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Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

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Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  Admin on February 4th 2009, 11:41 am

Quickwrite (10 minutes) and post

Respond to the following critical passage. What could the other "story" be?

Sam Whitsitt - A Lesson in Reading: Henry James's "The Real Thing" :
Sketching out in his Notebooks what was later to become, "The Real Thing," James wrote that the story should be, among other things, "a magnificent lesson" (104). While James did not bother to explain what that lesson might be or for whom -- or just why it might be magnificent -- James never seems to have written anything without someone being taught something by somebody. The problem for the reader, however, has always been that of figuring out who the teacher is and who the taught -- not to mention what is supposedly being taught. And such is the case with "The Real Thing." The story is about the relationships between an artist and two sets of models and clearly has its teachers and pupils, but as the history of its interpretation shows us, whether the artist teaches a lesson to a pair of be models, or the would-be models teach a lesson to the artist remains an open question, not in spite of but because critics have apparently felt compelled to decide the issue one way or the other. How one decides this issue is correlated with the level of complexity one assigns to the story. The reading that decides that the artist is the teacher also assumes that there is only one story to the story.
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The real thing

Post  Allie5491 on February 4th 2009, 1:25 pm

I think art can be more "real" than the real thing because oftentimes reality is easy to ignore. If you see a homeless man on the street it is easy to avert your eyes and forget about it, but a piece of art forces you to really look at something. Art can show you reality even if it is something you don't want to see.

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Jeffrey Levine

Post  Admin on February 4th 2009, 1:28 pm

The real thing can be art. Sometimes you do not need to embelish to create something beautiful. In The Real Thing, the real thing just happens to be bad art, but this is not always true. I mean, the models in The Real Thing are just bad, they don't need to ruin it for all of the other real things.
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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  CDuBs on February 4th 2009, 1:31 pm

The "real thing" and art itself are irrevocably connected to one another. Art often has the ability to pass real life in beauty and emotional pull. However, art would not exist without the inspiration provided by objects or situations or ideas present in real life. William Shakespeare would have had considerable writer's block if he never had a muse. More significant than either art itself or the "real thing" is the relationship between the two. The understanding which the artist has between themselves and their subject is the most complex and profound part of this equation.
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Pendle

Post  pfmh on February 4th 2009, 1:32 pm

I think that the relationship between art and "the real thing" is constantly changing. Really, art is just a way of reflecting the real thing. Tim O'Brian's style of overexaggerating the truth in his art in an effort to communicate a fundamental truth comes to mind. Sometimes, what is real is not what is true. It takes not just a depiction of the real thing to make art, but the artist's own interpretation of the art, and the artist's "giving of a soul" to the art. The artist must be able to manipulate reality to convey truth in his art.

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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  hdavis on February 4th 2009, 1:32 pm

Sam Whitsett seems to believe that Henry James was very vague in his writing of "The Real Thing". Whitsett believes that the lessons learned in this short story are not very clear, and leave a lot of interpretation, perhaps too much, up to the reader. However, in my opinion, art is a vague thing and is completely up to interpretation, and this is the way it should be. Whitsett is confused about what exactly James means by "The Real Thing". It does leave the reader puzzled about whether the models taught the artist, or the artist taught the models. In my opinion, James created this confusion on purpose. He wants to make the point that the quality which should be most valued is the extent of the human imagination, not what is truly real or not real.
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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  mgpicc on February 4th 2009, 1:33 pm

Art is a useful reasource that should be used to its full compacity. Art is what gets the message across to the audience, it gets their emotions going. Not that the real thing won't do that, but art sometimes has a way of getting the message across in a more effective way.
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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  pbr on February 4th 2009, 1:33 pm

I believe that only the real thing is real. Art is nothing but a tool used to somewhat put a different spin on reality, but it can never fully replace it. While in some cases of art, such as O'Brien, reality is twisted, distorted, and changed. The artist's purpose in that case is to make reality seem more real, yet it does not change what the audience would feel if represented with what actually happend. In the case of "The Real Thing" it reveals that art cannot replace the real thing. The monarchs cannot possibly dress up and pretend to be monarchs because they cannot represent what they are, they just are. It makes it real because it shows that the real thing will not be able to represented through a medium, it just will be.
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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  candice R on February 4th 2009, 1:34 pm

I think the writer was trying to say that sometimes the real thing is not as good as the art that someone could create which is supposed to represent something that is real. Sometimes the things that an artist can create shows a better picture and shows the true emotion of something that is real rather than having the actual thing.

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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  Giulia on February 4th 2009, 2:22 pm

Perception dictates reality and art is nothing more than our inner expression of emotions and desire. Every action we make or thought we have influences our world and the world around us in some degree, meaning that we decide and create our reality.

