Marx-Engels | Lenin | Stalin | Home Page
Lunacharsky Articles and speeches on international politics
Socialism and art
Posted in Theatre. Book about the new theater: Collection of articles. St. Petersburg: Rosehip, 1908.
The theater, as one of the highest expressions of human art, is in such close connection with all the phenomena of artistic creativity that its steps, the gradations of its completeness and perfection, coincide with the steps of the great ladder of art.
There is a pronounced gradation in art. I am not talking here about the stages of its historical development. There is no need to talk about the uniform and systematic progress of art at all - the history of art is discontinuous and capricious. But even taking separate happy epochs in which art could develop freely, following its own internal law (or rather, the biopsychic law according to which each ideological function of the brain develops), even taking these separate happy epochs, we will not find anywhere the stages of historical development coincide with the gradation fullness and inner perfection, which we are going to talk about now.
What criterion do we use to reveal the gradation in the field of art? We offer for this the same socio-biological (and at the same time ... religious !) criterion, which I have written about many times, and the application of which to art is capable of laying the foundation for a new aesthetics, rooted in the chernozem of physiological research, and a flowering peak rising to the heavens of the heavens of the highest religious experiences. This criterion can be formulated in two ways:
1) How fully does this manifestation of the human spirit express the essence of the human species and its relationship to the non-human (to the environment)?
2) To what extent does this manifestation of the human spirit contribute to the perfection of the species and its triumph over the inhuman (environment)?
As an answer to both questions, when applied to the field of art, it seems to me that one and the same gradation is obtained.
Step one . The first stage of art coincides with the first stage of its historical development and has a simple physiological root. There is a physiological connection between human perception organs and motor organs: a person feels a desire, sometimes even an involuntary need to imitate the most striking phenomena that strike his soul, 1 and reproduce them. The ability to accurately reproduce objects of nature naively pleases a poorly developed person, just as it pleases a child. At the dawn of their art, the Italians did not know a more laudatory nickname for the artist, like "scimia della natura" - the monkey of nature. The ability to mimic reality is, of course, an art in the sense that it can be done skillfully. From the legend of Zeuxis and Parrhasia to the advice of the great Leonardo to make the picture look like a reflection of the depicted object in a mirror, to the delight of many modern art connoisseurs before the truthful transmission of the effects of the sun, etc., stretches the art of mimicking reality. Even now it plays a much greater role in all areas of art than it seems at first glance. It has great merits to true art, powerfully contributing to the development of artistic means. True, however, remains what Wolfgang Goethe said about him: "A live pug is still better than the most truthfully drawn pug."
The beginnings of the theater are reduced to the imitation of life, to the mimic dances of savages. The protagonists of these dances, who depict with extraordinary skill how an ostrich walks and drinks, and how a shooter sneaks up on him, stand at the lowest level of art. The choir dancing rhythmically around the protagonists, rhythmically beating the hands or the drum—although this assertion may seem strange—is already at the highest stage. The element of mimicry plays an important role in modern theater as well; to one degree or another, it is an indispensable element of any theatre.
Second step . Formal aesthetics distinguishes between content and form in works of art. She does not recognize any artistic value behind the content - it is simple material, imitatively borrowed from reality. All art is concentrated in the form. Indeed, a phenomenon of great importance in the field of art is the human tendency to change the objects depicted by him, to consciously make them different from their real prototypes. He strives to portray them the way he likes them best , the way they, in his opinion, should have been .
The root of this phenomenon is also physiological, but the physiological phenomenon that underlies the creative modification of the objects themselves or their images is the basis of all life, the entire human world. A living organism has its own laws, internal needs, with the satisfaction of which it achieves bliss, happiness. His vision, hearing, touch, smell, as well as his muscles, stomach, genitals, require certain conditions from the environment, certain qualities, in the presence of which these phenomena are assimilated by us, become an element, support, stimulus of life, for which a person rewards objects and phenomena that meet these requirements with names: cute, pleasant, beautiful, delightful, etc.
Possessing a certain reserve of strength, a person interferes with reality, trying to remake it in his own way, to humanize it. The ways of such humanization are infinitely diverse, and even a simple enumeration of them would take many pages. Economics, decorative and plastic arts, poetry and music, philosophy and religion are ways of humanizing the world.
The art form has the same meaning, plays the same role: simplifying phenomena, emphasizing certain aspects of them, combining them - the art form always strives to bring them closer to the ideal of man, to humanize them as much as possible and extract more contemplative pleasure from them than gives reality.
Art is free. What is impossible to achieve in reality is easily achieved in a dream. The dream is the daughter of the voice of physiological needs (in the broadest sense - allneeds of man), the direct direct daughter of only one organism, just as Athena was the daughter of only one father - Zeus. But a dream truly lives only then, that is, it occupies a place in the objective world, lives for other co-humans, when it is embodied. You can realize it, turn it into reality, and give reality its charming features. But this is terribly difficult, because the rough and base mother, matter, reality, is uncompromising, she rarely gives herself up and gives birth only to small freaks, only remotely resembling her father - the human spirit. But a dream can be given an apparent body: it can be given a half-existence in marble, on a canvas, in a flying word, in sounds. Here opens the end of the longing of man, powerless to give the ideal a real body, and the material world a humanly beautiful form. The aesthetics of Schiller, Schelling is based on this psychological phenomenon. According to Schelling, the whole world exists only so that an artist appears on top of its heavy, blood and tears fastened pyramid. And then the world continues no longer materially: further invisible clouds of aromas of dreams.
