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1 IN GOOD FORM: AN EXAMINATION OF THE POLITICAL AND AESTHETIC REALMS VIA THE FORMAL QUALITY OF ART By JAMES MAGGIO A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 James Maggio
3 To my friends and family
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This dissertation would have not been completed without the support of many people. Specifically, I am indebted to Fran Maggio, Sandy Maggio, Naomi Nelson, Eli Nelson, Marie Nelson, Angel Tidwell, Philip Maggio, Jean Maggio, Carol Maggio, Dawn Keene, Mary Holden, Bob Bowne, Rachel Brewster, Lance Gravlee, Jami Forshee and many others. Th ere is a special place in my heart for my colleagues, some of whom became my very best friends. This is especially true of Dustin Fridkin and Jennifer Forshee, without whom I would be intellectually and emotionally lost. Thanks should also go to other coll eagues who listened to me talk about art and politics more than anyone should. These include, but are not limited to, Sean Walsh, Ty Solomon, Ryan Kiggins, Jessica Peet, Julie Broxterman, Susan Orr, Austin Scott, and Rachael Morris. I am also deeply inde bted to my great teachers, who have all inspired me in different, but Dan Smith, Larry Dodd, Beth Rosenson, and many others. I would also like to thank Jim Johnson, Jodi Dean, Morton Schoolman, Davide Panagia, Michelle Smith, Nancy Love John Lewis and others for their thoughtful comments on my work over the years And finally, I would like to thank some of my other heroes: Hugo Reyes, Jack Sheppard, Desmond Hume, James Ford, Charlie Pace and Juliet Burke. I miss you guys.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 7 CHAPTER 1 THE BATTLE OF SURFACES ................................ ................................ .................. 8 Explorations and Definitions ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 Adorno Surfaces of Revelation ................................ ................................ ............. 18 Nietzsche Surfaces, an Arena for the Creation ................................ .................... 23 An Examination of the Surfaces ................................ ................................ .............. 27 Why (and When) Art Matters ................................ ................................ .................. 31 2 AESTHETICS AS A KANTIAN CATEGORY: KANT, RANCIRE, AND AESTHETICS AS POLITICS/POLITICS AS AESTEHTICS ................................ .... 37 Noise or Speaking? ................................ ................................ ................................ 37 ................................ .. 38 ................................ ................................ 41 etics: Ordering the Universe ................................ ........................ 50 ................................ ......... 53 Theoretical Implications of Aesthetics as a Kantian Category ................................ 59 3 AND POLITICAL THOUGHT ................................ ................................ .................. 64 Nussbaum on Art ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 64 ................................ .. 68 How Nussbaum Does Not Understand Art as Experience: Red Rooms, Pips, and Other Strangeness ................................ ................................ ........................ 71 Implications of Form Reconsidered ................................ ................................ ........ 84 4 WOUNDED AESTHETICS: WENDY BROWN, PHILIP ROTH, AND A THEORY OF THE INTERACTION OF ART AND POLITICS ................................ ................. 88 Lies, Suffering, and Oprah Winfrey ................................ ................................ ......... 88 Wendy Brown and Her Wounded Attachments ................................ ....................... 93 The Art of Wounds: Philip Roth, American ................................ .............................. 95 Testimony, Truth, Appearance, and the Branding of Suffering ............................. 108 5 THE PROBLEM OF AESTHETIC INDIVIDUALISM AS AN ETHI CAL AND POLITICAL THEORY: ALAIN BADIOU AND THE BEATLES ............................... 119
6 John Lennon, My Dad and His Sports Car on the Road to Meaning .................... 119 Aesthetics in the (Post)Modern World ................................ ................................ ... 123 Aesthetic Individuality: Nietzsche, Foucault, and Rorty ................................ ......... 130 The Problems with Aesthetic Individuality ................................ ............................. 134 ................................ .................... 140 ................................ ............. 153 ................................ .............. 163 6 CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: VITAL AESTHETICS ................................ .............. 166 Form Battles Ressentiment ................................ ................................ ................... 166 The Aesthetic Realm and Its Influence ................................ ................................ 169 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 181 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 187
7 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy IN GOOD FORM: AN EXAMINATION OF THE POLITICAL AND AESTHETIC REALMS VIA THE FORMAL QUALITY OF ART By James Maggio December 2010 Chair: Leslie Paul Thiele Major: Political Science Thinkers from Plato to Nietzsche understood the importance of art to the world of whereas Nietzsche embraced those dangers. Yet, both thinkers recognized that art aff ects politics. What is the nature of this effect? How does it work? Using those questions as backdrop, this essay is an exploration of the effects, repercussions, and limitations of an aesthetic approach toward politics. Several scholars have evaluated t he function of aesthetics in political thinking. While attending to these discussions, I argue that art with little or no political content can have political import due to its formal aesthetic qualities. Specifically, I argue that aesthetic form often su rpasses content in its political meaning and consequence. The dissertation subsequently analyses a number of art works and aesthetic events that have significantly affected political life due to their formal aesthetic qualities. In assessing the political dimensions of art works and artistic events, the dissertation engages with canonical thinkers such as Nietzsche, Adorno, Arendt, Dewey, Benjamin, Derrida, and Rorty. Overall, this essay is attempt to properly place the aesthetic in the context of the poli tical.
8 CHAPTER 1 THE BATTLE OF SURFAC ES Explorations and Definitions It is hard to even explain the awe inspiring feeling of experiencing a perfect piece Hamlet or Henry V. Was she riveted, c hanged, entertained, or bored? Did the viewer riot like the crowd that first Rite of Spring ? One assumes that the art, especially art as established and well respected as that by Shakespeare or Stravinsky, would have an effect. In fact, thinkers like Plato and Nietzsche feared the impact of art, though Plato sought protection from that fear and Nietzsche embraced it. To have a profound impact the art does not even have to be a very sophisticated or subtle. It can be the lovel y panels in a Will Eisner or Jack Kirby comic; It can be the moment you finally get the structure of films like Persona, Pulp Fiction or Rashomon Cloud Atlas. 1 Honestly, to certain extent, i t does not matter which piece of art moves a viewer It is the experience an experience that while not relative affects people in various ways. And, when you experience such pieces of art, they can permeate your whole life Suddenly, ideas and feelings that initially did not have a structure finally appear understandable. You see the final scene of Citizen Kane, or let the brush strokes in a Kandinsky painting wash over you, and you change the way you view the world. Sim ilarly, your life view might be altered after hearing the opening of Sgt. Pepper, or from the performance art of Marina Abramovic, or the first time you read William Carlos 1 These examples are chosen for both their universal and personal meaning. Hence, I do not mean to say that everyone should have reactions to or have even heard of these works of art. What is suggested here is that the aesthetic experience is one that is tied to human existence.
9 Williams. Again, I am not pointing to a particular piece of art, but the artistic/ aesthetic experience. This artistic/aesthetic experience affects you at varied registers and it is almost like your world is subtly shaded a different color. Relationships intellectual, emotional, and human are created that you had not conceived of previ ously, and hence you often become persuaded of the solidity of your new thoughts, feelings, and opinions. Sometimes, a piece of art as ephemeral as a Phil Spector girl group single or a beat by Dr. Dre transform your world in a way that is difficult to ex plicitly pin point. Other times is it classics from time immemorial, such as the afore mentioned plays of Shakespeare, that affect you. These transformations are linked to the aesthetic experience, and because of the power of that experience, people perm it these aesthetic moments a kind of passion that conveys a conceptual transformation itself. In other words, your world view is sometimes changed by an aesthetic experience in ways that do not seemed to be connected to the explicit subject matter of said experience. This manuscript examines the underlying aspects of these aesthetic experiences and the way those experiences affect political philosophy and political life. Put another way, in this manuscript I examine ways in which seemingly non political a rt or art that is not explicitly political interacts with the political realm. On one level, I contend that non political art has an impact on the political realm due to the various ways that we interact with the form of art. Additionally, proper attenti on to aesthetic form allows us to explore the way that aesthetics can and should interrelate with the ethical, moral, legal, and political realm. A deep understanding of the aesthetic realm allows us to understand the proper way that art, aesthetics, and politics should be properly ordered.
10 In the context of this discussion, it is important to define some key terms. I do not want these definitions to be so strict as to limit discussion. However, there needs to be a framework for the ideas expressed in th is manuscript. And, these definitions are meant to provide this intellectual and conceptual framework. For example, initially, it is a convenient definition of politics might be offered by Davide Panagia (2009 30 ), who that this rendering begins from an experience of interruption that arises from the advent of an appearan ce As Panagia acknowledges, much of this definition is borrowed from Jacques Rancire (1998, 2004) who states according to Panagia (2009, 30) -that activity of rendering appearances perceptible through a part taking in t he invention of the postures of attention that render political subjectivity available to perception. Rancire specifically as Rancire Disagreement, t he Politics of Aesthetics and the Flesh of Words. 2 Additionally, I am sympathetic to the Panagia / Rancire definition of the political as linked to a viewing of the world. That being said, I feel that this definition links aesthetics and politics so closely that the concepts almost cannot be spoken of independently without implying the other. (Panagia and Rancire may be comfortable politics that it renders the collective a bit shallow. Wha t role does collective action or meaning creation play in this version of the political, beside each individual taking part in 2 I will discuss Rancire finition in depth in chapter two.
11 Rancire Rancire notion of politics, and with the risk of b eing labeled somewhat intellectually of meaning and activity. Arendt (1958 197 polis, properly speaking, is not the city state in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose not matter where they happen to be definition does not exclude the Panagia / Rancire concept of the political. In fact, it is politics base d on mutual action and speech. Much of my analysis will rest in the overlap between the definition of politics of Arendt and Rancire It is also important to define aesthetics, and eventually art. I adopt a rather Kantian view of the term aesthetics. T his is not because aesthetics starts with Kant, but because he has the systematic view of aesthetics that engages with the philosophical discussion, as well as the notion of art. Kant sees aesthetics as the evaluations of things for their own sake; the ae sthetic realm is a realm of experience that needs no external justification. 3 ( CJ Sec. 4) Kant CJ, Sec. 49 ). Hence, for Kant, the aesthetic is that which is linked to beauty, and in the ways in which beauty is self justified. Yet, this experience for the sake of beauty is not value free, even if its value is not linked to truth or morality. 3 CPR= The Critique of Pure Reason (Kant 1781) by the standard A and B version distinctions unless the section is only in one version, then it will be referred to by A or B, accordingly CPr R = The Critique of Practical Reason (Kant 1788), by section number, CJ = Critique of Judgment (Kant 1790), by section number, MM = The Metaphysics of Morals (Kant 1797) by cited in the standard manner.
12 Panagia (2006 5 6 that turns to sense experience in order This notion of aesthetics as being linked to a value, but a value that does not apply directly to other realms, is fundamental to my discussion. In this context, art is the material or sensual expression of the aesthetic realm. Art is the bringing forth of the aesthetic values in such a way that others may experience it. (Given the thematic organization o f the locking but distinct to the receiver of art is linked to the visceral experience that the art produces. Both of these definitions hinge on the creation and experience of art prior to representation or symbolic meaning is assigned to the art. Of course, this is a rather thin theoretical and intellectual line, and no thinker who discus ses form should be disingenuous enough to think that one can isolate form completely from content. To a certain extent, the reason that form and content are hard to isolate is because they are partially symbiotic. (Great art is often that which perfectly mixes form and content.) Hence, it is possible that (1934), Collingwood (1929), Grassi (2001), Barthes (1991), and Derrida. Collingwood (1929, 340)
13 creature of the art engagement with that experience prior to an attempt to assign an explicit symbolic meaning to the art. John Dewey (1934 123 through the eyes, and hear music through the ears Art is primarily a visceral and sensuous carries the experienc e of an event, object, scene, and situation to its own integral cognition. This no (2001) foundational role in philosophy. Grassi (2001 26 27 formal function, whereas philosophy, as episteme, as ra tional knowledge, was to supply the Once here the rhetorical use of language is separated out as something though Dewey is leery of attempts to separate form from content in an analysis of art, enter into the experience of other and enable them to have more intense and more fully rounded exp of non an Barthes (1991 18 21 ) discusses this notion of form, arguing that form deals with the
14 happening of the meeting involving the art and a viewer/reader/listener, and, hence, th e authority that the art has to present itself at that instant. This authority of form on Ibid ). As noted above, these terms are not completely distinct. The interaction of these terms and concepts will hopefully give this discussion here some depth, as well as allow us the ability to understand the complex interaction between aesthetics and politics, form and content. In other words, it is important to define terms in a clear enough way such that a reader can understand the arguments in this manuscript. Yet, it is also crucial to recognize that these terms are not fixed symbols. Many writers with various interests have addressed some of the issues I struggle with in this work. And though I appreci ate and am indebted to a whole line of thought that attempts to discuss the psychoanalytic and/or neurological understanding of art, I do not engage head on in this type of analysis here. If one was attempting to frame this study in the context of the nat ural science one could say that I am attempt ing to discover how the aesthetic impacts the political when one essentially controls for the content or subject matter of art. However, as I late argue, form and context are so vexed that such a strict analysi s is not suited to the discussion here. This vexed nature does not mean, however, that we cannot discuss aspects of form somewhat independent of the context of content. One just needs to be careful of making sweeping statements concerning either form or c ontent. However, an examination of form itself is important becomes it brings to the surface the effect of aesthetics on politics. Given this contention about the nature of form this manuscript is an examination of the aesthetic experience and its affec t on the political realm. I am influenced by recent work by
15 thinkers such as Alain Badiou (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009), Jacques Rancire (2004, 2009), and Davide Panagia (2006, 2009). I see in their work an attempt to move beyond story, beyond narrative to the experience of aesthetics itself. There is another powerful and interesting strand of literature dealing with the aesthetic and how it affects politics, and that work focuses on the delivering of art and, sometimes, the way it interacts with our cl ass structures. I have in mind thinkers such as Walter Benjamin (1969), Susan Buck Morse (1991) and Pierre Bourdieu (1987). I have been grateful to these thinkers for their profound influence, but my focus is somewhat different. Though this line of thin king does not focus on content in the way that I will argue that, say, Martha Nussbaum does, it also does not focus on the aesthetic as qua the aesthetic. The mode of delivery is always a crucial aspect of the aesthetic for these thinkers. For Benjamin, it was the movement toward the mass distribution of art, a movement that helped art lose its traditional authenticity. And, stated, it still does not engage in the aesthet ic as an experience itself. Now, I do not want to pretend like the mode of delivery is not important. It would be silly to argue, to pick an obvious example, that the internet has not changed the way we experience art, and hence the way art interacts wit h the political. However, in this manuscript I am attempting, possibly foolishly, possibly with simple ambition, to isolate the aesthetic experience as an experience. I am interested in the moment of the experience of a piece of art. And, hence, I am do wnplaying the modes of delivery in said art. To be exact, in the chapters that follow I engage possible points in which the aesthetic affects the political, and the occurrences of change that such effects cause. I
16 argue that these effects have important po litical effects, implications, or meanings. Often these effects and meanings take place past the discursive inventory of explicit discussion. These effects and meanings are ways in which the aesthetic, properly understood, effect the political, and chang e, as Rancire aesthetic event that creates a quasi foundational point of departure for the ethical, moral, legal, and political. A nd before this new fidelity, there is a rupture -a breaking that can often be tied to an aesthetic moment. This manuscript seeks to explore these moments. The theoretical political and aesthetic issues that interest me are somewhat rooted in the modern liberal pluralistic democracy, or, put another way, in a society with no hard ontological or metaphysical underpinnings. As will be discussed below, I assume that the people interact on the level of surfaces, or appearances. And, if I assume that liberal political life is somewhat a perceptual activity an argument made repeatedly by critical and cultural theorists then I can attempt to disentangle the way that art and the aesthetic affect the world of appearance, and hence the world of the politica l. In other words, I attempt to discuss the way that art lets us make political meaning. Of course, the same issues that motivate me have informed a lot of thinkers. Dewey, Rancire Badiou, and Panagia and others have all dealt with the impact of the ae sthetic on the political. And, much of their work has informed my own. However, my work explores the way that seemingly non political art art without explicit political content affects the political world via its aesthetic experience. Many thinkers have argued that non political art might have political impact via its mode of
17 distribution/participation. Others have explored the subtle political content in artistic work. However, in this work, I argue that the form itself can have political impact and/or meaning. In this context, I should make special note of the work of Murray Edelman (1995), particularly his monograph From Art to Politics. In that work, Edelman pays special attention to the way that art shapes politics on an unconscious level. In fact I with the way that art shapes our policy preferences on a subconscious level. Edelman (1995 109 ) writes: We are seldom aware of how easily and frequently our beliefs about policy preferences, causes, and consequences are created and changed by subtle or unconscious cues. Quite the contrary: we ordinarily assume that we live in a world in which the causes and consequences of actions are stable and fairly well known. Neither the media nor academic studies pay much attention to the fundamental political work that makes the benefits and the depravations politically possible: the creation and remolding of public beliefs and feelings about the causes of particular outcomes thereby justifying some actions and build ing opposition to others. shape preferences without being overtly political. However, Edelman is often concerned with the way subtle artistic messages shape preferences. He argues, I think correctly, deliberative political propaganda is not as effective as more subtle ways that art affects policy preferences (1995, 111). However, Edelman is concerned explicitly with subtle mess ages of art, and how that art shapes policy preferences. Edelman does not pay explicit attention to the way that artistic form itself affects our understanding of the political, and how that political properly or improperly interacts with aesthetics. My w ork here explores this interaction of the aesthetic and political via form, which is the proper way of interaction in a world of surfaces. In this sense, this manuscript contributes to the literature because it explores an aspect of the aesthetic/politica l that is
18 under theorized, but it also respects and honors the long tradition of work on the nexus of theory culture aesthetics politics. Before examining the various nodes of argument, it is important that I establish the epistemological underpinning of t he discussion here, and, also, to examine how those epistemologies connect with aesthetics. To do this I explore the aesthetic/epistemological thought of Theodor Adorno and Fredric Nietzsche. As noted above, I assume that the liberal democratic world is one in which appearances are key a world where the surface is the universe. Yet, what kind of surface? Adorno and Nietzsche both believe in a world of surfaces, but they have different notions of what that surface means and how it affects the human exper ience. Below, I briefly discuss the thought of Adorno and Nietzsche, and adopt a particular perspective for this manuscript. Adorno Surfaces of Revelation Adorno embraces the appearance of our human experience. The surface of reality is for Adorno, always revealing mimesis. As mimesis twirls with instinct, so spirit plays similar contextual games with this surplus of spirit that through which a thing exceeds its sumptuous materiali ty and therefore begins revealing Adorno tries to attach the play of surfaces to the revealing o f non identity. S pirit is not a divisible thing above sensuality and materiality. Adorno (2005 38 ) discusses the standard view of modern art, and ar gues that such art is in the process of revealing n it everywhere by those who are politically interested, radical modern art is progressive,
