The Question of What Will Emerge Is Left Open – Motherwell, Rosenberg

This is a magazine of artists and writers who ‘practice’ in their work their own experience without seeking to transcend it in academic, group or political formulas.

Such practice implies the belief that through conversion of energy something valid may come out, whatever the situation one is forced to begin with.

The question of what will emerge is left open. One functions in an attitude of expectancy. As Juan Gris said: ‘You are lost the instant vou know what the result will be.’

Naturally the deadly political situation exerts an enormous pressure.

The temptation is to conclude that organized social thinking is ‘more serious 1 than the act that sets free in contemporary experience forms which that experience has made possible.

One who yields to this temptation makes a choice among various theories of manipulating the known elements of the so-called objective state of affairs. Once the political choice has been made, art and literature ought of course be given up.

Whoever genuinely believes he knows how to save humanity from catastrophe has a job before him which is certainly not a part-time one.

Political commitment in our times means logically – no art, no literature. A great many people, however, find it possible to hang around in the space between art and political action.

If one is to continue to paint or write as the political trap seems to close upon him he must perhaps have the extremest faith in sheer possibility.

In his extremism he shows that he has recognized how drastic the political presence is.


Originally published  An Occasional Review, no. 1, New York, 1947.

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