I consider Platonic idealism with all its roots and branches to be a false interpretation of the same phenomenon: in place of the needs of the organism, which so prosaically grew out of the chemical properties of the protoplasm of the first living lump, and so tragically posed a huge fiery question mark: should there be a god in the world? whether to be the queen of life? whether to be an organism of the universe? - in place of this amazing source of artistic dreams and dreamy art - they slipped supposedly already existing ideas, something like the ideal needs of a fantastic superman, superspirit - God. In general, religious and metaphysical idealism transfers the drama of man and environment to the beyond-heavenly and pre-world realms, whimsically distorting them, allegedly exalting them. A celebration of pure art, purehumanity is an idealistic art, an art of dreams. His images are drawn from paradise, that is, in the realm of man's secret dreams, sometimes semi-conscious. "Where have you seen mothers younger than their sons?" Michelangelo was asked about Pietà - "In Paradise", answered the great one. It is so sweet to consider the dream world as existing somewhere, beyond the borders of our earth and our sky. This is how poetic mysticism is born. One would like to recognize the world of reality itself as a pale reflection of the world as it should be , as we want it , and its dull beauty as the prototypes of real beauty, worthy of true love:
Earthly loves are only an adventure:
Your future husband and my future wife
Sigh in vain, and here we weep for them;
It is he, whom you sense in me, who resembles him,
What attracts me to you is her and the two of you
We believe in loving each other by seeking them together.
It comes to the fact that the love of reality is declared low and criminal. Healthy courage is cut off, life-killing ecstasy triumphs, the dream no longer indicates the ideal that should be really realized in the process of all-human creativity - art becomes a subtle poison.
The theater of pure dreams rarely succeeds, because the principle of the theater is movement and struggle. Recently, consciously or unconsciously, trends have appeared in the world of theatrical art in that direction: a sign of deep weariness of some groups of modern society.
Third step . Courageous eras want to take the bull of the world by the horns. They want to fight and work. They consider beautiful life to be the true work of human art, and real life to be the true material. Nature is the marble rock, humanity is the master; labor, technology - this is the hammer, happiness - this is the radiant goddess, whose naked body will emerge from a shapeless block under the blow of a steel hammer, and - most wonderful - this goddess, warming and turning pink under his kiss, like a new Galatea, will become his living girlfriend.
And they will never fall in love with each other.
But what role does art play in these courageous epochs? The role of the great helper is the collaborator. In these eras, the best representatives of art are fond of learning about life. Art becomes close to science. Art studies life, gives people a deep knowledge of reality. This is not the place to deal with the interesting similarities and differences between pure scientific knowledge and knowing art. Suffice it to say that artistic knowledge aims to speak not only to the mind, but also to the feeling, to make the world understandable, making it sensually close, intimately open, briefly and lovingly introducing it. Therefore, cognitive art, which with a stretch can also be called naturalism (of course, without limiting it to the Zola school), has many techniques that are unacceptable for science: a biased selection of facts and features, exaggeration, deliberate brightness of colors, the desire to be more truthful than nature itself, that is, to change the physiognomy of phenomena, to reveal their properties, their inner content is especially accessible to human perception. The typical in the world of science is the average. The typical in the world of art is bright. Science is looking for the ordinary, knowing the art of expressiveness.
To be expressive means to have a maximum of new and important features for a world-searching person, with a minimum of unnecessary, insignificant features. The artist, using the magical power of style, makes everything expressive. He is far ahead of nature in this respect. Inventing ever new techniques, finding ever new ways to an ever more powerfully compressed concentration of expressiveness, the artist becomes a great teacher of life, before whom neither body nor soul has secrets, and who has not only the amazing power to seize every phenomenon by the heart, but and expose him to us sinners, allowing us to touch with our hearts his mysterious beating.
The great naturalistic theater corresponds to the great naturalistic art. But theater, as the art of live action, has the power to naturally raise this art to the next level, from objectively knowing, making it prophetically guiding. But, of course, the cognizing theater, like all cognizing art, has its own wide gradation, depending on the concentrating power of the style and talent of a particular era, school, or individual artist. Below, this theater has a descriptive character of everyday life, is the fruit of unpretentious observation, at the top it acquires the features of an artistic penetration into the depths of the world drama and an artistic revelation of these depths.
Fourth step. When an artist of colossal power grasps life in its entirety in symbols, when he seeks to formulate in quivering images the ebb and flow of this entire ocean, and not just the properties of one drop of the living element, he involuntarily rises to a philosophical concept at first, to a religious one later. (Please remember that this is not about gradation in time, but about gradation in perfection.) Having acquired his living, heartfelt philosophy and religion translated into the blood and juice of nerves, the artist already sees its play in any drop of the elements. All the luxurious variety of life merges for him into a single drama, albeit with many antagonists. Whatever pieces of life he takes, the whole spirit of it will be in him. Hiroshigi said: “At the age of 50 I learned how to draw somehow, my sketches looked like a living thing, at 60 I grasped the essence with one stroke, at 70 I began to live dots.”
Philosophical and religious concepts of the world can be infinitely varied, but since all philosophies and all religions are variations on a theme given by fate: man and the world , then in the most essential they are always related. It seems to me that they are all either expressions, or premonitions, or distortions of one truth: life suffers, although its internal law is pleasure and perfection, it suffers because its laws are not the laws of the world, its development is the struggle of its inherent desires with insensitive environment.
The artist, penetrating into the heart of reality, madly loves this reality in all the luxury of its colors, forms, potential pleasures hidden in it; he hates her for her senseless cruelty, expressed in illness and death, and in the heavy dependence of a free person on the benefits she often gives meagerly. In man himself and in society, he ascertains wonderful pledges, proud impulses, creative strivings, fruitful sufferings, but also a trace of chains, the stigma of slavery - base features of oppression, hardened egoism, stupidity, malice, slavish obedience, swagger. Along with fleeting joys, he notes the gray background of chronic malaise, he sees crippled forms that could be beautiful, and stumbles upon insulting, rude grief, that senseless grief that accompanies the elemental blows of the scourge of "fate" on human faces.
The artist sees the chaos of life, in which all colors are mixed. He overhears variously sounding groans, appeals, prayers, slogans, cries, the meaning of which is gravity, the eternal attraction of life to growth, light, happiness. And in this eternal rise to the ideal, in the unfading struggle of man, the highest bearer of the principle of life, with his stepmother, the artist sees consolation in the meaninglessness, fragmentation, and painfulness of being.
This world-outlook, whatever form it takes, is a tragic world-outlook.
