Reminder: “In a New Key”

early form of finding meanings … sharing with students still finding their way across the quad.

in mind of the philosopher Susanne K. Langer and her book Problems of Art, published in 1957. In a chapter titled “Expressiveness,” Langer differentiates between “the expression of feeling in a work of art” and self-expression. For Langer, expressiveness is experience given shape and vitality through the artist’s realization of form. “What [the artist] expresses,” she writes, “is … not his own actual feelings, but what he knows about human feeling.” The jumble of life, then, is not explicated but made recognizable and whole. Langer adds that this “knowledge may actually exceed his entire personal experience.” In contrast, she brusquely likens self-expression to a crying baby. Giving precedence to the artist’s psychological disposition, self-expression surrenders the artwork’s structural logic. That such logic reinforces the aesthetic—and, yes, emotive— capabilities of a work of art is lost on those who make self-expression their métier. Cézanne, for example, may have been a cold fish, but could anyone dispute the “expressiveness” of his paintings?

Moving through the bookshelf … one book often leads to another. Too often, during lectures, I’d jump without proper attribution; without enough time between quotes, images, anything .. moving too fast for most students to move at. That was always okay to me. I slowed during techtalk, not during the important things; ideas move at the speed of art … trying for sideways meaning.

it is a peculiar fact that every major advance in thinking every epic making me new insight springs from a new type of symbolic transformation higher level of thought is primarily a new activity its course

Every mode of thought is bestowed on us like a gift with some new principal of symbolic expression .. Langer

EXS Bibliography:

  • Empson
  • Goodman
  • Langer
  • Richards