Artifacts of Transcendence: Theatre Art and Human Knowing, A Christian-Humanist Vista
The eighteenth century birth of philosophical Aesthetics, the so-called “German Science,” recognized the arts, in a very biblical way, as an alternate form of knowledge which existed in tandem with that of technology and science. As that century waned, however, Friedrich Schiller, in his essay On the Aesthetic Education of Man, argued that a change was occurring in culture: as science and technology evolved, human beings were becoming fragmented and were increasingly becoming dominated by the imprint of their technologies, with the concurrent loss of the knowledge provided by the arts. In the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin, in the midst of the massive change Schiller had foreseen, expressed a concern that this devaluation of the arts was both a loss of happiness and was, possibly, injurious to the intellect. By the twentieth century Carl Jung could describe matters both spiritual and aesthetic as “the undiscovered self,” expressing the belief that without them there were doors of our common humanity which could not be opened. Moving from the specific to the general, this presentation will look at a theatre epistemology, from Aristotle to Stanislavsky, which will once again posit the nature of the arts, generally, as a way of human knowing. From that pinnacle an historical panorama will be surveyed which will suggest a Christian-humanist understanding of how artworks function in the realm of human knowing and how individual works of art can, collectively, serve as cultural markers in the even larger task of metaphysical knowing.
A Christian-humanist scholar and theatre artist, Dr. Lloyd Arnett has an MA and an earned doctorate in Theatre Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and has taught at Pitt, Penn State University, and Trinity Western University. As a professional actor his work has included three seasons with The Three Rivers ShakespeareFestival, and work in radio, television, and on two films for Paramount. He has been a dramaturg, director and playwright and has served on the boards of two professional theatres and as board chair for Christians in Theatre Arts. As a scholar Dr. Arnett has guest-lectured at numerous colleges and universities. His articles, reviews, and editorials have appeared in such journals as Theatre Studies, Modern Drama, Integrité, and Christian Drama, the latter of which he also served as editor. His dissertation was the first-ever survey of American playwriting manuals (UMI Research Press, 1997). In 2001 Arnett placed discovered documents of actor Ludwig Stössel, of the Austrian-Hollywood Connection and the movie Casablanca, with Filmarchiv Austria in Vienna. From 2005-2008 he was on the editorial jury of the Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance. In 2007 he worked in Israel on the television documentary, The Original Promise. In 2008 he edited an anthology of his liturgical drama, Angels and Other New Plays for the Church. Most recently he contributed a chapter to Christian Worldview and the Academic Disciplines (2009). He is also a member of the Doctrinal Commission of the Anglican Network in Canada and has published two works for the Anglican Essentials movement.