Man conquers the ugly, the cruel, the terrible, the mournful in two ways: by raising it to the level of the beautiful, or lowering it to the level of the ridiculous.
What does it mean to elevate a terrible and mournful fact to the level of beauty?
When a person says: “This is wonderful,” he expresses in essence the fact that this phenomenon evokes in him a sweet experience that raises his vitality. Can horror and sorrow lead to a rise in the feeling of life? Yes! - yes, when they are shown from such a side that a person accepts them as something inextricably linked with something else, immensely greater - happiness that rewards horror, rejoicing for compassion. Suffering, death must be shown as acts of the great struggle between good and evil. Under this concept, the geniuses of tragic art and the tragic theater in particular summed up various phenomena. But in the depths of the depths, it has always been a struggle of the human principle with the inhuman, spiritual and soulless, at its various stages.
A person can also triumphantly rise above the ugly, terrible and mournful, shaking off his dust from his feet. A person laughs when he recognizes as insignificant something that at first seemed serious to him. 2 The hero of the comedy is human laughter, proving that a person is better, higher, purer and stronger than that depicted by high comedy. (This high-pitched laugh, of course, has nothing to do with that disgusting neighing that accompanies the now so fashionable "mercy").
The tragedian rises to a philosophical conception of life, otherwise he cannot be a tragedian. For only by philosophically raising the Spectator above a particular fact, allowing him to look through it, as through a patterned window into the semi-darkness of all life, can he forge with horror and sorrow the souls ready for life's struggle, give inspiring consolation, purification.
But for him there is one more step, the step of a religious interpretation of the world.
Briefly explain this with examples.
Shakespeare through the mouth of Prosper in The Tempest formulates his worldview and his attitude to art as follows:
“You saw the spirits here of my obedient;
They have now disappeared into the sky
And drowned in the purest air.
Someday, believe me, there will come a day
When all these wonderful visions.
And temples, and luxurious palaces,
And towers crowned with clouds,
And our greatest globe of the earth
With all that is in it to this day,
Everything will disappear, leaving no trace,
Of the same substance as sleep,
We are created. And life is like a dream.
And our life is only surrounded by a dream.
In the fifth act, Prosper continues and ends the same thought:
"Yes, with the help of spirits,
Although they are weak helpers -
I darkened the midday sun.
And I made the winds rage;
Between the sky and the greenish sea
I awakened a roaring wave
I poured fire into the terrible rumble of thunder ...
I commanded - the dead woke up,
To let them out - I opened the coffins
By the power of my art.
I now renounce these forces!
There is only one thing left for me to wish for:
I need heavenly music sounds,
To act on the feelings of those people
Whose mind I have enchanted."
It means to have a deep philosophical perception of the world. Shakespeare is pessimistic about the final triumph of death. The transience of life is a consolation in its sorrows. Remember that life is a dream. And if the artist evokes new terrible images in this dream, it is only in order to more clearly prove the illusory nature of life. The theater, the stage, is in itself a philosophy, according to Shakespeare's thought, which he often repeats. But the power of art goes further: giving a rhythmic, melodic, formally beautiful character to the ghosts of life, raising them to the level of musical visions, to a sad song - the artist calms the storms of the soul, makes it possible to forget. Such a philosophy was repeated by Schopenhauer, Wagner and Nietzsche during the pessimistic period of his development.
If Shakespeare had remained faithful to this philosophy of his in everything, the world would have lost a lot. But his heart gave more than his head asked. Contrary to pessimistic philosophy, Shakespeare gives us with his tragedies great lessons of courage and much more often calls us into its ebullient abyss than away from it - into the realm of dreams.
Nevertheless, Prosper's speech remains an excellent example of a philosophical-tragic worldview. The speeches of another magician, Faust, give an example of a religious-tragic worldview.
“Here comes the wave; at a thousand ends
Barren herself, barrenness brings,
Boils, grows with water on the banks,
Brings the stunted desert.
A wave reigns here full of mighty forces;
Passed but did nothing.
And I'm sad and I'm scared
Elements of rabid senseless force.
My soul strives forward;
I want to fight here, I want to win here!”
I want to experience the pinnacle of pleasure:
Drive away the powerful sea,
Constrict the boundaries of wet excitement
And the ability to curb the strength of the strong.
Away with the spell! Need to unlearn
Call the spirits for help!
The soul would be proud and glad
One to resist fate.
I fully understood this world,
And what is there, to us
The one who is stupid with an empty thought
Looks there with crazy eyes,
He finds his own kind above the stars!
Here is the place for you! Just stand firm here !
Why go so far?
Whoever is strong himself, the world is not dumb;
What he understands, he can take on;
And let him be happy with that! 3
I reached the ultimate conclusion of wisdom:
Only he is worthy of life and freedom,
Who is ready to defend them every moment.
Baby, husband, old man appointed dates
Here they will live among the threatening troubles!
The source of happiness is pure and deep
Live among them and among their victories,
Stand in their free land
With their strong liberty of the people
Serve them! Ages won't be erased
My traces, because I worked.
Stop, river of time
I enjoyed eternity in a moment.
Usually these lines are considered just anti-religious! But they express the highest religious idea: the idea of the eternal collective struggle of life with the elements for development and freedom, the idea that a deeply felt consciousness of one’s place in this struggle raises peace and life, suffering and strife in our eyes to the degree of beauty, and allows us to say to them our great and courageous “yes”.
This religion is a kind of philosophy that positively resolves the great question of the struggle of life with nature, and, moreover, resolves this question not in certainty and not in terms of well-being, but in hope and beauty.
Religious tragedy can be expressed in an infinite variety of forms. But reaching it, art and theater reach the top: at this stage they express the essence of the human species as much as possible (as the bearer of feelings, thoughts and goal-setting will, so far crippled and crushed by the elements, as an underdeveloped god of the universe in captivity of the Briarei) and to the maximum extent contribute to the improvement appearance and his triumph over the elements.
In order to avoid misunderstanding, I emphasize once again: it is not at all necessary that the author’s religious concept be set forth by some resonant face of the drama, or be seen everywhere by a translucent trend: wherever an artist with a tragic soul seizes life, everywhere it will tell its secret to the human heart in his image. in a new, unexpected, amazing form.
