Can We Get Inside the Aesthetic Sensibility of the Archaic Past?
This essay is about getting inside the sensibility of the archaic past. Can we get into the creative mind of the painter ofThe Sorcerer? Can we reconstruct the sensibility of prehistoric humans? Can we recover the humor of the prehistoric artist? Can we do it? After all, sense equipment is the same in men and women of all ages, and though each age inflects its sense usages uniquely, there should remain an underlying continuity among sensibilities. Shouldn't we be able to return into earlier forms of those usages? Can we tell whether we have been successful in accomplishing that return? Can just getting inside the sensibility of the past be of use to us in our own quest for humanity? Or is there some other justification for a regression into the sensibility of the past? I tackle those questions here.