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Improvisation is usually either lionized as an ecstatic experience of being in the moment or disparaged as the thoughtless recycling of cliches. Eschewing both of these orthodoxies, "The Philosophy of Improvisation" ranges across the arts - from music to theater, dance to comedy - and considers the improvised dimension of philosophy itself in order to elaborate an innovative concept of improvisation. Gary Peters turns to many of the major thinkers within continental philosophy - including Heidegger, Nietzsche, Adorno, Kant, Benjamin, and Deleuze - offering readings of their reflections on improvisation and exploring improvisational elements within their thinking. Peters' wry, humorous style offers an antidote to the frequently overheated celebration of freedom and community that characterizes most writing on the subject. Expanding the field of what counts as improvisation, "The Philosophy of Improvisation" will be welcomed by anyone striving to comprehend the creative process.
One of the most influential scholars of the Renaissance, Pietro Bembo (1470-1547) gained fame not only for his literary theory and poetry, but for his incredible collection of art and antiquities. Drawing on anecdotes from Bembo's letters and unpublished archival material, Susan Nalezyty analyzes how Bembo's collection functioned as a source of inspiration for artists like Titian and writers like Giovanni della Casa. As visitors to the collection marveled at the quality and variety of the displayed objects, Bembo encouraged investigations into the ways in which contemporary art compared with ancient objects. Often straddling the line between the visual and literary worlds, these critical discussions catalyzed artistic experiments that led to new modes of creative expression. This generously illustrated volume brings Bembo's collection to life and reveals its key role in the development of Renaissance artistic philosophy and historical study of the classical past.
This book examines the ways that Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy adopt and reconfigure the Kantian understanding of "aesthetic presentation." In Kant, "aesthetic presentation" is understood in a technical sense as a specific mode of experience within a typology of different spheres of experience. This study argues that Heidegger, Lacoue-Labarthe, and Nancy generalize the elements of this specific mode of experience so that the aesthetic attitude and the vocabulary used by Kant to describe it are brought to bear on things in general. The book goes beyond documenting the well-known influence of Kant's Critique of Judgment, however, to open up a new way of approaching some of the central issues in post-Kantian thought-including why it is that art, the art work, and the aesthetic are still available as a vehicle of critique even, or especially, after Auschwitz. It shows that a genealogy of contemporary theory needs to look at the question of presentation, which has arguably been a question that has worried philosophy from its very beginning.
What makes a musical work profound? What is it about pure instrumental music that the listener finds attractive and rewarding? In addressing these questions, Peter Kivy continues his highly regarded exploration of the philosophy of musical aesthetics. He considers here what he believes to be the most difficult subject of all "just plain music; music unaccompanied by text, title, subject, program, or plot; in other words, music alone."
Throughout the history of the Western world, countless attempts have been made to define beauty in art and life, especially with regard to women's bodies and faces. "Facing Beauty" examines concepts of female beauty in terms of the ideal and the real, investigating paradigms of beauty as represented in art and literature and how beauty has been enhanced by cosmetics and hairstyles.
This thought-provoking book discusses the shifting perceptions of female beauty, concentrating on the period from about 1540 to 1940. It begins with the Renaissance, when a renewed emphasis on the individual was reflected in the celebration of beauty in the portraits of the day. The fluid, sensual lines of the Baroque period initiated a shift toward a more "natural" look, giving way in the 18th century to a more stylized and artificial face, a mask of ideal beauty. By the late 19th century, commercial beauty preparations had become more readily available, leading to new technological developments within the beauty industry in the early 20th century. Beauty salons and the wider availability of cosmetics revolutionized the way women saw themselves.
Ravishing images of some of the most beautiful women in history, both real and ideal, accompanied by illustrations from costume books, fashion plates, advertisements, caricatures, and cosmetics, bring the evolving story of beauty to life.