Stages of socialism
The idea of socialism can be interpreted and perceived differently. She's complicated. Here, even more than on the ladder of art, each further step does not eliminate the previous one, but includes it in a wider system. Here, too, we are dealing not with the stages of development, but with the stages of full expression of socialism.
First step . At the first stage, the so-called. the social question is presented as a question about the inequality of people, not biological, but legal and economic. The awareness of the profound injustice of the fact of excess at one social pole and black poverty at the other is tormenting.
The idea of philanthropic socialism is born among the privileged, among the stepchildren of society that socialism, which Engels defined as "communism based solely on the demand for equality", and of which Kautsky says: "it is rude and naive, it was created not by social insight, not disinterested thinking and feeling, but urgent material needs, struggle over class interests.
Philanthropic socialism, the socialism of compassion for people's grief, has outlived its time and has become not only unnecessary, but in many cases harmful. Art has often been in his service, but seldom able to rise to broad and joyful concepts, it has remained instructive, tearful, or indignant in the manner of an honest newspaper editorial.
The struggle for economic interests, sanctified by the idea of equality, is now the granite basis of the entire socialist movement. Other artists went to meet her and described her with great understanding and deep sympathy. However, they did not rise to the highest level of art, remaining at its naturalistic-investigative level. The artists had the strength to portray the need, anger, strength of the proletarian, but he seemed to be afraid to understand his enthusiasm, as if he was ashamed to introduce “romanticism” into a sober depiction of his struggle. It is unlikely that an artist who is not a proletarian will be able to create masterpieces on this naturalistic level. Nevertheless, one cannot fail to welcome the talented attempts of such writers as Mirbeau, Delle Grazie, Yushkevich, and especially Gorky. 4
Second step . The Great French Revolution, with hitherto unheard-of force, proclaimed the right to freedom of every person. The thirst for freedom of self-determination, freedom of interpersonal relations is the main moral nerve of the late 18th century and the entire 19th century. However, it turned out - and for courageous and thoughtful people very early - that neither political nor even spiritual liberation is sufficient and concretely unrealizable without the economic liberation of people. The utopian dream of achieving such a liberation on the basis of the distribution of property among all, of founding a kingdom of equal and independent citizen-proprietors, has collapsed. Then socialism acted as the legitimate successor to the emancipatory tendencies of the revolution: it set itself the goal of organizing collective property for the conceivable complete emancipation of the individual.
Art is especially easily carried away by the ideas of freedom, since no one can cherish freedom to the same extent as an artist. The celebration of freedom, often full of enthusiasm, led to the creation of major works. But artists have rarely illuminated the idea of the need to streamline the collective human property, as the only foundation on which the building of freedom can be erected. The novels of Bellamy and even Morris, and some of the last works of their kind of genius from Wales, leave, I think, the reader cold: they are too many social treatises and too little fiction; the worst of all is that the whole tempestuous striving for human freedom can be cooled by such a question from Zarathustra: “You say to me, I am free, free… But what are you free for, my brother?”
Freedom cannot be the goal. This is how it appears only to a slave. If the goal of socialism is freedom, then where is the goal of freedom? The ecstasy of "empty freedom", which has recently gained new strength and is still spoiled by a mystical aftertaste, is the rapture of the helot and the cripple, a man who is suffocating, and therefore considers the air, the right to breathe, for a self-sufficient good. It is impossible to deny the great significance of the revolutionary conscription, agitational art of freedom-loving, but it is extremely short-lived. The idea of pure freedom is confused and one-sided, perhaps because people who are unable to put a positive content into it replace it with a mystical child, which is why their freedom swells like a hot air balloon and strives beyond the clouds, without ceasing to be empty and shallow, or even precisely because this emptiness.
The thirst for freedom, distorted by disappointments, sometimes appears in an unexpected form of a thirst for freedom from civic duty, that is, simply a thirst for egoistic separation from the world process, from the struggle for concrete freedom and its new concrete content.
Third step. Deeper and higher is the concept of socialism, as a new world, collectivist, emerging in the depths of the old individualistic world. The basis of both worlds is: the socialization of the labor process and its concrete representative, the united proletariat, on the one hand, and the individual appropriation of the products of labor, with its representative, the capitalist bourgeois, on the other. But for the artist, the internal process is much more important here - the struggle in the soul of man and in the soul of humanity of two principles - individualism and collectivism. I personally believe that the collective mood, that the growth of a new collective soul, is not only of great interest to the naturalist-explorer artist, but also of great new value, capable of inspiring masterpieces of high enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the artist of our time has naturally indulged in individualism; he is little sensitive to the manifestations of a new, getting better, trying out its still weak wings of the collective soul. Their misfortune is that they often take the psychopathological manifestations of the crowd as a true example of collective thinking and feeling, and the true manifestations of the collective psyche, especially the more subtle ones, for example, the high sympathy of the heroes and martyrs of the collective idea, or the thirst for glory, etc. ., are inclined to take only in their external individualized manifestation, not noticing their deeper social character. Is it possible that even here, in order to express the collective creative processes of human life, one will have to wait for the proletarian artist? I don't think. Even art itself, if circumstances help it to find normal forms of life - circles, schools, directions - can lead to correct conclusions. I want to say that an artist who continues the work of a teacher and educates students, feels himself to be the spokesman and inspirer of groups and masses, can discover the bright depths of a new supra-individual soul through simple self-observation. Unfortunately, individualism eats away at our artists; instead of great forms of art, schools, we see before us an excited and hysterical desire to be alone, an original. Our artist is almost completely unable to create collectively, and this cuts off his understanding of the peculiarities of the nascent and growing collective psyche.
