Pearls from artists* # 26February 6, 2013
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Beauty is made up of relationships. It derives its prestige from a specific metaphysical truth, expressed through a host of balances, imbalances, waverings, surges, halts, meanderings, and straight lines, the peculiar quality of which, as a whole, add up to a marvelous number, apparently born without pain. Its distinguishing mark is that it judges those who judge it, or imagine that they possess power to do so. Critics have no hold over it. They would have to know the minutest details of how it works, and this they cannot do, because the mechanics of beauty are secret. Hence the soil of an age is strewn with a litter of cogs that criticism dismantles in the same way as Charlie Chaplin dismantles an alarm clock after opening it like a tin can. Criticism dismantles the cogs. Unable to put them back together or understand the relationships that give them life, it discards them and goes on to something else. And beauty ticks on. Critics cannot hear it because the roar of current events clogs the ears of their souls.
Jean Cocteau in Andre Bernard and Claude Gauteur, editors, Jean Cocteau: The Art of Cinema
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