19 and this is true not merely of the techniques it has developed but Modern, non representational art reveals a notion about the world by focu sing on the difference between art and basic empirical data In other word, art works materialize; they are textile objects and things; but what essence exists in them is linked to surface appearance; it is not something underneath appearances and, hence, divisible from such appearances. This emphasis on surface interesting claims about art. Adorno argues that art offers a kind of prompt or tug regarding what is subdued in the progression of rationalism, reason, induction, and technology. That aide memoire is proper; it has no specific experiential function. This artistic purpose includes the subjugation as well as its object, the brutality of reason and what that reason governs. In fact, it is exactly the interlacing of these two spectacles in sense, memory is linked to aesthetic dissonance. o sovereignty, its abandonment of justification, compels art to work against all earlier artistic trends or languages. Yet Adorno sees art as negating tradition itself, tradition qua tradition. This reversal has a dual configuration. First, the reversal identity, and in so far as those intellectual mummies embrace heteronymous notion s of art, then it is only through vital conceptual investigation of tradition that art can attain sovereignty. On the contrary, since the exact effort to accomplish such sovereignty assumes that there is a vital nature essential and suitable to art. Neve rtheless, Adorno
20 is enamored with non identical art works, which suggest art works that depart from the aesthetic requirements of the past. Such works are similar to the Kantian notion of a comprehend the meaning of art if we can conceptually incarcerate and ultimately grasp the explicit assertion of modern non identity. In other words, contemp orary art is continuously practicing the unattainable scam of attempting to ident ify the non identical. Hence, n on identical art reaches its goal only to the degree such art surpasses its deliberate position. The theory that art is not dissimilar from the abstract understanding, but an objection to its current configuration, comes from the judgment of detachment and immediacy leading the foundation of art in relation to rational thought and comprehension. Proof that such reason governs art would be provid ed by an That being said, Adorno does not see much evidence in this area, but he is optimistic. Artistic freedom, sovereignty, or autonomy could be seen as another route intrinsic value. Adorno understands, for example, autonomy as twofold: mutually as dictates the social order. or against the backd rop of a society that has value something is worth on the open market, as its driving force. Adorno is profoundly disturbed by the emphasis on exchange value in capitalist societies, but he does not imagine art would be prod uced without it. In fact, art
21 needs to act contrary to the dominant value system.) That being said, Adorno understands the widespread supremacy of use value by excha nge value as a collective rationalization. The meaning of art is obscured, but not completely: Art works are not artificial wholes. Art is exchangeable, sure, but it directs our consciousness to a knowledge that exists outside of calculations of exchang e value. rev eal a kind of non identical reality The theoretical restoration of the idea of aesthetics, in agreement with the conversion from splendor as creating the aesth etics of the moving aspect of fantasy. According to Adorno, the truth of art is neither its connotation nor the artistic intentions of the creator; the truth of art is the legitimacy we achieve through the creation of art. Given that the truth of art is what happens through the creation of art, exactness is not a constituent of art. Adorno (2005 394 ) purposely ectl According to Adorno, to presume the opposing view would involve allowing illusion, which is considerable in art, be accurate. This would make fundamentally all art works confirmatory, and consequently meaningless. Adorno doe s not suggest that art itself opens the door to a kind of ultimate truth, but art allows us a glimpse of a kind of revelation. Art offers a moment Adorno attaches this moment to a kind of shudder of seeing something beyond empirical reality. It is in thi s moment that we help define the concepts of reality Aesthetic Reason as a kind of
22 but it does reveal portions of reality. As suggest above for Adorno, the making of art is a moment of revealing of the reality or gap from reality and spirit. Art acts as a kind of enigma: Artworks share with enigmas the duality of being determinate and indeterminate. They are question marks, n ot univocal even through synthesis. Nevertheless their figure is so precise that it determines the point where the work breaks off. As in enigmas, the answer is both hidden logic, of the lawfulness that transpires in it, and that is the theodicy of the concept of the purpose in art. The aim of artworks is the determination of the indeterminate. Works are purposeful in themselves, without having any positive purpose beyond their own ar rangement: there purposefulness, however is legitimated as the figure of the answer to the enigma. (2005 165) The enigma of art is linked to the form, but it is in this form that we find answers. These answers are often simply to the questions posed by the work of art itself, but the puzzle sheds light on human existence. Indeed, for Adorno the metaphysics of creation is created reality copies the subject and swindles from it wh at is ostensibly approved. What may not be produced is the comprehensible organization of identification of non identical w refers to the distance between art and Adorno seeks in art the objective of saving the guarantees of the Enlightenment, and especially the guaran tees of liberty and contentment (Bernstein 1992, 251). The effort to untie the truth content obscured in the work of art is, for Adorno, nothing but the effort to liberate the truth of art, which would otherwise vanish. content of specific art w orks. But, even with a focus on form and surfaces, Adorno
23 its ability to link us to a mimesis of reality He writes of their truth content ( A dorno 2005, 168). The gap between art and empirical reality, a gap that is a gap based in revelation. Adorno (2005 169 i s the objective solution of the enigma posed by each and every one. By demanding its solution, the enigma points to its truth content. It can only be achieved by philosophical reflection. This is alone is th e elf is applied when art pulls at our perceptions of reality. The surface reveals itself as surface, and at that moment a kind of depth is produced. It is depth based on revelation via surfaces. Though Adorno believes that art reveals via the interacti on of its surface, he also appreciates the subtle textur aesthetics reveal their link to his Marxist roots 4 Nietzsche Surfaces, an Arena for the Creation ot be neatly separated from his view of life. For Nietzsche, the material world encompasses all of reality There is no supplementary authentic profile of existence. Nietzsche argues that life is an incarnation of dissonance. There are no absolute valu es in the world, only mystified consequences. Of course, to believe in only the material world is to embrace some existential costs. And it is to these costs and consequences that Nietzsche addresses his aesthetics, and it is within these limitations tha t aesthetics is justified. Overall, for Nietzsche argues that 4 My thoughts on Adorno are somewhat influenced by J.M. Bernstein (1992).
24 man needs art in order to endure life. 5 In some ways, art, for Nietzsche, is more resonant that other forms of empirical truth. The Birth of Tragedy vi a the purging of the Dionysian from Greek drama by the work of Euripedes, who is influenced by Socrates. At first, Nietzsche discusses the term Apollonian in two interlocking, but different, ways. In particular, Nietzsche uses the Apollonian to speak abou t both art and metaphysics. Metaphysically, the Apollonian is the setting of limits, or establishing boundaries. In modern terms, we might crudely equate the Apollonian ivide the world. For Nietzsche, there is no non contingent relationship between the metaphysical Apollonian and beautiful. In contrast, aesthetically, the Apollonian perception is fundamentally beautiful: it is the routine world forced into the sublime. If the Apollonian is about boundaries, than the Dionysian is a kind of intoxication. overco mes the sobriety of order. The Dionysian makes us realize that reality is not rooted in order, but in the non individual in the chaos. The Dionysian is the pleasure in art itself, not in the way that art glorifies in the world. Nietzsche assigns this mo ment a kind of religious meaning, all while trying to undermine or supplant religion. In fact, it is possible to read Birth of Tragedy as having a quasi religion as its fundamental concern. 5
25 Nietzsche seeks to find, via art, a replacement for God. He atta ches his quest with significance via his explanation of Greek tragedy. Despite his reputation for perspectivism, Nietzsche is somewhat ambivalent toward the destruction of the metaphysical world. Nietzsche was skeptical of all attempts to recreate the re ligious via a metaphysical scientific, rational, or logical world. Nevertheless, in The Gay Science, a work that firmly embraced the death of God and the rise of perspectivism, Nietzsche recognizes that the yearning for metaphysics has returned Nietzsch 354 ) nostalgia for metaphysics has something to do with which we can become conscious is only a s In other words, Nietzsche sees i n a traditional vernacular This embrace of appearance and surfaces, though first explicitly introduced The Gay Science via the above tivism represents a strong dislike of the Socratic, a view that marks an external truth as driving the world. In fact, a strong account, people should learn to love surfaces and not the so called depth. And, the love of surfaces is linked to the aesthetic, the tie to a creation of the world. Specifically, this aesthetic embrace of surfaces allows humans to cope with the tragedy of existence. account the human experience needs art to overcome the tragedy of human existence. We need art for life to have meaning, to create meaning. According to Nietzsche, only through art can humans partiall
26 force by which we create eternally justified in the creation of aesthetic experience. And the key here is creation F or Nietzsche we create new surfaces. This notion of creation informs the rest of this manuscript. I assume contra Plato and his ilk that the world of shadows or surfaces is all we have. I take seriously a symptom of declining only selected, strengthened, Nietzsche (1974, 112) and hint that the world really is the way it appears to you. As if reality stood unveiled before you only, and you yourselves were perhaps the best part of it. As noted, some humans, according to Nietzsche, still need certainty, particularly the religi ous and scientifically minded: today discharges itself among large numbers of people in a scientific (1974, 288). Nietzsche (1974 228 ) continues: most u rgently where will is lacking In a sense, we are terrified to stand naked; we With this mocking of metaphysical certainty, Nietzsc he also embraces the idea
27 incomparably more important that what the bid). Nietzsche grows from generation unto generation, merely because people believe in it, until it create new names and estimations and proba bilities in order to create in th e long run 112). In this context, one could argue that Nietzsche contra Plato and aesthetic thought, and such thought informs this manuscript. Tho surface for modern liberal democratic, pluralistic capitalistic societies. Given a world of form of an aesthetic experience becomes paramount in thinkers have explicitly examined how this epistemological reje rather idiosyncratic view of art. Specifically, what is the political role of art in a world of my assumptions, but it also sets the stage for the ov erall project of this manuscript An Examination of the Surfaces -the notion that life is lived in the world of surfaces I use this manuscript as an examination of the world of surfaces. The world of appearances is a world driven by aesthetics, and consequently, aesthetics is a basis for human experience. I cannot overstate the fact that humans understand the world via aesthetics. As Nietzsche explains, the world of appearance is all t hat is left of reality, and hence the concept of the sensible is guided by aesthetic judgment. Hence, to the extent that one accepts the postmodern description of the
28 universe, or the liberal description of the universe, one recog nizes that there is no meta reality that transcends appearance. That being said, aesthetic judgment goes deeper than merely finding something pleasurable or not, tasteful or distasteful. Aesthetics acts almost as a filter by which we understand the world. In the second chapter of this manuscript, I begin a discussion of aesthetics that revolves around Rancire Kantian category. This chapter specifically deals with the way we process things via aesthetics, and aesthetics and politics, while bringing to light a notion that Kant might have been mis taken in not applying his ideas about cognitive categories to aesthetics. I also examine the way i n which Rancire views aesthetics and how that view links with his notions of the political. In doing this, I consider the implications of the individuals partially understanding the world via aesthetics. Turning from the individual understanding of the aesthetic to the societal, in the next three chapters I examine specifically how the artistic and hence aesthetic interacts with the political. First, my grappling with the implications of a world of appearances is furthered by an examination of the work of Martha Nussbaum. Embracing the Aristotelian view of art, Nussbaum (1995, 5) sees art specifically literature as a way in which we can build empathy. The novel is important because it o In other words, art allows us to wonder about the contingency of our own lives. I do not contest contest that the content of the art is key to such emotion. I am, of course, not
29 suggesting that form is irrelevant to Nussbaum. However, her notion of form is almost completely limited to the narrative form of a novel, and her analytical emphasis is tied to the political and/ or social content of art. Nussbaum argues that art moves people form that art can summon powerful emoti ons. Nussbaum implies this herself, yet she only wants to favor certain forms of art the novel and traditional literary modes of storytelling. It is as if Nussbaum is almost scared of the implications of her thought; she wants to open the political and l egal door to art, but only to certain types of art. That being said, even within the context of the novel the difference in emotional resonance must be tied to the form of the art: Certainly John Grisham and John Updike could tell the same story but wou ld the power of the story be the same? I contend, in contrast to Nussbaum, that such power remains in the form of art. In discussing Nussbaum, I also Twin Peaks. After wrestling with a leading notion of how art effects politics, and hence arguing that form is crucial to that effect, I then examine the impact and perils of a world where form might not matter. Borrowing from Wendy Brown (1995), I call this effect States of Injury, Wendy Brown argues that left wing identity politics can be a variety of Nietzschean ressentiment that uses relative weakness to assume a type of moral and/or ethical supremacy. In the best chapter of the book, Brown uses the expre suffering just to establish a kind of advantaged perspective, as well as a group identity.
30 segregation outside an therefore replicating instead of resisting their own segregation from political regime. On 61 class ideal, politicized identities would forfeit a good deal of their claims to injury and exclusion. In the fourth chapter of this monograph, I argue that a similar phenomenon occurs politica l message, and hence proponents of that message forgive the art for being mediocre simply because it advocates a position that is positive. In order to fully discuss the notion of wounded aesthetics, I examine the Philip Roth (1998) novel American Pastoral and address the political implications of its formal qualities. This discussion illuminates the issues of wounded aesthetics and how such issues lead to bad art and bad politics. In earlier chapters I delve into the way that art does or should not affec t the political realm. Yet, in chapter five, I discuss the way that the aesthetic has crept into our individual decision making. Specifically, the type of aesthetic theory that is often substituted for traditional ethics tends to be lacking. That theory 6 has been espoused to varying degrees by thinkers such as Nietzsche, Michael Foucault (1996, 2004), and Richard Rorty (1989). I take issue with this characterization of aesthetics. After first briefly addressing the means by which 6
31 7 Subsequently I expose some troubles with this theory, focusing on why it partially fails on its own terms. I then better explain the way the aesthetic realm interacts with the ethical and political realms. This analysis builds on the Rancire ion of aesthetics as a Kantian category by acknowledging that aesthetics forms a way of seeing the world. And this seeing is fundamentally changed by aesthetic events. Specifically, as an example of an aesthetic e cultural scene: an aesthetic event that Finally, in the last chapter of this book, I examine what I call vital aesthetics. Speaking purely prescriptively, this is the notion of the aesthetic rea lm properly understood. I explore how the aesthetic, ethical, moral, and political can co exist in a world of surfaces in such a way that both respects the distinctions in the realms, but realizes that such realms are not discrete entities. Vital aestheti cs allows for human existence that respects experience, but also understands that one cannot base politics on aesthetics, just as one cannot base aesthetics on politics Why (and When) Art Matters One might read this chapter and the skim this manuscript and ask the question: why should I care about art at all? This is a valid question. As stated above, I assume a world of surfaces, a world of appearances. Experience itself is tied to surfaces, bu t such is true of all kinds of experiences. Experiences of love shape the world; scientific experiences shape the world. Why is art worthy of discussion? On a certain level, this 7 I could clearly use other thinkers here Dewey, Schiller, etc yet I chose three thinkers whose approach is both similar and broad.
32 is a whimsical matter. I am -personally and intellectually interested in with society. However, I also think you should be interested in art, and part of the raison historical basis of this importance, and to the lin k between art and politics itself. Philosophy is partly born when Plato challenges the primacy of art, and hence banishes them from his ideal republic. Nietzsche, in contrast, was so moved by art that felt a kind of dread because he sensed a great chasm b etween the truths of art and other kinds of empirical truths. Hence, throughout the history of western intellectual thought, art has been of crucial importance. Of course, this historical importance does not justify the importance of art on its own. Yet, the assumption of this manuscript which I will argue for in this work is that art, and the aesthetic realm, is intrinsically connected to the political. As mentioned above, I explore this important connection in the next chapter, in which I discuss Kant Rancire and the cognitive impact of aesthetics. In that chapter I argue that aesthetics and hence experiences of art allow us to judge and see what has value. In fact, this kind of valuing is directly connected to the extent that we understand the wo rld. As discussed in the next chapter, this shaping of the seeable is distinctly a political act. It is an act that defines politics itself. Though I do suggest in the next chapter that aesthetics is a filter for existence, I am apprehensive in sugge sting that this filter is somehow fundamental, or primary. It is contrary to my epistemological assumptions a world of appearances to argue that aesthetics would act as a kind of foundation. Concurrently, I do not think it valuable in the context of this manuscript to makes foundational claims about reality. In contrast,
33 an embrace of the world of surfaces should resist a move toward any foundational ontology, even a kind of ontology that might conveniently inflate the importance of a particular type of argument. Hence, even if the aesthetic sphere helps define the world of existence, it is not foundational in its metaphysical status. Aesthetics helps humans deal with surfaces, but it does not create something underlying those surfaces. Hence, art itse lf helps us deal with world of appearances. It allows us to make sense of the world of appearances. Yet even if it is my intention of creating a world in which the aesthetics cannot be metaphysically foundational, the type of intellectual work created h ere a manuscript about the intersection of art and politics acts in a way that treats art as primary. This is especially true if aesthetics is important because it allows us to deal with a world of surfaces. However, I would suggest and I imply throughou t this manuscript that to wrestle with this question is to grapple with the whole notion of the limit of art. In this sense, aesthetics is both foundational and non foundational. It is a filter of the world in an approach to life that privileges such fil ters, but it is also a kind of world view that challenges the whole notion of foundational reality. Throughout this manuscript I discuss the interaction of form and content in politics, and how that interaction of form and content is the key to the variou s meanings of art. In a similar fashion, the interaction of the foundational and non foundational aspects of aesthetics creates a kind of tension on which art depends. On a certain level, this tension reflects the tensions being broadly discussed in this manuscript. And, I do not think it is a stretch to say that these issues reflect a personal and intellectual struggle. Of course, it is my contention
34 that these issues are important in the broad sense, and that they should be important to most thoughtful readers. One aspect of the importance of arguments here rests on the possible ahistorical nature of the interaction of art and politics. As mentioned above, this work discusses the interaction of the form of art with the political realm. Yet, it is im portant to examine whether this interaction and the importance I place on form would always be true, or is linked to a particular time and place. The surface oriented epistemology discussed In other words, I think part of the argument here rests on the notion in a world of surfaces form matters Hence, in a world where the underpinning is based on foundational metaphysics, then it is easier to see how form is irrelevant to the impact of art. Put another way, in a less pluralistic universe a world based on neo Platonic Judeo Christian principles of the European art may serve a different purpose then it does in liberal democracies. I do not want to suggest that the world of sur faces is has solely been a new phenomenon. Philosophers since Plato and possibly before wrestled with the temptation of the world of surfaces. Certainly, this surface world has been more prevalent since the rise of science, and the de entanglement of religion from politics. Hence, I reassert the notion that art has a special maybe simply different place in a world based on democratic politics. In other words, in a world where we have notion of individual sub jective meaning, both surface and form become increasingly important. Again, to a certain extent, this manuscript is an attempt to grapple with the impact of art in the surface world, with an implication that some people who investigate art are still appr oaching life from a foundational metaphysical standpoint.