Fourth step. But only when viewed from the point of view of philosophy and history, as a new epoch of human culture, radically different from all the epochs experienced by mankind, socialism acquires all its enchanting splendor. Labor, in all its forms, is the process of humanizing nature, subordinating the elements to reason, comprehending the universe. However, it cannot have this significance to the full extent, as long as it is fragmented, conducted chaotically. Its fragmentation and disorganization is reflected in the humiliating fact of man's slavery to the economic environment he himself created, to his own instruments of production. No less terrible and humiliating are the class and national contradictions that arm people against each other. The stage of deep disorganization, the absurd waste of cultural forces, internal enmity, is fatally inevitable in the growth of man's economic power - but once realized, it is a curse. A significant amount of the most painful and insulting human suffering is inflicted by people themselves in their blind and fatal splitting among themselves. The process of destroying the dependence of a spiritualized person on his soulless tools, the destruction of class and national strife is complex and difficult, but as a result of it, an unheard-of huge amount of living cultural forces must be released, and the impetuousness of the progressive movement of mankind will surpass all imaginable limits. Humanity will turn into a consonant family of gods, consciously pursuing its great goal: to ensure the existence and development in the world of great phenomena: pleasure, thinking and creativity - phenomena that arose in the world only as a result of a happy coincidence of climatic and chemical conditions on a small planet, and are under the constant threat of a senseless decrease in their strength or even death, due to the course of elemental processes. Self-defense of the human species is inextricably linked with the offensive. The eternal and infinitely receding goal of mankind is to become a god, a providence and a feeling heart of the world. On the way to the realization of this religious dream, falsely and mythically expressed in the religions of the past and present, colossal cultural works will be created and an indescribable growth in our language of the subtlety of the ability to feel and enjoy, the power of thought and the commanding power of the will will take place.
Socialism, as a social task , is the prerequisite for true culture; it aims to organize even now the enormous, but dispersed forces of our breed.
Socialism, as a doctrine , is the true religion of mankind, stripped of the mythical veils in which the underdevelopment of the mind and feelings of our fathers clothed it. It unites our “modest” and “materialistic” origins, ascertained by science, the inevitability of suffering, the humiliations we have experienced, the baseness, mistakes we have committed, the inevitability of the coming cup of bitter torment, and, besides this, the height and greatness of the task of all-human cooperation, more and more. more clearly setting himself goals should be a living God, all-blessed and omnipotent. We are its builders!
Scientific socialism abstractly reveals in its main features the painful, touching, majestic and strange process of god-building, otherwise called the economic process. Art, tragic art, must reveal and give a sense of this process in all the concrete, hot, multicolored, stormy overflow of its boundless real or conceivable vicissitudes. Every truly tragic art is socialist. Conscious tragic art is doubly socialist.
Socialism needs art. Every agitation is an embryonic art. All art is propaganda. It is the education of souls, their cultural transformation. On the common ground of a tragic worldview, of course, numerous trends are possible that can fight each other. Only such a struggle can give birth to new flowerings of life, adds facets to the thousand-sided human soul.
The union of scientific socialism and true art is a natural thing. Unfortunately, few people today understand the full cultural significance of socialism, and at the same time, unfortunately, new masterpieces of true art are too rare. All this applies to the theater, even more than anything and above all.
Theater of the future
Iwill try to give at least a pale sketch of what the theater should be and probably will be. At the same time, please note: if I say “probably”, it is not because I allowed the idea that I might exaggerate the importance of the theater in a future happy society, but because at the present time it is hardly possible to find colors that would convey all the greatness of the future cultural role of the theater.
The consciousness of the tragedy of life, of course, will rise to the strongest degree. The very subtlety of the unfolding divine nature of a living organism will contribute to the fact that man's dependence on the black and cold depths of world space, concealing their murderous surprises, and on child-devouring time, will be felt more acutely; all the manifold manifestations of our spirit’s limitations and its captivity, i.e., its underdevelopment, the contradictions between its already almost divinely organized dream organs and still crude organs of feeling and movement—all this will give rise in a person to a creative longing, deep, dreamy, into the distance. striving melancholy, for which there can be only two ways out: holidays of self-forgetfulness - in minutes of orgy jubilation, and holidays of a self-confident challenge to the future and a touching memory of the past, holidays, in a word, unity with ancestors and descendants, dead and brothers to be born. Salvation is in acute pleasurean instant , or a wide-embracing feeling of unity and eternity of a growing species.
Both, I think, will find a place for themselves in the free religious cult of the future. A free, artistic, constantly creative cult will turn temples into theaters and theaters into temples.
The public theater will be a place for collective staging of tragedies, designed to elevate souls to a religious ecstasy, whether stormy or philosophically calm. Next to public initiative, that is, the staging of tragedies by municipalities, academies of arts and festivities, a large place will be given to private initiative. Poets, artists, singers, musicians, actors, beauties and beauties - can unite in free unions with the special purpose of developing and fulfilling the dream of a playwright or even a philosopher. As a result of the collective creativity of like-minded fellow citizens and co-artists, marvelous dramas, processions, ceremonies will arise that express this or that cultural trend.
The ideological cultural struggle will find expression mainly in these weapons.
Today, the mournful poet, who first of all demands a courageous statement of what is, will stage with his friends his cry about the mortality of man, about maturity, old age and decay that lie in wait for every beauty, and will shake hearts with the consciousness of the horror of life and make thousands sob over the ever-dying being. Tomorrow, in response to him, the choirs of tragedy will roar, speaking of the eternal victory of life.
Today, the impudent individualist will throw a passionate word in the face of collectivity and proclaim the sacred and socialism-desecrated right to rule over his own kind, to possess him, to torment him, the right to the highest enjoyment of unlimited power over his own kind. Tomorrow collectivity will respond to him, perhaps with an evil parody of his unbridled voluptuousness as a despot.
And against the undying type of "classic" and "accordionist" the undying "romantic" will speak out. One will glorify the triumph of form, calm happiness, majestic apotheosis and balance, the other will furiously shout about the need to break the best harmony, if only in order to suffer and strive again. And all this in images, action, conflicts, colors, music, beauty.
But next to a theater for tens of thousands, with a theater of dazzlingly bright productions, great "operas", an intimate theater will also play a huge role.
