Arte Transformador

The second purpose of the dances is study. Some Movements contain a proof in them, a definite knowledge, or religious and philosophical ideas. In some of them one can even read a recipe to prepare some dish. In many areas of the East, the inner contents of this or that dance is now almost forgotten, but people continue dancing it just out of habit.

Therefore, the Movements have two objectives: study and development."

"First you must remember that there are two kinds of art, one quite different from the other: objective and subjective art. Everything you know, what you call art, is subjective art, that is, something I do not call art at all because the only art I call art is objective art.

It is difficult to define what I call objective art, first of all because you ascribe to subjective art characteristics of objective art, and second because when you come across a piece of objective art you place it on the same level as a subjective art. I will attempt to clarify this idea. You say: an artist creates. I say this only in relation to objective art. With regard to subjective art I say it "is created" with him. You do not see the difference between these two things, but herein lies the whole difference. Then you attribute to subjective art an invariable effect, so you expect works of this kind to have the same effect on everybody. You think, for example, that a funeral march should evoke sadness and solemn thoughts in everyone, just as you expect any dance or music, a Komarinsky for example, to evoke happy thoughts. But reality is not like that at all. It all depends on associations. If on a day of great misfortune for me, I hear a happy tune for the first time, this tune will evoke sad and oppressive thoughts in me for the rest of my life. And if on a day that I am particularly happy I hear a sad melody, this tune will always evoke happy thoughts. And so it is with everything.

The difference between objective and subjective art is that the artist of objective art "creates", that is, he does what he wishes. He puts into his work any idea or feeling he wishes to introduce, and the action of this work on people is absolutely defined; they will receive, according to their own level of course, the same ideas and the same feelings that the artist wanted to convey. There can be nothing accidental in the creation or impressions of objective art.

In subjective art everything is accidental. The artist, as I said, does not create. With him "it creates itself". This means he is under the yoke of ideas, thoughts and moods that he does not even understand and over which he has no control. All of this dominates him and he expresses himself in one way or another. And when this has accidentally taken this or that form, also accidentally, it produces on people this or that action according to their moods, tastes, habits, the nature of the hypnosis under which they live, etc. There is nothing invariable; here there is nothing definite. In objective art, nothing is undefined."

Question: Will art not disappear when determined in this way? And is not a certain vagueness, that elusiveness, precisely what distinguishes art from, say, science? If this uncertainty is removed, if you take away the fact that the artist himself does not know what will or what impression will produce their work on people, it will then be a "book" and not art.

"I do not know what you are talking about", Gurdjieff said. "We have different criteria. I measure the merit of art by its consciousness and you measure it by its unconsciousness. We cannot understand each other. A work of art must be a book, as you call it, the only difference being that the artist transmits his ideas not directly through words, signs or hieroglyphs, but through certain feelings which he stimulates orderly and consciously, knowing what he is doing and why he is doing it."

Question: Some legends exist of statues of gods in temples of ancient Greece, the statue of Zeus at Olympia for example, which always produced a definite and identical impression on people.

""Certainly", said Gurdjieff, "and even the fact that there are such stories shows that people understood that the difference between real and unreal art lies precisely in this, an invariable or an accidental action."

Question: Can you mention other works of objective art? Is there such a thing as objective art in contemporary art? When was the last work of objective art created?

"Before talking about this," said Gurdjieff, "one must understand certain principles. If you understand the principles, you will be able to answer these questions for yourself. But if you do not understand them, nothing I can say will explain it. It was just about this that it was said: ‘They will see with their eyes and not perceive, hear with their ears and not understand’.

I will cite just one example: music. Objective music is based on "inner octaves" and can produce not only definite psychological results but also definite physical results. There may be music that makes water freeze or kill a person instantly. The Biblical legend of the destruction of the walls of Jericho by music is precisely a legend of objective music. Ordinary music, no matter of what kind it is, will not destroy walls, whereas objective music will. And not only destroy but also build. In the legend of Orpheus there are pieces of objective music because he used to impart knowledge through music. The snake charmers in the East are an approximation to objective music, of course of a very primitive kind. Often it is simply an elongated note, rising or descending only a little, but within this note there are inner octaves that go on all the time and melodies of these octaves that are inaudible to the ears but felt by the emotional center. And the snake hears this music or, rather, feels and obeys it. The same music, just a little more complicated, and humans would obey it.

So you see that art is not only language but something much greater. And if you connect what I have just said with what I said earlier about the different levels of being in man, you will understand what has been said about art. Mechanical humanity is made up of men number one, number two and number three, and these, of course, can only have subjective art. Objective art requires at least flashes of objective consciousness. To understand these flashes properly and make proper use of them, great inner unity and great self-control are needed"

Continues on Transforming Art II