Art can make the universe seem more alive. Theophile Gautier used to say that he was a man for which the exterior world existed, whereas Jacques Riviere said that for him, the interior world was more important, it was the one which counted, which existed. They may both be right. If we are to consider Baudelaire's definition of pure art, we may say that art indeed can create some sort of suggestive magic which may include both the object and the subject, the world outside the artist, his inner world as well as the artist himself. These are some of the ideas expressed by Henri Delacroix in his book entitled "The Psychology of the Art". He also says that art comes to replace the utilitarian perspective on things with the visionary perspective.
By the utilitarian perspective, the author means action and knowledge, the practical life, the world of perceptions - signs we may ignore because they are only a means towards knowledge and action. The utilitarian perspective does not actually pay too much attention to the world in general. On the contrary, it envisions the world from a rather deforming perspective. Delacroix states that we must animate the world in order to get in touch with it. And without art, man would be deprived of an entire world. Art is a sort of pause in the blind march which can cancel our interior or exterior perception in favor of what that march stands for or represents.
Art can be seen as the world in its concrete realization, integrated within the spirit in its whole capacity to act and to perceive. And the utilitarian perspective only represents a deviation of this, based on the biological or social utility. Art can bring man back to the path from which the social or biological utility had taken him away. Art can awaken a very powerful kind of virtual world, which life itself had canceled. Our consciousness is apparently organized by organizing in itself creatures and things, starting from an undifferentiated chaos in which the virtual variants of the ego and the non-ego get mixed up. Delacroix also says that we are not closed inside our very own practical ego. Sympathy is possible because we hold on to things because we hold on to ourselves. That is because we are what we are not, just because we are. Furthermore, our creating capacities and energies exceed the useful appearances to which they may seem to be reduced.
The thing art does is to re-shape and re-construct the spiritual energy or substance it has already sent to the outside world. Art needs a spiritual world, in fact in needs the whole world to be as a common spirit. The world of art is a creation of the spirit and in it the harmony of the spiritual life can manifest.
According to Delacroix, aesthetics of life can be unsatisfying. Everybody agrees to the fact that art is a manifestation of energies. Also, we all may share the idea that beauty can stimulate and entertain life, that there is in art a certain degree of spending and also something related to the idea of hierarchy of things according to the aesthetic principles. In certain ages, this doctrine of exuberance and spontaneity happily opposes the schematics and dryness which characterized conventions and academic spirit.
However, the doctrines of life often got lost in confusion and vagueness, and in order to signify something, they need to be defined. Thus, the feeling of life always had to be defined in order for it to gain an aesthetic value. Art is a way of thinking which can be realized and accomplished and not merely an expanding fecundity, not just an impulse, a lawless invention. We can animate things by our very own life and at the same time, we animate ourselves when coming into contact with things, we submit ourselves to their power of suggestion. It is a game of ego and non-ego, of constraints and freedom.
Reality never offers us an already shaped and constructed aesthetic fact which we would only have to extract from it. Delacroix stresses the idea that art is fabrication and artifice. Thus, it is quite distinct from what we call the real world. It is a construction of obedient and expressive forms.