Personal experiences will find expression in monologues and dialogues, short acts, experiences in the corner. All this will be performed, perhaps repeatedly and in several manners, by artists of the authors' choice and become the property of everyone through the medium of a cinema phonograph. Sitting in his room with a couple of loved ones, our great-grandson can choose his favorite act from the work of his favorite poet, and another world will open before him, and, cheerful or gloomy, beautiful or terrifying, someone else's life will appear, for the eye and for the ear. I think that people dear to mankind or dear to this family will perpetuate the memory of themselves in the same way. New victory over death.
And what a terrible sensitivity of the soul will develop in this theatrical world of the future. As a spectator and an actor, everyone will experience hundreds of existences. Souls open to one another. The walls of our loners will fall. Our grandchildren will feel like neurons of one world brain, inseparable molecules of the growing world soul, consciousness and ruling will of the beautiful universe.
And forever forward!
Tasks of the day
Iwarmly recommend to the reader's attention the pamphlet of the great Richard Wagner, published in Russian, entitled "Theatre and Revolution". The reader will find there both a beautiful depiction of the fall that the theater is now experiencing, and many beautiful and fruitful ideas about a new, revived theater. It is an infinite pity that Wagner did not fulfill his plans and even changed them later, going in the direction of least resistance, but his ideas can be perceived by others and become the subject of a new struggle for real followers of that real Wagner, as he was in the era of the revolution of 1848.
The theater has not come out of its oppressed state since then. Much is written and said about it, a lot of money is spent on it, but as a cultural force it remains insignificant.
The theater remains a place of entertainment. This entertainment is sometimes beautiful, elegant, not without an ideological connotation, more often rude, vulgar, base; but the mere attitude to the theater as entertainment destroys it. The playwrights know "their audience," the public is accustomed to "their playwrights," and evenings, millions of evenings in thousands of expensive and unpretentious theaters of the world are as much time wasted as a screw.
The extent to which the bourgeois idea of the entertainment character of the theater has penetrated into the hearts is evident from the fact that one of the most influential modern socialist thinkers, Georges Sorel, angrily attacks those who dream of an ideological theater for the workers. The worker is tired, the apostle of syndicalism proves, and he does not want to tire himself in the evening with your serious performances, he needs extravaganza, brilliant and light entertainment. I think that conscientious workers, who, coming from the factory after 10-12 hours of mind-numbing physical labor, greedily throw themselves on books and rush into evening classes by the hundreds, will themselves indignantly refute the slander of their impetuous friend, who, in his desire to protect them from services and courtesies of the intelligentsia and contact with bourgeois culture, paints the worker with the most cloudy and gray colors,
Along with entertainment, the theater often pursues another miserable goal: to teach, to moralize. The success of the "dramatic editorials" of Brie and his school testifies to the terrifying decline of the tragic sense of our contemporaries. These pièces à thèse are full of such puny efficiency that it always seemed to me, when I had to watch such plays, as if all the spectators had become small, small, dusty, old and yellow, like archival papers. The theater becomes either a branch of the order of public charity, or an office for drafting bills, and its moral truths are so insignificant that you blush, realizing that in order to prove the crime of pulling scarves from your neighbor’s pocket or raping poor girls, you must and can write 4 acts deftly sewn dramatic rigmarole. God forbid, if the revolutionary theater would follow the same path! God forbid if anyone wants to state in five acts the advantage of a short working day or even freedom of speech and the press.
The aspirations of the truly great talents of our time to break out of the framework of the modern petty, or shamelessly cheeky repertoire were not crowned with success.
The advanced intelligentsia of the West with great difficulty finds the true cultural path, being in itself a product of the decay of the middle bourgeoisie. Complete cultural confusion almost killed such a highly gifted artist as Maeterlinck. His theater of the first period, despite the depth of the pessimistic mood and interesting form, is neither tragic nor theatrical. This is the tragedy of the flabby and the cowardly. Maeterlinck rushed towards the light and worked out for himself a beautiful, bright and sublime outlook on the world, but apparently he does not know how toturn it into a tragedy: he presents it to us in semi-theoretical books, but does not paint it in drama. This means that he was able to understand it, but cannot feel it. For this he, apparently, is too ... Maeterlinck. The seal of the deepest cultural and philosophical confusion and sad eclecticism lies on the gifted dramaturgy of Gerhard Hauptmann.
I recently expressed my opinion about Ibsen with sufficient completeness in the journal Obrazovanie. And here we have a tragic search for true tragedy. This is the tragedy of a restless soul, and not of a willing and struggling soul. I make an exception for the few dramas of Ibsen's middle period (A Doll's House, An Enemy of the People).
An interesting effort is said to be now being made by the socialist intelligentsia of Holland. One cannot help but regret that even German literature is poor in translations of this self-contained Dutch literature. We know almost only Geiermans. It is impossible not to recognize the experiments of this still young playwright as deserving of every kind of approval, although we would wish him great scope, greater brightness of colors and complete freedom from any trace of the famous Dutch miniaturism.
Perhaps the most interesting attempts to present a social tragedy have been made in Russia. I think that Leonid Andreev formally took the most correct path. His dramas are full of thoughts and feelings and cast in strictly symbolic forms. Unfortunately, one can hardly hope that Leonid Andreev will rise to a truly tragic conception of the world. Tragedy leads to reconciliation, reconciliation in defiance, in elevation, in courage. The tragedy of Leonid Andreev rests on a question mark. And not in the sense of the most objective of the geniuses of tragedy - Shakespeare, who does not draw conclusions, leaving them to us. It is not at all necessary that "the meaning of this fable" be proclaimed from the stage. Shakespeare does not deduce morality, but it is easy for us to deduce it ourselves: it suggests itself, it is expressed in a cry that bursts from a full chest: “and yet it is beautiful, this terrible life!”
Andreev has nothing of the kind. He tries to drag us by the hair into doubt, into confusion. He is a total talent for destruction. It is good for the one in whom the creative forces are so great that, having digested the prickly question marks of L. Andreev, he makes hooks from them, which are necessary for erecting the walls of his building.
