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A language, which grants a listener access to the work of the musician, but fails at a similar level vis-à-vis a painterly discovery, a language which suppresses the complement and, keeping aloof of a heated logic that gainsays the seer, intends to close the door already removed out of suspicion of the noble inertia of a long-established incongruency, has hidden denunciatory capacities.

Because it is known that chance plays no part in this language, in this oral constellation of morals, and that laws and new doctrines over us have penetrated the fractures of apparently antisocial, but in reality aesthetic antagonisms and blended the numerators with the finally comprehending minds of the demoniators, since the most perfected language involved has congealed to an authoritarian form, no hypothetical courage is required to assume that judgement over the arts themselves has been made in the distant designation of those two representatives of art viewers; and the language, which in the highest sense could and ought to exist without man, discloses to that man who does not stand still in the meantime something about its subtle retaliatory impulse, which always expresses itself in times when the use of vocatives is low and the need to complicate is not met with minds of equal calibre.

It appears as if in this episodic example an equitable language recalls countless, ecstatic phenomena of reception in good music. In this way, the imagination trained to manifest itself in scenes presents itself as the drama caught by surprise: The conception of the listener, attacked and overcome by Melos, convinced of the reality of temporal musical values, does not grant the aristocracy of an ulterior metaphysical meaning, and those giving the matter consequent thought may recognize that originally the organs did not perceive automatically independent of the act of the will, but were designated for the consecrated places serving mankind and only for the reception of sudden, seldom and precious revelations. Orpheus dishonored the Patmos of the ear because he risked giving music to the animals, and happily, as is reported by a tradition not yet corrupted by the higher being, who has perhaps already become aware of the parody of this affair.
Painting, however, in origin the most unheroic of all the arts, sturdy and unaggressive, lost the battle with the transcendental up to now, and the seer still wears the religious mask of the prophet, although it has become a requisite of the theater and is no longer present in earnest.

Measuring with astonishment the expansive power of Melos on hand from the naive circles of legends surrounding music and then turning with the same intention to the painterly manifestations, one gets the bleak impression that encounters with painting never took hold very deeply. The excesses it occasioned in academic drawing-rooms are artificially produced symptoms of critically committed minds; they are pretenses to enrich the language. Decisive, however, is the consumer, that most mendacious species: the one, who, struck in an honest minute, confesses that he views painting in the way it merely exists in his needs along with words and music, and has heard what visual consciousness reproaches it for: not having been victorious over metaphysics, not having increased the reality of the world. This statement must sound strange because one believes to recognize in culture that no art rises more naturalistically or up to the most idiomatic accents more imitatingly. But this knowledge is judgement. If for the sake of brevity I may be allowed to resort to a quick metaphor, tones and words are like birds, which always soar from the invisible before me to the visible, which reveal no corporeal origin and execute their production precisely where they are farthest away from the stimulating experience, preferably producing anachronistically in the highest sense, and consequently, because they are so misleading, because they permit no inference from the work of art to the impulse, give the impression of a new higher reality which is accepted so unconditionally as real that one would laugh if one did not hold the lower level of reality for real. Whereby the everyday world seems to be saved.

Perhaps painting was psychologically not free enough from its material side to compete with such a moral phenomenon. In panic stiffness of the legs given the artist, and only him, to run away when he intends to give shape to the outside instead of the inside, the painter clings to the object which preys upon his gaze in reproducing patience, the formal refl ections of which he turns from an uninteresting condition of virtue to the appearance of a problem through the shifting of the units of time (the artist’s time and that of the object), through counterpoint (Greco), or wants to maintain over the actual reality, like Cézanne, through a disturbance of the balance (slipping cloths, disordered glasses) brought about by a fictitious occurrence outside the picture plane, which for eternal seconds expresses itself in a suspension of gravity and stability, in a deep gasp of liberated breath between two states.