35 Given this surface world, I think John Dewey is correct in asserting that art plays a somewhat special role in democracy. In The Public and its Problems, Dewey (1954 182 84 ) suggests that art is way for people to express things in public sphere that cannot be expressed via reason and standard dialogue Art allows us to communicate with other s and close the gap that occurs when one places a premium on discussion. Democracy tied with liberal capi talism allows us to celebrate surfaces in a way that might have been difficult when non democratic views of the world were prevalent. Richard Rorty argued that epistemology is not necessarily tied to politics, but, in contrast, a contention of this manusc ript is that the contemporary world not only embraces the surfaces, but it recognizes such an embrace. 8 Put another way, surfaces always mattered, but now we understand that surfaces matter. Contemporary society, spiting Plato, has let Homer in the guise of for example, Steven Spielberg or Toni Morrison back into our republics. That being said, the pull toward metaphysics is always there, and during this manuscript I might slip into foundational and/or ahistorical language. This slippage reveals both t he struggle to, as Dewey suggest s get past foundational thinking, and the tension in my own thinking. As implied above, in this manuscr ipt, I grapple with the implications of a world of appearances, and how aesthetics would interact with political in such a world. Thinkers have often tried to translate aesthetics into political language, arguing, for instance, that endeavor that exists in the Nietzschean world of surfaces. However, I am also intrigued with the notion that aesthetics affects other realms of existence. And, hence, I struggle 8 Rorty seems to think this occurred in 1910, when most intellectuals gave up the notion of a soul. (1999, 168)
36 with th e ways in which aesthetics, as represented in the world by art, affects the political realm. As mentioned previously, I argue that in a world of appearances, the formal qualities of art would have an effect on the political by shaping the way we see the w orld. In this sense, art that seems non political can have a profound effect on political life.
37 CHAPTER 2 AESTHE TICS AS A KANTIAN CA TEGORY: KANT, RANCIRE AND AESTHETICS AS POLITICS/POLITICS AS AESTEHTICS Noise or Speaking? In the film Battle for Algi ers, the angry Algerians, in a protest to occupation and brutality of the French, start to yell in a tone that is something like pure noise. The French seem shocked and startled by the noise, and the director uses it as was to foretell the eventual collap se of colonialism. However, the film never attempts to explain, in an explicit definitional context, what the yells mean. Are these yells actual political content, political speech, or are the yells simply noise? From the perspective of the French it ap pears to be noise. However, what does it mean that this is just noise? Does the noise mean anything? understandable? Is it beautiful? The philosophical thought of Jacques Rancire is a nice way to examine the implications of these aesthetic / political questions. When wondering about the implications of these yells, I think of the following passage in Rancire 12 13 ) The Politics of Aesthetics : The distribution of the sensible reveals who can have a share in what is common to the community based on what they do and the time and space understood as the perverse commandeering of politics by a will to art, by consideration of the people qua work of art. If the reader is fond of an analogy, aesthet ics can be understood in a Kantian sense re examined perhaps by Foucault as a system of a priori forms of determining what presents itself to sense experience. I is a delimitation of spaces and times of the visible and the invisible, of speech and noise, that simultaneously determines the place and stakes of politics and form of experience. Politics revolves around what is seen and then what can be said about it, around who has the ability to see and the talent to speak, around the properties of spaces an d the possibilities of time
38 The notion that aesthetics acts as a kind of Kantian category, as well as a way to distribute the sensible, is captivating and fascinating to me. If this is true, as Rancire argues, then the way we see is always linked to the political. The political itself is linked to the sensible. Of course, Rancire discusses that the notion of aesthetics as a Kantian category is a metaphor. And, hence, Rancire exactly like onnections and divergences, it is important to examine the philosophical implications of how aesthetics might work as a kind of Kantian category. To further this examination, in this chapter I develop the notion that aesthetics are a kind of Kantian c and how such categories define the way humans interact with sense experience. It is important to define such categories if one wants to apply this analysis to aesthetics. Then, I examine this discussion because it establishes how one can look at aesthetics as contemplative judgment. The chapter moves on to a examine Rancire seen be low, Rancire see and understand the world. In this crucial section, I examine how Rancire sees aesthetics as a kind of Kantian category, and how that notion of aesthetics is connected to the way we see politics and the political. Finally, the conclusion of the paper is an examination of theoretical implications of Rancire One cannot overstate the importa Critique of Pure Reason It is one of the three or four most important works in western epistemology, and it revolutionized
39 the way we conceive of truth. 1 Given its importance, I am not attempting to discuss in any depth the various serious Critique. Instead, in this section I mean to simply define and establish the notion of a Kantian category. This is important because it is a key to the rest of this chapter, as well as the rest of my manuscript. If Rancire arg ues that aesthetics acts something like a Kantian category, it is important to know what exactly that means. Kant offered the then radical notion that the world that we perceive depends on d to exist independently outside the perceiver. ( CPR, A111 / B132). Prior to Kant, many thinkers certain notions of truth, especially cause and effect, and ordinance in t ime, act as a kind of filter and are essentially contributed by the perceiver. These filters cover all our experience, and without said filters, we cannot even understand the world. As one Critique of Pure Reason sug gests that we need both reason and experience for us to understand the world. In fact, we need the filters Before discussing the categories further, it is important to take a step back for a moment. For Kant, humans have no access to the underlying nature of reality. If there is an accurate metaphysical description of the universe, Kant does not believe humans can provide it. This is because we only engage in the world on th e phenomenal level. We do not understand the world in itself. We essentially interact with the world in two 1
40 understanding the world. Both of these ways are linked to sense d ata, and not to the world in Importantly, our concepts help us understand the world. One of the key concepts is the notion of space, and space relations. For example, if we see a car in the distance, we need the co ncept of space relations to organize our perception of the universe. This concept allows humans to understand, label and discuss the sense experience, the intuition, in a meaningful way. We could not have an experience without concepts of understanding, in the same way we could not have such experiences without sense data. Importantly, however, these concepts are contributed by the perceiver, by the human subject. The concepts are not in the world itself. They are added to experience by the human mind. Writing after the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant (1973, 135) stated possible for these representations (of experience) to originate in this and no other manner, and which allo ws them to be relate to objects which are not yet given. This ground is at least innate People bring the categories to bear on the world of experience: They let us understand the sense data we encounter. As mentioned above, the filters that allow us to employ our concepts of substance, causality, and similar conceptual notions, as a kind of lens through which we experience the world. These lenses, the categories, allow us to bring our sense intuitions under our concepts of comprehension. In other words, it is through these categories that we can begin to understand the world. Yet, as mentioned above, it is important to note that the categories are both contributed by the perceiver and are
41 necessary to under stand anything that we actually experience. In this sense, the contribution of conscious subjects actually allows us to understand experience. This is an important insight because it allows for a delicate but extremely important interaction between raw s ense experience and parts of cognitive mind. The mind itself helps to filter the experience, to make it real and understandable. Hence, it is not that without humans there would be no world itself. Ka nt is not an idealist: it is that without the human c ategories the world would appear as gibberish. ( CPR, B 274). The categories also help Kant to find his the epistemological Holy Grail: the synthetic a priori truth statement. Spinning off ideas explored by David Hume and others, the a priori truth sta tement is one in which the statement is not definitional, such observation but does add something new to the realm of knowledge 2 ( CPR, A7 / B11). One of the key a priori synthetic truths is the existence of the various categories. On categories are pri or to experience because they are linked to our minds; they are the filters that sift through experience. This sifting lets us understand the world that can be Kantian subj ect understanding the world. 2 For Kant, the most obvious example of synthetic a priori knowledge are mathematical equation s because th ey are both necessary and new ( CPR, A720 / B748)
42 is a type of brilliant cheat. Like his notion of the apparent world and the world in and of itself, Kant is trying to let us speak objectively about a world that reeks of subjectivity. In his Critique of Judgment, Kant attempts to discover what kind of a priori standards might rest in our ability to judge things. This judgment is rooted in a various kinds of statements, but the majority of the book deals with aesthetic judgments as the pinnacle of human judgment. 3 Aesthetic judgments are reflective, and hence are judgments where the determining concept is not a key to the actual judgment itself. In fact, one could argue that Kant sees aesthetic thought as interesting exactly because reflection is actually the subjective condition of the prospect of trans cendental philosophy. Like an epistemological excavator, Kant wants to dig out the objective hidden via reflection in our aesthetic judgments. judgment that attaches a sensation of pleasure or basic experience with a notion of 4 A great many of these judgments concern art, though aesthetics can also deal with the natural wor first, appears that one can ascertain a knowable concept of greatness and was hence applying it to a particular film. Yet Kant argues that is not how aesthetic judgments are made. According to Kant, if we could access such a notion of aesthetic greatness then we could simply give a litany of criteria that would establish a piece of literature as 3 Kant discusses five types of judgments, but it is clear that Kant wants to discuss the importance of aesthetic judgments, and, maybe teleological judgments. 4 ncept, and may be a little at odds with the experience of popular art. But, to the extent that some contemporary art is used to gross, shock, or provoke, one assumes that one takes pleasure in taking part in such art.
43 great. In other words, one would be able to establish a set of precise and universal standards for that film, hundred plus years of discussing film, as well as the millennia discussing art in general, we have yet to establish these precise and universal standards. For Kant, this is because such crit does not follow an external concept of beauty; the judgment is linked to a way of feeling that is traced back t o the pleasure in the beautiful ( CJ, Sec. 36, 37, 45). If aesthetic judgment is linked to pleasure, then one could argue that it is a purely subjective style judgment. Kant himself discusses judgment as to taste as different then aesthet ic judgment. Hence, is the statement that I enjoy swimming the same kind of 5 Certainly one might think that the statement about swimming is philosophically, ethically, and political subjective statement and its internal validity is attached to my feelings of pleasures. Yet, for Kant breaking with his contemporaries aesthetic judgments act differently then subjec ts of simple taste. As noted, for Kant, aesthetic judgments are not subjective; such judgments have a somewhat larger legitimacy. That being said, Kant needs to establish this larger legitimacy without resorting to a stable exterior standard. In fact, aesthetic judgments seem to have a larger legitimacy and yet such judgments are neither attached to an exterior determinative concept, nor are they according to Kant the type of judgments 5 In fact, Kant calls the judgment d
44 that themselves produce such standards. 6 Given this intellectual p roblem, Kant wants a great novel. In fact, the general problem of these types of statements is the chief theoretical concern of the first half of the Critique of Judgment 7 As suggested by the above analysis, Kant is concerned with the way that aesthetic judgments act as universal statements. This is the crux of the intellectual conceit of Critique of Judgment In this sense, Kant wants to establish the difference betw 8 statement. It is based on private knowledge, and others do not have access to that knowledge. ( CJ, to be linked to actual definition of candy, and is likely what Kant calls an analytic statement. (In this sense, the existence of sugar in candy defines it as sweet.) If one says that candy is not sweet, one most likely does not know either that candy contains sugar or the actual definition 9 To say that candy is sweet is not an aesthetic judgment, and it is not that interesting of a statement. In a similar way, a stat 6 As shall be discussed later in this chapter, Rancire will see this act of possible creation a little differently. 7 In this sense we can see how a treatise that is chiefly concerned with aesthetics can be ac tually about teleological judgments that are discussed in terms that imply that such statements are more than simply subjective statements. This is especia lly true when one thinks that Kant defines pleasure as something like the feeling of enchantment of life. 8 sugar. I think this is a sound general ass umption, artificial sweeteners notwithstanding. 9 It is important to note that though taste is an individual sensation, it is still a sensation with an objective test vis vis correspondence.
45 that interesting because it acts as an individual statement. In this sense, to switch to a statement like American Pastoral is a great novel is much more interesting. And, for Amer ican Pastoral statements of personal taste. Such statements assume that the object of judgment is an objective property of the thing being ju dged. ( CJ, Sec. 6). Put another way, the American Pastoral with it. It is a statement about a univer sal truth in which the truth itself is not universal. For Kant, such is the nature of statements of judgment. These statements of aesthetic judgments make an implicit appeal to universality: Kant himself writes that the judge of beauty judges for everyo ne. ( CJ, Sec. 7). Now, one could possibly overstate this, so it is important to note that Kant is not stating that such judgments are objective. The key is that they act like they are objective. To state that a piece of art is beautiful is to state that a ll people should think that such a thing is beautiful. ( CJ, Sec. 6, 7). As stated above, Kant believes that aesthetic judgments are subjective statements that act as universal statements. Kant writes: Therefore we have to justify a priori the validity n either of judgment which represents what a thing is, not of one which prescribes that I ought to dos something in order to produce it. We have merely to prove for the Judgment generally universal validity of a singular judgment that expresses the subjecti ve purposiveness of an empirical representation of the form of an object: in order to explain how it is possible that a thing can please in the mere act of judging it (without sensation or concept), and how that satisfaction of one man can be proclaimed a s a rule for every other, just as the act of judging of an object for the sake of cognition in general has universal roles. ( CJ, Se c. 31, emphasis in the original )
46 Though aesthetic judgments act as if they are universal, Kant realizes that people may not expect other people to actually agree with aesthetic judgments. That being said, if one makes an aesthetic judgment one is asserting that to the extent that the declarer is correct then everyone should agree with the aesthetic judgment. In other words, i f someone declares that something is beautiful that I do not think is beautiful, I judgments. The assumption is that aesthetic statements act as if they are objective. 10 Another key aspect of aesthetic judgments acting as if they are universal is that such judgments must be disinterested. When I judge something beautiful I must not make such a judgment because I have an interest in it. This means that I cannot have an interest in something that I find beautiful. For example, if I am to judge a house beautiful, I cannot have an interest in the actual shelter of the house. Or, if I am very hungry, I cannot claim in a disinterested way that a piece of culinary art is bea utiful or sublime. If I assigned beauty to these things when I had an interest in them then such a judgment would be a mistake. Put another way, a judgment of aesthetic beauty should not be based on the aspects of experience exterior to the thing being j udged. This is a very idiosyncratic argument because Kant also assumes that one can point out an individual predilection toward a type of pleasure. For example, if sushi at my favorite restaurant only taps into my subjective taste if I think I just happ en to like the type of vinegar they put in their rice then the kind of pleasure I feel from eating such sushi cannot form a basis for a judgments that acts as if it is universal. In this es, even while the 10 e notion of disinterestedness. One engages with aesthetic judgments as if they do not interest us on a subjective way.
47 same judgments are based on individual pleasure. Taken to its extreme, one could argue that this negates his notion of the ability of someone use aesthetic judgments as quasi universal statements. However, a close analysis reveals an in teresting interpretation. The disinterest Kant is discussing is linked to the actual existence of something: is very partial and is not a pure judgment of taste. We must not prejudiced in favour of the existence of things, but be quite indifferent in this respect, in order to judge things of ( CJ, the actual existence of an item in the w caring for the real that assigns value as to whether the object exists in the world. For example, a hungry person has a great interest in whe ther food actually exists, and cannot claim that he is disinterested in the object itself. In this sense, the pleasure one gets from the food is judgments and does not a llow us to eventually state that such judgments are universal. Judgments based on interest defined as a concern for the actual existence of an item do not act in a universal manner. In this moment of disinterest, Davide Panagia (2009) finds a kind of ega litarian spirit. He argues that Kant frees aesthetic judgments from the rules of normat ive judgment. According to Panagia egalitarian precisely because it cannot be motivated by a normative apparatus. Thus
48 Though it is possible to conceive of this disinterest as egalitarian, and it is likely important to take extreme circumstances out of the aesthetic calculus for examp le, the Kantian disinterest cannot be seen directly to his desire to make aesthetic judgments quasi universal. Hence, w hen made universal, those judgments are placed in a systematic and categorical perspective. They become statements with which we can argue and dispute. In that moment, egalitarianism and taste are subjugated to a phony rule based notion of discourse. 11 As noted above, Kant attempted to make aesthetic judgments akin to universal claims. In this sense, he wanted us to speak of aesthetics in the same way he imagined Critiqu e of Practical Reason, is nearly as influential as his epistemological philosophy. And though ethics is often a basis for political theory, Kant himself did not fully engage ical philosophy. Elisabeth Ellis (2005) points out that of all the major philosophers, Kant is probably the least explored concerning his political philosophy. This is important in the context of this discussion because one of the most comprehensive treat political philosophy is rooted in his aesthetic thought as expressed in CJ. in her a collection of talks Arendt g ave 11 J.M. Bernstein (1992) argues that Kant himself is attempting to make universal the moment of loss when an aesthetic experience passe s (18 29). This is an interesting interpretation, and one that subtly shapes my thinking here. However, such an analysis does not bear directly on my discussion here.