Yushkevich and Aizman possess the inherent in general Jewish artistic nature the ability to symbolize, to concentrate the content in one expressive image. But they don't seem to have enough material. The material that they artistically press, from which they squeeze out their quintessence, seems to be able to give only a small drop of this quintessence. Meanwhile, Yushkevich, constructing a whole series of dramas, repeats all the same collective images: it turns out a gray rain of these trembling drops. In art, however, value is determined not by quantity, but by quality. Having struck once on one string of our heart, one must be able to move on to other keys, and Yushkevich, having struck once, strikes another, a third, and so on to insensibility. Mr. Yushkevich, faster than he should have, filled us with proletarian hunger and proletarian anger.
In general, the path of naturalism, even if it is impressionistically concentrated, is not the true path of the new art. At the party tag of the German Social-Democratic Party workers in Breslau energetically protested against the desire of socialist writers to feed them with images of their weariness, need, humiliation, etc. Poor intellectuals!
- They imagined that they were working just in the proletarian taste, when they tried to outdo each other in the gloomy colors with which they painted the "social question" - and suddenly such a surprise.
The workers said they far preferred the old Schiller.
Maxim Gorky interestingly overheard his Poli's naive words: “I like the theater terribly. For example, Don Cesar de Bazan, a Spanish nobleman, is surprisingly good! A true hero!" And to Peter's spiteful question: "What does she need a Spanish nobleman?" Teterev correctly answers: "She felt a healthy person in him."
In a personal conversation, our famous writer told me that he was going to write a play, in the style of old melodramas. I warmly welcomed this idea.
Unfortunately, M. Gorky has not yet implemented it. His attempts to find elements of healthy and ardent romanticism in the very real life of the worker, to see new beauty in the very "prose" of the proletarian struggle deserve deep attention and gratitude from those who aspire to the new socialist art. I venture to remark, however, that this task can hardly be carried out with all clarity and persuasiveness, without becoming accustomed in reality, and not only in imagination, to the working class. "Enemies" is a good start to a real proletarian realistic drama, but not yet an example of such a drama. Even less, of course, a new tragedy. I think that even now the proletariat will perhaps prefer Don Carlos (or even Don Cesar) to Yushkevich's dramas, perhaps even Enemies.
An intellectual socialist artist needs to create in the realm of the fantastic brightly, richly, convexly, hyperbolically, really in the spirit of an old melodrama, if you like.
Modern decorative painting, especially in the field of posters, art posters, provides examples of interesting art: simplicity of plot, large lines, beautiful, clearly defined planes, completely covered with one color, so that everything together forms a simple and strong scale. Such will undoubtedly be the decorative arts in the near future. I think the same principles apply, mutatis mutandis, to the theatre. The strong, energetic, courageous theater of the generation marching under the red banner, in the light of the morning dawn, under the cold and cheerful breath of the predawn wind, will be a theater of fast action, great passions, sharp contrasts, whole characters, mighty sufferings, high ecstasies. Yes, it will be an ideological theater, but the ideas that inspire it will be broad and general, and its images, on the contrary, will be specific and original, unlike the modern one.
The new theater should be at the height of the ancient theater in terms of the simplicity of the play's architecture and in the height of religious and philosophical thought, but without the declamatory monotony of the Greeks alien to us. He must have all the splendor of the external and psychological colors of Shakespeare, but without his excessive objectivity, because, holding on to it, only a titan can play a positive cultural role. It will be imbued with the civic and cultural pathos of Schiller's best works, without his sentimental moderation binding the wings to his flights.
The form of Andreev's dramas satisfies us in many respects. But we want that romantic, heroic soul, which is looking for expression in the latest works of Maxim Gorky, to be poured into these new forms. Oh, we know that we are giving an easy reason for witticism: "If Pyotr Ivanovich's nose could be put to Ivan Petrovich's lips" ... what to do! The synthetic figure of the playwright of the new theatre, the theater of true tragedy and true socialism, has not yet fully emerged before us. We only find separately his dear features in individual contemporaries.
As for the actual stage forms, new forms of theatrical production, here, of course, the merits of the Moscow Art Theater cannot be hushed up.
The general principles of this theater are correct and valuable. The stage is not a place for the manifestation of the dramatic talent of individual actors, but a place for the public to communicate with the poet, his ideas, his feelings. The poet, with the assistance of the director and the entire ensemble of artists (including decorators), creates that finished work of art, which is called a dramatic performance. Enormous attention to the general idea, general spirit and mood of the play, concern for the harmonious combination of all its parts, observance of its general perspective - all this shows the way for the collective creativity of the troupe, for nothing requires the collective creativity of merged, deeply friendly cooperation to such an extent, as it is right understood theater.
The poet, decorator, director and artists at Stanislavsky acted as a collective.
Penetration into the spirit of each individual play and extraordinary taste elevated the productions of the Art Theater, even when applied to relatively mediocre dramas, to the level of true dramatic art. The simplest experiences in this performance took on a broadly symbolic and at the same time tragic character.
But the leaders of Hood. It was as if the theater didn't care what they expressed. All their attention was drawn to the "how". As bookbinders, they gave each thing a jewelry shell. They delved into the mood only in order to find a suitable appearance, and even deliberately looked for difficulties in order to show their skill in all its diversity. To many, this may seem like a positive feature. The poet is free to create whatever he pleases: the troupe only has to take care of a perfectly fitting performance. I think that such an equation of an artist with a compositor who is forced to type everything he is given is impossible, if only because the search for and implementation of an artistic form for a given work is a creative act, and one cannot blindly subordinate the creator-artist to the creator-poet; a true artist cannot sincerely weep over a sorrow that seems low and ridiculous to him. In artists Hood. The theater felt the excessive objectivity of a bookbinding lover. If an accidental coincidence with the heyday of Chekhov's dramaturgy did not give the theater repertoire a dash of "Chekhovism", then this repertoire would be exactly what is called from the forest and from the pine. The theater refused the role of a cultural conductor of certain moods of a certain order. He sang a variety of things with a beautiful voice, taking care to show this voice and all the techniques of singing. Hood. The theater could successfully name itselfStudio . He introduced new staging techniques, but did not introduce a new cultural stream.
