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On the Sublime in Art

From the Introduction to "The future of Art" by Marcella Tarozzi Goldsmith

The truth of art consists, therefore, in transcending the subject of knowledge and the insidious recurrence of the object. Hermeneutics finds there the becoming of its truth. But neither tragedy nor art's possible neutrality vis-a-vis the object and the subject nor "art for art's sake" will ever give us a complete view of what art can be. Even the sublime, which is the supreme artistic "form", still deprives us, because of its limited intelligibility, of the full meaning of art.

Art, but also aesthetics, can be said to rest on a metaphysical nothingness, which becomes the "ground" on which subjectivity acts. Ineffable as art itself, subjectivity expands side by side with the sublime, whose ultimate significance is to give us the highest point that art can reach. The sublime is privileged because beyond it nothing can be thought. It is irreplaceable and dogmatic in its own way, it stands for a true beyond without beyond. (The sublime is dogmatic because its intelligibility cannot be communicated to another agent, one either experiences it or one does not. It is the result of an immediate apprehension.) It follows that an aesthetic theory reaches its consummation when it accounts for the sublime. Even aesthetics cannot show us its subjective or objective causes, a theory can at least make clear why the sublime is essential to art. Without the sublime, art itself would become, after the "disappearance" of beauty, a "perfect" nihil. The sublime is the extreme limit of art and of the subject itself. This fact brings the sublime close to nihilism. Even the will to power is permeated with sublime intentions. However, nihilism must yield to the sublime to proclaim the priority of the senses and of a sensuous truth.