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Man has a choice between two intellectual approaches that mark indelibly all the manifestations to which they give rise. The one is based on the senses, the other on the Intelligence. (7) Turn and turn about they dominate Man. But they do not have an equal value. When the state of mind that is ruled by the Intelligence is abandoned to the advantage of that which is dominated by the senses, it suffers a loss that is incalculable. At first, under various disguises, the basic values of the other age seem to have been maintained. It is only an illusion. An idealistic spiritualism, more philosophical than theological, counterfeits the religious spirit. But it does not take long before it declares its real end - scepticism, which is the price to be paid by reason when it goes astray, seduced by the external appearances of things, ready to become more categorically atheist and finally to collapse into mechanical materialism. Then, suffering from unspeakable maladies of which the worst are intellectual in nature, what panaceas will we not try to lessen the agony? Perhaps it will be the insinuating argument that tries to conjure the evil away, explaining it as a temporary rupture between what can be done by progress and the as yet inadequate adaptation of man. Will it be the dangerous suggestion that so-called reason should be rejected in favour of delivering oneself up to the wildest somersaults of an indefinable individual psyche? Will it be I don't know what promise of happiness for tomorrow whose immediate effect is to produce an atmosphere of apathetic resignation that allows time to be gained? Whatever it might be, these remedies clearly show the desperate state of that state of mind that has destroyed Man though we thought it capable of realising every possibility. Above all, they show what we neither want nor are able to admit, despite all our disappointments - that all that is no more than the perversion of a different state of mind which is better able to preserve Man because it understands him and is not based on fundamental errors as to the origin and end of his activity.

(7) Gleizes distinguishes between intelligence and intellect. It is the latter that is the subject of our so-called 'intelligence tests'. The intelligence, in Gleizes' use of the word, is that which is in us that is capable of entering into a relationship with God. It is akin to what, in the Orthodox hesychast tradition, is called the 'noetic faculty'. It is for this reason that I generally translate it with a capital 'I'.

However, when the change from one to the other of these states of mind occurs, it doesn't take the form of a sudden transformation. The infallibility of the doctrines is disturbed, mysteriously, together with the procedures that are recognised as suitable for serving them. Worrying contradictions appear. In the twelfth century, the end of the rhythmic period, reason based on the senses begins to question faith, which is the reward of reasoning based on the Intelligence. Nowadays - another contradiction - the scientist is alarmed, having to admit that, under analysis, matter disappears into metaphysics. The dogma that corresponds to the state of mind of a spatially based epoch is under attack. Such strange combinations of disparate elements are even more obvious in the methods used for the production of works of art. The artists are less scrupulous than the theologians or philosophers, they have less respect for established positions. Perhaps they have less of a gift than the others for dissimulation, and also people take them less seriously. There are many works of the eleventh and twelfth centuries that bear the marks of the change that is being prepared: the rhythmic technique is modified by the figures and spectacles that crowd towards the front of the scene, assuming more and more importance. During the nineteenth century, the great painters are ALL troubled by worries about the practical and technical aspects of their work. Since the time of Delacroix, schools and isolated individuals have boasted a series of discoveries which are so many challenges thrown out in defiance of the spatial technique which is now only taught in its most formal aspect in the official schools. The twentieth century has yet further intensified the contradiction, and the latest arrival, Cubism, has brought the scandal to a climax. Painting based on figures and spectacles has given way to a painting in which only combinations of planes, lines repeated in a particular order, unfolding rhythms, coloured circles that suggest rainbows, can be identified.

A great change is prefigured in these apparent anomalies. The movements and particular individuals needed to be studied in the light of their implications for the future. But what have the commentators done? Even those who were best disposed towards them were incapable of doing other than to judge them according to formulae whose limits, being too narrow, had already collapsed - to appreciate them according to particularist aesthetic conventions. Another discipline, one that had already proved its worth in the past, could, however, have been invoked - a discipline in which FORM, the basis of the painter's craft, was realised other than by drawing the way things appear to the senses. What help the commentators could have given if they had really been capable of judging these works, all made up of premonitions of the future and, therefore, of uncertainty - if they had known what the artists themselves did not know. What light they would have been able to throw on our researches if they had only been capable of explaining the irreducible difference between the OBJECT and the SUBJECT! Then we would soon have been able to free ourselves from that superficial meaning that has been given to the word NATURE.



