THE greatest claim that Oscar Wilde made for himself was that he was a high priest of aesthetics, that he had a new message concerning the relations of beauty and the worship of beauty to life and art, to life and to morals to give to the world. This claim was one in which to the last he pathetically believed. He was absolutely certain in his own mind that this was his vocation.
De Profundis by Oscar Wilde. Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It seems to circle round one centre of pain. The paralysing immobility of a life every circumstance of which is regulated after an unchangeable pattern, so that we eat and drink and lie down and pray, or kneel at least for prayer, according to the inflexible laws of an iron formula: Of seed-time or harvest, of the reapers bending over the corn, or the grape gatherers threading through the vines, of the grass in the orchard made white with broken blossoms or strewn with fallen fruit: For us there is only one season, the season of sorrow.
The very sun and moon seem taken from us. Outside, the day may be blue and gold, but the light that creeps down through the thickly-muffled glass of the small iron-barred window beneath which one sits is grey and niggard.
It is always twilight in one's cell, as it is always twilight in one's heart. And in the sphere of thought, no less than in the sphere of time, motion is no more. The thing that you personally have long ago forgotten, or can easily forget, is happening to me now, and will happen to me again to-morrow.
Remember this, and you will be able to understand a little of why I am writing, and in this manner writing. A week later, I am transferred here. Three more months go over and my mother dies.
No one knew how deeply I loved and honoured her. Her death was terrible to me; but I, once a lord of language, have no words in which to express my anguish and my shame. She and my father had bequeathed me a name they had made noble and honoured, not merely in literature, art, archaeology, and science, but in the public history of my own country, in its evolution as a nation.
I had disgraced that name eternally. I had made it a low by-word among low people. I had dragged it through the very mire.
I had given it to brutes that they might make it brutal, and to fools that they might turn it into a synonym for folly. What I suffered then, and still suffer, is not for pen to write or paper to record. My wife, always kind and gentle to me, rather than that I should hear the news from indifferent lips, travelled, ill as she was, all the way from Genoa to England to break to me herself the tidings of so irreparable, so irremediable, a loss.
Messages of sympathy reached me from all who had still affection for me. Even people who had not known me personally, hearing that a new sorrow had broken into my life, wrote to ask that some expression of their condolence should be conveyed to me.
Three months go over. The calendar of my daily conduct and labour that hangs on the outside of my cell door, with my name and sentence written upon it, tells me that it is May.
Prosperity, pleasure and success, may be rough of grain and common in fibre, but sorrow is the most sensitive of all created things. There is nothing that stirs in the whole world of thought to which sorrow does not vibrate in terrible and exquisite pulsation.
The thin beaten-out leaf of tremulous gold that chronicles the direction of forces the eye cannot see is in comparison coarse. It is a wound that bleeds when any hand but that of love touches it, and even then must bleed again, though not in pain.
Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Some day people will realise what that means.Every single work of art is the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every work of art is the conversion of an idea into an image.
Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every human being should be the realisation of some ideal, either in the mind of God or in the mind of man.
Plato asks us to accept the concept that even apparently man-made objects like beds and chairs have an original form belonging to a changeless, eternal world of Forms created by God, leading to his conclusion that life, and art itself, is not a reality.
De Profundis is proof that even while surrounded by the horrors of prison Wilde insisted on living as artfully as he could.
and that art. is wholly paradoxical. that art must be moral. but Bosie’s” (Ellman ) the letter is an example of Wilde’s aesthetic philosophy. Aestheticism. Many Victorians passionately believed that literature and art fulfilled important ethical roles.
Literature provided models of correct behavior: it allowed people to identify with situations in which good actions were rewarded, or it provoked tender emotions. Like most other ancient philosophers, Plato maintains a virtue-based eudaemonistic conception of ethics.
That is to say, happiness or well-being (eudaimonia) is the highest aim of moral thought and conduct, and the virtues (aretê: ‘excellence’) are the requisite skills and dispositions needed.
It, therefore, follows that aesthetics has to discuss such topics as the relation of art to nature and life, the distinction of art from nature, the relation of natural to artistic beauty, the conditions and nature of beauty in a work of art, and especially the distinction of beauty from truth, from utility, and from moral goodness.