This week I was interested in our discussion of the connections between sin and wickedness with art, criticism, and attractiveness. I think art is a way to work through what it is that makes wickedness attractive, because curiosity is a compulsion to learn more, a sense of mystery and the unknown, and art is a way to represent things which seem mysterious to us. I think poetry in particular is capable of helping us understand elements of things we don’t understand and that we might be slightly afraid of. I remember back in my Intro to Literary Studies class, it was mentioned that poems are only about three things: love, death, and God, because people struggle to represent these notions linearly. The unique structure and figurative language utilized by poets can often paint a clearer picture of obscure or convoluted ideas.
I am looking forward to thinking about Wilde’s poetry and other work with this idea in mind, particularly thinking about the ways art touches the critic rather than being an expression of the artist. How will Wilde’s work challenge us to think of big picture concepts like love, death, and God? He already is using religious vocabulary to discuss art and criticism, so I am interested to see how religion plays out in his work. I am expecting a continued emphasis on curiosity, in particular the “indignant curiosity” that we discussed last week and the connections between what is suspicious and what is attractive. In what ways is art capable of making wickedness seem attractive? I am looking forward to reading more of Wilde’s work to see how the arguments in “The Critic as Artist” play out in his actual art.