Proust wrote that artists recreate the world, which survives “until a new artist arises” (quoted in Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy , 200). Polanyi agrees, but thinks that Proust’s admission that this process is “not always pleasant” is too gentle:
“We are shocked by the offer of an unfamiliar system purporting to be meaningful. When the public is pressed to enter the new framework so as to discover its meaning, their bewilderment turns into indignation. They are outraged by the respect paid to what seems to them deserving of contempt and angry at the implied contempt for their own standards of excellent. There were scenes of violence around the exhibitions of the early Impressionists in Paris. There was a fighting in the Parisian audiences of Stravinsky in 1913 and similar disturbances had occurred in various countries at the first performance of some of Wagner’s operas. In such conflicts the two sides of actually fighting for their lives, or at least part of their lives. For in the existence of each there is an area which can kept in being only by denying to an area in the existence of the other.”
In part this is because each new artistic movement not only does something fresh but demands a reevaluation of the whole history of art: “New movements of art include a re-appreciation of their ancestry and a corresponding shift in the valuation of all other artistic achievements of the past” (201).