Full text: The blind man (2)

how pleasant is its chaste simplicity of line 
and color! Someone said, “Like a lovely 
Buddha”; someone said, “Like the legs of 
the ladies by Cezanne”; but have they not, 
those ladies, in their long, round nudity al 
ways recalled to your mind the calm curves 
of decadent plumbers’ porcelains? 
At least as a touchstone of Art how valu 
able it might have been! If it be true, as 
Gertrude Stein says, that pictures that are 
right stay right, consider, please, on one 
side of a work of art with excellent refer 
ences from the Past, the Fountain, and on 
the other almost anyone of the majority of 
pictures now blushing along the miles of 
wall in the Grand Central Palace of ART. 
Do you see what I mean? 
Like Mr. Mutt, many of us had quite 
an exhorbitant notion of the independence 
of the Independents. It was a sad surprise 
to learn of a Board of Censors sitting upon 
the ambiguous question, What is ART? 
To those who say that Mr. Mutt’s ex 
hibit may be Art, but is it the art of Mr. 
Mutt since a plumber made it? I reply 
simply that the Fountain was not made by 
a plumber but by the force of an imagina 
tion; and of imagination it has been said, 
“All men are shocked by it and some over 
thrown by it.” There are those of my in 
timate acquaintance who pretending to ad 
mit the imaginative vigor of Mr. Mutt and 
his porcelain, slyly quoted to me a story 
told by Montaigne in his Force of the 
Imagination of a man, whose Latin name 
I can by no means remember, who so 
studied the very “essence and motion of 
folly” as to unsettle his initial judgment 
forevermore; so that through overmuch 
wisdom he became a fool. It is a pretty 
story, but in defense of Mr. Mutt I must in 
justice point out that our merry Montaigne 
is a garruolus and gullible old man, neither 
safe nor scientific, who on the same subject 
seriously cites by way of illustration, how 
by the strength simply of her imagination, a 
white woman gave birth to a “black-a- 
moor”! So you see how he is good for 
nothing but quotation, M. Montaigne. 
Then again, there are those who anx 
iously ask, “Is he serious or is he joking?” 
Perhaps he is both! Is it not possible? In 
this connection I think it would be well to 
remember that the sense of the ridiculous 
as well as “the sense of the tragic increases 
and declines with sensuousness.” It puts it 
rather up to you. And there is among us 
to-day a spirit of “blague” arising out of 
the artist’s bitter vision of an over-institu 
tionalized world of stagnant statistics and 
antique axioms. With a frank creed of im 
mutability the Chinese worshipped their 
ancestors and dignity took the place of un 
derstanding; but we who worship Progress, 
Speed and Efficiency are like a little dog 
chasing after his own wagging tail that has 
dazzled him. . Our ancestor-worship is 
without grace and it is because of our con 
ceited hypocracy that our artists are some 
times sad, and if there is a shade of bitter 
mockery in some of them it is only there 
because they know that the joyful spirit of 
their work is to this age a hidden treasure. 
But pardon my praise for, sayeth Nietz 
sche, “In praise there is more obtrusiveness 
than in blame”; and so as not to seem 
officiously sincere or subtly serious, I shall 
write in above, with a perverse pen, a 
neutral title that will please none; and as 
did Remy de Gourmont, that gentle cynic 
and monkey without a tail, I, too, conclude 
with the most profound word in language 
and one which cannot be argued—a pacific 
One must say every thing,— 
then no one will know. 
To know nothing is to say 
a great deal. 
So many say that they say 
nothing,—but these never really send. 
For some there is no stopping. 
Most stop or get a style. 
When they stop they make 
a convention. 
That is their end. 
For the going every thing 
has an idea. 
The going run right along. 
The going just keep going. 

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