The Age of Insight
A review of The Age of Insight by Rob Mason
THE QUEST TO UNDERSTAND THE UNCONSCIOUS IN ART, MIND, AND BRAIN, FROM VIENNA 1900 TO THE PRESENT By ERIC KANDEL
The relationship between the advancements in the sciences and in art, and how those were interrelated in Vienna’s evolving cultural and intellectual scenes.
Not only philosophy but also the fine arts work towards the solution of the problem of existence. For in every mind there exists a desire to comprehend the true nature of things, of life and existence. For this reason the result of every asrtistic expression of things is an expression more of the true nature of life and existence, more an answer to the question, "What is Life?" Another question is what does the viewer bring to a work of art?
The works of poets, sculptors and pictorial or graphic artists generally contain an acknowledged treasure of profound wisdom, just because the wisdom of the nature of things themselves speaks from them. They interpret the utterances of things merely by elucidation and purer repetition. Therefore, everyone who reads the poem or contemplates the work of art must of course contribute from his own resources towards bringing that wisdom to light. Consequently, he grasps only so much as his capacity and culturs allow, Everyone has to stand before a picture as before a prince, waiting to see whether it will speak and what it will say to him and as with the prince so he himself must not address it for then he would only hear himself.
The above mentioned co-operation of the beholder, required for the enjoyment of a work of art rests partly on the fact that every work of art can act only through the medium of the imagination. It must therefore excite the imagination, which can never be left out of the question and remain inactive.
This is a condition of aesthetic effect, and therefore a fundamental law of all the fine arts. But it follows from this that not everything can be given directly to the senses through the work of art, but only so much as is required to lead the imagination onto the right path. Something, and indeed the final thing must always be left over for it to do.