49 As discussed above, for Arendt, Kantian political judgment is based around the same est is of particular importance to Arendt. Arendt (1992 68 69 ) compares this type of spectator has is that he sees the play as a whole, while each of the actor knows only his part or, if he should judge from the perspective of acting, only the part of the whole that concerns him. The actor is partial by definition. spectator is in the best position to judge both aesthetically and politically. And, it is through this disinterest that we create Kantian consensus, a consensus based on aesthetic principles that are applied to political judgment. Given this link between aesthetic judgment and political judgment, Arendt sees consensus, persuade, and empathize. For, as Arendt repeatedly stresses, a concordance with the common sense is crucial. One does not just determine that something is pleasurabl e, and therefore desirable. The spectator must engage in the 69 taste because, like taste, it chooses But this choice is itself the subject to still another choice: o ne can approve or disapprove of the very fact of pleasing As discussed above, we first engage in the dialogue on the level of taste, but then we must examine such taste as disinterested spectators to see if we approve or disapprove of such a judgment. And, as noted, the basis of this approval is largely based on whether the general consensus would corroborate the choices of taste. These choices of taste then
50 interact with the political while forming our quasi universal judgments about such matters. Of course, there is quite a bit of imagination at play in this process. Arendt taking some liberties with Kant sense. As Kant states, we must imagine from a disinterested position, and then attempt to determ another normative leap here because the Kantian spectator must also approve of the judgment of the community. In other words, viewed from a disinterested point of view, is the common sense acceptance or rejection of my taste way is very questionable. This notion of aesthetic judgment through the community is structure a way that political judgment can be fashioned meaningful in a world that recog nizes contingency in such judgment. And, though Arendt may bend Kant, given politics to his notion of aesthetic judgment. Rancire Ja cques Rancire is a thinker who explicitly links aesthetics and politics. However, Rancire views aesthetics as a moment of judgment, Rancire sees aesthetic choice as a kind of pre cogniti ve way of ordering the world. In other words, Rancire sees aesthetics as filter, a kind of cognitive regime that is tied to notions of the beautiful. In this sense, it is
51 ( Rancire 2009, 22). Rancire writes: presentation by which the things of art as identified as such. And what links the practice of art to the question of the com mon is the constitution, at once material and symbolic, of a specific space time, of a suspension with respect to the ordinary forms of sensory experience. (Ibid, 23). Given this, we see three fundamental aspects of Rancire First as mentioned, there is a kind of ordering of the universe. This ordering is hugely important, and has political implications that will be explored in further sections of this chapter. Yet, what is perhaps most interesting of this ordering is that it is both personal and inter subjective. Each individual person has an aesthetic ordering that is linked to the way we view the world. When we interact with the sense world, we filter said senses through a structure that values a certain aesthetic order. Howe ver, this aesthetic order is created by both the individual structured of consciousness and a type of collective aesthetic regime that affects all people under such regime. The second relevant aspect of Rancire ng of the universe is exactly what makes the universe intelligible. In this sense, Rancire is categories, render the world understandable. This is especially inte resting because it implies that an aesthetic ordering of the universe is somewhat equivalent to categories of understanding like causality, space time, and part whole. In other words, for Rancire it makes as little sense to imagine a world that does not contain an underlying aesthetic regime. It is this regime that affects and informs the category of aesthetics. This aesthetic regime is essential to the filter that lets humans understand the world.
52 In this understanding of the world we see the third i mportant aspect of Rancire notion of aesthetics as a Kantian category. As noted, notions of aesthetic act as a filter, but it is a filter that implicitly injects a valuing system to sense experience. Just as some e a kind of value judgment about the world though Kant himself is attempting to move past such subjective moments Rancire aesthetics explicitly sees a semi subjective filter to sense experience. This value schema shows that aesthetics acts as a grouping mechanism, and it is a grouping mechanism that is linked to subjective aesthetic filters that act in a way that might, ironically, make Kant proud as if they are transcendental cognitive filters. 12 It is important to note that these aesthetic filters are pre contemplation, but not prior to experience. On Rancire also is shaped by experience. The aesthetic filter is defined by our cognitive responses to data, and that data is both defined and underst ood by the past and future aesthetic experience. This interaction of cognition, judgment, filters, and experience is, according to Rancire a key to why aesthetics has been linked to Fruedian thought: because they are themselves tokens of a certain unconscious. To put it another way: If it was possible for Freud to formulate the psychoanalytical theory of the unconscious, it was because an unconscious mode of thought had already been identified outside of the clinical domain as such, and the domain of works of art and literature can be defined as the privileged ground where (2010, 3 4) 12 As mentioned preciously, Murray Edelman (1995) made a similar argument in his work F rom Art to Politics. He also argues that art shapes out categories of understanding. But Edelman was concerned with the way those categories defined explicitly political ides like good and bad, friend and enemy. Rancire is concerned with the act of seei ng itself, and how that seeing is tied into the notion of the political. For Edelman, art can make us see a kind of person as good or bad, for Rancire art allows us to see certain people at all.
53 Examining the quotation above, one can see that Rancire assumes that any notion of discussing art in the context of the unconscious, and to a certain extent understanding the unconscious at all, is only possible if one assumes a kind of aesthetic r egime that is based on an imminent notion of the filter of art. The aesthetic filters acts on all sense data, even as it is acted upon by both sense data and the communal / historical aesthetic schema. Hence, to even comprehend modern notions of the subco nscious, or as Rancire wants to speak of it, the unconscious, one must assume an aesthetic regime explicitly changes the realm of art itself from the artist to the observers cognitive filter (2010, 7). It is only via looking at the way we value things ae sthetically that we can explore the mind via a Freudian approach. Hence, for Rancire a notion of aesthetics as a kind of Kantian category is foundational for a world that takes seriously Freudian ideas of the mind. If one can probe the subconscious val ues of a person and/or society by examining its aesthetic filters, then it is important to discuss how these filters are changed. Rancire assumes that such filters can be altered at moments of rupture, and it is those moments that define new aesthetic regimes. These are moments of revolution. And, importantly, for Rancire these ruptures are fundamentally political. Speaking / Hearing, B eing / Seeing: Rancire As implied by the above section, it is almost silly to attempt to discuss Rancire notion of aesthetics separately from his ideas about politics. More than even some thinkers linked with post modernism and post structu ralism Foucault, Derrida, and Lyotard Rancire sees deep seated link between aesthetics and politics. In this work Disagreement, Rancire
54 the people who are recognized as being able to speak. I quote Rancire at length because this passage is crucial to the understanding of his notion of politics: So the simple opposition between logical animals and phonic animals is in no way the given on which politics is based. It is, on the contrary, one o f the stakes of the very dispute that institutes politics. At the heart of politics lies a double wrong, a fundamental conflict, never conducted as such, over the relationship between the capacity of the speaking being who is without qualification and pol itical capacity. For Plato, the mob of anonymous speaking beings who call themselves the people does wrong to any is the name, the form of subjectification, of this immemorial and perennial wrong through which the social order symbolized by dooming the majority of speaking beings to the night of silence or to animal noise of voices expressing pleasure or pain. For before the debts that place people who are of no account in relatio nship of dependence on the oligarchs, there the symbolic distribution of bodies that divides them into two categories: those that one sees and those that one does not see, those that have a logoes memorial speech, an account to be kept up and those who hav e no logos, those who really speak and those whose voice merely mimics the articulate voice to express pleasure and pain. Politics exists because the logos is never simply speech, because it is always indissolubly the account that is made of speech: the account by which a sonorous emission is understood as speech, capable of enunciating what is just, whereas some other emission is merely perceived as noise signaling pleasure or pain, consent or revolt. (1998, 22 23, emphasis in original) Similarly, and eq ually importantly, Rancire (2009 24 ) later writes: Politics, indeed, is not the exercise of, or struggle for, power. It is the configuration of a specific space, the framing of a particular sphere of experience, of objects posited as common and pertainin g to a common decision, of subjects recognized as capable of designating these objects and putting forward arguments about them. Elsewhere, I have tried to show the sense in which politics is the very conflict over the existence of that space, over the de signation of objects as pertaining to common and of subjects as having the capacity of a com mon speech. As seen above, the act of deciding what is noise and what is intelligible is the key political moment for Rancire In this moment we recognize someone to speak, but to be seen by the whole. Hence, for Rancire political recognition is the determination of whether someone is speaking or simply grunting. Politics is a battle
55 Ranci re (1998 23 ) notes, for years in Rome the plebs did not speak: without a name, deprived of logos meaning, of symbolic Given that politics is linked to whether someone is a speaking thin g, and hence is tied to what Rancire calls the distribution of the sensible, it is relatively clear the role that art and aesthetics plays in affecting politics. Put another way, the battle over the capacity for common speech is a battle over the distribu tion of the sensible, and hence it is a battle that interacts with art and aesthetics. On Rancire divide up the sensible world. The framing of various moments with aesthetic values is a key to any attempt to comprehend the world. W e must aesthetically preference things in order to make sense of the world. And, in this making sense, we then assign people or things the ability to speak, to be recognized. Rancire (2009 23 ) writes: Art is not, in the first instance, political because of the messages and sentiments it conveys concerning the state of the world. Neither is it political because of the manner in which it might choose to represent political beca use of the very distance it takes with respect to these functions, because the type of space and time that it institutes, and the manner in which it frames this time and peoples t his place. As noted, art divides up the world, and in this dividing, it has a huge political impact. As it reframes the common notion of aesthetic value, and it assigns intelligibility to new things, and renders old things meaningless, it shapes the political landscape. Art cannot, via its explicit subject matter, render things i ntelligible, but it can affect the Rancire 2004, 19) This parceling out of the visible and the invisible is a fundamental aspect of the way that art affects the notion of seeing. There are both obvious and not so obvious
56 examples of this in the artistic world. Many of the later chapters in this work will discuss some of the more latent examples of the way art does this for example, as mentioned later in this manuscript, I see this done in the work of David Lynch, the Beatles, and Philip Roth, among others. However, for a blatant example, one might consider the use of editing in filmmaking. Both the Russian montage filmmak ing of the early 20 th century and the use of fractured editing in films like Bonnie and Clyde toward the end of the explored the possibility of seeing as dialectic, of seeing in a way that allowed viewers to combine ideas and images. Similarly, the choppy editing of Bonnie and Clyde influenced no doubt from the French new wave helped break up our understanding of linear causality. 13 By reworking the way in which we see, these uses of editing help divide, re divide, and define what is sensible and understandable. Another interesting example of this dividing of the world is argued by Davide Panagia. In his work The Political Life of Sensation, Panagia (2009 6 ) argues that skin itself is a kind of dividing line that is based on an aesthetic though possibly not entirely artistic might guarantee, and yet we insist on perceiving skin as a containment vesse l. Gender, boundary ( Ibid, 6). Yet, Panagia argues, a moment in which our sensible read skin in a different way would open up a huge space for new notions of identity, j ustice, and, eventually, politics. This aesthetic dividing line, like all aesthetic dividing lines, helps to shape our societal outcome. 13 Whole manuscripts can and have been written about thes e stylistic choices. I simply use this as an example of the way Rancire approaches the aesthetics as seeing and aesthetics as dividing.
57 In this sense, all art has a kind of politics that is linked with art. These politics are connected to the way we understand the work or art, which is also connected to the aesthetic filter as described above. For Rancire it is not the focus on certain issues that makes a work political, it is the means by which a kind of work is created the form that work of art creates. A crucial issue is whether the art moves into or against the prevailing aesthetic regimes. Hence, Rancire does not think that all a rt that has effect politically has to be a radical breath not everything needs to be Floubert or Goddard to be political. In fact, the tension that slightly radical art can have with the aesthetic regime can be even more interesting a revolutionary painte r ( Rancire 2004, 61). Hence, a John Coltrane can be a politically interesting as a John Cage. Sometimes slight disorder can reveal the prevailing order and change the basic assumptions of our aesthetic category or understanding even more than radical breaks in th e aesthetic order (Ibid, 60 61). Given this interaction between politics and aesthetics, Rancire (1998 58 ) because politics is aesthe tic in principle For Ranci re the dividing up of the world which is an aesthetic act, and one which is shaped and reinforced by art is a the basic political act. To be sure, I have some issues with the reduction of politics to aesthetic, and I express those issues in other parts of this manuscript. That being said, I think that Rancire as politics is a useful one. It might be a bit of an overly corrective move in trying to wrestle politics from the realm of power or class/economics, but a move that helps cla rify the stakes in aesthetics issues. Some aesthetic forms can
58 ( Rancire 1998, 50). It is the basis of the foundation moments of politics. Rancire (Ibid, 18) writes concerning the specific mechanism: the di It is this dividing that is essentially political. In this dividing, we see the birth of various difference, even such up of a ps of people are in association The wrong is one of recognition: it is a cogni tive wrong, an aesthetic wrong. And, it is the attempt to correct this wrong discussed aesthetic filter that forms a basis of political struggle. Rancire major wrong: the gap created by the emp ty freedom of the people between the arithmetical order and geometric order. (This wrong is) the introduction of an course, aesthetics is a key to the battle of the distribution of speaking bodies. In his discussion of the distribution of sensible, Rancire is concerned with democracy as a kind of politics where there are various and plural claims as to the Ranci re democracy is essentially
59 an aesthetic activity because there are no logic claims as to democratic politics. Any claim for recognition does not actually mandate a normative case for recognition. Like Rancire assumes t hat when democratic politics is a choice, and when a wrong is claim, then one should engage in democracy. Of course, there is no systematic normative requirement to generate a democratic politics, but the mere existence of a democratic politics injects no rms political society. Yet, for Rancire the various decisions in democratic politics revolve around aesthetics approaches to understanding. Theoretical Implications of Aesthetics as a Kantian Category Shifting from a Kantian notion of aesthetics to a no tion based on Rancire thought has interesting implications. First and possibly most importantly, is the notion that the kind of judgment that is rooted in aesthetics is much different. For Kant, aesthetic judgment was very much an attempt to separate s ubjective pleasure from the determination of something as beautiful. To judge a painting beautiful, one must simultaneously find it pleasurable but also be able to say that all people should find the painting beautiful. Hence, whereas Kant does not thi nk that a beautiful painting reflects beauty in the way that Plato might, he also believes that we can speak of beauty as if it is objective. We know that aesthetic judgment is not objective, not in the strictest sense at least, but it is a kind of discou rse that we can speak of in an objective way. In its ability to be subjective and yet act objective, Kant thinks that aesthetic judgments act in a similar way to scientific judgments. Both rest on the principle that, with proper judgment, we can speak of subjective determination as if they are objective. Rancire sees aesthetics differently. For Rancire our underlying aesthetic values shape such judgments. It is silly for anyone to discuss aesthetics as disinterested or
60 objective, at least in the tradi tional notion of objective. It is no such thing. Aesthetics are based on subjective and contingent regimes of aesthetic values. This is not to imply, however, that such values are the same for all people. On the contrary, there are intersections and thes e intersections create the notion of an aesthetic regime but there is also definite subjective and personal interaction within aesthetics. However, and this is fundamental, for Rancire the prevailing regime influences our aesthetic choices even prior to pleasure and pain, and, simultaneously, is continuously influenced by those choices. Hence, the aesthetic regime which, as discussed above, acts as a kind of aesthetic Kantian category both shapes and is shaped by aesthetic judgment. And, these interacti ons form a constant friction that creates, and stabilizes, our aesthetic actions and judgments. For the sake of clarity, it is important to note that the existence of an aesthetic regime, or category, does not imply that the judgment is not based on subj ective interest. It is, but with an underlying aesthetic order as a foundation. As discussed above, that underlying aesthetic foundation is the key to actually beginning to value things and to understand the world. The implication here is clear: whethe r something is whether one can see it in the cognitive universe is linked to our aesthetic understanding of the world. However, that understanding is not static. People constantly attempt to change that understanding, to challenge the aesthetic r egime. It is in these moments, according to Rancire that the basic premise of politics arises: the ability to more than simply being acknowledged. It is to be valued as comprehendible, understandable, ugly or beautiful, and, possibly, good. It is one thing to be discussed as
61 ugly; it is another to be not seen at all. On Rancire seeing is primarily an aesthetic consideration, and, hence, it links aesthetics and politics in a way that Kant would not have deemed proper. Again, Davide Panagia provides a good example. In the afore mentioned Political Life of Sensation, Panagia argues that narrative often acts as a kind of aesthetic regime. The world of art is too concerned with narrative telling a story and not concerned enough with sensation itself. Panagia examines the work of Caravaggio as well as the horror film The Ring in order to discuss the way in which some art actually criticizes the aesthetic regime based on narrative. The in argument and analysis are not that relevant to this discussion. What is important is the notion that art itself can help disrupt the aesthetic and consequently political regime. This is fundamental. The art can comment and challenge the aesthetic regime. For example, Panagia (2009, 120) argues that The Ring subverts what he calls the commitment to capture exploits the dynamics of conviction in cinemat ic experience by showing structural succession the chain of events is insufficient to account for the success of that e Given this The Ring disrupts the aesthetic regime of narrative supremacy. In other words, it allow s us to see just a bit differently in our aesthetic category. When we view and judge The Ring, we have to wrestle with our underlying aesthetic regime. Of course, I do not want to imply that all slightly discordant works of art challenge our underlying aesthetic assumptions. This would be disingenuous and preposterous. Some works of art simply fail. The do not engender any tug and pull with our aesthetic
62 sensibility, and they do not compel us. However, the implication of Rancire is that s ome art, by merely existing and being experienced, challenges our aesthetic regimes and our political order. It does imply that to change aesthetics is to change underlying notions of order and politics. This connection between aesthetics and politics is the logical extension, and rather explicit impact of Rancire Given that much of our aesthetic determination resides after the moment of experience, but before the moments of contemplation, one could argue that a serious implication of Ranci re experience. In other words, the subject matter of a piece of art is somewhat subordinate to the formal qualities of art, as well as to the way in which the art interacts with us in any giv en experience. To suggest that form is key is not much of a stretch because Rancire (2004, 14) himself argues such, specifically given his notion of the performances reflect social structured or movements. The form itself is essential to the artistic and aesthet ic regime. It is the key to our understanding of the universe as a place that is seeable, with things and people who are seen and heard. This is the ultimate implication of aesthetics as a kind of Kantian category: the notion that art shapes our political and ethical universe simply by the nature of us experiencing said art. Later in this manuscript I will discuss in much greater depth the implication of universe. (Or, put another way, form is under examined as a means of determining
63 rupture in aesthetic regimes. This exploration will grapple with the thought of Alain Ba diou, and attempt to comingle his thought with Rancire chapter, it is important to note that Rancire conceived of aesthetics as a kind of Kantian category, but one that is rooted in an artistic regime that is changeable. Yet, in this artistic regime, which shapes the aesthetic category, we see a kind of order that helps define both the aesthetic, and, e ventually the political.
