…on talent versus predisposition”

“When each comes forth from his mother’s womb, the gate of gifts closes behind him.”

I was reading some other words by Emerson (quelle surprise!), which recalled this assertion from “Fate.” Now, on art forms; he posits that the words and verse which emanate from the Orator or Poet are not orchestrated by him; rather, these manifestations of the Eternal Mind find him.

“In eloquence, The great triumphs of the art are, when the Orator is lifted above himself; when consciously he makes himself the mere tongue of the occasion and the hour, and says what cannot but be said.”

“Good poetry could not have been otherwise written than it is. The first time you hear it, it sounds rather as if copied out of some invisible tablet in the Eternal Mind, than as if arbitrarily composed by the Poet.”

~ Emerson, “Art”

Emerson distinguished what he called abandonment: self-surrender; a condition in which the Artist releases himself to be unconditionally shepherded by his art. In this circumstance, a thought or idea is the original art, and the physical piece becomes a reproduction of it.

“There is but one reason. The mind that made the world is not one mind but the mind.”

~ Emerson, “Art”

All art is ostensibly the product of Nature, which Emerson conceived advances itself through man; and as such, admiration of art heightens our awareness of Nature.

As an atheist, I chide the concept of fate; and in his essay entitled the same, Emerson offers the means to overcome and circumvent outward fate; and in like vein, Gethyn termed artistic prominence predisposition, and holds that with time and practice, advanced levels of technical ability can be achieved.

My scepticism notwithstanding, I support the position that artistic ability is in some manner inherent, albeit sharpened with practice.

4 thoughts on “…on talent versus predisposition”

  1. “Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him.” -Emerson, Self-Reliance

    As a Christian I always liked this quote. The passage continues on for much greater detail, but it just shows that we’re filled with possibilities that we can only accomplish if we are ourselves and push to achieve them. That the true masters of the world weren’t taught by others to be who they became, they became such through their own God given talents. That we already have all that we need within us. Sure we at some point we do learn from others, but we shouldn’t stop ourselves at just that. It’s like my art. I’ve learned technique from others on how to get certain looks, but the art itself is my own. I don’t copy someone else’s artwork.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Imitation is suicide.” You beautifully articulated your position! In your quote, he goes on to say that he who imitates only half-owns his creation. And you palpably trust yourself and your gifts. I have read your articles and you do have a gift for the written word. Another empowering quote for your talented and and inspirationally confident self:

      “I have no expectation that any man will read history aright, who thinks that what was done in a remote age, by men whose names have resounded far, has any deeper sense that what he is doing today.”

      ~ Emerson, “History”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, thank you! It’s always nice to hear that someone appreciates what I write. Especially coming from someone who clearly is a well-read person with their own talent for writing.

        Liked by 1 person

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