Tag Archives: creation

Art before Nature

“Consider the matter from a scientific or a metaphysical point of view, and you will find that I am right. For what is Nature? Nature is no great mother who has borne us. She is our creation. It is in our brain that she quickens to life. Things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the Arts that have influenced us. To look at a thing is very different from seeing a thing. One does not see anything until one sees its beauty. Then, and then only, does it come into existence.”

Wilde, Oscar. “The Decay of Lying.” In Intentions. New York: Brentano’s, 1905. page 40-41. Internet

This idea that nature is our creation, and not the other way around, really blew my mind. It makes complete sense on so many levels. I find it particularly relevant to my studies at the moment as I’m taking a class on Sensation and Perception, and have been spending a great deal of time contemplating how we perceive the world around us. How much of it is a construct of our mind, and how much, if any, is a universal reality? While I’d been thinking that one of the most important factors that push us to certain perceptions are our life experiences , I can see how Art appears to be a large, if not the largest, subset of those experiences. This was a fantastic reading!

What makes a character fictional or not?

“In literature we require distinction, charm, beauty, and imaginative power. We don’t want to be harrowed and disgusted with an account of the doings of the lower orders…The only real people are the people who never existed, and if a novelist is base enough to go to life for his personages he should at least pretend that they are creations, and not boast of them as copies. The justification of a character in a novel is not that other persons are what they are, but that the author is what he is. Otherwise the novel is not a work of art.”

Oscar Wilde, The Decay of Lying. http://literature.proquest.com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/searchFulltext.do?id=Z000731336&divLevel=0&area=prose&DurUrl=Yes&forward=textsFT&queryType=findWork

Here, the character Vivian explains how the “real people” (or characters) in novels are simply based on imagination. However, if the novelist decides to involve a person whom he or she knows within their text, they must “pretend” they are not real, or pretend they are “creations,” since if they include a real person, the novel would not be considered fiction — which, in this case, would not be considered “a work of art.”