Genius in art, as in everything else, is the result of the harmonious cultivation and synchronous action of both characteristics of the dual mind.
In art, as in poetry, the undue predominance of the subjective mind is apt to work disastrously. No better illustration of this is now recalled than is furnished by the works of Fuseli or of Blake:-
"Look," says Dendy,1 "on those splendid illustrations of the Gothic poets by the eccentric, the half-mad Fuseli. Look on the wild pencillings of Blake, another poet-painter, and you will be assured that they were ghost-seers. An intimate friend of Blake has told me the strangest tales of his visions. In one of his reveries he witnessed the whole ceremony of a fairy's funeral, which he peopled with mourners and mutes, and described with high poetic beauty. He was engaged, in one of these moods, in painting King Edward I., who was sitting to him for his picture. While they were conversing, Wallace suddenly presented himself on the field, and by this uncourteous intrusion marred the studies of the painter for that day. . . . Blake was a visionary," continues our author, "and thought his fancies real; he was mad".
1 Philosophy of Mystery, p. 93.
The writer once knew an artist who had the power to enter the subjective condition at will; and in this state he could cause his visions to be projected upon the canvas before him. He declared that his mental pictures thus formed were perfect in detail and color, and all that he had to do to fix them was to paint the corresponding colors over the subjective picture. He, too, thought his fancies real; he believed that spirits projected the pictures upon the canvas.
The foregoing cases represent a class of artists whose subjective faculties are uncontrolled by the objective mind, - an abnormal condition, which, if it found expression in words instead of pigments, would stamp the subject as a candidate for the lunatic asylum.
Fortunately, most artists have their fancies more under control; or, more properly speaking, they are aware that their visions are evoked by their own volition. This power varies with different individuals, but all true artists possess it in a greater or less degree. An extraordinary manifestation of this power is reported by Combe. The artist was noted for the rapidity of his work, and was extremely popular on account of the fidelity of his portraits, and especially because he never required more than one sitting of his patron. His method, as divulged by himself, was as follows:-
"When a sitter came, I looked attentively on him for half an hour, sketching from time to time on the canvas. I did not require a longer sitting. I removed the canvas and passed to another person. When I wished to continue the first portrait, I recalled the man to my mind. I placed him on the chair, where I perceived him as distinctly as though really there, and, I may add, in form and color more decidedly brilliant. I looked from time to time at the imaginary figure, and went on painting, occasionally stopping to examine the picture exactly as though the original were before me; whenever I looked towards the chair I saw the man".
In this way he was enabled to paint over three hundred portraits in one year.
It is seldom that subjective power is manifested in this particular manner. It may be added, however, that, given an artist for a subject, the same phenomena can be reproduced at will by the ordinary processes of hypnotism. The most common manifestations of the power are not so easily recognized or distinguished from ordinary mental activity; but every artist will bear witness that there are times when he works with extraordinary ease and rapidity, when the work almost seems to do itself, when there seems to be a force outside of himself which impels him on, when, to use the common expression to define the mental condition, he feels that he is "inspired." It is then that the artist does his best work. It is under these mental conditions that his work is characterized by that subtle, indefinite charm vaguely expressed by the word "feeling".
Another class of persons who possess the faculty of evoking at will the powers of the subjective mind are the great orators, such as Patrick Henry, Charles Phillips the Irish orator, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and many others, to say nothing of that numerous class of purely subjective orators known to spiritists as trance, or inspirational, speakers. The student of the life of Patrick Henry will not fail to see that his whole history is an illustration of the pertinency of these remarks. It is related of Clay that on one occasion he was unexpectedly called upon to answer an opponent who had addressed the Senate on a question in which Clay was deeply interested. The latter felt too unwell to reply at length. It seemed imperative, however, that he should say something; and he exacted a promise from a friend, who sat behind him, that he would stop him at the end of ten minutes. Accordingly, at the expiration of the prescribed time the friend gently pulled the skirts of Mr. Clay's coat. No attention was paid to the hint, and after a brief time it was repeated a little more emphatically. Still Clay paid no attention, and it was again repeated. Then a pin was brought into requisition; but Clay was by that time thoroughly aroused, and was pouring forth a tor rent of eloquence.
The pin was inserted deeper and deeper into the orator's leg without eliciting any response until his friend gave it up in despair. Finally Mr. Clay happened to glance at the clock, and saw that he had been speaking two hours; whereupon he fell back into his friend's arms, completely overcome by exhaustion, upbraiding his friend severely for not stopping him at the time prescribed.
The fact that Mr. Clay, on that occasion, made one of the ablest speeches of his life, two hours in length, at a time when he felt almost too ill to rise to his feet, and that his body at the time was in a condition of perfect anesthesia, is a splendid illustration of the synchronous action of the two minds, and also of the perfect control exercised by the subjective mind over the functions and sensations of the body.
There is, perhaps, no better description on record of the sensations of a speaker, when the synchronous action of the two minds is perfect, than that given by Daniel Webster. A friend had asked him how it happened that he was able, without preparation, to make such a magnificent effort when he replied to Hayne. The reply was (quoting from memory) substantially as follows: "In the first place, I have made the Constitution of the United States the study of my life; and on that occasion it seemed to me that all that I had ever heard or read on the subject under discussion was passing like a panorama before me, arranged in perfectly logical order and sequence, and that all I had to do was to cull a thunderbolt and hurl it at him".
Two important conclusions are deducible from the premises here laid down. The first is that it is essential to the highest mental development that the objective and subjective faculties be cultivated harmoniously, if the latter are cultivated at all.
The second conclusion is of the most transcendent interest and importance. It is that the subjective mind should never be allowed to usurp control of the dual mental organization. Important as are its functions and transcenden,wers are its powers, it is hedged about with such limitations t it must be subjected to the imperial control of the objectied mind, which alone is endowed with the power to reason by all methods.
To sum up in a few words: To believe in the reality of subjective visions is to give the subjective mind control of the dual mental organization; and to give the subjective mind such control is for Reason to abdicate her throne. The suggestions of the subjective mind then become the controlling power. The result, in its mildest form of manifestation, is a mind filled with the grossest superstitions, - a mind which, like the untutored mind of the savage, "sees God in clouds, and hears him in the wind." Its ultimate form of manifestation is insanity.