Art as a Description of History

In the close reading of the “Spirit of the Hour,” the spirit begins by describing how out of all of the initial noise, there was suddenly a clearing, and the Spirit’s eyes were suddenly opened to “the mysteries of the universe.”  The Spirit’s has experienced a moment of enlightenment of the mind and his eyes are opened to truly see the world.

Immediately, the Spirit begins to more clearly see his world. Bird imagery appears and almost immediately disappears as the sun consumes the bird imagery. The mortality of the bird imagery and the loss of life is quickly contrasted by the “Phidian forms.”

The Phidian forms are obviously lifeless, but they seem to embody emotion or feeling. Indeed, the entire Pantheon is described with colorful adjectives and there is a lot of movement in energy here. Despite the lively adjectives, there is a constant reminder that the statues and the Pantheon are merely representations of emotions and movements. While the Pantheon and the statues are technically historic ruins left behind during apocalyptic end times, they seem to be powered with emotion.

These Phidian forms that have emotion but are lifeless and the stone of the Parthenon that has energy but will never move tell us that history is an attempt to capture the emotion of a period that once was, but will never be again. They are the lifeless guardians of emotion; their responsibility is to be a representation of a period that ended in apocalyptic turmoil. They serve as an immortal reminder of the ruination and destruction of the mortal, human race. The Spirit shows us that art is a reflection of history, and the Phidian forms are a preserved document of history in which both the glory of the age is obvious, as is the sad reality of its lonely, modern existence. In this sense, the apocalypse has already occurred for this period, and has been immortalized through art.


~ by dianawitless on November 1, 2012.

One Response to “Art as a Description of History”

  1. You have a good analysis of the Spirit of the Hour in your post, yet it lacks specific quotations as well as a cohesive flow. Your final interpretation of the Phidian forms is interesting, yet it would have been great if you had expanded upon the Phidian statues in another direction (perhaps by including actual textual evidence). I also would have loved to have heard more about the bird imagery in the beginning of your analysis and why it is significant to mention.

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