The creation of a work of art is based on a primary aesthetic experience of nature or human life, and not everything is capable of producing such an experience in all men. The subject must be one towards which the artist or spectator is able to take the sthetic attitude of emotional, yet free, perception.
Since the sthetic perception of nature has its starting point in variable aspects that never recur, no other man could see or feel the lily pond as Monet saw and felt it. And, although in memory we may possess a silent gallery of beautiful images, into which we may enter privately as long as we live, in the end the flux has its way and at death shatters this treasure house irrevocably.
Satire has the temporal usefulness of a practical expedient, humor the eternal value of beauty. Our interest in art is seldom a matter of mere feeling or appreciation; usually it is a matter of judgment as well. Beginning in feeling, the sthetic experience passes over into comparison and estimation into criticism, and there finds its normal completion.
The fundamental reason for the superiority of sights and sounds is their expressiveness, their connection with the life of feeling and thought. They take root in the total self; whereas the other elements remain, for the most part, on the surface. Under favorable conditions, however, all sensations may enter into the sthetic experience.
On the other hand, the spirit of art is fundamentally non-moral, for the sthetic attitude is one of sympathy an attempt at once to express life and to feel at one with it; it demands of us that we take the point of view of the life expressed and, for the moment at any rate, refrain from a merely external judgment.
Even the realistic novel and play, while seeking to present a faithful picture of human life and to eliminate all private comment and emotion, cannot dispense with the elementary dramatic feelings of sympathy, suspense, and wonder. sthetic expression is always integral, embodying a total state of mind, the core of which is some feeling; scientific expression is fragmentary or abstract, limiting itself to thought.
Esthetic, you know the beauty part of it." "Yuh, sure, that's the word. 'Sthetic, that's what it is. Yes, 'sthetic. But, just the same, it makes me feel's though I believed in all sorts of things." "Tell you what I believe may happen, though," exulted Morton. "This socialism, and maybe even these here International Workers of the World, may pan out as a new kind of religion.
In the work of the Flemish and Dutch, on the contrary, we take delight in the perspicuity of things without losing the sense of wholeness; for there is a sameness and simplicity of color tone which unites them. A genuine and unique sthetic value is possessed by such work, that of clear intuition of the visual detail and human significance of things.
We may call these judgments "pseudo- sthetic" judgments. They fall naturally into several classes, which it will be worth while to describe. First, there is the very large class of partisan judgments judgments based, not upon a free appreciation, but upon some personal predilection or transient appeal.