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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/848

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

sonal qualities contribute to their success; but in this case there is no possible connection between the disposition of the cards and the qualities of the player. These associations are generally based upon supposed experiences, in which, besides the impossibility of securing exact observations, we commit the mistake of confounding coincidences with causal relations. We need not be surprised at them. They are incident to the relations of men with one another, and are confirmed by false observations and tradition, and they are what give its special character to each epoch.

These typical errors are not only met in the domain of common life; preserving their character, they possess the highest spheres of our activity, art and science; and in those domains we can see the fundamental difference between these two modes of the mind's action. While in science, the object of which is the truth, every error involves mischievous consequences, in art, which looks to the beautiful, illusion has full play, and in many instances even forms the basis of the best conceptions. Thus, in architecture, a balcony supported on slender bars of iron does not offer a pleasant appearance to us, while we are ready to admire the same structure if it rests upon shapely brackets of stone projecting to an equal distance from the wall. The apparent disproportion between the structure and the support in the former case is an artistic fault. It does not lie, however, in the calculations of the architect, which may be perfect, but in the "instinctive" judgment of the speaker. The prejudice is so general that architects often dress slender supports of iron with false brackets of plaster that will convey a more agreeable impression.

The psychological origin of this prejudice is found in our familiarity, from experience, and from having seen it used in buildings, with the solidity of stone, while we are not so well acquainted with the equivalent strength of less massive iron. In most cases the impression of solidity agrees with the sense of beauty, while the apparent disproportion of iron supports grates upon it. The balcony continues to look unwieldy even after we have become assured that the iron bars are amply strong. Our sense of beauty, therefore, rests upon an illusion in the presence of which it can not adapt itself to the particular case; but it is an illusion that every artist ought to regard. Such illusions are common in all art.

The proposition, "Style is the concordance of an artistic work with the history of its development, with all the circumstances of its production," which is elucidated in Gottfried Semper's work on "Style," defines the psychologic basis of every artistic production. For a work can have style only as it is in harmony with the mass of associations, mostly unconscious, which the spectator forms on the subject of its composition. This is why a majolica