64 CHAPTER 3 MARTHA NUSSBAUM AND THE PROLEM OF TICS AND POLITICAL THOUGHT Elvis inherited [the tensions of America], but more than that, gave them his own shape. It is often said that if Elvis had not come alo ng to set off the changes in American music and American life that followed his triumph someone very much like him would have done the job as well. But there is no reason to think this is true, either in strictly musical terms, or in any broader cultural sense. Greil Marcus (1990, 140 41) Nussbaum on Art Whereas in the previous chapter I explored the how aesthetics interacts with the conscious mind, and hence potentially with the political, in this chapter I discuss Martha (1992, 1995) aesthe tic theories as established in and Poetic Justice. Though Nussbaum is now often looked to as an expert on tolerance, the impact on political decision making. As the statement above suggests, Nussbaum holds art in high esteem, and believes it should inform public choices. Given this, Nussbaum adopts an essentially Aristotelian view of art: Art is a way to learn how various people might react, and it i s especially useful for political action and/or deliberation in liberal democratic societies. As this essay will suggest, I find this analysis lacking. The theory I develop is that Nussbaum does not pay enough attention to the role of form in art, especi ally when art connects with politics. Additionally, Nussbaum underplays the experiential and cognitive aspects of art. And finally, I argue politics itself, will be wo rse off. Martha Nussbaum attempts to expand the landscape of ethical and political philosophy by opening up a space for literary thinking. In other words, moral and
65 political philosophers should be more responsive to the milieu of ethical reasoning that literature and art illuminates. Given this assertion, Nussbaum (1992, 1995), in Knowledge and Poetic Justice, analyzes texts from the context of philosophical inquiry. In fact, Nussbaum (1990) suggests that some truths can only be understood via narrative literature (5). Narrative itself allows us to understand the proper ethical In and Poetic Justice, Nussbaum offered the first structured explanation of her theory of literature and how literature interacts in society. Nussbaum seems to make two claims about the political and social value of art: First, certain kinds of novels especially realistic political dramas offer us a way into a special type of polit ical reasoning; and second, these realistic novels widen a native human aptitude that helps their readers be more empathetic citizens. Hence, to a certain extent, in see implies an ability to feel compassion 14 This compassion must be nurtured and cultivated, and literature is the best way to do this. In fact, it is not a stretch to say that Nussbaum is enamored with the literary, and her most elementary claim is that some aspects of life can only be understood via the literary novel. These aspects of life revolve around the truths that roughly speak to the age old question of how a human bei ng should live. Nussbaum (1992 23 ical sphere These texts allow us to flex our muscles of compassion. 14 Other thinkers with less of reliance on the emphatic power than Nussbaum has have made similar arguments. I am thi nking of people like Rorty or Laclau.
66 ng of the role of art and literature in ethics is rooted in an Aristotelian approach to life and aesthetics. The basis of this approach is that meticulous and practical contexts are ethically important. The Aristotelian / Nussbaum approach to life requir es a richly differentiated faculty of perception. It requires the kind of salience that can only be found in the appreciation of literature (1990, 37). It should praxis Nicomachean Ethics as a starting Poetics seriously as a source of information about his views on the meaning of life and the n ature of happiness. 15 human life can only be fittingly and accurately stated in the language and forms of the are generally with the larger query that directs her investigation of how we might best live, and especially live together. Nussbaum, in fact, claims that certain ethical decisions need the narrative so that justice may prevail (Ibid). In other words, for Nussbaum reading suitable novels develops compassion in the reader that is also indispensable for any sufficient moral appreciation. This ethical appreciation demands a vigilant awaren ess to the particulars of our existence as humans. This is clearly linked to the Aristotelian view of ethics, politics, and aesthetics. Thus this Aristotelian attitude requires an opulently distinguished sense of discernment. Despite some trends in philo sophy, to Nussbaum 15 Metaphysics and De Anima,
67 cognitive implication of moral praxis is a consequence of using Nicomachean Ethics as a theoretical sounding board. She, like Aristotle, sees habit Poetics sincerely as an intellectual foundation regarding his views the ultimate nature of Ethics form the basis of politics for Nussbaum, and hence art is politically functional in democracies. In Poetic Justice, Nussbaum is explicit: Understanding novels will augment the performance of what Nussbau letting social scientists, politicians, judges, and economists craft superior models of reality. The advantages of this superior paradigm will eventually seep downward to the population via the democratic power structure. (L ater in the monograph, Nussbaum suggests that the populace can be better citizens by engaging in literature by being augments justice in democratic liberalism. Such insig hts promote toleration and pluralism. As mentioned, one can see that Nussbaum associates considering an additional viewpoint as analogous to being empathetic about said viewpoint. In fact, Nussbaum (1995 11 ) is mindful of basically one type of the novel tical themes The contemporary fascination with the TV show The Wire is a good example of this type of aesthetic value. The Wire has been applauded by intellectual or quasi intellectual publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, the New Republic, Slate, and others. The key appeal of The Wire is that it examines the way American institutions
68 specifically in Baltimore intri cately plotted series run deals with a separate issue: the drug war, unions, reform, education, and the media. The show explored what creator David Simon called the Of course, it is both true and shibboleth that The Wire is one of the five or ten best watching The Wire. Whereas many of the characters are enjoyable, and the d ialogue is often akin to street poetry, watching the most difficult episodes mostly in the masterful season four, which concerns the Baltimore education system is not an enjoyable nts us to learn. This is certainly a function of art, even great art. (Certainly both Cabin and The Wire are very good, possibly great, art.) This is also a function of art that would make Nussbaum proud. However, it is not the only function of art, and it is not the only way that the artistic realm affects the political. Nussbaum, depending on how one reads her, either pretends like form is irrelevant to the novel, or she privileges the form of the narrative novel. 16 (Or as discussed somewhat below, she does lip service to form.) For art to be useful in liberal democracies, Nussbaum thinks that such art must tell a coherent and sympathetic story. Without said story, the notion of em pathy and understanding is rendered moot. On understand in almost explicit terms the elements 16 My ideas concerning Nussbaum Jennifer Forsee, and Stow (2008). Additionally, email exchanged between Stow and I have been very helpful.
69 of the narrative so that one can empathize with the characters. Art is rooted in narrative, and narrative teaches empathy. to the extent that she has one at all useful form is ultimately tied to a conventional narrative. Yet, content and form can be at odds It is often this tension that makes art interesting. Derrida (1998 37 ) made this point late in his life: Let us take the example of two perfectly identical discourses, identical down to their comas: the one can be lying if it presents itself as a serious and non fictitio us address to the other, but the other (the same in its content) is no longer lying if it surrounds itself with the distinctive signs of literacy fiction, for example, by being published in a collection that clearly says: this is literature, the narrator i s not the author, no one had committed himself here to telling the truth before the law, thus no one can be a ccused of ling Derrida strikes at the heat of the issue of form versus content, and his argument suggests why Nussbaum is wrong about form and how it related to the artistic experience. For Derrida, form is important even when the content is the same. This can be seen by imagining the same basic story told by two authors, John Updike and John Grisholm. Though, of course, taste is somewhat subject ive, critical response and novel.) And though I imagine that Updike might make more of an i mpact, it is most important in the context of this paper to note that the impact would almost certainly be different, and that difference would be tied to the form of the literature. This makes sense if, as Heidegger (1971, 28) suggests, form is the arr an gement of matter. It is in this arrangement of matter that art takes shape, and it is in this shape that art communicates.
70 Even a neo Marxist like Adorno, who thought that art was ultimately linked to truth and critiquing reason, argued that art cannot be reduced to its social function. Adorno (2005 1 3 ) writes: All efforts to restore art by giving it a social function of which art is itself uncertain and by which it expresses its own uncertainty are doomed. Truth exists exclusively as that which has become. What appears in the artwork as its own lawfulness is the late product of a inter technical secularization. So, for Adorno, even a materialistic philosophical foundation does not allow for ar t to be reduced to its socials function. 17 Art is often a kind of intellectual universes in and of itself. 18 Nussbaum as a template, one could say that we are forced to eat the same kind of food over and over, only paying attention to its nutritional value. Yet, our enjoyment of food is not limited to its nutritional value, it is also and some would primarily linked to its form: how it tastes, smells, looks, and etc. Without taking the analogy too far, one could also see we eat for various reasons: sustenance, enjoyment, social connect ion, comfort, etc. Yet Nussbaum wants us to eat for only one reason, sustenance. She is limiting the form of art, and hence the way we interact with it, and therefore limits her ability to understand the ways that art like the cuisine mentioned above int eracts with the entirely of life. Of course, the content of art like food is important, but so is the form. Or, one could say that, like Derrida implies, that form and content are intimately linked. To ignore or devalue form is to fail to understand how content works. 17 I do acknowledge that this might be a somewhat limiting interpretation of Ador 18 only be bound in experience. Yet he also adopts a strange if interesting distinction between form and content. Nevertheless, Dewey links aesthetic form to visceral aesthetic experie nce.
71 How Nussbaum Doe s Not Understand Art as Experien ce: Red Rooms, Pips, and Other S trangeness Nussbaum blends art into everyday living, but then is betrayed by her own notion is not to suggest that people do not learn from reading novels, but there is an entire mode of inquiry about how this happens which often depends on form and Nussbaum does not tackle this issue. Therefore, to spotlight merely one facet of this subject, an d, hence, to argue that people simplistic level, such art does not ultimately necessitate people to be active. Humans may relate to the characters in a novel, but hum ans do it outside of the context of our own lives. Simply put, it is one thing to be empathetic with a character, it is another for that empathy to change ones attitude or, even, spur someone to action. Novels may make us reflect on our lives, or even ch ange our attitudes, but novels as qua novels do not necessarily enlighten us. Art should be, as Heidegger and Dewey suggest, a living experience. It should be connected to our lives. Nussbaum, on one hand, does recognize we must experience a novel. Ye t Nussbaum wants the experience to be akin to some kind of lecture, or, maybe, an audio book lecture about the moral turpitude of the poor and desolate. Dewey argues that philosophers often isolate art from experience. In fact, Dewey notes that aesthetic form or the visceral aspect of aesthetic experience has little or nothing to do with reason, empathy, or contemplation. The form, which for Dewey was most important, was what changed citizens. Art acted via form on our emotions, not reason and thoughts.
72 communicate especially in the context of democracies in a way that reason cannot. We use art to express ourselves and our ideas. t, Davide Panagia (2006 5 6 ) refines the term aesthetics in a way that is helpful to this discussion: By aesthetics, I refer to the tradition of reflection that turns to sense experience in order to pose the question of value: What is value and what are of value, there is a tendency to subsume aesthetic insights for the greater purpose of moral reflection (5 6). t is hardly a theory at all. It does not engage aesthetics as qua aesthetics. In fact, such theories often ignore the experiential, cognitive, and beautiful aspects of aesthetics, as well as ffect on politics. Alan Singer (2003), in his book Aesthetic Reason: Artworks and the Deliberative Ethos, Singer (2003, 10 11) examines the cognitive efficacy of aesthetics: The anti aesthetic thus fails to take an analytical stance that might actually produce ameliorative and artistic change. Alternatively, my position will be that such productivity falls within the cognitive precincts of the aesthetic itself. Precisely be cause the partisans of the anti aesthetic preclude formal particulars in favor of the factual particulars of lived experience, they cut us off from the productive agency without which the very appearance of factual particulars is unintelligible. They invi te us to forget that facts are intelligible only in the context of conceptual choices Again, as Singer points out, thinkers like Nussbaum ignore the experiential value of aesthetics and reduce said value simply to a utilitarian cause. Yet the value of ae sthetics is linked to, as both Dewey and Singer indicate, sense experience. (Ibid, 71) and John Grisholm, I would argue that form is crucial if not essential to art, both
73 aestheti cally and politically. This is not to say that there is no relation between subject matter and quality; there often is. In fact, as both Collingwood (1929) and Nussbaum state, art is often the best when form and content mix in a perfect way (340). An ar tist who can only work well when stimulated by an odd type of topic is very limited in his approach. Such an artist is not a virtuoso of his ability, but such an artist may be one Not all artists need skill and m astery The artist may be freed from his art, and one might not need to worry about the presence or non presence of a rousing subject matter that creates certain kind of content. If that is so, the essential dominance of the traditional artist evaporates This is all to say, that form, in all its excitement and vividness, is key to the resonance of art. In this sense, impressive art receives such procedural and communicative faultlessness that, it says it with accomplishment. H ence, whichever performer that makes a work of art at all is a type of majestic artist. Art is, on he art. In fact, it is a reasonably straightforward emotion to be awed by something and/or to sense that you have something imperative to illuminate via art. It is much, much, more challenging to determine the paramount and most feasible way to communica te this idea, and therefore formulate the art in a way that is lucid, interesting, and entertaining. This so difficult because you often have to make your content prostrate to your form. Additionally, and most importantly, you must stop being enamored wi th the concentrate on the array and combination of the sense experience creation.
74 In fact, Hannah Arendt makes the intelligent point that to the extent art is instrumental to say education it loses its value as art. Arendt (1958 168 ) writes: contrary, it must be removed carefully from the whole context of ordinary use objects to attain it s proper plac e in the world To a certain extent, the key to art is the fact that it is there at all In fact, Nussbaum herself subtly acknowledges this by admitting that the standard types of forms the forms of the philosophical polemic why is she blind to the way she limits and attacks form intellectual, societal, and political impact betrays how vanilla N ussbaum is when it comes to aesthetic form. heavily throughout this manuscript on the thought of Hannah Arendt. It is true that Arendt also celebrates narrative, going as far as to argue that it is through narrative that life itself offers us meaning. However, as discussed slightly differently in chapter five, the distinction between Nussbaum and Arendt rests in the idea of the author Nussbaum rests her analysis on notio n of a sovereign author. This author then influences the people who experience her art: There is a one to one movement of ideas from author to recipient. In this sense, narrative offers simply another mode of expression of certain ideas from one individu al to another. narratives is not clearly delineated; there is no clear author in the way that Nussbaum
75 likes to imagine. This is partly because Nussbaum is discussing n arratives as crafted in the notion of art, and how that art helps us in democratic societies. Yet Arendt is discussing narrative from the perspective of being connected to meaning in life. The Arendtian author, to the extent that such a thing exists, is jointly created by the individual and collectively acting to create the narrative. It is true that we act individually, but the meaning is determined by the ability to act in concert in the public sphere. And though Arendt acknowledges that the historian as a storyteller creates meaning, she also states that the individual actors have very little ability to understand the actions while they are acting. 19 to ideas of individual sovereignty. In this sen se, Nussbaum limits her notion of narrative in the same way she limits her notion of aesthetic form. A casual look at the work of filmmaker David Lynch exposes how much form contributes to meaning, political and social. 20 On his groundbreaking show Twin Peaks, Lynch used a deliberate off kilter form of filmmaking, especially for network television and especially before pioneering shows like X Files Northern Exposure, Lost, 24, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer shook the foundation of network TV. 21 For neophy tes, Twin 19 Consult chapter five for more about Arendt on this issue. 20 Th ere is a lot of excellent work 1993) and McGowan (2000, 2004). 21 cable stations of ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and CW (formerly WB and UPN). I realize that this distinction means a bit less now given the rise of quality original programming on cable networks like HBO and Showtime The Wire, Deadwo od, Six Feet Under, Dextor, The Sopranos, Treme, Big Love, and others as well as excellent shows in semi cable networks like FX, ScyFi, AMC, or Bravo. These semi cable shows include such critical darlings as Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, as well as the show that has taken the mantle from The Wire as the most respected show on television: Mad Men. I do not think it is a stretch to argue that none of these shows, especially the network shows, would be possible without Lync Twin Peaks. JJ Abrams and Damon Lindeloff, the creators of Lost possible the most formally adventurous show ever on network TV basically said their show was a mix of Twin Peaks, The Prisoner, and The Twilight Zone.
76 Peaks was a show broadcast in the early 1990s, and co created by auteur and known weirdo David Lynch. The show was ostensibly about the violent and mysterious murder of the homecoming queen in the small town of Twin Peaks. 22 However, Lynch, bein g Lynch, used the show to dissect the ugly insides of small town America. He did this via obvious matters of plot/content: For example, the victim, Laura Palmer, seemed to be an all American girl, but she was also a prostituting cocaine addict. Lynch al so used the clash between the non logical and the logical to express this tension. FBI agent Dale Cooper who had jurisdiction because a victim wandered across state lines power of Tibetan rituals, evil spirits, and the prognostication of dreams. In addition to Cooper representing a kind of duality, the whole show played with those ideas. Lynch, being a very visual filmmaker, explicitly used the form of the series to explore his themes. The hues, the set design, the sophisticated catchword 23 The more conformist exploits of the calculating camera is trapped by unfixed visual w ithin and exterior are often mixed. An immense employment of timber chopped or not offers an exterior sentiment to the obvious internal settings. The internal settings proliferate with stuffed animals, as well strange pictures of the forest regularly pho tographed like artificial backdrops for interior scenes. 22 Twin Peaks is, of course, abo Lost is about a plane crash or The Wire blush. 23 I realize this is an oxymoron, but is one that fits.
