Tag Archives: Aristotle

I Wasn’t Expecting a Dialogue

People tell us that Art makes us love Nature more than we loved her before; that it reveals her secrets to us; and that after a careful study of Corot and Constable we see things in her that had escaped our observation. My own experience is that the more we study Art the less we care for Nature. What art really reveals to us is Nature’s lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition. Nature has good intentions, of course, but, as Aristotle once said, she cannot carry them out. When I look at a landscape I cannot help seeing all its defects. It is fortunate for us, however, that nature is so imperfect, as otherwise we should have had no art at all. Art is our spirited protest, our gallant attempt to teach Nature her proper place.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” in Intentions (New York: Bretano’s, 1905), 1.

Notes: public versus personal opinion. Nature = Nothing. Art = All.

Why are we fortunate to have Art if Art’s only purpose is to protest Nature? If Nature were perfect, then there would be no need to protest. Wouldn’t it be better to not have a problem with anything? …If Nature were perfect would there still be Art? If so, then would it reflect Nature’s beauty and therefore make us love it more?


If Nature had been comfortable, mankind would never have invented architecture, and prefer houses to the open air. In a house we all feel of the proper proportions. Everything is subordinated to us, fashioned for our use and our pleasure. Egotism itself, which is so necessary to a proper sense of human dignity, is entirely the result of indoor life.

Notes: fixing Nature. Overriding Nature. Nature = less, a mistake. Art = more, wanted, appreciated, sensible, sophisticated, “proper,” better, purposeful.

The Indoors, Architecture, and Art itself create a new Natural state of mind — Egotism. Art is creating things Naturally — better than Nature can. Better because it is wanted, not wild.

Oscar Wilde, “The Decay of Lying,” 1.