How Did the Symbolists Present the Human Experience
Symbolism was an art movement that focused on the value of the imagination in visualizing art, against the gritty backdrop of realism and naturalism. For symbolists, meaning must be existent in more than one level. For symbolists, symbols are markers of what there is to know about a certain ideas and concepts and these symbols pave the way for greater understanding and how to make sense of the world around us.
Symbolists primarily stood by the idea that art is able to embody absolute truths that cannot be perceived directly. Through symbols, these absolute truths about life and the world are given form; through both visual art and poetry. Symbolism also means dealing with the concept of the “Ideal” and how this specific “Ideal” is delivered to audiences in a form that easier to digest and perceive.
Art and Poetry in the Realm of Symbolism
Many famous names, mostly French artists and writers, led Symbolism as a significant art movement that veered away from the heaviness of realism and the grounded aspect of naturalism. For these people, the human experience cannot be defined by material and tangible truths that can be directly translated into art and poetry. Rather, the human experience itself is filled with symbolic details that is up to people to understand and comprehend, making sure that all these symbols are associated with different forms of meaning-making.
Symbolist poetry welcomed the rise of free verse. For symbolist poets, form can be something that restricts art therefore fluidity was required in making more sense of the human experience. Further, imagery of symbolist poetry focused on the existence of the soul of the poet; mastery of language was a tool in which synesthesia can be achieved. Synesthesia is an ability to experience secondary and involuntary sensory experience through the stimulation of one cognitive pathway. In short, this phenomenon lets people to feel more than what they usually do as they witness art or read poetry. This is the ways symbolists perceive the human experience; through multiple lenses that facilitate a multi-faceted way of perceiving human life. For them, human life is not about singular experiences and this is enough reason why there is a need to reorient our senses with how to respond to things that cultivate the soul such as art and poetry.
Meaning, for symbolists, is something that is important to convey properly. Symbols are what makes meaning more memorable and if this is applied to the larger context of life, it is easier to understand how we experience life, differently. In contextualizing symbols, symbols are easy to see everywhere. In art and poetry, symbols fascinate us because through them, we are able to explore more ways of experiencing both the beauty and harshness of life. Symbolism tends to integrate surrealism and romanticism in order to gain a middle ground and still be in touch with reality and at the same time trying to scourge for more meanings in order to gain more perspectives about different things in the world.
The human experience indeed is perceived differently by different people. The symbolists, as part of an art movement, are only part and parcel of the many who saw art as the core of humanity. It is true that it is through art that we are able to be in touch with even the most trivial details of our personal and collective human experiences. For symbolists, it is the symbols that are able to speak for us and it is also the symbols that we continuously go over, leaving no rock unturned for them in order to make sense of it all, in order to know if this is what truly life is.