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A C SUKLA - THEORY OF IMPERSONAL ART

A C SUKLA - THEORY OF IMPERSONAL ART

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Published by Sukla Ananta Charan
Published in the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics 1978 (No. 2)
Published in the Journal of Comparative Literature and Aesthetics 1978 (No. 2)

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Published by: Sukla Ananta Charan on Dec 08, 2012
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07/21/2013

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JournalofComparativeLiteratureandAestheticsVol.
2
No.IIWinter1978
@VishvanathaKavirajaInstitute:Orissa:India
.
THEORYOFIMPERSONALART
A.C.SUKLA
'athepurposeofthisessayisnottotraceanyhistoryoftheideaofimpersonalityinart,nordoesitaimatofferingany'finalsolution'oftheproblem.Itproposestomakeanattemptatclarifyingsomeofthe'intricaciesintheviewsofthelatestpleaderofthistheorybythrowingsomelightthroughtheargumentsoftheancientIndiancritics.
I
Incontinuationoftheanti-romanticmovementofHulmeandPound,inrejectionoftheromanticconceptsthatpoetryexpressesthepersonalfeelingsandemotionsofthepoet,thatthepoetthecreatorisverymuchpresentinhispoemthecreation,thattherearespecIficemotions,feelingsandsubject-mattersuitableforpoetryandanalysisofpoetryneedsananalysisofthe'genius'ofthepoetEliotgaveafinalshapetothemodernclassicisticideaoftheimpersonalityofarti.e.thepoetisasimpersonalasthescientistandpoetryisasortofinspiredmathematics"whichgivesusequationsforthehumanemotions."1InspiteofthehighlyeclecticcharacterofEliot'smassofcriticalwritingsandanumberofknottyandconfusingcriticalphrasesandjargonsitisnotdifficulttosummarisesystematicallythebasicideasofhispoeticsfromsomemajorportionsofhis.writings,particularlyhisessays"TraditionandtheIndividualTalent","TheMetaphysicalpoets","PerfectCritic"and"ImperfectCritic"andtheessayon
Hamiel."
TraditionandtheIndividualTalentgivesusthekey-notetohiscriticalassumptionswhichhetriestojustifyinotheressays.Hestressestwopointsthere:apoetisnotariisolatedindividual,asnootherindividualis,fromothersofthesocietyorcountryorfromthehumanityasawhole.EachandeverymomentoftheimmemorialandunendingTimeis1.EzraPound,
TheSpiritoftheRomance,
London1910p.5.
 
interdependent;thuspastisnotburiedinthedeadpast,norisfuturesomethingnewanduncertain.Past,presentandfutureareinawaycausallyandlogicallyrelatedthoughwithoutlosingthesignificanceofeachmomentintheeternalfluxofthisTime.Thusapoetasanindividualandasapartofhistraditionmustbeassessedsimultaneouslyatthetimeofjudgment.
.
Thesecondpointdealswiththematerial,theprocessandfinallywiththenatureofpo~ticcreationandtherebyofallartisticcreationsingeneral.Thematerialforallartisemotion,butitisnotthepersonalemotionoftheanist.Logically,itfollowsfromEliot'smajorassumptionstatedabovethatastheartistisnotanisolatedpersonfromthewholetradition,theemotionsthatarethematerialsofhisartcannotbealsostrictlypersonal.Theymustbeimpersonalinthesensethattheymustrepresenttheemotionsofthewholetradition(thetypicalemotions)ofwhichheisanorganicpart.Thustheromanticview,thatthepoetdirectlyexpre3seshisownpersonalemotionsi.e.hisexperiencesofsorroWsandmiseries,happinessandsuffering,isrejectedhyEliot.Hetermshisimpersonalemotionsas
significant
emotions.Nowthepoeticprocessorthemethodofartisticoperation:itisneithera
recollection
oftheemotionsintranquillity,nora
spontaneousoverflow
ofpoweifulfeelings-thusstraightlyarejectionoftheWordsworthianformula.Theartisticoperationinvolvesthreeprinciples-theprinciplesofcorrespondenceortrans-mutation,coherenceandcomprehensiveness.2Thisoperationtakesplaceinmind;butunliketheromanticcriticEliotdisbelievesinthesubstantialunityofsoulormindi.e.thesufferingmindofthepoetcannotbeidentifiedwithhiscreativemind;hencethereisnoquestionof
recollection
ofthepoet'spersonalsufferingsandjoys.Mindisamedium-amediumofoperation.Thediversedfeelingsandemotionscifthepoetareidentifiedhere(principleofcomprehensi-veness)and,allthepartsbeingintegratedintoawhole(principleofcoherence),arefinallytransformedintocompletelyanewthingwhichispoetry(principleoftransformation).ThoughthereissomeaffinityofthisoperationwiththeromanticconceptoftheSecondaryImaginationthereisnothingmysticinit.Theoperationisjustatechnicalonequitecommoninchemicalsciences.Mindofthepoetisacatalystwhichitselfbeingneutralandunchangedlikeafilamentofplatinum,whichcombinesoxygenandsulphurdioxideintosulphorousacid,transmutesthe
2.F.P.Lu,
T.
S.
Eliot;TheDialecticalStructureofHisTheoryofPoetry,
Chicago,1966.Chap.2.70
 
