[PREV - SPECTACULAR_ARISTOTLE] [TOP]
July 30 - October 9, 2018
From Section VI:
"The most beautiful colours, laid on
confusedly, will not give as much pleasure
as the chalk outline of a portrait."
That's news to all of us fans of "abstract"
art, of course.
But in context, you can see Aristotle is making
an analogy, he's making the point that character
portraits and collections of dialog alone,
however true-to-life, are not satisfying as
art-- they need to be selected and arranged according
to some design, according to Plot:
"But most important of all is the structure of the
incidents. For Tragedy is an imitation, not of men, but
of an action and of life, and life consists in action,
and its end is a mode of action, not a quality. Now
character determines men's qualities, but it is by their
actions that they are happy or the reverse. Dramatic
action, therefore, is not with a view to the
representation of character: character comes in as
subsidiary to the actions. Hence the incidents and the
plot are the end of a tragedy; and the end is the chief
thing of all."
"... if you string together a set of speeches expressive
of character, and well finished in point of diction and
thought, you will not produce the essential tragic effect
nearly so well as with a play which, however deficient in
these respects, yet has a plot and artistically
"The Plot, then, is the first principle, and, as it were,
the soul of a tragedy: Character holds the second place.
A similar fact is seen in painting. The most beautiful
colours, laid on confusedly, will not give as much
pleasure as the chalk outline of a portrait. Thus Tragedy
is the imitation of an action, and of the agents mainly
with a view to the action."
And so: Aristotle may talk about art being "imitation" of life,
but he means some aspects of life, it's not merely a recording.
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