Imagine a world without art. There would be no world because human life is constantly changing, improving and full of emotions. There would be no meaning to do anything because everything we do is because of desires and emotions.

Female authors have changed our world with the books they have written expressing their suffering and how they have changed. They have inspired other woman that read these books and to become the woman they want. By immerging themselves in the world of the character in feminist books they come out to reality and make a new reality for them form art.

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Kate's Response

Post  kconheady on February 4th 2009, 7:31 pm

I had already posted a response, but it didn't show up! =(

Art is a representative of something real. That is what it is made to be, and done correctly, can be extremely realistic. The real thing, however, is just that- the real thing.. Perhaps it's not the exemplary example of an object, but it exists, not to model anything, but simply to exist. The Monarchs are real-life upper class citizens; they're not fit to be representations of the upper class, because they are not representations-they're real. Art has the capacity to be molded into whatever it needs to, it is embellished and glamourised, and can be used to prove a point.

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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  Atlantisbase on February 4th 2009, 9:14 pm

It is probably fair to say that art imitates life and conversely life imitates art especially it seems in this modern day, so to ask which is more real, the idea or the object, seems almost pointless. Art is the expression of an idea, regardless of what form it's in; but so too is an object the expression of an idea (this seems to lead to a bit of a chicken and egg question, which came first, the idea or the object?) Any visual art that we encounter becomes real in our minds the more it appears to be real but this sense of real is not what the image is of but rather what we perceive the image to be. So often human perception and reality diverge and we see reality perceived rather than reality as it is. That perceived reality is amplified in certain areas, made to be more than it actually is, parts filled in so that it becomes more interesting. Perhaps it’s that we fully expect art to take us out of this world, to take us to see what does not exist in our world, to show us what we want to be and so we let perception take over and see what we want to see. Being surrounded with real, tangible objects we have no desire to see the “real thing” in art. Yet so many things in this world have come from art because we desired to make them real so again, does the abstraction come first or the real thing, or does a thing similar to the object come first, yet that firstly could be called an idea and even that required an idea that was spawned by an object not made by human hands. Perhaps art is in the end perception made tangible, made visible, taken from our minds so that we might solidify it. By that thought it stands to reason that you would not desire the “real thing” for the purposes of art because the real object lacks the ability to have perception fill in the blanks that are already obviously filled, though perhaps this is also part of what the perception of the artist is. If he perceives no blanks then there are none to be portrayed.
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The Real Thing

Post  cWest on February 5th 2009, 12:59 am

Though the Monarchs are upper class and can be called "the real thing" when trying to portray kings and queens in the illustrations, they are nothing compared to Mrs. Churm. She may be poor and no where close to the aristocrats which she acted out, but through her, the painter could make art and establish the actual "real thing." This shows that though the art may not actually be "the real thing," and may be an interpretation of "the real thing," it seems more real to the viewer than the actual "real thing."

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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  zjohnson2692 on February 5th 2009, 6:35 pm

In the story "The Real Thing", the Monarchs illustrate the main problem with, well, "the real thing". The Monarchs, who were truly upper class, were too rigid in their being upper class, the way the reality of something is rigid in its own being. With art, an artist can mold a representation of reality into something "more real" or "more true". One example of this would be Tim O'Brien, who, when writing The Things They Carried took real events from his Vietnam War experience, and transformed them into stories that contained more truth than the reality, in its rigidity, ever could.

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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  Elizabeth Gombert on February 9th 2009, 12:58 am

Art is a living creature that is born out of the mind and imagination. The problem with "the real thing" is that we have become desensitized to it and do not recognize elements of reality as anything special or worthy of thourough examination or analysis. Even when artists are working to achieve the highest standard of verisimilitude, their work will get more attention than the actual object in reality that they were trying to portray simply because what the artist has produced is art and thereby is assumed to have a deeper meaning or message attatched to it. Tim O'Brien is a true example. His stories resonate with the reader more deeply because they have been crafted to evoke a response from the reader and because they are not tied by the limiting cords of truth.

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Re: Wed. "The Real Thing" Art vs. Life

Post  Meghan43 on February 9th 2009, 3:22 pm

I think that the lesson here is that art can be just as real as "real life" ot in many aspects, more acceptable than "real life". When we look at a piece of art it gives us a freedom to interepret what we want. Or in some cases it's just a very accurate depiction of it's subject. In "The Real Thing" you get the sense that the best art is art that is "made up". The artist struggles with the way these perfect beings make such wonderful pictures but those who are not at all perfect but have a quality that can be molded often make the best, most amusing pictures. With art we are able to imagine what other things can be but in our real world we can't usually sit back and think everything is fine or there aren't any conflicts. Most people can't deal with the reality of life but with art we are able to see exactly what we wish to see, which makes it more enjoyable. Smile
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