And now someone comes, and this person is a musician, someone who already knows that the work of art expresses nothing but boundless distances, someone, possessor of a cultivated terminology, prepared to set it provisionally to a palette void of linguistically fixed technical functions, and someone who leads painting, grown fl abby as the result of a dissolute life of the senses, before an ice-cold eye of logic first and then, when the disuse of the figurative has reached the frosty pole of its own reason, back to the limits of the prehistorical, to the place cut by invisible diagonals, from where it may be possible for it to obtain the obligatory connection to the legend after all. Without costume, and totally unromantic, forms suddenly arise which do not exist anymore, which, if they appeared in a painter’s head, would be disregarded as incomprehensible atavisms, their one and only function being this: to have unlimited mistrust in man, who, when he acts and perceives, conceives himself as machine, attacked, but overcome by the soul, illogically pretends to be manually active so to speak, and, at a catchword of the mightier, begins to doubt. In general human nature, doubt is not a noble matutinal refl ective emotion, not a feeling for pilferage, but rather an expression of slavish devotion, a fawning state of humility in face of the stronger accidental: whether it be called God, art or “Übermensch.” What is represented in Schönberg’s enigmatic paintings are neither feelings of the senses swarming hungrily in the darkened globe of the mind nor facts in physical light. They are more colorful recordings of moral man – in the sense of Kant – than one is accustomed to. (Up to now, merely language was the material of moral man.) Nice how the morality of these paintings holds good: in order to translate those forms in a tangibly anecdotal way, however inadequate this attempt may turn out to be. I would have to agree to a focus of insight with all those viewing them. But these paintings keep aloof from precisely this economy of optical forces and begin to become incomprehensible the moment one person takes the step to another, from the specific to the general. Only the spiritual landscape, in which these paintings grew, remains open to interpretation.

Arnold Schönberg, the thinker, finally attempts to recreate for painting that state of psychic primitiveness, that prehistorical type of past life, without which its existence now could not seem to be truly legitimized, and he alone was able to patiently create these forms totally insignificant to the connoisseur, since he appears, protected by his music, already immunized against an advanced and understood art. Only those who already possess a boundless assurance in some area are the true discoverers and not those who have built castles in the air and merely appropriated the universal gesture. (With artists like Arnold Schönberg, who express themselves in several media, the last question remains from which medium the greatest assurance emanates.) The game of risks attracts the son: the fathers construct. That all paternity is unsure was probably known by some esoterics before the Latins, who with a hopeless grimace towards the female raised this perception to a law. The really educational value and, in our case tangency of this perception, however, does not serve the man in marriage, but rather the little male in science, even if it should ultimately give rise to the explanation that in the cosmos the female in general is interested in leaving the descent of the male in the dark altogether; that all development is the result of a general unfaithfulness, that there is life only so long as marriages with persons and spheres are broken.
But what was hitherto considered the precondition of the mythical period of painting, the primitiveness merely referring to the corporeal presence of the object, suddenly no longer appears as the one and only form of a still sub-technical productivity, as is common to the child, the barbarian and the archaizing decadent in place of talent or genius, but instead the actual second spiritual and pure beginning prepares itself over it.

It is correct and should be said again and again that the primitiveness, which makes use of the physical body and the objects at this plane as language, does not represent the beginning of a talent, the chaotic whirl of a future crystal, but is a delightful replacement for missing talents, a passive way to create, and for the cultivated an artifice-like consolation for being merely the stimulant for the genius. Platonic primitiveness is the beginning, however, thereafter talent and genius, and in the male finally impulse equivalent to other impulses.

For the painter of such forms, every appearance of the body is the natural periphery refl ection of the central phenomenon in the ideal, in the legendary cycle of platonic ideas, a refl ection not at all longed for as regards its productivity, nor awaited. The chain of causality, as this painter means visually, decorates an attractive girl’s white neck better than his work. Because he knows no stable vision, he also does not come to any stylistic mannerism, as does the purely empirical primitive satisfied by the status quo; because he does not know about anything but the variable, and this knowledge graduates the more inexplicably in the technique the more intensively and frequently the uncertainly in itself alters its molecular values, any understanding of such forms can only be relative, and many would always remain in the dark to everybody but to the creator himself, for the stage in which the variable was found when it was caught in one of its projections could no longer be held in the following second changed from a non-personal, higher insight into another type of condition, and consequently the mind seemed to be deprived of the only help: namely to receive something still comprehensible in the hallucinatorily perceived congruence between the probability of such a movement and the possibility of such an expression. As the moral being he had to discover himself to be (perhaps at the cost of epic-sensuous capacities), after having raised mistrust to the finest art (overcoming psychology in the process), he sought intellectual functions, inferior things and things that were still pretenses of an accident, which served suppression and let themselves be misused as symbols, in order to turn them into new organs beside the physical, in order to turn them into moral organs. The doubt common to mankind must beset those who climb from top to bottom in this way and, being nothing more than proof of the transcendental, must encounter the angel soaring down to earth, the first sign of its being inhabited.

