Clarification

2004-01-31

Robert Frost, in his essay "The Figure a Poem Makes" (Robert Frost on Writing, p. 126), writes that a poem (and by implication every work of art) "ends in a clarification of life -- not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion." His thought is quite in line with my views on art, and contrasts strongly with my old muse Ayn Rand, who claimed that all art has "metaphysical" import and consists in (or reflects) a great clarification. However, in one respect I incline more to Rand than to Frost: in my experience, a work of art can provide something more permanent than a "momentary stay against confusion", and indeed can provide even something approaching "the courage to face a lifetime" (The Fountainhead, Part IV, Chapter 1).


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