Sketches from Michele Trenti's essays

Catharsis

Appunti di Michele Trenti

We generally are inclined to recognize that what the artist creates, first and foremost, is an expression of himself, outside any particular instances of inspiration that have certainly stimulated him, yet they require of him precisely because he is already open to them and, in a manner of speaking, is "waiting" for that particular motive to be expressed. If we want to pursue the matter, we must start by observing that the artist is actually inclined to expressing not so much what is, understood as that which he has acquired and possesses, but rather that which he craves, towards that which he instinctively aspires, but which he feels that as not yet achieved, or rather as something that is missing. Doubtless, in effect, what we feel the need for—in spiritual terms—is more profoundly what "we are" with respect to what we have, the result of contingent situations rather than personal choices. Hence, the explanation of how happy, serene, or joyful works may come forth in times of severe personal crisis of the artist, and vice versa, happy periods may favor the emergence of profound, sometimes critical needs and questions. In all this we can see the Aristotelian formula of art as catharsis, if applied to the artist rather than the public user.