What, then, were the consequences for the painters of this failure on the part of their guides and of the influence of the world about them? Do I dare say all that I think? I should remark that I have no desire whatsoever to minimise the talent of certain painters, which is very great. I am putting the question solely with regard to the idea - still vague and undefined - which has been making use of painting and which I wish to isolate as having been the operative factor at work in all our collective efforts. With regard to this idea, we have to admit that few of the Cubist painters have remained faithful; most of them have preferred, to the sacrifices it demanded, those immediate rewards which all the resources of their talent legitimately led them to expect. The disconcerting appearance of the paintings of the ten or twelve earliest years prepared the way in circles which, ever more worn out and exhausted, were searching for new sensations at any price; and this led certain of the very first Cubist painters to slide into an exaggerated subjectivism. What a contradiction between the direction proposed in the first efforts, which clearly envisage the OBJECT, and that of the works of the present day in which the talent so liberally displayed is once again put to the service of conformity to the SUBJECT, despite the ingenuity with which it is travestied or reduced to an abstraction.

It is because they were not supported in their efforts that most of the Cubist painters abandoned the dangerous path on which they had set out at the very beginning of their careers. Who really believes that the U-turns made by one or the other of them are signs of independent-mindedness and initiative? No. It wasn't through lightness of heart that the team that existed at the beginning, that had common ambitions and a common hope, broke up; rather it was under the pressure of destructive influences that worked on individual temperaments which were easily excited and therefore all the more susceptible to losing the sense of discipline. The absence of real intellectual masters, initiated into an understanding of the truth and imbued with a sense of responsibility, was the real cause of the many abandonments and defections which occurred among the painters, more intuitive than deductive by temperament, more inclined to follow their own impulses than to submit to the discipline of reasoned argument. Nothing is more clear and easy to accept than that certain researches must begin by passing through a period of heroic disorder; but, sooner or later, method must intervene if they are to assume an order and thereby realise their fullest worth. Otherwise the initiative runs out of steam and, consciously or unconsciously, the researcher, dissatisfied, returns to well-established forms, even though his faith in them has long since been dead. For his part, the critic feels freed from the sense of anxiety that Cubism had provoked. Having already proved himself incapable of uncovering the idea that was beating out its path through the different living schools that followed one another during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, he now just adds Cubism to the list and retains from it only certain individual names on which to exercise his imagination and his own talent as a writer.

And that is why, on the other hand, there was only a handful of Cubist painters who felt that they had sufficient reasons for refusing to abandon their first researches, for following them through against the winds and the tides, and for drawing out of them the most general and human conclusions possible. Were they arrogating to themselves certain privileges forbidden to painters? There has been no shortage of people prepared to say so, but nothing is less certain. History provides us with conclusive proofs that painters are sometimes able to rise to the level of Man without thereby damaging their art. On the contrary, they serve it even better in giving it an authority and power that it cannot embody if it is absorbed in superficial aesthetic pleasures or individual fantasies. And it is thus that we can justify the writings which have appeared under the names of painters together with their works - writings in which practical discoveries appear side by side with clarifications advanced in the form of theory. What could be more unjust than this label 'theorist' thrown like an anathema against the painter-writers? In the mediaeval rhythmic period, one who knew said: 'Theory is better than practice as the Intelligence is better than the body'. (8) In the guilds of that time, the master was the one who knew the theory as well as the practice; the guild-member knew only the practice; the apprentice, finally, knowing nothing, aspired to learn everything. Is it by forgetting these truths that we have achieved the progress on which we congratulate ourselves and thereby multiplied the quantity of the 'masters'?

(8) This same quotation is attributed to Boethius in Gleizes’ ‘Souvenirs' - see Albert Gleizes in 1934.