chapter  10
8 Pages

Poetry for Poetry’s Sake

Against all these weighty opinions, the view - supported largely by a distinction between Form and Content, Subject and Handling, which will be examined elsewhere,2 and relying upon the doctrine o f intrinsic, supersensible, ultimate Goods discussed above that the values of art are unique, or capable of being considered in isolation from all others, has held sway for some thirty years in many most reputable quarters. The reasons for this attempted severance have already been touched upon; they are of all sorts. Partly it may be due to the influence of Whistler and Pater, and of those still more influential disciples who spread their doctrines. Partly it may be due to a massed reaction against Ruskin. Partly again we may suspect the influ­ ence, rather suddenly encountered, o f Continental and German [7 3] aesthetics upon the English mind. Almost from the beginning of scientific aesthetics, the insistence upon the aesthetic experience as an experience, peculiar, complete, and capable of being stud­ ied in isolation, has received prominence. Often it is no more than an extension into this field of a part of scientific method — the method o f considering, whenever possible, one thing at a time. When critics in England, not very long ago, heard that there was something connected with art and poetry - namely, the aesthetic experience — which could be considered and exam­ ined in isolation by the methods of introspection, they not unnaturally leapt to the conclusion that its value also could be isolated and described without reference to other things. In

lation o f a ‘specific thrill’ yielded by works of art and nothing else, unlike and unconnected with all other experiences. ‘N o queerer’, it was said, ‘than anything else in this incredibly queer universe’. 1 But the queerness of the universe is of a different and a more interesting sort. It may be a curiosity shop but it nowhere seems to be a chaos.