Winter 1950 • Vol. XII No. 1 NonfictionJanuary 1, 1950 |

The Fetish of Form: An Example from Music

More real harm has been done to art in recent years by indiscriminate talk about Form than has been due to any other type of philistinism. The habit belongs, to be sure, to the Higher Philistinism—it marks those whom Nietzsche called Culture Philistines—but it is none the less anti-artistic, for the emotion behind it is almost always a false and ignorant superiority. As for the damage done, it could be demonstrated by simply pointing to the artists who have either been hindered by critics' objections to their form or—worse still—who have suppressed their true instincts in deference to this vague but menacing criterion. Form is necessarily, inevitably, the creator's chief concern in any art: the artist does nothing but shape material things, even when as a dancer, singer, or actor he uses his own body as a plastic substance. Hence the artist is alert to opinions about his forms—which are his works—and by extension he responds to criticism about what has come to be cal

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Communication

By Jacques Barzun

More real harm has been done to art in recent years by indiscriminate talk about Form than has been due to any other type of philistinism. The habit belongs, to […]

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