rawmaterialofpoetry(i.e.emotionsneitherpowerful,norsomethingneworspecific,justordinaryones).Emotionthustransformedis
significant,
isimpersonal,andwhenexpressedintheformofapoem(orart)hasitslifeinthepoemitself,notinthehistoryofthepoet.Buthowtoexpressthistransmutedemotionintheformofart?"Theonlywayofexpressingemotionintheformofartisbyfindinganobjectivecorrelative";inotherwords,asetofobjects,asituation,achainofeventswhichshallbetheformulaofthatparticularemotion;suchthatwhentheexternalfacts,whichmustterminateinsensoryexperiencearegiven,theemotionisimmediatelyevoked."3Eliot'sideasabouttheimpersonalityofartandparticularlyhistheoryof'objectivecorrelative'havebeenvariouslycriticizedbycriticslikeReneWellek,SusanneLanger,Ranson,Praz,EleseoVivas,S.E.Hymanandothers.ButtheIndianthinkers,whodebatedonaparallelproblemcenturiesago,wouldhaveraisedthefollowingpoints:Eliotisnotpreciseasregardshisideaofemotionsandfeelingsi.e.whethertheyarethestatesofourmind-per~anentortransi-toryandinwhatwaytheyarerelatedtoexperience.Sometimesemotion,feelingandexperienceappearsynonymousandinterchangeable;atothersthedistinctionisratherconfusingandinconvincing:thatemotionsignifiestheresponsesofthepoet'smindtotheexternalandinternalstimuliwhichfurnishthepoetwiththerawmaterialwhichhetransformsinpoetry;andfeelingstandsfortheresponsesofthepoet'smindwhichoriginatenotintheexternalorinternalstimulibutareoccasionedbythestudyofliterature.Secondly,thepoeticprocessi.e.thetransformationofpersonalemotionsintotheimpersonalpoeticemotionsisalsoobscure.WithoutgivinganylogicofthistransformationEliotgivesananalogywhichmaybeveryalluring,butissurelyinvalid.Alivinghumanmindcanneverbeasneutralasafilamentofplatinumwhichissimplyapieceoflifelessmatter;andthisanalogyf:romchemicalscienceisincapableofeXplainingasensibleaffairliketheprocessofpoeticcreation.Besides,whyshouldartapproachtheconditionsofscienceatall?Finally,themethodofobjectificationoftheimpersonalemotionanditsimplicationthataestheticenjoymentnecessitatestheevocationofthis(impersonalized?)emotionintheconnoisseurappearmisleadingfromitsapplicationtooneofthemaster-piecesofworldliterature
(Hamlet)
judgingitasanartisticfailure.3.Eliot,
Hamlet(1919).
71

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