Images of Water and the Sea in Tristan L’ Hermite’s “La Mer” and in Painting

Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 63)


Seascapes and water in baroque poetry and painting often portray disquiet and portend disruption, disaster, and chaos. Skepticism and pessimism characterize this outlook in which man no longer exists as the highlight and center of a closed universe leading to eternal salvation. As late as the mid-seventeenth century, Pascal, in Les Pensées, states that man cannot acquire certain knowledge outside his own experiences. He describes man as existing in an incommensurable infinity of eternal silence. According to Pascal, man bases his uncertain certainty on uncertainty.1 Sponde’s Sonnet XI “Et quel bien de la mort” emphasizes the poet’s recognition of the illogical pattern of life. The poet’s voice is divided between resignation and rebellion as he questions: “C’est benediction que de vivre, pourquoy nous fais-tu mourir?” The query’s basic contradiction is overcome only by an act of faith in God and the belief in the reward of eternal salvation which bypasses reason and exists as an uncertain certainty.2 Baroque creative artists juxtapose the ephemerality of human existence with the eternal presence of the four elements: land, air, fire, and water.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Michigan UniversityUSA

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