Quoting Camus (sans eggs)

February 25th, 2005 · 4 Comments · Artists, Writing

“But hell can endure for only a limited period and life will begin again one day. History may perhaps have an end; but our task is not to terminate it but to create it, in the image of what we henceforth know to be true. Art, at least, teaches us that man cannot be explained by history alone and that he also finds a reason for his existence in the order of nature. For him, the great god Pan is not dead. His most distinctive act of rebellion, while it affirms the value and the dignity common to all men, obstinately claims, so as to satisfy its hunger for unity, an integral part of the reality whose name is beauty. One cannot reject all history and yet accept the world of the sea and the stars. The rebels who wish to ignore nature and beauty are condemned to banish from history everything with which they want to construct the dignity of existence and of labour. Every great reformer tries to create in history what Shakespeare, Cervantes, Moliere and Tolstoy knew how to create: a world always ready to satisfy the hunger for freedom and dignity which every man carries in his heart. Beauty, no doubt, does not make revolutions. But a day will come when revolutions will have need of beauty.”

-Albert Camus, from “Creation and Revolution,” excerpted from The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt

Category: Artists · Writing

4 Comments so far ↓

  • Micah

    Camus is interesting; he has this weighty aesthetic that comes through in his writing that can be especially compelling. I had a spell for a while when I was 18 and 19 where I was reading all the Camus I could get my hands on. You’re still taking classes, right? I’d be interested to know: what art class has assigned Camus reading? Or did you just pick it up randomly?

  • Meg

    Camus is definitely one of the more readable theorists. Yeah, I’m still in the art history/museum studies grad program, and we’re reading Camus in western art theory and criticism, 1950-present. Art and philosophy have a great many overlaps.
    Much of 20th century art is theory-based. Some would say that’s a good thing, and others might not. Personally, I like my art mixed in with ideas, but hey, that’s just me. Yesterday at the lecture I went to, art critic Jerry Saltz said that art comprises ideas applied to materials, and I think that about hits the nail on the head.

  • Micah

    “Art and philosophy have a great many overlaps.”
    That seems to be true, but I can’t as yet put my finger on how. How would you characterize the nature and content of the overlap(s)?

  • Meg

    Micah, I’m working up a long answer to the art and philosophy overlap, which will end up in a future post. Thanks for asking such a great question — one that has really got me thinking.

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