77 the viewers up for mutually visual methods. Its visual segments soften in the midst of jagged images and clashes with the tensions of the leisurely, sorrowful, but rather dreamy theme the music suggests. According to Lynch, an inscrutable interpenetration of contradictory thoughts such as pretty robins and tumbling waterfalls melt into the objet d'art of a mechanized lo gging business that discharges chunky pollution and produces blonde flickers with its mechanism. The show is implicit in its ability to distinct units until said units m ingle with each other is seen repeatedly. These images, which, via form, imply the tension between reason and emotion in deciding legal and ethical outcomes would not fit within the formal discussion of Nussbaum. To her, the show would be about the ethica l issues concerning a murder investigation. Yet, as the form of the show suggests, that is exactly what the show is not about. Twin Peaks. The extended passagew supplementary to a mannish huntsman, inspiring a positivistic requirement of the definitive power of physicality, which as Lynch shoots it seems, strangely, feminine. In comparison, in Twin Peaks, the occurrence of an alte rnate handling of this attempt deteriorates both its customary sex insinuations and its habitual classification of the association amid the standard detective tropes. And, of course, these sex insinuations connect the body to the deduction. Often a motio nless camera might look down a lengthy passageway whilst shapes emerging from far away may come en route for us Q
78 Truman, congregate for the initial time they are minuscule fig ures shaking hands at the conclusion of an extremely lengthy infirmary hallway. As the two law man move in the direction of the onlooker, the lengthy hallway is not claustrophobic anymore but somewhat liberating. Yet instead of a place from where benevole nt effects materialize, outward affability of the hallway is piece of a text in which the idyllic topic location is The use of form in Twin Peaks is a deliberate commentary on the dialectic of desire and fantasy, of the possible and the impossible, the deductive and the intuitive. It is a discussion that does not work on the basic level of content. This is seen clearly in conclusion of the third episode a crowning achievement of what is even artistically possible on network episodic television 24 implies that one must wrestle with th e inscrutability, and, hence, the gum a such way that subverts the entire Freudian clich of Oedipal castration dread. wo 25 : The afore all sides by flowing scarlet drapery. 26 Aside from the red drapes, the room contains 24 This third ep isode of Twin Peaks is often listed with Buffy The X ma. It often rivals non network TV such as The Sopranos Battlestar 25 26 don did a up for his excellent episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer a show he liked but he was explicit in the DVD commentary about the vaginal i magery.
79 merely a trio of a dark quasi art deco chair, an archaic torch lantern, and a Grecian marb le sculpture of a nude female shape. The floor of the red room tilted in a pattern looking, and obviously aging, Cooper is sit ting in a geriatric chair. Another chair is taken by a little man wearing an ill fitting a red ensemble. Within a blink of the eye, or a flash of the camera, another chair is In an eerie moment, the little man in red and Laura converse as though their voices are placed through some archaic filter invented by Thomas Edison in the early twentieth century. Laura is clad bizarrely in an evening dress much like a custom Lorna Tur ner would wear in an old Hollywood studio film. As Laura and the little man speak, their gesticulations are inscrutable. This inscrutability is principally accurate regarding the with at least as much connotations laden as in his strange discourse, and just as complex a process to decode. Dale Cooper seems conscientious throughout the dream; he in no way rises to stand, and he scarcely talks. Cooper observes the well dressed little man boogie to a recurring, cadenced music with a hip jazz/blues tuneful line played on an alto saxophone. Clearly, Cooper is enthralled by the little man, despite there being a lack of logic to his existence and his actions. The little man starts bopping, rasping hands, or merely turning his back to Dale Cooper and trembling. 27 27 This is really a spooky effect.
80 besieged by (should be dead) Laura Palmer, who is hardly comprehensible because of some clever sound management by the creators. In a sense, the Red Room is pure experience, pure form In true Lynchian fashion, the Red Room is a set piece where all that has been clichd of onscreen bears a resemblance to the loc ation of a murder or felony in run of the mill detective yarns. In a normal murder mystery, the site of the crime is like the Red Room a location where no deed can be branded in terms of a practical or rational purpose. Contrasting more generic filmic det ectives, however, Cooper learns more from body than from his rational mind. Like a So Ho poetry reading, rational lingo and deeds body speaks, and the body breaks In a brilliant str oke, Laura (McGuffin) Palmer, who is nothing but an inert body in the waking rational world of Twin Peaks, actually has the answer to her own murder and is willing to tell Detective Cooper in his dream/Red Room. Dissimilar to the standard femme fatale, La ura is neither sexualized and objectified, but neither is she desexualized or sex less. Dead, aging Laura Palmer of the Red Room is actually a subject with a will; she is granted a will somewhat by the semi evil Red Room. There is delight when Cooper gai ns information through integration with Laura Palmer, in some bizarre Vulcan mind meld. Laura even informs Cooper the name of her killer while kissing the concerned looking FBI detective. However, the longing fulfilled in the kiss is aving to comprehend and commune. Luckily, Laura is not nearly form alone
81 Lynch deconstructs the boundaries of desire and fantasy, as well as masculine and feminine. 28 I explore the work of David Lynch above not to try to suggest that Lynch though a great talent relies on formal qualities to only convey meaning, or that such conveyance is unique. Certainly, almost by definition, good artists tend to master form. However, this in is not uni que to visual mediums. In fact, this reliance also reaches to several other aspects of art. The early Sun Records recordings by Elvis Presley are great examples. Sun Records owner Sam Phillips kept detailed accounts of all his proceedings, and at this p oint almost every note of every take has been released for record I am fascinated takes that the formal qualities of music really shine and that formal quality reveals its political implications The first few takes have Elvis singing it in a sad country voice, somethin g like Hank Williams or Jimmie Rodgers might sing. Yet on a later take the quality of race music, of a county song sung by a white southerner who wanted to sound black. I Elvis and Jackie Robinson had as much to do with the end of Jim Crow as Rosa Parks and Brown vs. Board of Education, then I hear the first nail in the coffin of Jim Crow in 28 David Lynch plays similar formal games in his often misunderstood film Lost Highway. Yet some view Lost Highway chalk up narrative is unconventional just for the sake of being unconventional or that the point is simply that there is no point. If that is the case, then Lost H ighway hardly sees worth the 135 minutes that a viewing Lost Highway
82 the so itself had not changed. But the style, the form was radically different. Years of slavery, Jim Crow, white poverty, crooked preachers, and southern comfort are all K change. And, of course, in this particular case, the change is explicitly political, even if the content of the music is not. To my ears the great musical integration moment occurs in what is possibly the best book about rock music and America, Mystery Train argues, more conventionally, that the magical 0 142 ) in length due to its perception: frustrated. They share a feeling they could pull something off if the hit it g away, as it always does. They talk music, blues, Crudup [a blues musician], ever hear that, bit. He throws himself at a song. eat shit voice slides over the lines as the two musicians come in behind him, Scott picking up the melody and the bassman slapping away at the axe. [Recording engineer and owner of the th en struggling Sun Records] Phillips hears it, likes it, and makes up his mind. t mess it up. Keep it simple. They cut the song fast, put down the instruments, vaguely em barrassed at how far they went into the music. Sam [Phillips] plays back the tape. Man with himself, joshing his performance. They all wonder, but not too much. Get on home, n ow, Sam says. I gotta figure out what to do with this. They leave, but Sam Phillips is perplexed. Who is gonna play this crazy record? T he hell with it.
83 Yet, Marcus (1990 ) takes the analysis even farther, linking to desegregation and s ecularization. The following quotation elaborates on the statement with which I began this chapter : Elvis inherited [the tensions of America], but more than that, gave them his own shape. It is often said that if Elvis had not come along to set off the changes in American music and American life that followed his triumph someone very much like him would have done the j ob as well. But there is no reason to think this is true, either in strictly musical terms, or in any broader cultural sense. It is vital to remember that Elvis was the first young made up on the spot; and to know that even though other singer would come up with a white version of the new back music acceptable to teenage is emotionally complex music that can return something new each time you listen to it. What I hear, most of the time, is the affection and respect Elvis felt for the limits and conventions of family life, of his community, and ultimately American life, c aptured in his country sides, and his refusal of those limits, of any limits, played out in his blues ( Marcus 1990, 140, 146 17). To the extent that Elvis Presley changed America politically and socially and I distinction then that change came almost entirely from the form of his music. The content, to the extent that the content was not wrapped in form, was irrelevant. I doubt there are ten fiction books that have had the effect on twentieth century America that Elvis has, and that effect was nearly the result of formal variations in art. In fact, pop music despite the stereotypes has a long history of very complex forms. Soul music, in particular has an interest ing form of dialectic in its vocals. Social explains: nutritious and innutritious, at the same time.
84 29 the frivolousness of the Pips doing their train whistle ooo s soul singing down to earth. Without the Pips, Gladys not catchy enough, therefore boring, and omething I am supposed proposition; my point is that Gladys alone would be just as ignorable 173) The point Eddy is making above is similar to my whole argument against Nussbau interaction of form and content to experience the full implication of art. Of course, to fully appreciate this, one cannot exclude form, or, as Nussbaum is want to do, limit form to one type of artistic endeavor. Implications of Form Reconsidered One of the ironies that Nussbaum ignores her own conclusions by suggesting we learn in an Arist in that the problem with Anglo American philosophy is that its style is boring and not compelling. Given the current state of philosophy of aesthetics, the complicated to establish what Nussbaum is protecting. She sometimes seems to argue that analytic styles do not do justice to ethical authenticity. This seems like a strange statement for Nussbaum to make. What appears to be accurate is that a technique which has elements of calculated aridness is not probable to articulate human experience. Perchan ce such a style cannot create the germane feelings. It may be true 29 In fact, I would personally put i n the top 10 or 20 pop/rock/soul singles of all time.
85 that emotions must be felt to be truly known; if so, we would have the implication that one cannot attain facts of very many ideas from so called analytic philosophy. In fact, Nussbaum ma y be comfortable with this notion, since on other junctures she says that traditional philosophy does a bad job at empathy, and hence justice. Yet, if it is the style of Anglo American philosophy that makes it difficult for us to learn empathy, then why does she want to narrow the aesthetic styles to issue oriented only one type of art. Again, this seems to a case where Nussbaum simply contradicts herself. Or, li ke mentioned above, maybe she is afraid of the vast pluralism where other types of aesthetic expression are considered in the valuing of justice, politics, and collective living. view of art that I think is wrong and antiquated, I think this discussion has some impact on how political theorists evaluate texts. For example, I think political theorists could do a better job of engaging in the style other theorists. With the excepti on of some studies of Nietzsche, this aspect of theory is often lacking, if not explicitly slighted. For example, Dean makes a comment that I find troubling. First she acknowledges that Zizek is somet ime ignored do to his style (and content): be antagonistic with serious thought. His enjoyment of mainstream movies, his delight in shocking audiences with ethnic and sexual jokes suggest to many an excess incompatible with rigorous, systemic thought. (Dean 2006, xv). Though Dean bemoans such misinterpretation of Zizek, she instead tries to rearrange his style his form to fit traditional theory. Dean (Ibid, xiv) writes that
86 This is somewhat disturbing to me because Zizek seems to be a writer who relishes his form and Dean is a thinker who appreciates such form. Hence, it is somewhat sad t hat The Ticklish Subject a gap forever separates what one is tempted to call proto i n To get an approximate idea of this dialectical vortex, let us recall the classic opposition of the two mutually exclusive notions of light: light as composed of particles and li ght as consisting of waves ontological status that it turns into somet hing that is ontologically incomplete, composed of entities whose status is ultimately virtual. Or think of the way the universe we reconstruct in our minds while reading a nice is k on shelves the writer simply did not have a precise idea of it in his mind. What, however, if on the level of symbolic meaning at least the same goes for reality itself? (56). Zizek acknowledges that there is a gap between the symbolic order and the way we see the world, a gap that he links to Lacan. Of course, Zizek himself writes in way that helps to represent this symbolic tension. Whether it is strange references to popul ar culture like Hitchcock or Lynch, or his fragmented paragraph structures, Zizek relishes in the twisted interaction of form and content. His form is always an attempt to in consciously fails. However any o systematize a somewhat disorganized a writer like Zizek is useless. In fact, it can be crucial. However,
87 reduce a thinker like Zizek to logical arguments diminishe s the possibility of meaning in our intellectual capacities. Like the film noir of which Zizek is so fond, on cannot 30 As a conclusion, I suggest that theorists should make a specific aim to engage in t he form of a work of art and philosophy. And I am not just writing about monographs. I can imagine lots of creative endeavors think of the radical impact of the editing of Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch that would examine political theory on a forma l level. There is some tradition of this in work that intersects with political theory. C. Right Mills (1944) discussed the formal qualities of abstract expressionism and the political implications of such form. Additionally, David Craven (1990) discus sed similar ideas from a much less explicitly leftist perspective. 31 However, the Nussbaum approach is prevalent. 32 This approach even permeates the analysis of art and politics, and hence it destroys the notion of the aesthetic as it intersects with politics. However, as indicated above, such a discussion could open up all kinds of avenues of for academic scholarsh ip and perceptive scholarly work, as well as allow for aesthetics to intersect with political thought in a more receptive and perceptive way. 30 For a good discussion of the formal aspects of film noir and how it is linked to meaning, see Broe (2003). 31 For good general discussions of these issues see Jachee (1991). Additionally, for a decent Rampley (1996). 32 See Smith (1994) for a good example of the most reductive version of this analysis.
88 CHAPTER FOUR WOUNDED AE S THETICS: WENDY BROWN PHILIP ROTH, AND A THEORY OF THE INTERACTION OF A RT AND POLITICS Lies, Suffering, and Oprah Winfrey in his work the Poetics Aristotle famously explained the role of art as one of both tion of art in The Poetics is an element of his larger concentration on the ethical, or moral, schooling of the citizen. Normally the Republic Aristotle attempts to m continuing moral instruction of the individual. is an inaccurate and limiting philosophy of aesthetics, my concern here is not strictly with criticizing Ar standards by which so its utilita rian value. Nevertheless, it is more important to determine the underlying basis of aesthetic values. To be precise, I am apprehensive regarding the hazard posed to our societal and political existence by the quasi fundamental aesthetic values of Western culture. Given a Platonic shift in our epistemological outlook whether based on religion, reason, logic, or science quality of the art or the aesthetic experience. In other and reveals some little
89 regarding its aesthetic value. 1 a more in such is linked to actual suffering. This type of art can be in the form of autobiographical memoirs like the below discussed work by James Frey (2005), in document aries like Born into Brothels, as Hotel Rwanda Contrary to those who value art for its ability to reveal hidden not 2 wherein political identity or political worth creates an interaction between art and politics. During this discussion I use Philip Roth American novel American Pastoral other possible views of the interaction between aesthetics and politics. Specifically, ons of an and confused. Ultimately, I argue with the help of thinkers such as Nietzsche and Derrida etics and its impact on politics. Additionally, such an analysis suggests a superior approach in dealing with aesthetics and politics, an approach based on the celebration of life and the appearances of beauty. 1 This use of affirmative action is simply a metaphor. I do not mean to make any claims regarding affirmative action as a policy in the context of any discriminated sub group. I am, in fact, generally in favor of affirmative action policies, but such a position has no influence on the theoretical aspects of this paper. 2 This term is from her aptly titled, and quite brilliant, book States of Injury
90 The appearance of beauty was probably the lack of suffering club 3 A Million Little Pieces an detailed the astonishing destruction his dysfunctions and drug addiction had on himself and anyone close to him. Among the friendship with a mafia boss, having to endure root canals without pain killers, and the if a bit simplistic read, and it served a cauti onary tale about drug abuse. biography, A Million Little Pieces spent only a few hours in jail, not eighty seven days (as was claimed in the book). As the evidence began to poor out, eventually Frey and his publisher, Random House, o the beginning of all future copies of the book. The note stated, among other things, the following: People cope with adversity in many different ways, ways that are deeply personal. [...] My mistake [...] is writing about the person I created in my mind to help me cope, and not the person who went through the experience. Frey even agreed to a confrontation with Oprah Winfrey. Initially, Winfrey had supported Frey; she even called into the television show Larry King Live when King was 3 club is a strange creation. Its book selections have range from non fiction by Sydney Poitier and Bill Cosby to respected novels b y Elie Wiesel, Gabriel Garca Mrquez, and Cormec McCarthy.
91 grilling 4 Frey abo ut his work. Eventually Winfrey did a turn around on A Million Little Pieces show subsequent to Frey admitting that the book was malarkey. Winfrey expressed this anger to Frey, as well as regret about vouching for Frey to Larry King. Winfrey stated: I feel duped. But more importantly, I feel that you betrayed millions of [And] I regret that phone call made a mistake and I left the impression that the truth does not matter, and I am deeply sorry about that. That is not what I believe. To everyone who has challenged me on this issue of truth, you are absolute ly right (Memmott, 2006.) Frey admitted feebly that he misled people, and he then blamed his drug show was evident, and some of the viewers visibly seemed hurt of literary license. seemed real via the prism of complaint. Did the experience of reading the book change because of the later known books that are judged via aesthetic principles generally novels authenticity and suffering. In contrast, I argue that these criteria for art represent an 4
92 improper version of aesthetics. Authenticity becomes a kind of test for the value of art, regardless of the judgments of the aesthetic quality of the art intrinsically. This view of art disguises a kind of continuous wound, a wound being scratched abrasively by an audien ce suffering vicariously. 5 perpetuating category of identity that is rigid and static. This view of art is, I argue, neither accurate nor normatively proper. Tha t being said, I do not argue that art is pointless from a societal perspective; in contrast, art is at its most successful aesthetically and politically when it is a celebration of experience, life, and eternal becoming. art is a fortunate communal space for analysis as it single handedly suffers segregation from reason or utility. This i s a kind of suffering based on pure uselessness, which for Adorno is a key. Art must express suffering, and not have an instrumental value beyond that expression. Any endeavor to alleviate that suffering, for instance by keeping art aesthetic or hastily allowing art to identity and, detestable because it contains an ironic flash when the human angu ish and desolation Adorno (2005 369 its form. Suffering, not 5 It is possible to have a happy and authentic piece of art. However, it appears that p athos is generated from suffering more than from reports of happiness. This is seen in the fact that tragedies are some of the oldest forms of narrative story telling, and in the fact that comedies while appreciated never seem to be taken as seriously as as well: it is easy to create an identity or a value from shared suffering.
