Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for August 6th, 2017

The sphere of making

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[Art] is not simply intellectual in a vague way, but in the technical language of the schools, it is a “virtue of the practical intellect.” As distinguished from intellectual activity of the speculative order, the practical intellect operates in two spheres: first, in that of action, where human ends are concerned, and where the means to these ends are selected on a moral basis. Secondly, in the sphere of “making.” This is the sphere of productive action, considered not in relation to the use to which we put our freedom but in relation to the thing produced. The ends here are extrahuman. The artist does not have to consider our needs or desires but only the perfection of the work of art itself…

What is important is the virtue of the artist. Execution comes afterward and, important as it is, this importance is secondary. If you have virtue of art, you may never paint a picture and still retain that virtue. But if you only possess facility, no matter how many pictures you paint you are not a good artist.

Thomas Merton, The Literary Essays of Thomas Merton

Written by nevalalee

August 6, 2017 at 7:30 am

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