VIEWSnA MOUSE OR A PROMETHEUS by Gojko DjogonIt is said that whatever theme a poet chooses to dealnwith—the insignificance of a mouse or Prometheus’nheroic deed—what really matters is the ways in which ancertain reality, certain feelings, and certain events arentransposed into a poetic image. There are few objechons tonthis opinion—it is supported by many works of art and by ansense of a general desecration of the world and the debasementnof everything sublime. The greatest accomplishmentsnof our time are unfailingly programmed in laboratories,nwhile our heroes are mass-produced in advertising bureaus.nMyths are no longer innocent stories about miracles, nornare heroes any longer mortals with divine gifts. ThenS-i ‘^. , ‘•’ 1- ‘ •»n•IT #’ffi’. •• isis;#^’:••;.>•..n^}n•i.^’^iieia^.”;n• ^-”wi.n14 I CHRONICLESnGojko Djogo is a Serb poet who was sentenced in 1981 tontwo years imprisonment in Yugoslavia for writing sixnpoems considered slanderous of Marshal Tito.nnnawareness of human infirmity and the lost hope that life cannbe made more sacred generates a widespread anxiety andnfear syndrome. This has its effect in spiritual spheres asnwell. A mouse in its hole acquires an ever-growing symbolicnimportance and becomes a paradigm for the social andnexistential status of man.nThe relation between reality and its artistic image isnindeed the most complex problem of the whole theory ofnart. If art is not a reproduction, a mere reflection of reality,nneither is it something completely independent. The argumentnabout mimesis, which began in antiquity, is stillnunresolved.nAristotle advised Protogenes, the painter who was makingna portrait of his mother, to take the heroic deeds ofnAlexander the Great for his subject—deeds the whole worldnwas talking about then, and which it was easily predictablenthe world to come would also be interested in. In Aristotle’snview, not all themes were equally valuable, and the artistnhad to choose those which would attract attention even in anremote future. Protogenes would not take his advice; henthought, as many among us still do, that themes andnsubjects cannot be graded according to the quantity ofninformation they contain about a certain time.nDid the ancient painter make a mistake? If nothing else,nhad he listened, the portrait of Alexander the Great in ournhistory textbooks might bear his signature; perhaps at leastnone of his works would have survived—although they werensaid to be so beautiful that Demetrius declined to storm ancertain city, for fear that a Protogenes painting might bendamaged in the attack. However, there are more seriousnreasons not to disregard Aristotle’s advice. If art is antestimony and a specific mirror of history—an assertionnmany today agree with—then we should not forget thatnAlexander’s accomplishments were the crucial determinantsnof his time and that they offered to the artist morenpossibilities to “capture” the Helenic spirit and to expressnhimself as a creator and a witness than possibly any otherncontemporary subject.nWe can only conclude that art has to deal with thenimportant, with that which is a sign of recognition of ancertain time, and which essentially determines our life.nThat crucial something that art speaks of is influenced,namong other things, by the theme art chooses to deal with.nWhen literature is in question, what is understood by thentheme includes not only the subject but also that basicnspiritual center which unifies and generates all meaningn