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Wassily Kandinsky on Swimming to Survive

Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Dover Publications, 1977), p. 7.

Sienkiewicz … compares the spiritual life to swimming; for the man who does not strive tirelessly, who does not fight continually against sinking, will mentally and morally go under. In this strait a man’s talent (again in the biblical sense) becomes a curse — and not only the talent of the artist, but also of those who eat this poisoned food. The artist used his strength to flatter his lower needs; in an ostensibly artistic form he present what is impure, draws the weaker elements to him, mixes them with evil, betrays men and helps them to betray themselves, while they convince themselves and others that they are spiritually thirsty, and that from this pure spring they may quench their thirst. Such art does not help the forward movement, but hinders it, dragging back those who are striving to press onward, and spreading pestilence abroad.