The Naturalists object that the events of men’s lives are inconclusive, diffuse
and seldom fall into the clear-cut, dramatic situations required by a plot
structure. This is predominantly true—and this is the chief esthetic argument
against the Naturalist position. Art is a selective recreation of reality,
its means are evaluative abstractions, its task is the concretization of
metaphysical essentials. To isolate and bring into clear focus, into a single
issue or a single scene, the essence of a conflict which, in “real life,” might
be atomized and scattered over a lifetime in the form of meaningless clashes,
to condense a long, steady drizzle of buckshot into the explosion of a
blockbuster—that is the highest, hardest and most demanding function of art.
To default on that function is to default on the essence of art and to engage
in child’s play along its periphery.