Tag Archives: Saul Bellow

A Tool An Instrument

Worldview, Apollo 11

Worldview, Apollo 11

Saul Bellow in his 1987 Bennington College address Summations refers to Osip Mandelstam’s comment that “a worldview is a tool and instrument, like a hammer in the hands of a stonemason.” The average reader, Bellow goes on to say, looks always for the worldview, thinking it is everything, filing away the summation, its neat, little abstractions. I would say, many writers, too, make the mistake of fixating upon the worldview, the struggle to achieve an understanding of one’s experience that is not derivative from the prevailing one, a mere reflection of the already thought and written, though so much writing merely reflects the fads of the academy and literati.

Osip Mandelstam and Bellow are right. It is the hammer in the hand of the genuine artist or poet. Painfully, laboriously forged, the tool, once achieved, is no longer to the poet what is of first importance. The work of art, beyond the abstractions and the banalities of “a worldview,” reigns supreme, leads to new states of consciousness that cannot be summed up. They are what art is about.

Art transcends worldview.

Frederick Glaysher

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