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Towards an archaeology of modernism

’s American Pastoral.5 At first blush, this might seem a strange choice since Adorno’s aesthetic theory is informed by the classic works of high modernism – Beckett, Kafka, Berg, Picasso – and it is the works of these artists that unquestionably best exemplify Adorno’s thought. But it is less clear that reflection on these artists will illuminate the social question. On the reading of American Pastoral I will offer its representational content, the categories practically informing its representational world themselves undergo the dialectic of spleen and ideal, hence

in The new aestheticism

status therefore primarily derives from its universality. His aesthetic theory becomes an inverted Platonism. Whereas, in the Republic at least, Plato attacks art for only representing the single object, not the Idea, Schopenhauer maintains that art is the only locus in which the Idea can be represented. The higher truth becomes attainable by eliminating the illusion that the subject could relate to a world which means something essential to it qua sensuous subject. This elimination requires a relationship to things of disinterested contemplation which takes one beyond

in Aesthetics and subjectivity

aesthetic theory, particularly in the Marxist tradition. Hegel’s description of music is also echoed in Foucault’s Mallarmé-derived notion of the ‘act of writing that designates nothing other than itself ’. Hegel, though, draws the opposite conclusion to Foucault about the value of such an act. In the section of the Aesthetics on ‘Independent Music’, music without words, Hegel claims: ‘Subjective inwardness constitutes the principle of music. But the most inward part of the concrete self is subjectivity as such, not determined by any firm content and for this reason not

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
David Lloyd’s work

the subject progresses from a condition of immediate sensual gratification to the capacity for identity with others. For Lloyd, racism is structural to this trajectory. As his reasoning is important here, it is necessary to quote a long passage: chapter7 21/12/04 130 11:19 am Page 130 Postcolonial theoretical politics it is … the establishment of a peculiar and historically specific social form, the public sphere as defined in aesthetic theory, as the end of humanity, that defines the logical structure of racist discourses. For this reason, it is possible for

in Postcolonial contraventions
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diversity against ethnocentrism tends to suggest? One way of indicating why such a perspective may not be as questionable as is often claimed is apparent in the following argument, from Aesthetic Theory, against the ‘private’ relativisation of aesthetic judgement: Shoulder-shrugging aesthetic relativism is for its part a piece of reified consciousness; [it is] less melancholic scepticism against one’s own insufficiency than resentment against the claim to truth of art which alone would legitimate that greatness of artworks without whose fetish [i.e. the fetish of greatness

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
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Hamlet, adaptation and the work of following

earliest conjunctures through which to view an emergent relationship between literary criticism and aesthetic theory in something approximating to a modern European context.19 Yet it is, as Bate reminds us, in Germany that early English literary criticism marks perhaps its most complex antecedent relationship in providing a crucial developmental spur to ‘the growth of what we now think of as Romantic aesthetics’.20 Such is the impact of the playwright’s work that by 1812 Friedrich Schlegel observes: ‘German Shakespeare translations [have] transformed the native tongue

in The new aestheticism

the clear conceptualisation of artistic work in industry proved to be a key question of the post-Stalin aesthetic regime of arts. The philosopher (and future human rights activist) Boris Shragin immediately responded to the Matsa–Gorpenko debate, arguing that aesthetic theory in general tends to fall behind the development of technology and material culture and could not keep up with the rapid changes of recent decades. The result, he argued, was a paradoxical situation: his colleagues could admire machines and practical household objects as human beings, but they

in Comradely objects
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Towards a contemporary aesthetic

certain respects cognitive, that is, possessing a truth or knowledge content. Such an account is associated most immediately with Adorno22 but again, has a longer, quite conventional history both as working assumption and as theory. Even conservative aesthetic theories embrace it, for example those, including neoclassicism, which regard art as offering generalised, universal truths about the world, though once again the question as to what kind of truth is being offered is one too few stop to answer or even ask. Arguably art has more often than not been assumed to possess

in The new aestheticism
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Beckett and nothing: trying to understand Beckett

tradition) and mobilises them in order to see how Beckett can speak to contemporary criticism aiming at recuperating affect in literature and culture. This is seen as a viable notion able to overcome some of the dead-ends of post-structuralism without forgetting how these have been fruitful forms of critique to widely held humanist assumptions. Bill Prosser (Chapter 5) looks at something that has remained a ‘nothing’ within the Beckett canon so far: his doodles as they appear in the Human Wishes manuscript. Prosser uses them to interrogate aesthetic theory and questions a

in Beckett and nothing
Fichte, Hölderlin and Novalis

of self-consciousness to what can be said about the world of objects. It is this exploration which helps lead, via a very complex route (see Frank 1997), to Romanticism and beyond – even as far as to the contemporary philosophy of mind (see Frank 1991) – as well as to some of the most important ideas in aesthetic theory that we shall be looking at later. Reflections on the subject 71 Günter Zöller has remarked in his valuable book on Fichte that ‘As any reader of Fichte knows, criticizing him comes easy; the hard part is making him intelligible’ (Zöller 1998 p. 6

in Aesthetics and subjectivity