The second big drawback of this theater was that it quickly abandoned the original plan to become "public". And he had to abandon this plan and become a victim of economic difficulties, despite the relatively expensive price of seats, since such was the very principle of his formulation. In an effort to evoke the fullness of the mood with a detailed development of the stage production of Hood. The theater has brought the cost of productions to ugly-huge numbers. This condemned the theater to being cut off from true democracy, and its influence turned out to be closed in the same circle of the top intellectuals. At the same time, the very principle of detailing in the production is very doubtful, and the inability to replace expensive materials, furniture and other props with equally artistic and cheap props is a direct lack of artistic resourcefulness of decorators and directors.
The new folk theater should only outline the scenery broadly, beautifully, in the same sweeping style of panels and artistic posters that we spoke about above. The deep-folk theater of old England of Shakespeare's time does without scenery at all. We will not go to this extreme, but we must create a broad and vivid impressionistic genre in its symbolic generality for the decoration of the plays of the new theater. This will simultaneously make the production brighter, more accessible to the huge halls of folk theaters and cheaper.
The Komissarzhevskaya Theater, directed by Meyerhold, seemed to be taking a step forward in both of these directions: he did not want to be a conductor of all sorts of dramatic works, if only they were interesting as a director's task. He wanted to say something of his own. His general stage style had to be closely connected with the main cultural idea of this theater: here and there, liberation from everyday life, the transition from the phenomenal to the essence, through the symbol and the mystical rise. Rebellion against reality - this was supposed to be the central idea of the cultural preaching of the theater; and this presence of the central idea favorably distinguished the new Petersburg theater from the Moscow one. Rebellion against realism - this was supposed to be the principle of stage production, and this made it possible to reduce the cost and simplify it in comparison with the theater - a teacher.
But neither one nor the other led to anything, or rather, led, in my opinion, to negative results. Imbued with a decadent mood in the truest sense of the word (i.e., tired, thirsty for calm, alien to the spirit of struggle), the leaders of the theater, under rebellion against reality, did not mean an active and therefore tragic struggle with it in the name of the ideal, but a tearful protest against it and flight into a dream. This decadent-mystical character of the "revolt" of the Meyerhold theater was reflected in the choice of some plays and in the distortion to which others were subjected.
As a theater of escape from reality, the Komissarzhevskaya theater enslaved the very soul of dramatic art, movement, struggle, passions - plastic and painting: tones, spots, poses - that was what they were chasing after, and life was turned into some kind of slow dance of bloodless shadows. This sometimes came out bad, tasteless, mediocre, sometimes good, talented, but the matter did not change from this.
With such a direction, the Komissarzhevskaya theater, even if it reduced the price to democratic needs, could not attract a fresh new audience into its walls, one that, in contact with which, the drama will come to life, the stage will come to life. For the bourgeoisie, this theater was nothing more than an entertaining theater. Some went there to laugh at the "eccentricities" of the innovators, others to gawk at something new, still others to scratch their tongues later in salon conversations on the topic of new ways of art.
True, young people also went to the theater, good progressive youth. But for her, the direction of the theater was poison, it pushed in the same direction where reaction and disappointment led: away from life and its difficult tasks, into the realm of pure dreams.
The new theatre, if it is to come into being, will be a barbarian theatre. Yes Yes. He will throw out the nuances and details, all the flavors necessary for the refined and hysterical noses of our “cultured” public. He will thunder, shine, be noisy, fleet, impolite to nervous young ladies and sour representatives of the "cream" of society. His satire will lash his cheeks loudly, his grief will weep uncontrollably, his joy will dance with abandon, his villainy will terrify. And it is better for an actor to regenerate Herod than to under-heroize. Shakespeare lived in the time of the too bright theater, we are in the moment of the too Russian theater. We are in danger on the other side.
Lovers of halftones, these half-living people can be satisfied with their half-theatres. We need a real theater, even a barbarian one, for the salvation of civilization lies in its barbarians. They bring real culture, they open bright and long paths, and the so-called. cultural society is rotting.
The task is clear: to summon everything young, fresh, and healthy from the depths of "cultural" society to create "barbaric" socialist, high art, to resurrect Shakespeare, Schiller and many other titans of antiquity, to bring great art closer to the great masters of the future - the people.
On the other hand, the task of influencing the masses of the people is enormous. But the methods of this influence, leading to the economic, political and spiritual emancipation of the proletariat, are not subject to discussion in this article.
The theater will play here, it should play an enormous role . The rapid development of the professional movement, leading to the creation of labor exchanges and people's palaces, will meet the new art. Between them stands a brute force, which is dangerous for everything that leads humanity forward. To fight against it, to circumvent it—this is a task which, in Russia, accompanies every other truly cultural task. And the stronger our love for culture, art, in this case the theater and its future, the greater our hatred for this still sticking out obstacle. Half of our cultural energy involuntarily turns into hatred with us. But perhaps this hatred, too, can be turned into cultural energy in turn?
I am not aware of the tendencies of the articles of my random comrades in this collection. Perhaps my ideas stand in sharp irreconcilable contrast to theirs. It would be sad, but not very surprising. But maybe with some of them we get not a coincidence, I don't think, but something like a chord. That would be more surprising, but very encouraging. I reserve the right, or the pleasant duty, to comment on this collection in its entirety after its publication.
Spirit, soul for me is nothing but the totality of the experiences of a given person, the connection and unity of which is given in the unity of the nervous-brain system that physically responds to them. Is there a functional interdependence between the processes in this system and experiences? Wed my " Popular Exposition of Avenarius's Critique of Pure Experience ".
Other this theory, see my article “Essays on Posit. aesthetics". Essays on a Realist, World Views, ed. 2, Charushnikov and Dorovatovsky.
I regret that I have to quote from the clumsy translation of old Guber, but I happen to have no other one at hand.
All these writers are just trying to go beyond simple naturalism and eavesdrop on the "romantic" in the soul of the proletarian.