93 positivity, is the humane content of art In other words, for Adorno art revolves around the issues of suffering and truth. In fact, Adorno seeks to elevate the query of genuineness since the other matter, suffering, if often too hard to handle. Yet it is this symbolizes the requirement to provide a voice to suffering under the seal of truth. Wendy Brown and Her Wounded Attachments A certai n of identity in liberal societies. In States of Injury, Wendy Brown argues that left wing identity politics is often based around a kind of Nietzschean ressentiment that uses rela tive weakness to assume a type of moral and/or ethical supremacy. In one of the advantaged perspec segregation replicating instead of resisting their own segreg 61 ) account, class ideal, politicized identities would forfeit a good deal of their claims to injury and exclusion. It is in these identities, what Brown c regulated and controlled. As liberal democracy continues to base rights on such categories on the identity of the wounded subordinate category. Brown ties this notion to an idea that sub
94 seek to emphasize social categories, such groups also emphasize their submissive without transforming the organization of the activity through which he suffering is produced and without addressing the subjec t constitution that domination effects, that social categories exist, then domination can and likely will occur. 6 Brown is not attempting to negate all aspects of politics. Yet she wants people to be aware that a politics that relies so heavily on defined social categories might have a gap between the claims of empowerment and the ability to act empowered in the political landscape. highlighting of identity politics might create another chasm between the legal empowerment created by laws and courts and the de facto non empowerment that is perpetuated via the fixed social identities of liberal thinking. Bro being so forms an important element ther Brown can even being that a chasm can exist; in other words, the gap can be felt by the people claiming the empowerment of group identity. Hence, the identities only feel empowered on one social, o (Ibid, 23). 6 To be sure, Brown is unclear how we could possibly even comprehend a world without social categories. That being said, a democracy without social categories would be one that might satisfy long ranging critics of the ability to have freedom in the contex t of democracy. Nevertheless, such an inquiry is outside of the boundaries of this essay.
95 This unease with a version of liberty based on group identities is not shocking chean view of freedom being linked to struggle. For Brown, the liberal version of license a crude kind of negative liberty is not sufficient for a full version of freedom. A liberty based on the license of suffering is one that is always determined by a dominant structure and the subordinate litany of groups or social struggl e can never overcome power: license can never be fully granted. The moment that group identities are fixed and social categories become rigid even in liberation Though for Brown, identi ty is established by alterity, such alterity has the potential for danger. To fully address this danger, Brown argues that we must separate the notion of the truth f rom our views of identity. In this sense, Brown takes issue with some aspects of the whole liberal project. Nevertheless, Brown wants to see a sense of Brown request s individuals who search for rights and liberties to alter their politics from focal point of politics from previous misdeeds to a preferred prospective opportunity of hope, prosperity, and (maybe) equality. And it is in this change that a declaration of life qua life a becoming can transpire. The Art of Wounds: Philip Roth, American As explained above, Wendy Brown links static group suffering to the codification of a l
96 located in a market economy as a source for great art. For Adorno, art has no power of aest hetics is the concept of non identity, and that concept which acts as revelation of truth is linked to suffering. For Adorno, the truth of the negation is the only truth, and it is this truth that allows artists to critique the use value identity thinking of modern space for evaluation because it alone suffers from delineation in identity thinking. Any effort to alleviate that suffering by high theory or by market stru ctures silences the inquiry of non identity and with it the ultimate inquiry of truth. It is should find its intellectual reverberation in the marginalized practices of high art. This chasm between the victims of late capitalism and the art that is the realization of their radical art because it is based in the pain of the artist is a way for art to avoid the allegedly a political stance of postmodernism. Hence, for Adorno, the suffering and truth are linked as the key to art as a production of revelation Adorno asserted that art is not merely dissimilar from abstract comprehe nsion and sensible rule making but it is also an objection to its current configuration. This objection stems from the judgment of remoteness and propinquity leading the foundation of art as connected to rational thought. Substantiation that such judgmen t acts as art contains a heteronymous instant; its sovereignty is for the sake of heteronomy, and i ts
97 mystique is for the sake of the exposure of an underlying truth Of course, according to Adorno, such disclosure is not imminent: Art established its sovereignty from religious conviction and its redemptive truths, but consequently had to generate its own esoteric classification of truth. Art proposes self governing reality, in that it puts forward well consciousness that humanity exterior to art is similarly w ell rounded. Accordingly, such intuitions caused by sovereign art works, and the equivalent visions concerning art that trail from such intuitions, fail to concede the wounds of art. That failure of recognition, the wound True art must confront its independent spirit; it must, in other words, recognize that its Adorno 2005, 184). taking a cue from Nietzsche and Kant argue that art should essentially be the fight against purpose. Of course, on face value this seems non instrumental. Yet, as I argued in chapter one instrumental version of art is always somewhat ironically reestablishing a P latonic view of art and truth illusory because they give a kind of second order, modified existence to something which they themselves cannot be (Adorno 2005, 160). Ad ditionally, Adorno even clings to the quasi Platonic notion of false needs: mutilating sway of exchange, profit and false (Ibid, 323). In contrast,
98 Nietzsche, borrowing from Kant and Schopenhauer, sug gests that art should be a fight nature of art acts as a normative argument the pu rpose of art. instinct must regulatory ideal that confines its attac political existence? In this context, Jacques Rancire links a new form of the po connections and values of genres and types of art, divides the political and the allegedly non political. Rancire (2004) writes: To emancipate lyricism mea certain politics of writing. For in the old canon, the ones that separated poetic genres, their own rules and their respective dignity were clearly form of political experience necessary to emancipate the lyrical subject from the old political poetic framework (10). might be able to understand the anger of Oprah Winf rey and her audience in the context For the Oprah reader, the authenticity o f the tale was a key to the enjoyment of said the book itself could meander in places because it works in the service of truth. Yet
99 when that external justification w as destroyed then the reader felt cheated. The experience was only somewhat less than real. and the work of other not so truthful memo irists I argue that truth is misguidedly being smuggled in as a criterion for art, and especially art as it relates to the political and / or the social. In contrast, I offer American Pastoral as a work that has a profound political m eaning and effect, and a work that runs deeper because of its lack of ties to the traditional notions of truth. In fact, much of the meaning in American Pastoral is linked to the s as a kind of disjunction its shakes the reader with its unconventional methods. In this context, the the subject in the novel. 7 The narrator of American Pastoral is Nathan Zuckerman, a fictional character whose identity grounds the first third of the novel. In the context of the novel, Zuckerman is a hermetic writer living in New Jersey. Zuckerman has had a respectable career, and has lived a he althy life sixty years of art, money, and women. A bout with prostate cancer left Zuckerman incontinent and impotent, and, hence, Zuckerman hides himself in rural New Jersey in order to concentrate on his writing. With the danger of reducing him to a cul tural clich, one could say that Zuckerman is a typical American 7 To say that American Pastoral is a modern literary triumph would not be overstating the case. It has the last fifty years, and it represents the culmination ey (2005) calls American Pastoral
100 post WWII Jewish intellectual, and he serves as a nice guardian of the various Zuckerman starts as the main character of the novel, as w ell as the narrator, but the book eventually shifts to its chief protagonist: The Swede. Overall, American Pastoral war Newark. The Swede was the adolescent dream of the ethnic New Jersey neighborhood, excelling at nearly everything he did. Seymour Levov grew up in Newark as the son of a thriving Jewish American glove manufacturer. Nicknamed "the Swede" due to his atypical blond hair and Nordic good looks, the Swede eventually t akes over his father's glove factory "Newark Maid" and marries Dawn Dwyer, an Irish American Miss New Jersey 1949 winner. The Swede and his father are both archetypal post war Jewish liberals, rallying behind FDR, the New Deal, and progressive notion s of American exceptionalism. Levov establishes a kind of perfect American life, but his life is to some extent a betrayal of his Newark roots because the Swede moves to rural (and Republican) upstate New m fades and the Vietnam War and racial unrest wrack the country and destroy inner city Newark age daughter Merry becomes more radical in her beliefs and, eventually, commits an act of left wing political terrorism. In protest against the Vietnam War and the nefarious office and the resulting explosion kills a bystander. In this singular act, Levov is cast out of his apparently faultless life and is thrown into a world of bedlam.
101 Though American Pastoral subject is actually the Swede as interpreted by chapter is an intradiegetic narrative insofar as it serves as the prelude to the primary random social event, and the Swede is inte rested in having Zuckerman work on his memoirs. Yet, when Zuckerman and the Swede meet the talk is somewhat anti climatic, and Zuckerman leaves wondering if he would ever write a book about Seymour brother, who was t meet again to finish the book, Zuckerman inspired by a high school reunion Though the imaginary Swede is given a persona that represents all the possibility of post wa r America, he still remains remarkably shaken by the changing world around a kind of lying bare of the soul, a nakedness that Levov refuses to acknowledges, but which Zuckerman can scuff and scrape. In fact, the narrative movement from the consciousness of the Swede to the floating awareness (or unawareness) of Zuckerman gives the novel a refreshing depth. 8 The markedly bizarre narration, in which nearly 8 As I will explain later, Roth goes way beyond the traditional narrative technique of the unreliable narrator.
102 insensible profundity, forced to an alert facade, forms a diminutive but powerful intellectual speck in the gaze of acuity. This floating narrative awareness, and the peculiar identities it suggests, reflects American democracy and society after WWII and the New Deal. As the Swede begins to realize ntity into the Roth is attempting to reflect, in content and in form the solidification of liberal democratic capitalistic oligarchies into static institutions of concentrated power and wealth. 9 The Swede tries to create a life that both embraces his liberal roots, but also escapes them with guilt. He moves from the working class city of Newark, but he does not close down the glove factory despite Newark becoming increasingly dangerous and costly. Yet in a sense, the Swede is a prisoner to his own belief in liberalism, or even New Deal capitalist, equality. In the Swede as imagined through Zuckerman we see the corrosion of the dream of the American New Deal. It is not inadvertent that Zuckerman is chronicling this corrosion, or that he is using the Swede a symbol for his ideas about the contemporary United States. As Greil Marcus (2007 59 now dead acquaintances by imagining both the external events and the i n ward thoughts of those lives gradually budding anti equality, anti democratic, or at least anti liberal societal standard. It is a society where discourse is often replaced by violence, and where a privatized partisanship pushes collective communication into vacant structures. This 9 Current statistics about the concentration of wealth in the western world seems to lend some empirical credence to this data.
103 private communication, like a sick Wittgenstein thought experiment, isolates us from the remote foundations that have traditionally determined the foundation or at least negative foundation of our political thoughts. The Swede is destroyed via the story dreams and hence the Swede reveals the level of alienation in post wa r capitalism. 10 provide an ample cultural landscape. And though the Swede is not the type of person ings to a notion of identity qua identity. The reader of American Pastoral is in a state of flux: The role of narrator shifts from Zuckerman as an outsider or if Zuckerman was just using the Swede to elaborate on his own ideas. In fact, Zuckerman fades in and out of the narrative, continuing to confuse the reader. Yet this confusion this narrative flux and there infecting everyone. The daughter who transports him out of the longed for American pastoral and into everything th at is its antithesis and its enemy, into the fury, 10 This kind of alienation goes beyond the type as described by Marx and sympathetic thinkers. The Swede is not only alienated by his actions, but he is alienated even from the normal ly comforting parts of his own ideology. Allthusser would be proud, or baffled.
104 the violence, and the desperation of the counterpastoral into the indigenious America the reader via the form of t notion of what it means to be American. Exploring this uniqueness, Roth sets out to rcus (2007 44 ) puts it rather succinctly, writing: Roth set out to rediscover what it meant to be American, and to explore what it means to both invent a country and, as a moral citizen who in some essential way embodies the country, to invent oneself e ven if that means leaving the country itself behind, and abandoning all those whose blocked ambitions and withered aspirations those who invent themselves represent. promise betrays America as such. If America is an invention, or, put another way, the American identity the America of the Swede, Charles Foster Kane, and Tom Joad is conceived as impossible without a fundamental conceit of invention, then Roth seeks to wrestle with the American soul. In fact, it is this American soul that is imagined by Nathan Zuckerman. To compound to see it not as transcendent, utopic myth but as an ideological co nstruct that invented system which is to say any system at all the seeds of its destruction are contained in its primary assumptions. In fact, the form here is key because this subjective query the questioning of the subject can only be done on an experiential level. Or, to put it clearer, we seem to relate to being unsettled on the levels of sensory experience in a more profound way American Pastoral has a very slippery
105 center, and, in this sense, the form itself bleeds into the content. It is rightly a matter of form regarding the narrative perspective and the initial experience of reading the novel, but this lack of level, changes from being about Zuckerman to about the Swede, and back and forth. In a floati ng away during a high school reunion where Zuckerman dances with an old sweetheart. Gary Johnson (2004 243 44 Our narrator, as he admits, is unable to provide a point of view other than that of his youth; he can only focal ize the Swede and his story in one way. This conflicts, however, with his sense of reality. He realizes that his vision of the Swede is simplified, nave, and, in a word, allegorized, but the the Swede has become clear to both Zuckerman and the reader that we do not know this novel a clear a nd significant shift in focalization As the above quotation implies, the form and the content, as well as the identity of the narrator and protagonist, confusingly blend. It is difficult to determine where Zuckerman ends and where the Swede begins, just as it is difficult to tell where form ends and where content begins, or more pointedly American Pastoral and this can only be fully expressed by Rot Meaning is derived from this play of identity. As Simon Stow (2004 84 ) writes: tells us even as we know that he is the creati on of another author, Philip Roth, another semi fictional character whom we know that we cannot always trust to tell us what is happening in an unadorned style Put another way, if one re told the basic plot points of American Pastoral, and hence asked u
106 harkens back to Aristotle or Martha Nussbaum, one would miss the meaning of this instability, the flux of American identity. This flux is dangerous and unsettling, and hence exciting. It celebrates the almost pur e thrill of formal beauty while linking such beauty to ever present ugliness. identities; the experiments help to de novel re enforc Johnson (2004 238 problematic, bu t understanding the source of the problems and how they are handled can be enlightening in regard both to the novel itself and allegory more generally In consciousness American Pastoral worked on many Deal liberal, and how that dream is destroyed. Yet, on another level, that dream calls into question the whole identity of b eing American, qua American. As Zuckerman fades into and out of the Swede, the floating identity of the uber American is questioned. Yet, in this floating, a kind American Pastoral and discov not calls in
107 questioning is via the form American Pastoral the narrative structure as well as the co and distant formal experiment such as advocated by Brecht and similar thinkers. Roth seeks no detachment in American Pastoral; he wants the reader to be keenly empathetic to the Swede and his family. But the reader cannot get his/her bearings at certain moments in the novel, and, hence, the subject and in the case the quintessential American subject is ultimately disturbed in way that might be out of reach for a book like Fe lies, especially lies as lovely as the ones spun by Roth cum Zuckerman, often say the most about the human condition. a quasi Lacanian sense. Poets always straddle the distinction between guard and guardian. Alain Badiou writes (2007 20 12 ) about this, stating: [T]he imagery of the poet guide, already obsolete by the end of the nineteenth century, is utterly ruined in the twentieth. As heir to Mallarme, the twentieth century establishes another figure, that of the poet as secret, active exception, as the custodian of lost thought. The poet is the protector, in language, of a forgotten opening; he is, as Heidegger says still immersed in the obsession with the real, since the poet guarantees that which remains a ve ry elevated function Though some thinkers might want artists to be revealers of truth, Badiou acknowledges that artists are more like guards of the real. In this sense, the real is unattainable it is like the Swede is to Zuckerman but i t is also something that the artist can imply, with reflections of Lacan is something that is created not revealed.
108 Testimony, Truth, Appearance, and the Branding of Suffering Though Badiou sees artists as guards or gu ardians, Adorno and a lot of Oprah Winfrey fans critique of it ion of testimonial legitimacy. In a lecture given in 1995, published as Demeure Derrida discusses the problem with both testimony and testimonial fiction. As a thinker steeped in deconstruction, who embraces a referential anxiety in his script, Derrida also forces the strict sovereignty of the language scheme toward its restrictive ontological state, embellishing the undividable or the odd as an interior disparity united to a textual milieu ida focuses a spotlight on what defies context as a variety of perception that cannot flee its self establishing hermeneutic surrounding. In fact, this lack of freedom a lack that questions testimonial veracity and mendacity how much it is based on testimonial genuineness. Derrida (1998 29 30 ) states: [W]hat I am telling you here retains the status of a literary fiction. And yet, if the testimonial is by law irreducible to the fictional, there is no testi mony that does not structurally imply itself the possibility of fiction, simulacra, information, certainty, or archive, it would lose its function as testimony. In order to remain testi mony, it must therefore allow itself to be haunted. It must allow itself to be parasitized by precisely what it excludes from its inner depths, the possibility, at least, of literature errida asserts such by compelling its intellectual catch 22 on truth tellers (or artists/authors), while allowing them no place to rest other than an internal struggle that fades into an underlying appraisal of an America willfully sightless to its own agg ressiveness. Derrida hence
109 liberal system truth, testimony, etc and compels the system to stumble upon its own boundary, which is to say that Derrida coerces the system to face the possibility that lik it is not exactly what it seems. For Derrida, the passion that rests at the foundation of testimony always claims to testify in truth to truth, it does not consist, for the most part, in sharing for example, literature must bear or tolerate everything, suffer everything precisely because it is not itself ginal). Derrida, rather predictably, attempts to link testimonial literature to his continued criticism of the law of identity. In fact, Derrida argues that the temporal nature of testimony and literature render it impossible to judge in a ccordance with its truth value. (Ibid, 42). To cling to a standard of authenticity in literature or in art is to adhere to a criterion that assumes a meta language from which art cannot speak. Using terms that Rancire would embrace, Derrida argues that a standard of authenticity as bound to truth 36). This attempt to cling to a notion of truth in art is an echo of the Platonic or Socratic tragedy of existence. Nevertheless, as Nietzs che pointed out, life is not simply malicious; it is also purposeless. Persons do not only endure; they endure senselessly, The
110 Birth of Tragedy there is no ultimate object ive to suffering, and certainly no objective in which suffering may find validation as its compulsory me thod of life Yet we try to seek this validation, this meaning. To accept such a stance is to accept what Nietzsche be a remedy to pessimism, he is concerned that our reliance on the Socratic and hence in science and reason is a d readful blunder. Nietzsche argues, in a way that predicts similar complaints by Dewey and Quine, that science itself discloses that definitive truth is not available to scientific inquiry. Embracing the Kantian world of appearances, Nietzsche argues that who took many cues from the German master Nietzsche had enormous hesitation that one co uld look to art, or anything, for a revelation of ultimate reality. In fact, Nietzsche was often especially skeptical of people who did just that. Though Nietzsche is distressed by the hunt for truth in art, he is not blindsided or flabbergasted. In f act, in The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche focuses on religion as one of Godlessness of modern society, and this explanation is believed to provide a form of the rejuvenation of contemporary civilization. The Greek theater, Nietzsche argues, had the role of determining the entire existence of people and society. In describing Greek theater as such, Nietzsche converts Greek theater into a variety of church or cathedral an aesthe tic/secular church that possesses the centrality of social life once
111 filled by the Catholic church. And like the church, Nietzsche imagines art as satisfying the equivalent task of providing metaphysical solace for the revulsions of human living. In fact this religious task of art becomes transparent when one takes into account positivism of present day and the salvation and creat defined by Socrates/Plato (1967, 12 14). This Socratic curse fashioned an atmosphere in which myth especially tragic myth cannot thrive. Grappling with the death of tragic art at the sword of Platonic logic, Nietzsche notices some disturbing consequences. Modern, myth less man, deprived of any culturally sanctioned resolution to the anguish and meaninglessness of existence, is drawn to an a gitated marauding of past cultures in a twitchy pursuit for fulfillment of the of tragedy in art contradicts my previous contention that art should not cling to its abi lity The key difference as I will discuss below is in the celebration of suffering In tragedy there is often no redemption, no lesson learned, no secret moral that will make life better. Art is not concerned with the revelation of ultimate or authentic truth; art can focus on being compelling, beautiful, or moving. Art that clings to truth falls into a place where redemption is hidden as opposed to experienced in the sensual occurrence of the art itself.
