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Obscurity vs. Clarity in Writing

Claudia Miclaus May 10, 2019
In one of the sub-chapters of his book "The Psychology of Art", Henri Delacroix rhetorically asks himself about the condition of an artist, and what exactly defines an artist...
The well-known French artist Henri Delacroix tries to answer the following important question: What is it precisely that defines an artist, is it his labor, sufficient working hours, or spontaneity, i.e. inspiration?
We usually put creation and critique face to face; the mysterious capacities that can make the artist create without the need to understand, and the capacity to understand without being able to create something pertaining to the realm of the arts.
In all the valuable artists, we can notice the fusion between invention and critique. So a good artist should be both very creative and innovative, and also an excellent art critic, and most of all a very good critic of his own art. Without fair self-critique, an artist could not evolve in his creation field.
Hegel used to say that in his work of molding together the reasonable element with the sensitive form, the artist needs to call forth on his active, sharp reason together with a vivid sensitivity.
Without reflection, analysis, reason and understanding the artist is incapable of dominating any content which he wants to put into certain forms. It's a stupid thing to consider that an artist does not know what he is doing.
Paul Valery used to say that the condition of a genuine poet is related to what exists more clearly in the dreaming state of mind. To him, poetry must be associated also with voluntary searches, with a flexibility of thought, with the soul's consent to undergo extreme pains and suffering, and the continuous triumph of sacrifice.
If we say precision and style, we actually say the exact opposite of dreaming.
Good poetry usually contains these contrasting ingredients - on one hand, dream - like attributes and atmosphere, and on the other, precision and style.
Valery also said that it's not the intuitive elements that make a piece of writing valuable. These "sparkles of ideas", these spontaneously-occurring, inspired bits of poetry are, according to the French poet, nothing more than spiritual accidents, lost in the statistics of the brain's local life.
Those who believe in inspiration when writing poetry or any other piece of writing could consider Valery's view on inspiration. He says that the true value of inspiration and inspired bits of writing does not reside in their obscurity or in the supposed deepness of thought we may like to believe they come from, neither in the true pleasure they may give us.
Their true value lies in the way they can reflect or fulfill our needs, or in the reasoned use we will know to give them - that of the implication of the whole human spirit.
Dream, delirium, and the creative incoherence do not have a power of their own. We cannot impose adjustments and improvements on a series of words by the use of dream and absences.
Also, even the one who wants to tell his own dream must be completely awake both in the proper, and in the figurative sense. The attention needs to be pushed to the extreme. The more restless and fugitive our prey is, the more conscious and willing we must be if we intend to catch it and make it forever present in its eternally fugitive attitude.
Delacroix warns us that he does not mean that there is no such thing as intuition. Intuition does exist, but it's not enough. We prove our own value not by submitting ourselves to intuition, but rather by observing and researching it.
Also, that the reply one may give to his very own genius maybe more important and valuable then the aggression of his genius. So to put it more lightly, when inspiration strikes, we must strike back and use both inspiration and our own strike.
So the dreaming state is not enough to write poetry. Neither is the delirium, be it confusion or excitation. Enthusiasm is not a state of mind which is typical for the writer.
Good writers and poets should submit their very own enthusiasm and inspired thoughts to reason, to their analyzing capacities in order for them to write well. Thus the so-called "poeta vates" of the Romantics is opposed by the "poeta faber".