a difference of phase

“It follows from this that tauromachy can be taken for the typical example of an art in which the essential condition of beauty is a difference of phase, a deviation, a dissonance. No aesthetic pleasure would thus be possible without there being violation, transgression, excess and sin in relation to an ideal order serving as a rule; nevertheless absolute license, like absolute order, could only ever be an insipid abstraction devoid of meaning. Just as lurking death gives colour to life, so sin, and dissonance (which contains the seeds of, and suggests, possible destruction) confers beauty on the rule, extricates it from its state of fixed norm and turns it into an active, magnetic pole from which we move away or towards which we tend. Just as regret for lost innocence gives flavour and fragrance to vice, so order, the rule (which acts like a force of compression) is as necessary to the fulgurating blossoming of the left-sided element as is a fulcrum to the action of a lever. And so reappearing here and there in the imaginary tangential point (a limit towards which we tend, but which, like the torero, we finally avoid, a total revelation – a complete tangency to the world and to ourselves, a fusion of our entire being with the whole – only able to transpire at the instant of death) are the two ascending and descending branches of the curve, an image of that continual rocking motion which, when we perceive it clearly, strikes us with ecstasy and dizziness because it is, without doubt, the most fitting symbol of what is in truth the bedrock of our passionate life.”

(Michel Leiris, Mirror of Tauromachy, trans. Antony Melville, pp. 43–44.)

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