Stein M. Wivestad 16.06.11
Sydney, 18 August, 2000.
Art experience and The little prince
What is an art experience, and how can we prepare for art experiences? I see the meeting with a work of art in the same way as a meeting with a person. You may wish a personal encounter with another person and prepare yourself for it, but there is no guaranty that it will occur. A personal meeting is always somewhat risky.
Preparing yourself for a meeting means to Open up for the establishment of ties with something wild or foreign.
The fox says that he can't play with the prince before he is tamed. The prince asks: "What does that mean-- 'tame'?" "It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. It means to establish ties." In fundamental matters I can't understand the other from a detached position. Art experience presupposes openness for taming, openness for the establishment of emotional ties with the work. The process may change my life.
Will to exclusive concern means to really say yes to something (or somebody), and exclude other possibilities.
Establishing a ritual means to have some order in the approach to the foreign person or work of art. "What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince. "You must be very patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me-- like that-- in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day..."
Art experience is a risky affair demanding self-discipline and time, without a guaranty of success. Seeing with your heart means that a loving relationship is necessary to see the most relevant nuances in a situation. "Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." Otto Friedrich Bollnow (1959/1984, p. 106) has formulated the same principle in this way: "Der Liebende liebt nicht, weil er zuvor die Werte des andern Menschen erkannt htte, sondern umgekehrt, nur weil er liebt, ist er imstande, diejenigen wertvollen Eigenschaften des andern Menschen zu entdecken, die einer gefhlsmig neutralen, rein theoretischen Betrachtung unerkennbar bleiben mten". My translation: "The loving person doesn't love the other because he earlier has recognised the value of the other person. Contrary to that, it is only because he loves that he is able to discover those valuable characteristics of the other person, characteristics that to an emotionally neutral, purely theoretical observation, would have to remain unrecognisable." Loving is as necessary in experiencing art as in doing philosophy - loving wisdom, as in gardening - loving the particular rose.