By Robert Pack
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Extra info for Affirming limits: essays on mortality, choice, and poetic form
This paradox suggests that art is joyous simply by being art, no matter how gloomy its vision is of the human condition. The artist is thus the happy bringer of bad news. Art is joyous in that it transforms cruelty and chaos into order and meaning, but in so doing it places art above life and loses touch with the very evil that it purports to confront. Auden reminds us that "No metaphor, remember, can express / A real historical unhappiness. / Our words have value if they make us gay. " But if art can only be happy and if life itself is sad, then the happiness we enjoy in art is merely fantasy, a holiday from reality, and such happiness is all too fragile and vulnerable.
All artistic creation partakes of the wish for power and control, which in its fullest fantasy is the wish for immortality, to exist beyond the bonds of nature. Since artists' creations are always themselves, their own substance, they are both creator and creature in one, they are parents unto themselves, and they survive in the form of their own offspring, which is also themselves. " But such a wish, persistent as it has been throughout human history, is doomed to failure. We must return to our lives, to the limits of our aging bodies; we must return from the realms of our creation, from our imaginings, to the circumstances of time and place.
Page 31 In Robert Frost's "'Out! Out'" we hear a narrator who is outside the story he is telling, but who wishes to enter into the scene as one of the characters.
Affirming limits: essays on mortality, choice, and poetic form by Robert Pack