But the painter took this doubt and set it over all of his organs. An exceptional situation like no other before! Not that he had doubts about the objects. Only the fanatically egocentric youngstar overestimating the power of his scepticism takes the risks of such distances. But he who knows from the brightest lyrical fl ashes of inspiration of his art (of border areas) that the real I begins where one does not suspect it and comprises precisely those areas of the sensitive cosmos which have eluded all conquest by memory up to now suddenly discovered (one can only discover suddenly) that man is a sum of antagonisms.

Thus an inspired chaos of ideas (thieves of the conscious) flew with its booty into the light. The vertical frenzy of inferring thoughts befell those tending towards whatever form of intellectuality (the one which appears geometrically most likely to make that artist interesting who shows himself next to a serious machine): biologists’ words, associated with the terminology of those who create themselves, terms from the science referring to poor mankind, from pitiful sociology come to his mind, the man ardently wed to the hypothesis (whose reading in experimental science converted in favor of the doubters): struggle for life, adaption, natural selection, he himself in thousand situations, which show him still pensive, yielding in face of the multitude, and which recall reproachfully those once so admired and gratefully acknowledged seconds of the conception, because he could only tear a single person away from the mind benumbed by thoughts and to fix one felly from the wheel of movement. Could?, he asks and consequently becomes the victim of rhyming, echo-like phonetics. He examined the tremendous strength of his will. And admitted: great, fantastically great, all thoughts peripheral. And discovered and did not keep secret: My great strength stretches over it, but many, many powers, which express themselves posthumously, many thousand hereditary hands do the opposite on the same wood!

My will stands against the general will: the individual shot leaking by divine inclination for all oceans of the world against his fellow man, he who is only a being that must be protected against being crushed by the fullness of figure, in which the idea becomes plausible and which whirls into the funnel of reason. In the thousands of years, which seemed to be filled with devel opments and refl ections of renaissances to the being that has become ornament, this apodictic general will has occupied itself with nothing more intensively than with cutting the monstrous trees of the organs more and more, with shaping the channels of the conception narrower and narrower and making the business of reception more and more difficult, more and more full of obstacles (but accelerating the delivery in tremendous dilettantism), so that we already speak about the grace of inspiration today and recognize, schooled by a magnificent past, how nothing of the insatiable, optical protuberances and tentacles of the first spiritual man is left but this carved stump of an eye and nothing of an ocean of hearing but this shell of an ear.

The sensitive organs, earlier intended for reception, now only serve unintellectual man’s fear of being crushed by the multitude and have become protective, defensive organs; and seeing means selecting, reducing, de-horrifying, paralyzing, de-deifying. They have been reduced to nothing but symptoms of being able to hear and see and, out of shame and contempt for the cowardice of external man, have withdrawn entirely into the inside. My painter sadly looked into the cave made comfortable by ornaments, the organ into which man crawled to protect himself from the multitude. Here he experienced the possibility of his art. Preaching, but not yet converting, he turned to that broken man, lured him out into the multiplying light of the multitude and, he himself standing in front of the cave of the intelligent troglodyte, raised the color and arrived at a line in this way.

What originated from this sad, silent, almost hopeless tenderness became his paintings.

Acts of the mind.

Very few trust these pictures. Most people hate them instinctively on first seeing them.

So do the artists, who are frightened to death of the idea of having to paint like this themselves some day.

Arnold Schönberg. Mit Beiträgen von Alban Berg et al. München 1912, 65–74