Carving or modelling?..

Haven’t had any Adam Phillips on here for a while. Let’s rectify that right now..

“… Denis Donohue, in Thieves of Fire, used the distinction between carving and modelling to illustrate what he called the Promethean imagination; which, he says, ‘starts with an incorrigible sense of its own power, and seeks in nature only the means of its own fulfilment’. ‘In carving,’ he writes,

the artist assumes that the block of stone contains within itself the form invented for it by nature; the artist’s desire is merely to liberate that form, to disclose its hidden face… In modelling, on the other hand, the artist gives the stone his own truth, or what he insists is his own truth; the truth of the stone as a different truth is not acknowledged.

… In one kind of creative experience the artist uses his art to elaborate, to expose, to fashion himself. In the other kind of experience the animating intention of the artist is to reveal something other, something separate, something aside or apart from the self; not to fuse with object, but to differentiate it. The sacramental poet, the carver, forgets himself; the erotic poet, the Promethean, the modeller, endorses himself. In one version the self is the instrument, in the other it is the obstacle… At one extreme of this strange dualistic vision there is the cult of personality, the artist as the emperor of egotism; and at the other extreme there is a cult of the object, of a world whose virtue and substance resides in the fact that it resists manipulation. Creative experience is either self-promotion or self-surrender. The moral and aesthetic question becomes: do I value something because I can make it mine, or because I can’t?…”

(From ‘Side Effects’ by Adam Phillips)


12 thoughts on “Carving or modelling?..

  1. Self promotion or self surrender (?)? You use the one appropriate for the situation. The one thing I have learned (if nothing else), is that you simply can’t change people, except for yourself.

  2. Adam’s being a bit presumptuous, isn’t he? Who’s to say that a “modeller” doesn’t create something sublime from his imagery, or that a “carver” winds up with a pile of absolute shite because he didn’t have some sort of idea in his head in the first place?

    And what about the modeller who goes down a different path from the one originally envisaged? Does that make him a modarver? A cardeller?

    Sounds like a bunch of hooey to me, much like a theist’s argument for faith in god.

  3. You don’t believe in God? No wonder you’re wallowing around in a relativistic nightmare of your own making. Absolutes and polar opposites, that’s what we believe in – we’ll have no modarvers or cardellers here, lady – not while I still have a breath in my body..

  4. I like the explaination… But this sounds too much like the discussion question of the week in my Java programming class…

    “I believe programming is an art. Others say it is a science. What do you think? Why?”

    Will Andy make us respond in at least 200 words…. I hope not….

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