More than 6 years ago, on Sunday 16 March 2008,(1) I watched a television program about the French artist Paul Cezanne(1839-1906). From Cezanne’s early forties until his death at age 66 what some call “this father of all modern art” worked more and more in isolation and in privacy, a virtual recluse. This was the central aspect, among many, of Cezanne’s life that interested me since that tendency toward increasing artistic isolation, drawing on the familiar in my work, doggedly struggling to deal with complexity, the need for a place to be by myself came to characterize my life as my fifties advanced and turned, year by year, into my sixties. After more than forty years(1954-1994) of a high sociability quotient, working alone became more and more paramount in my daily life.–Ron Price with thanks to (1) ABC TV, 16/3/’08: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
I, too, needed, that attention,
that concentration, exploration,
to capture the truth of perception,
understanding, imagination’s design,
belief, desire, the familiar, complexity.
I, too, was a recluse of sorts with my own
isolation and aloneness, although a social
religion kept me in touch with an immense
artificial world of sociability, of a necessary
and essential reservedness, stylization, talk,
democracy, for the sake of talking with its
own laws, a changing of subjects, some play
of relations, joining and loosening, winning
and succumbing, giving and taking, means
to liveliness, a solemn consciousness and
harmony where everyone can play the game
and the giver becomes invisible behind some
kind of play-form, some collective, some airy
realm where life emerges in the flux of the
facile and happy, producers lose themselves.
They get lost in their products, where a certain
tragic vision encompasses the weak & the strong
& feeds on a deep, loyal relation to aesthetic charms
which embody the finest and subtlest dynamics
of broad and rich social existence, not negative
conventionalism merely, but a type of liberation
and relief where the latent forces of reality
reverberate dimly and their gravity evaporates,
or so one would hope, into a mere attractiveness.
22/3/'08 to 25/8/'14.
In its essence being cultured and attaining the first element of perfection lies in “learning and the cultural attainments of the mind.” One’s purely personal dispositions and one’s mental life attain their full idiom and personality as one’s circle increases, at least in some sense. The possibility of fully developing one’s inner life and personality lies in this social direction. However, isolation is not a strictly individual condition. It in no way implies the absence of society. Isolation and aloneness attain a very real and positive significance as an effect of society at a distance. Isolation is, indeed, a form of interaction. It is characterized by distance between the individual and society, an imagined society, an abstract one or a real one.
The first condition of having to deal with somebody at all is to know with whom one has to deal. Knowledge of another person is reciprocal, but generally not equal on both sides. One can, however, never know another person absolutely since this would amount to an infinite, an endless sharing, a duplication and repetition, of experiences. We form a sense of unity with others, any other person, from those fragments through which another is accessible to us. The unity that may develop, depends among other things, upon what that other person permits us to see about their inner and outer life. Psychological knowledge of a person is not some stereotype of that person but depends, like knowledge of all external nature, upon the forms, the details, the information, which the person gives and which they receive in turn.
The giving of a gift, say in these email posts at this site, must not be considered isolation. It is not a one way act, but it possesses a relation to the total personalities of the two parties. Gratitude consists not only in the return of the gift, but in the consciousness that this gift in some ways cannot be returned. There is something, Simmel states, which places the receiver in a permanent position with respect to the giver. The first gift, given in spontaneity, has a voluntary character which no return gift can have. That first gift has a freedom without any duty attached to it. A gift once accepted, engenders an inner, a mysterious, relation which can never be eliminated completely. This is because gratitude is a feeling which results and is rendered by the recipient.