Art destined to live has the aspect of a truth of nature, not of some coldly worked out experimental discovery.
Eugenio Montale, quoted by James. This is not a condemnation of experimentation, but an observation about the relationship between an experiment’s purpose and its result’s endurance. The purpose must not be the experiment itself.
Milan Kundera said that the “sole raison d’être of the novel is to discover what only the novel can discover. A novel that does not discover a hitherto unknown segment of existence is immoral. Knowledge is the novel’s only morality.”
As a fan of much abstract and experimental art, Kundera echoes Montale: both assert that whatever the formal nature or concerns of a work, its attention and aesthetic must be directed towards apprehending or expressing something like knowledge or truth, and in a new way. The truth pursued is existential, experiential, human, by and large; this is the most important sort. Indeed, Kundera says that the obligation to seek it is moral and that art which fails to meet this standard is not just “pulp” or “ordinary” or “bad” but in fact immoral.
This is radical among men as modern as they because it is so traditional; in my view, it is also true.