Peter Montgomery wrote:
>The work is a
> touchstone or proofrock. One rubs one's self against it to find if one is
> genuine or not. That is art's job. To hold the mirror up to nature.

This is a bit contradictory. If it is art's job (if art, which is not a
person, has a job) "to hold the mirror up to nature," then what the
reader has to do is to determine whether the mirror is cracked or
whether the "nature" it reflects is a put-up job or 'really' nature.

In any case, words have no meaning until someone interprets them; they
are merely black smudges against a white background. Also, the problem
with seeing "art" as a mirror up to nature is that there is considerable
dispute over the millenia as to what "nature" is, and of course the
reflection (accurate or inaccurate) is only available through the
reader's interpretation of the text.

And, of course, before the 19th century "work of art qua work of art"
would have been quite empty of meaning; I suspect that Dante,
Shakespeare, Milton, or Pope would have responded with a vacant "huh?"
to the phrase. The OED entry on it, when formatted and transferred to a
plain text e-mail post totals 41 K. A bit too long to post, but in the
examples given, the word "skill" could be easily substituted. So what
are we to say about "work of skill qua work of skill"?

Which means we have an onerous task of interpretation ahead of us before
we can even begin to discuss whether you have said anything for us to
discuss. We have to discuss what you mean by "work of art" and by
"nature." And probably we will disagree both on our interpretations and
of the validity of your claim to know "nature" (since one cannot talk
about X being reflected until one is in agreement that (a) X exists and
(b) what that X is.