By Christopher Pawling
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Additional info for Christopher Caudwell: Towards A Dialectical Theory Of Literature
But this collective emotion organised by art at the tribal festival, because it sweetens work and is generated by the needs of labour, goes out again into labour to lighten it. The primitive conducts such collective tasks as hoeing, paddling, ploughing, reaping and hauling to a rhythmic chant which has an artistic content related to the needs of the task, and expressing the collective emotion behind the task. 30 Thus the work songs and harvest songs were dialectically connected, but performed different functions.
Caudwell was clearly enthusiastic about Bucher's theories, but he did not import them wholesale into the aesthetics of Illusion and Reality. He refused to accept the idea that poetry functioned merely as a rhythmic accompaniment to work. This was to ignore the element of 'illusion' which was present in all art and thus to avoid coming to terms with what he termed the 'emotional' content of poetry. Having refused to bow to the idea that poetic imagery was purely mimetic, he could not accept that its rhythmic properties were there just to provide a direct stimulus to work.
21 Harrison showed that ritual and early art were not just reflections of nature; they functioned firstly as expressions and later as organisers of emotions which were directly bound up with the social and economic life of the tribe. Thus the impulse behind ritual acts was not merely for a representation of particular occurrences but also the desire to express the individual's relationship to nature and his/her fellows. This was especially noticeable in dances done before a hunt or a war. The dance helped to discharge pent-up emotion, and the elements of mimesis were not just present for the sake of copying an actual hunt or battle, 'but for the emotion felt about the battle': Success in war or in the hunt is keenly, intensely desired.
Christopher Caudwell: Towards A Dialectical Theory Of Literature by Christopher Pawling