Cari Amici (Dear Friends),
I have been going through my studio’s book collection this month and wanted to share some gems of art book quotes with you…
Today’s quote is from the book by William Fleming, titled “Arts & Ideas - Eighth Edition.”
From Page 518 under “Bergson’s Theory of Time”:
The thinker who came the closest to making a clear picture of this turbulent age was the French philosopher Henri Bergson. His point of departure was a remark made by the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, who had said that one cannot step into the same river twice. Bergson cited Heraclitus in support of his theory that time was as more real than space, that the many were closer to experience than the one, and that becoming was closer to reality than being.
Bergson was critical of the intellect because it tended to reduce reality to immobility. He therefore ranked intuition as a higher faculty than reason, because through it the perception of the flow of duration was possible, and through it static, immobile quantitative facts were animated into the dynamic qualitative values of motion and change. . . .
. . . Art for Bergson is a force that frees the soul and through which one can grasp “certain rhythms of life and breath,” which compel the individual “to fall in with it, like passersby who join in a dance. Thus they compel us to set in motion, in the depth of our being, some secret chord which was only waiting to thrill.” …. The aesthetic experience is essentially an experience in time and involves an “anticipation of movement” that permits the spectator or auditor in various ways “to grasp the future in the present.” His theory of art is based on what he calls his “spiritualistic materialism,” by which finely perceived material activity awakens spiritual echoes. All is based on the “uniqueness of the moment”; and perception of the flow of time is the same as an awareness of the pulsation of life, something that is quite apart from the mechanical or lifeless matter.
Past, present, and future, in Bergson’s thought, are molded into an organic whole as “when we recall the notes of a tune melting, so to speak, into one another.” . . . But Bergson’s concept of time is not clock time with its divisions into seconds, minutes, and hours; nor is it concerned with the usual groupings of past, present, and future. These are just arbitrary conveniences, like the points on a clock past which the hands move. Time cannot be measured in such a quantitative way; it is a quality, not a substance.
The artwork pictured in this post is a carbon pencil I did from a live model while in Florence, Italy. "Joshua" is framed and available for $700.