaningful, constant, attributive criteria, it is important to take into account tested by experience of ages ideas about art and literature. . For example, one can appeal to already given detailed generalizations of V.Tatarkevych concerning more than two thousand development history of concept of art. Let us point them once again with certain clarifications.
Thus, first and foremost, an art is an organic particle of culture. In addition to that, we should remember that thinkers and scientists did not discover a culture without nation until now. Some determinations have already become classic, for example, the definition of Max Weber that a culture is a sphere, which engulfs “all manifestations of spirituality, which distinguish one community from other” [3, 58], or of Paul Riker, which saw in it the “complex of values” that constitute nation as the nation [4, 300-301]. Consequently, literature as an inalienable constituent of art also possesses general cultural nationally spiritual essence. Not by chance Martin Gaydegger outlined an art as “a source of attain-historical existence of people”, and marked, that in literature (as in “poetry”) there are “pre-located concepts about essence” of every nation [8, 305-308]. Afterwards, the same idea was developed by Gans-Georg Gadamer: “Literature… plays the role of spiritual maintainance and tradition function, and that is why it brings hidden in itself history to all modern” [1,146,156]. In such a way, manifests itself the spiritual, creative, and intentional aspect of artistic value as essence (or idea) of art.
Art also is an outcome of mastery of the artist. It is generated foremost by the special abilities and persistent labour of professional. How exhausting this labour is we can see from such lines of Lina Kostenko: “And these genius poets are such untalented! / Go out from night – black, as miners from a coalface. / And those shreds of paper – like mortal bridgeheads / of a solitary battle with the states, with time, with themselves”. At the same time an art is an autonomous sphere of culture, of spiritual reality in general, it is “separate mainland in the world” indeed. But separate, does not mean – fully opposite to the world or torn off from him. Separation of art, to our mind, explains the connection of art with a sphere of aesthetically beautiful, wonderful. This connection is noticeable not only in a psychological plan – in satisfying (or generating) by artistic work the aesthetic feelings but also in ontological. From the ontological point of view, a concept “beauty” is reinterpreted and explained as “lightness” or “enlightenment” of life at the level of form [8, 291-293, 311-312]. But such luminescence can fully satisfy the aesthetic feelings of an artist and recipient. That is, psychological and ontological conceptions of aesthetic aspect of artistic value fully yield to the concordance, even additionality. And finally the last: artistic works that is a sphere of existence of art, “in works – is its sense, for them it is valued”, asserts V.Tatarkevich.
Taking into account all stated above, perceiving given nationally existential pre-judgements, it is possible with the sufficient measure of persuasiveness and reasoning to assume the presence of three basic (attributive) criteria of artistic value.
The first criterion – techne, – is aesthetic and related to the estimation of external form of literary work. The point is about the estimation of “creative handicraft” (I.Franko) of writer as master of word, his lingually-graphic, artistically vocal, versificational, stylish and others like that mastery. Second criterion – ejdology – also aesthetic and helps to estimate the internal form of work. That is descriptive mastery of author is estimated, as well as quality of some separate icons (their functional work-load, novelty and informational content), and ejdology system – as figurative reality – on the whole.
And finally the third basic criterion is spiritual creative teleology of work. This intentional criterion estimates the content and sense of literary work from point of view of spiritual creative mastery of author: estimation of expedience, ultimate goal (teleology), meaningful and semantic essence of work, its intentional purposefulness (“tendentiousness”, after I.Franko), their reconciling with an idea and functions of art (as a component of culture). Actually that is an estimation of man and nation creative potential of work.
Obviously, that application of these criteria would allow othergates, to give a glance something deeper on creative experinces in the past and contemporaneity. Doubtfulness, for example, of lineation of some futurists works as literary.
The known “Week” of M.Semenko (“Monday. // Tuesday. // Wednesday. // Thursday. // Friday. // Saturday. // Sunday. // All.”) can be examined as artistic work – poem – rather ironically, than earnestly and such consideration is pregnant with powerful potential of parodies in the spirit of K.Burevii. One can write analogical text under the name, for example, “Half-year”: “January // February. // March. // April. // May. // June. // All”. But the experiments of the beginning of ХХ century turn pale before the challanges of ХХІ century, where neocynical “grey mud flow of vers libres” (L.Kostenko) as symbol of all prosaic and written in verse postmodern “writing”, hides not only aesthetic tastelack (S.Andrukhovych or I.Karpa) or elementery imitation (S.Zhadan or L.Deresh) but also things more vulgar and disgusting.
For example, culturally-imperial, liberal directive on the disparagement of the Ukrainian classics, as in postmodern text “Bad company (Short course of Ukrainian literature)” by Yu. Andrukhovych. Far more disgraceful works of his noisy like-minded persons are not worth mentioning. Leaving limits of the very literature, one can give a somewhat more critical look on a foreign modern works of other types of art (those which are popularized as artistic one), putting a question about their artistic value; for example, wizarding epopee about Harry Potter, gangster film-saga “Brigade”, cycle of comedies under the name “American pie” or a chain of “counterterrorist” Russian and American thrillers.
Certainly, given here opportune thesaurus considerations – are only tiny entry into a difficult hermeneutic theme. More detailed lineation of artistic value criteria, as well as possibility of exposure on their basis of four types of writing – inartistic literature, artistic literature, mass literature and antiliterature, – needs more detailed and scale studios. However, we hope, that this contemplation, gives grounds not only to confirm the presence of immanent to the artistic sphere means of cognition and estimation of its essence, but also allows more scientifically, professionally, so truly critically, to give a glance on the pied stream of newest literary creations, where, presumably, far not all is worth to be named the art of word, far not every work is able to be the source of national existence. Moreover, it is worth to mention, that the absence of criteria influences not only on literary criticism or history of literature on the whole, but also on the very literature, increasing not enough artistic or inartistic imitations. And without belles-lettres, valuable life of nation is scarcely possible.

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