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Objective and Subjective Art

"There is art and art. You have doubtless noticed that during our lectures and talks I have often been asked various questions by those present relating to art but I have always avoided talks on this subject. This was because I consider all ordinary talks about art as absolutely meaningless. People speak of one thing while they imply something quite different and they have no idea whatever what they are implying. At the same time it is quite useless to try to explain the real relationship of things to a man who does not know the A B C about himself, that is to say, about man. We have talked together now for some time and by now you ought to know this A B C, so that I can perhaps talk to you now even about art.
"You must first of all remember that there are two kinds of art, one quite different from the other - objective art and subjective art. All that you know, all that you call art, is subjective art, that is, something that I do not call art at all because it is only objective art that I call art.
"To define what I call objective art is difficult first of all because you ascribe to subjective art the characteristics of objective art, and secondly because when you happen upon objective works of art you take them as being on the same level as subjective works of art.
"I will try to make my idea clear. You say - an artist creates. I say this only in connection with objective art. In relation to subjective art I say that with him ′it is created.′ You do not differentiate between these, but this is where the whole difference lies. Further you ascribe to subjective art an invariable action, that is, you expect works of subjective art to have the same reaction on everybody. You think, for instance, that a funeral march should provoke in everyone sad and solemn thoughts and that any dance music, a komarinsky for instance, will provoke happy thoughts. But in actual fact this is not so at all. Everything depends upon association. If on a day that a great misfortune happens to me I hear some lively tune for the first time this tune will evoke in me sad and oppressive thoughts for my whole life afterwards. And if on a day when I am particularly happy I hear a sad tune, this tune will always evoke happy thoughts. And so with everything else.
"The difference between objective art and subjective art is that in objective art the artist really does ′create,′ that is, he makes what he intended, he puts into his work whatever ideas and feelings he wants to put into it. And the action of this work upon men is absolutely definite; they will, of course each according to his own level, receive the same ideas and the same feelings that the artist wanted to transmit to them. There can be nothing accidental either in the creation or in the impressions of objective art.
"In subjective art everything is accidental. The artist, as I have already said, does not create; with him ′it creates itself.′ This means that he is in the power of ideas, thoughts, and moods which he himself does not understand and over which he has no control whatever. They rule him and they express themselves in one form or another. And when they have accidentally taken this or that form, this form just as accidentally produces on man this or that action according to his mood, tastes, habits, the nature of the hypnosis under which he lives, and so on. There is nothing invariable; nothing is definite here. In objective art there is nothing indefinite."

(Gurdjieff in P.D. Ouspensky′s In Search of the Miraculous)