In The Difference Aesthetics Makes cultural critic Kandice Chuh asks what the humanities might be and do if organized around what she calls "illiberal humanism" instead of around the Western European tradition of liberal humanism that undergirds the humanities in their received form. Recognizing that the liberal humanities contribute to the reproduction of the subjugation that accompanies liberalism's definition of the human, Chuh argues that instead of defending the humanities, as has been widely called for in recent years, we should radically remake them. Chuh proposes that the work of artists and writers like Lan Samantha Chang, Carrie Mae Weems, Langston Hughes, Leslie Marmon Silko, Allan deSouza, Monique Truong, and others brings to bear ways of being and knowing that delegitimize liberal humanism in favor of more robust, capacious, and worldly senses of the human and the humanities. Chuh presents the aesthetics of illiberal humanism as vital to the creation of sensibilities and worlds capable of making life and lives flourish.
Despite the wonders of the digital world, people still go in record numbers to view drawings and paintings in galleries. Why? What is the magic that pictures work on us? This book provides a provocative explanation, arguing that some pictures have special kinds of beauty and sublimity that offer aesthetic transcendence. They take us imaginatively beyond our finite limits and even invoke a sense of the divine. Such aesthetic transcendence forges a relationship with the ultimate and completes us psychologically. Philosophers and theologians sometimes account for this as an effect of art, but How Pictures Complete Us distinguishes itself by revealing how this experience is embodied in pictorial structures and styles. Through detailed discussions of artworks from the Renaissance through postmodern times, Paul Crowther reappraises the entire scope of beauty and the sublime in the context of both representational and abstract art, offering unexpected insights into familiar phenomena such as ideal beauty, pictorial perspective, and what pictures are in the first place.
"Wild Art" refers to work that exists outside the established, rarified world of art galleries and cultural channels. It encompasses uncatalogued, uncommodified art not often recognized as such, from graffiti to performance, self-adornment, and beyond. Picking up from their breakthrough book on the subject, Wild Art, David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro here delve into the ideas driving these forms of art, inquire how it came to be marginalized, and advocate for a definition of "taste," one in which each expression is acknowledged as being different while deserving equal merit. Arguing that both the "art world" and "wild art" have the same capacity to produce aesthetic joy, Carrier and Pissarro contend that watching skateboarders perform Christ Air, for example, produces the same sublime experience in one audience that another enjoys while taking in a ballet; therefore, both mediums deserve careful reconsideration. In making their case, the two provide a history of the institutionalization of "taste" in Western thought, point to missed opportunities for its democratization in the past, and demonstrate how the recognition and acceptance of "wild art" in the present will radically transform our understanding of contemporary visual art in the future. Provocative and optimistic, Aesthetics of the Margins / The Margins of Aesthetics rejects the concept of "kitsch" and the high/low art binary, ultimately challenging the art world to become a larger and more inclusive place.
In today's art world many strange, even shocking, things qualify as art. In this Very Short Introduction Cynthia Freeland explains why innovation and controversy are valued in the arts, weaving together philosophy and art theory with many fascinating examples. She discusses blood, beauty, culture, money, museums, sex, and politics, clarifying contemporary and historical accounts of the nature, function, and interpretation of the arts. Freeland also propels us into the future by surveying cutting-edge web sites, alongside the latest research on the brain's role in perceiving art. This clear, provocative book engages with the big debates surrounding our responses to art and is an invaluable introduction to anyone interested in thinking about art. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
"An instructive trip through the mind of one of America's great designers." -Communication Arts (1996) Hailed upon its publication as "discriminating, erudite, and eclectic," From Lascaux to Brooklyn is now available to readers once again. First published in 1996, the year of Paul Rand's death, the volume embarks on a wonderful journey from the time before graphic design to the author's own studio work and beyond. An excellent companion to Rand's Design, Form, and Chaos, this influential book awakens readers to the lessons of the cave paintings of Lascaux and demonstrates how this learning is later conveyed in artworks ranging from the Tower of Pisa to a Cezanne painting, an African sculpture, or a park in Brooklyn. Topics discussed include the relationship between art and business, the presentation of design concepts to prospective clients, the debate over typographic style, and the aesthetics of combinatorial geometry. This book engages and enlightens anyone interested in the practice or theory of graphic design.
