Full text: Secession (Number one) (1)

18 
writing-. It brings us to a consideration of the esthetic 
power of a writer’s material. The writer’s material? 
Is it words filed as clean of all their connotations and 
ideational meanings as a curve or a spread of color is? 
Or is it precisely those connotations and meanings, 
those idea-emotions, that are the writer’s material? 
The sign or the things for which the sign stands? 
Tzara is headed towards a sign esthetic. His poetry is 
a challenge to further research in the esthetic nature of 
words. My tentative belief, however, is that there are 
very restricted walls for an art based on signs and that 
the proper materials are those things which they 
symbolize. Abstract painting does all the essential things 
that representative painting, if it is of value, does. Both 
are good for the same reason. But abstract literature, 
to date, falls short of representative literature because 
it has not yet conquered a literary third dimension, 
cannot expand very far into an interior organization. 
That is, 1 conceive the psychological, social, idea- 
emotional, interpretative, etc., values of an organized 
piece of writing to be the only means a novelist, let 
us say, has to give a feeling of documentary solidity. 
They can be detached from his design, but, if he uses 
them as an artist, they serve to weight and energize 
his scheme. Let us note, then, that there are certain 
grandly serious elements of life and certain very trivial 
constituents. This means that the power of subject 
matter varies and leads to another tentative conclusion. 
The more documentary solidity a writer can give his 
work provided he can control surfaces proportioned to 
this interior development, the deeper and fuller response 
he can create. 
With more certainty it may be said that there is a 
shifting importance attached to the multitudinous subjects 
which writers use and that there come periods when 
even the grandly serious things are of less importance 
for literary production than the minor facets of life. 
This is, in part, due to the operation of a law of fatigue 
upon esthetic emotion. Certain subject matter, let us 
say doubt, melancholy, speculation upon insolubles, 
exploited again and again in an era, gradually loses its 
potency and calls forth weaker and weaker replies. 
It is necessary to turn to other materials, courage and
	        

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