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from Art and Reality by Joyce Cary (1958; 1961)

Sympathy is essential to the reader and writer. By sympathy the reader can obtain from the created world of art a knowledge of truth, of the real world, with exactly the same sense of illumination as if he had discovered it by force of intuition. So the reader’s process of creative discovery follows the same course as the writer’s.

The reader is often aware of learning more about the world from a book than he gets from actual experience,

not only because in the book he is prepared to find significance in events that mean nothing in life, but because those events in the book are related to each other in a coherent valuation which sets them in ordered relation of importance, and this can reveal to him in what had seemed the mere confusion of his daily affairs new orders of meaning … created by the author … with truth in context … showing motive and morality.

In summary:

PRIMITIVE RESPONSE [innate feelings] + EDUCATION [conceptual/symbolic]


INTUITION [the recognition of the objective real: seeing what’s there]


Once more: Art is the MEANS by which we can express ourselves in forms of meaning and communicate these meanings to others. It is the only means by which we can convey both FACTS and FEELINGS about the fact.


from Art and Reality by Joyce Cary (1958; 1961)

What happens in reading?

The reader is receptive only in a special sense. What a reader has in front of him is simply a collection of marks on paper, inert and meaningless in themselves. They are incapable on their own account of giving him anything. Reading is a creative art…. The meaning received is created by the imagination from the symbols, and that imagination must first be educated . . . in the use and meaning of a symbolic system….

Without education, it is not possible for a man even to appreciate any art. For education does not give only knowledge but taste; it qualifies the feelings as well as the judgment. It creates the sensibility, which is a compound of feeling and judgment.

We judge the value of the work finally by its revelation of a moral real. The power and quality of the artist’s craft is in the force and authority of his revelation. His subconscious is creating or reconstructing from the symbols before him the whole emotional content of the work; his reflective judgment is all the time recording flaws of expression, failures of emphasis, loose joints and weak transitions . . . some part . . . ready to notice an error of fact, even when the error does not destroy the continuity of the emotional experience.

The mind, in short, by education, has acquired a complex formal character which has all the spontaneity of primitive emotional make-up. The feelings are charged with ideas and the ideas with feeling, and reflection can proceed without conscious thought.


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