The development of Ranciere's philosophical work, from his formative years through the political and methodological break with Louis Althusser and the lessons of May 68, is documented here, as are the confrontations with other thinkers, the controversies and occasional misunderstandings. So too are the unity of his work and the distinctive style of his thinking, despite the frequent disconnect between politics and aesthetics and the subterranean movement between categories and works. Lastly one sees his view of our age, and of our age's many different and competing realities. What we gain in the end is a rich and multi-layered portrait of a life and a body of thought dedicated to the exercise of philosophy and to the emergence of possible new worlds.
Philosophy has inherited a powerful impulse to embrace either dualism or a reductive monism-either a radical separation of mind and body or the reduction of mind to body. But from its origins in the writings of the Stoics, the first thoroughgoing materialists, another view has acknowledged that no forms of materialism can be completely self-inclusive-space, time, the void, and sense are the incorporeal conditions of all that is corporeal or material. In The Incorporeal Elizabeth Grosz argues that the ideal is inherent in the material and the material in the ideal, and, by tracing its development over time, she makes the case that this same idea reasserts itself in different intellectual contexts. Grosz shows that not only are idealism and materialism inextricably linked but that this "belonging together" of the entirety of ideality and the entirety of materiality is not mediated or created by human consciousness. Instead, it is an ontological condition for the development of human consciousness. Grosz draws from Spinoza's material and ideal concept of substance, Nietzsche's amor fati, Deleuze and Guattari's plane of immanence, Simondon's preindividual, and Raymond Ruyer's self-survey or autoaffection to show that the world preexists the evolution of the human and that its material and incorporeal forces are the conditions for all forms of life, human and nonhuman alike. A masterwork by an eminent theoretician, The Incorporeal offers profound new insight into the mind-body problem
In "Eighteenth Century British Aesthetics", editor Dabney Townsend has brought together the work of such well-known writers as John Dryden, Joshua Reynolds, David Hume, and Samuel Johnson with the more obscure works of aestheticians such as Uvedale Price, Daniel Webb, John Baillie, and James Harris, whose work is difficult to find, but is nonetheless important, informative, and interesting. These twenty-two selections, accompanied by Dabney Townsend's historical essay on the development of eighteenth century aesthetics, make the history of aesthetics accessible to both students and specialists alike.
An extraordinary collaboration between contemporary art and critical discourse, "Narrating the Catastrophe" guides readers through unfamiliar textual landscapes where "being" is defined as an act rather than a form. Drawing on Paul Ricoeur's notion of intersubjective narrative identity as well as the catastrophe theory of Gilles Deleuze, Jac Saorsa establishes an alternative perspective from which to interpret and engage with the world around us. A highly original--and visually appealing--take on a high-profile issue in contemporary critical debate, this book will appeal to all those interested in visual arts and philosophy.
When you are half lost in a work of art, what happens to the half left behind? Semi-Detached delves into this state of being: what it means to be within and without our social and physical milieu, at once interacting and drifting away, and how it affects our ideas about aesthetics. The allure of many modern aesthetic experiences, this book argues, is that artworks trigger and provide ways to make sense of this oscillating, in-between place. John Plotz focuses on Victorian and early modernist writers and artists who understood their work as tapping into, amplifying, or giving shape to a suspended duality of experience. The book begins with the decline of the romantic tale, the rise of realism, and John Stuart Mill's ideas about social interaction and subjective perception. Plotz examines Pre-Raphaelite paintings that take semi-detached states of attention as their subject and novels that treat provincial subjects as simultaneously peripheral and central. He discusses how realist writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Henry James show how consciousness can be in more than one place at a time; how the work of William Morris demonstrates the shifting forms of semi-detachment in print and visual media; and how Willa Cather created a form of modernism that connected aesthetic dreaming and reality. Plotz concludes with a look at early cinema and the works of Buster Keaton, who found remarkable ways to portray semi-detachment on screen. In a time of cyberdependency and virtual worlds, when it seems that attention to everyday reality is stretching thin, Semi-Detached takes a historical and critical look at the halfway-thereness that audiences have long comprehended and embraced in their aesthetic encounters.
