Francis Bacon

“Self Portrait,” 1976

Today is painter Francis Bacon‘s birthday (1909-1992).

Frye in “The Function of Criticism at the Present Time”:

It is vulgar for the critic to think of literature as a tiny palace of art looking out upon an inconceivably gigantic “life.”  “Life” should be for the critic only the seed-plot of literature, a vast mass of potential literary forms, only a few of which will grow up into the greater world of the verbal universe.  Similar universes exist for all the arts.  “We make to ourselves pictures of facts,” say Wittgenstein, but by pictures he means representative illustrations, which are not pictures.  Pictures as pictures are themselves facts, and exist only in a pictorial universe.  It is easy enough to say that while the stars in their courses may form the subject of a poem, they will remain the stars in their courses, forever outside poetry.  But this is pure regression to the common field of experience, and nothing more; for the more strenuously we try to conceive the stars in their courses in non-literary ways, the more assuredly we shall fall into the idioms and conventions of some other mental universe.  The conception of a constant external reality acts as a kind of censor principle in the arts.  Painting has been much bedevilled by it, and much of the freakishness of modern painting is clearly due to the energy of its revolt against the representational fallacy.  (CW 21, 73-4)

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