Music as an Art begins by examining music through a philosophical lens, engaging in discussions about tonality, music and the moral life, music and cognitive science and German idealism, as well as recalling the author's struggle to encourage his students to distinguish the qualities of good music. Scruton then explains - via erudite chapters on Schubert, Britten, Rameau, opera and film - how we can develop greater judgement in music, recognising both good taste and bad, establishing musical values, as well as musical pleasures. As Scruton argues in this book, in earlier times, our musical culture had secure foundations in the church, the concert hall and the home; in the ceremonies and celebrations of ordinary life, religion and manners. Yet we no longer live in that world. Fewer people now play instruments and music is, for many, a form of largely solitary enjoyment. As he shows in Music as an Art, we live at a critical time for classical music, and this book is an important contribution to the debate, of which we stand in need, concerning the place of music in Western civilization.
We live in a mediatized society, a society one could call a society of images. Working at the intersection of aesthetics and politics, Patrick Vauday challenges the dominant assumptions of this society and its disposition towards images. This challenge does not advocate repudiatingimages altogether, but rather entreats us to see them in a different light. This new way of thinking of images affords a glimpse into what images do and produce, rather than viewing them as copies or mere representations. Images are dynamic agents that are active in our world rather than simply empty reflections of it. Rethinking the concept of the image in this fashion opens up new ways of interpreting and engaging with works of art. This reconsideration of the role of images in society is the starting point for a new politics that considers the multiple and complex efficacies by which images act, circulate and are created.
Irony in Film is the first book about ironic expression in this medium. We often feel the need to call films or aspects of them ironic; but what exactly does this mean? How do films create irony? Might certain features of the medium help or hinder its ironic potential? How can we know we are justified in dubbing any film or moment ironic? This book attempts to answer such questions, investigating in the process crucial and under-examined issues that irony raises for our understanding of narrative filmmaking. A much-debated subject in other disciplines, in film scholarship irony is habitually referred to but too seldom explored. Combining in-depth theorising with detailed close analysis, this pioneering study asks what ironic capacities films might possess, how film style may be used ironically, and what role intention should play in film interpretation. The proposed answers have significance for our understanding of not only ironic filmmaking, but the nature of expression in this medium.
The first volume of Jean-Francois Lyotard's Miscellaneous d104s on contemporary art and artists, Aesthetics and Theory of Art, contains nine essays on general aesthetics and the theory of art. They are published in the original French along with the translations in English. Most of these texts, preserved in the Lyotard archives of the Bibliotheque Litteraire Jacques Doucet in Paris, are presented here for the first time. They cover the whole period of his production, from 1969 to 1997, and they make the development of his philosophy of art explicit. After the "libidinal" conception of art in his early writings, the "Kantian twist" of around 1980 places his view on art under the aegis of the sublime.
The stories we tell in our attempt to make sense of the world-our myths and religion, literature and philosophy, science and art-are the comforting vehicles we use to transmit ideas of order. But beneath the quest for order lies the uneasy dread of fundamental disorder. True chaos is hard to imagine and even harder to represent. In this book, Martin Meisel considers the long effort to conjure, depict, and rationalize extreme disorder, with all the passion, excitement, and compromises the act provokes. Meisel builds a rough history from major social, psychological, and cosmological turning points in the imagining of chaos. He uses examples from literature, philosophy, painting, graphic art, science, linguistics, music, and film, particularly exploring the remarkable shift in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries from conceiving of chaos as disruptive to celebrating its liberating and energizing potential. Discussions of Sophocles, Plato, Lucretius, Calderon, Milton, Haydn, Blake, Faraday, Chekhov, Faulkner, Wells, and Beckett, among others, are matched with incisive readings of art by Brueghel, Rubens, Goya, Turner, Dix, Dada, and the futurists. Meisel addresses the revolution in mapping energy and entropy and the manifold effect of thermodynamics. He then uses this chaotic frame to elaborate on purpose, mortality, meaning, and mind.
Even though it's frequently asserted that we are living in a golden age of scripted television, television as a medium is still not taken seriously as an artistic art form, nor has the stigma of television as "chewing gum for the mind" really disappeared. Philosopher Martin Shuster argues that television is the modern art form, full of promise and urgency, and in New Television, he offers a strong philosophical justification for its importance. Through careful analysis of shows including The Wire, Justified, and Weeds, among others; and European and Anglophone philosophers, such as Stanley Cavell, Hannah Arendt, and Martin Heidegger; Shuster reveals how various contemporary television series engage deeply with aesthetic and philosophical issues in modernism and modernity. What unifies the aesthetic and philosophical ambitions of new television is a commitment to portraying and exploring the family as the last site of political possibility in a world otherwise bereft of any other sources of traditional authority; consequently, at the heart of new television are profound political stakes.
Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji is variously read as a work of feminist protest, the world's first psychological novel and even as a post-modern masterpiece. Commonly seen as Japan's greatest literary work, its literary, cultural, and historical significance has been thoroughly acknowledged. As a work focused on the complexities of Japanese court life in the Heian period, however, the The Tale of Genji has never before been the subject of philosophical investigation. The essays in this volume address this oversight, arguing that the work contains much that lends itself to philosophical analysis. The authors of this volume demonstrate that The Tale of Genji confronts universal themes such as the nature and exercise of political power, freedom, individual autonomy and agency, renunciation, gender, and self-expression; it raises deep concerns about aesthetics and the role of art, causality, the relation of man to nature, memory, and death itself. Although Murasaki Shikibu may not express these themes in the text as explicitly philosophical problems, the complex psychological tensions she describes and her observations about human conduct reveal an underlying framework of philosophical assumptions about the world of the novel that have implications for how we understand these concerns beyond the world of Genji. Each essay in this collection reveals a part of this framework, situating individual themes within larger philosophical and historical contexts. In doing so, the essays both challenge prevailing views of the novel and each other, offering a range of philosophical interpretations of the text and emphasizing the The Tale of Genji's place as a masterful work of literature with broad philosophical significance.
In the wake of radical social movements in the 1960s and 1970s, literary studies' embrace of politics entailed a widespread rejection of aesthetic considerations. For scholars invested in literature's role in supporting or challenging dominant ideologies, appreciating literature's formal beauty seemed frivolous and irresponsible, even complicit with the iniquities of the social order. This suspicion of aesthetics became the default posture within literary scholarship, a means of establishing the rigor of one's thought and the purity of one's political commitments. Yet as Timothy Aubry explains, aesthetic pleasure never fully disappeared from the academy. It simply went underground. From New Criticism to the digital humanities, Aubry recasts aesthetics as the complicated, morally ambiguous, embattled yet resilient protagonist in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century literary studies. He argues that academic critics never stopped asserting preferences for certain texts, rhetorical strategies, or intellectual responses. Rather than serving as the enemy of formalism and aesthetics, political criticism enabled scholars to promote heightened experiences of perceptual acuity and complexity while adjudicating which formal strategies are best designed to bolster these experiences. Political criticism, in other words, did not eradicate but served covertly to nurture reading practices aimed at achieving aesthetic satisfaction. Guilty Aesthetic Pleasures shows that literary studies' break with midcentury formalism was not as clean as it once appeared. Today, when so many scholars are advocating renewed attention to textual surfaces and aesthetic experiences, Aubry's work illuminates the surprisingly vast common ground between the formalists and the schools of criticism that succeeded them.
Instead of treating art as a unique creation that requires reason and refined taste to appreciate, Elizabeth Grosz argues that art-especially architecture, music, and painting-is born from the disruptive forces of sexual selection. She approaches art as a form of erotic expression connecting sensory richness with primal desire, and in doing so, finds that the meaning of art comes from the intensities and sensations it inspires, not just its intention and aesthetic.
By regarding our most cultured human accomplishments as the result of the excessive, nonfunctional forces of sexual attraction and seduction, Grosz encourages us to see art as a kind of bodily enhancement or mode of sensation enabling living bodies to experience and transform the universe. Art can be understood as a way for bodies to augment themselves and their capacity for perception and affection-a way to grow and evolve through sensation. Through this framework, which knits together the theories of Charles Darwin, Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, FA(c)lix Guattari, and Jakob von UexkA1/4ll, we are able to grasp art's deep animal lineage.
Grosz argues that art is not tied to the predictable and known but to new futures not contained in the present. Its animal affiliations ensure that art is intensely political and charged with the creation of new worlds and new forms of living. According to Grosz, art is the way in which life experiments with materiality, or nature, in order to bring about change.
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