112 Given that the experience of art is the key to its understanding, art that shatters categories that, as Wendy Brown might suggest, de codifies is art that has a profound impact o n our political understanding of the world. 11 Art, via the play of form and substance, as epitomized but not limited to creates new and fresh meaning in the world. This meaning, which is not limited to simply individual und erstandings of aesthetics but is reflected in reciprocal understanding, is an act of both political creation and political critique. 12 Also, art acts as a destabilizing lever for our concepts of identity. Like the Roth / Zuckerman / Levov triumvirate, whi ch also erodes our traditional notions of identity and alterity, the interaction of artistic form and artistic content destroys our notion of individuality. Additionally, this destruction of identity hopefully opens new ways of seeing the world. Of course seeking art. Given this critique of truth revealing art, one can see the perverse position such memorials to life provide us. The rigidity, the need to think that all knowledge is verifiable or rational, can be a form of tragedy in itself. Yet it is a tragedy that does not fulfill us as social, individual, or pol itical beings. It is an empty tragedy : the tragedy of wounded aesthetics. Ernesto Grassi (2001 24 ) alludes to this misfortune when he discusses Cassandra: The tragedy of Cassandra, the curse pursuing her, is based on her rationality, odd though that may sound. Since it is impossible to grasp the 11 12 Of course, it is very difficult to pinpoint where creation begins and critique ends, and I do not seek to isolate such areas of thought.
113 divine by rational methods, as failure to recognize this facts becomes a cure. Rationality also prevents the Chorus from having communication, any dialogue, with Cassandra while she is still on a semantic pl ane. Her figure is uncanny because it is her rational intention to communicate timelessness to the historical and rational world; men lack the means to understand her pronouncements and illuminations b y way of reason Cassandra is locked into her rigid in terpretation of reality, of art via the chorus, and of the world. Yet it is this rigidity that re sets social categories and fixes a stabile, and conservative, political mindset. This re setting of categories is seen over and over; in fact it is evidence in the work of Frey and Roth. Frey wants badly to seem truthful, and in his duplicity he fails artistically and socially. Philip Roth realizes that rigid notions que stabilize rigid social categories, as well as scratch the surface of the American identity. In fact, wounded aesthetics acts to comodify both the suffering and the art. Hence, as I have argued, wounded aesthetics acts something li wounded attachments Dewey (1934 5 ) notes, the mar ket often destroys art It renders it sterile by its shear consumption. And, for Dewey this is particularly true when ar t moves outside of the realm of experience and attempts to reach what Nietzsche might call the Socratic level. Of course, as art clings to the Socratic, rigid social structures are being re enforced. In our comfortable notions of the order American Pastoral shatters that order. Now, the effect of this shattering can be minimal, and I do not want to overstate the case here. That being said, it does have some effect, even if one measures effect as only important in material
114 terms. 13 For, as Nancy Fraser (1997 15 ) argues, cultural oppression can often lead to In addition to the fact that cultural oppression can lead to economic subordination, ar t that acts as deliberate propaganda is generally not effective, especially if the art. the underlying categories of understanding and meaning creation. Murray Edelman (1995 110) writes perceptively: Categorization is, in fact, the necessary condition of abstract thought and of the utilization of symbols in reasoning and in expression, the d istinctive abilities of Homo sapiens. Alternative categorization changes meanings, reason people are fre quently misled. This view of art is expressed by Nietzsche when he derides Zola for trying to transformation, becoming, and eternal child birth. Hence, desp ite the fact that there are diverse responses to the ache of existence, one cannot ultimately eradicate or result is that the roundabout, implied political claims of a work of art wields its influence on ways of visualizing, considering, and comprehending reality, rather than merely cause. Art does not only manipulate attitudes concer ning contemporary public affairs, but it also affects views on parallel events in previous (or forthcoming) eras. Hence, art 13 I do not think this is an appropriate measure, but some thinkers do and I seek to appeal to them also.
115 validate the altered method of formation and deed. For example, this type of transformation emerges in professional photographs of James Dean. The photos in ntings of James Dean bring to mind a more extensive variety of feelings about rebellion, lost youth, sexual yearning, depiction of Dean offers a dogma that is more profound an d less ephemeral than simply the sexual appeal of an attractive actor. The overt petition, even if it is powerful, is liable constricted range of intellectual possibili ties. Of course, the suggestion that art offers broad indirect influences in no way suggests that such art contains the identical significance or meaning for everybody. That being said, art with calculated political messages from Hotel Rwanda to Blowing in the Wind is successful in as much as it re affirms already underlying beliefs about the ways in which desirable or undesirable political or societal outcomes may manifest. In short, social manufacturing in art is more successful if it is subtle and bui lds upon underlying values. Schopenhauer argues that all that can be attained by societal manufacturing is a modification in the form of anguish: pain is constantly preserved; its substance may neither be amplified nor reduced. However, for Nietzsche, good art is to be service of life. Even if art is tragic, it also celebrates the tragic ; and in that celebration rests pure aesthetic politics the opposite of wounded aesthetics. It is, in other words, the ). It is appropriate that Wendy Brown
116 cling to a version of life that celebrates affirmations is in line with embraced by Nietzsche and implied, via my reading, by Wendy Brown can be tied to the idea that artistic formations have the capability to unveil novel spheres of understanding specifically since they are able to disengage themselves from day to day living. (Love 2006, 19; discussing Habermas). In a perceptive passage, discussing the possibility of a form of musical democracy, Nancy Love (Ibid, 118) writes: This spirit of humanity, as sense of profundity, blurs and crosses, defines and expands, the boundar ies dividing individuals, nations, and possibly species. Literally born of a love for life, further cultivated by aesthetic experiences, and openly embraced by as beyond human control or will, it is, I have argued, the most important contribution of movem ent music to democratic politics American Pastoral, can go far in repairing the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Consequen identities reveals 36 the making common of what is individually experienced, involves a necessary falsification. We can communicate our experiences, but at the cost of robbing them of the essen tial uniqueness This uniqueness is often expressed in the complex ing anchored to truth, conscious affirmation of 12 1). The type of art gripped
117 here is linked to appearance and embracing Socratic view of life. The v ision of art advocated here, which is influenced by Nietzsche and Wendy Brown, is primarily opposed to an abstinent ideal of life, and consequently art should be an immense self affirmation. Humans can use art as a celebration of life, a political creati on of meaning, and an intervention into the societal consciousness. Morton Schoolman (2001 49 ) writes a sensibility to the harm inflicted on difference in every at tempt to cross the divide and make unknown known as though the world conformed to its representations Art, rid of its wounds and ruins, acts as the ultimate act of life affirmation. Art helps enchant life, in the sense that Jane Bennett (2001 10 ) expl an Play, purposelessness, spirit, thought, and the collapse of categories all collide to produce acts of aesthetic and political importance. Ultimately art acts like William Carlos Williams view The crowd at the ball game is moved uniformly by a spirit of uselessness which delights them Kant suggested that art, to the extent it can be defined, is a play of purposelessness. In this sense, it is similar to William Carlos Williams notion of destructs when it has
118 implementation of art as a tool actually strips art of its unique political context, that of meaning creation. In addition to meaning creation, a world based on appearance a world that Kant implies and Nietzsche embraces must value art that celebrates life, creation, and what I later call vital aesthetics would cr eate new ways of seeing the world. Such aesthetics would also act as a kind of play on categories of appearances, a play that would disturb our hermeneutic assumptions. 14 In other words, Oprah Winfrey would not feel cheated by James Frey; and, if the nove l was well written on an aesthetic level, Winfrey and her fans might even celebrate it. 14 as su ch an event.
119 CHAPTER 5 THE PROBLEM OF AESTH ETIC INDIVIDUALISM A S AN ETHICAL AND POL ITICAL THEORY: ALAIN BADIOU AND THE BEATLES John Lennon, My Dad a nd His Sports Car on the Road to Meaning Inside the museums, Infinity goes up on trial born in post war America getting all the glory. I am not sure if it is pure numbers, or over all wealth, but the narrative of America in the second half of the twentieth century is defined almost exclusively by the so 1 Like many culture that suited him. Though he became very rich, he was socially, and even politically, rather liberal. His days of reading the Port Huron Statement and march ing in the street might have been over by the time I was born, but on a litany of issues that and has been for all of my life a liberal. In accordance with his boomer liberalism, my father r ejected religion, 2 Being a product of a generation that many thought was essentially narcissistic, my dad was a kind of poster boy for that lifestyle; he is a pyrrhonist at heart an d much of the meaning of his life is based on self indulgence. On December 8, 1980, my dad decided to satisfy his indulgent personality by buying an extremely pricey and luxurious sports car. (As the story has been re told of the years, the exact model of the car has changed over the years. Obviously the details 1 It is silly to try to define these things, but most commentators say that baby boomers were born between 1945 and 1955. 2 Also, like many boomers, my father rejected, but t
120 have been lost to inaccurate memories.) We lived on Long Island the suburbs of New York City at this point, but my father still worked in Manhattan. As he traveled home on the Long Island Expr essway, he heard on the radio news that someone had murdered ex Beatle John Lennon outside of his apartment building the famed Dakota across from Central Park. According to the story, as my dad tells it, my father came home and decided with a heavy heart that his youth was over: he could no longer own the posh sports car. My mother, who had never fully embraced the acquisition anyway, understood so she claims now how my dad felt and immediately agreed that such a purchase would be trivial and indulgent. like many members of his generation felt an extraordinary kin to Lennon and company. I suppose this feeling is somewhat captured in the lyrics to the Paul Simon / Philip Glass On a cold December evening I was walking through the Christmas tide When a stranger came up and asked me If I'd heard John Lennon had died And the two of us went to this bar And we stayed to close the place And every song we played Was for The Late Great Johnny Ace societal sadness was overwhelming: During the remaining hours of December 8, 1980, all the next day, and the days after that, d etail was piled upon detail, none of it sufficient in any way to give meaning to the event. Millions of people around the world went into long range shock. Outside the Dakota Building, where the murder had taken place, and only minutes after the event it self had been flashed on New York TV and radio stations, a huge crowd of stunned mourners swiftly assembled, many openly distressed. They were only the vanguard of a
121 Taken as a whole, t he mass reaction, as well as the individual reactions one encountered during the first forty eight hours after the killing, reminded many of the impromptu and almost wholly genuine wave of popular grief that had followed the death, eighteen years earlier, and also by gunfire, of John F. Kennedy. (Carr & Tyler 1981, 131) Yet how could this musician, nay, pop star, have an emotional effect on the populace akin to political leaders like John Kennedy or Martin Luther King? This is particularly true given tha after his ultra popularity ended. (The Beatles had never and to a certain extent still have never become unpopular but by 1980 people were no longer fainting when they saw Lennon.) Nevertheless, for my father, the death of this cultural idol had an extraordinary impact. My father would later divulge that he could not remember where he was when he heard Pope John Paul II or Ronald Reagan were shot, but that the death of Lennon stuck with him. Dakota, where one tenant, (famous composer) Leonard Bernstein, was reported "in a state of shock" at the murder of t he man he had hailed as "Saint John In fact, twenty five years later, on the leftward leaning political blog The Huffington Post, Martin Lewis eulogizes the loss of John Lennon; a loss that he feels hurt a whole generation. Additionally, Lewis (2005) writes about the explicit political impact Lennon had, specifically on right wing politicians of his day: On February 4, 1972, a secret memo (now revealed under the Freedom Of information Act) was sent to Richard Nixon by none other than the late Senator S trom Thurmond (then a youngster of merely 70.) In the memo he railed about Lennon and the danger he could cause the President's 1972 re election campaign. Fortunately, Thurmond (writing as a member of the Senate Judiciary committee) had a solution in mind. "If Lennon's visa is terminated it would be a strategy (sic) counter measure." Though he noted
122 that "caution must be taken with regard to the possible alienation of the so called 18 year old vote if Lennon is expelled from the country." This memo arrived in the Nixon White House shortly after the notorious 1971 John Dean memo in which he proposed "We can use the available political to the letter. And John Lennon was on the receiving end of a vicious 4 year single artist or entertainer prior to or since John Lennon who had that kind of impact. No other creative artist has ever induced that level of fear in a man who was ostensibly the most powerfu l man in the world. 3 Lennon was certainly involved in left leaning protests, as were many celebrities of his generation. However, he was no more involved than other left wing celebrities Jane Fonda, Paul Newman, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, etc Beatles seemed political, even if only about ten of their songs are explicitly political. Like some other icons maybe Marlon Brando there was something vaguely politically beg inning of their career. said, I think it is possible that for a generation that distrusts symbols of external authority of religion as symbolized by the Pope or the government as symbolized by Reagan cultural figures retain an unusual importance. In fact, art and aesthetics as y hollow age. As Lawrence Biskowski (1995 63 fill the roles formerly filled by the criteria and logics associated with now discredited or putatively obsolete institute, practices, tradition, moral systems, and religio ns 3 See Sullivan, 1987, for a detailed account of the extensive right wing backlash against the Beatles
123 That being said, the type of aesthetic theory that is often substituted for traditional ethics tends to be in my opinion lacking. That theor individualism 4 Nietzsche, Michael Foucault, and Richard Rorty. After first briefly addressing the d, I then will outline the 5 Subsequently I expose some troubles with this theory, focusing on why it partially fails on its own terms. I then suggest that the notion of a world that has lost faith in transcendental universals. Finally, to help understand the Aesthetics in the (Post)Modern Worl d As noted above, many philosophers and political theorists and even lay people have acted as if Lyotard was essentially correct: the trust in meta narratives is gone. This distrust has thrown the world of philosophy, and general comprehension, into a state of flux. Taking Lyotard as wel l as the many other thinkers who have narratives, metaphysics, etc) seriously, numerous scholars have been troubled by the path to nihilism that is implied by such a world view. That being said, aesthetics has 4 5 I could clearly use other thinkers here Dewey, Schiller, etc yet I chose three thinkers whose approach is both similar and broad.
124 various forms of philosophical thought. In other words, in a world without a hard metaphysics, aesthetics can help provide meaning This turn to aesthetics is not necessarily seen as a bad thing; many thi nkers have insufficient grounding for ethics and philosophy. For aesthetics is a smart intellectual move because art and aesthetics exist in the realm of appearance (Bosteels 2005, 761 ). In fact, as noted, according to countless thinkers, aesthetics might be the only way to get out of the problem sthetic ways of 1995, 62) It is not a stretch to say, as James Ingram (2005 561 alism is pass Modern western cultures tend to operate via an a esthetic mode of existence. If this is true, one needs an approach to politics and ethics that takes account of the aesthetic state. Aesthetics is the opportunity of significance in a nihilistic era. In this context, political theory can no longer and s hould no longer rest on the notion that there are transcendental truths. As noted above, I am unabashedly assuming that the non foundational stance of thinkers like Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Dewey, James, Derrida, Foucault, Quine, and Rorty is roughly accu rate. In other words, I start with the assumption as Nietzsche and others have argued, that the subject / object or signifier / contingent on language, and hence on hu man interpretation. To the extent that only a
125 experience. As Rorty (1989 5 that where there are no sentenc es there is no truth, that sentences are elements of human languages, and that human languag es are human creations The world itself descr iptions of the world are not. Only descriptions of the world can b (Ibid, 5). Hence, in a world of judgment, appearances, and sense experience, aesthetics is a natural fit for a standard of existence. This turn to aesthetics has been grouped in a crude fashion with postmodernism and postructuralism. And though I understand the labels, I think that what solidifies the relationship between some of these thinkers is the feeling that reason based philosophy presents a group of bogus dilemmas For these philosophers, s yllogistic logic is merely a further variety of a story or a narrative and it is one whose soundness resides contrary to merely a valid composition. On the contrary, soundness or validity of an argument rests on the pervasive recognition of the thesis by likewise positioned individuals Davide Pangia (2006) argues this exact point in the context of an analytical philosophy text: The syllogism acts as a kind of narrative whodunit, with the truth which is the stated goal of most analytic philosophers bein g simply a Hitchockian MacGuffin Having intellectually gripped this assertion that logical analysis usually done in the form of a syllogism is a philosophical blind alley, writers like Foucault and Rorty have embraced the aesthetic notion of creating new vocabularies in order offer political evaluation and creation. For these thinkers, political and ethical critique frequently is a issue of creating novel vocabularies or ways of looking at the world s that of
126 their enemies until their position emerges as more striking than the contrary philosophical stance Notice that appearance is very important here, and it is in this appearance that one sees aesthetics really link with our understanding of ethi cs, politics, and self creation. Persuasion and affiliation via aesthetic judgment triumphs, and vigilant and rigorous proofs are shoved aside as anachronistic. Ethical and political creation is merely an affair of self creation and corralling people who share in the traditional sense might help one persuade another to join an ethical side, but that is simply because that person has an aesthetic s disposition is unhealthy.) Nevertheless, an ethic of self creation rests on the allegorical supremacy of its tongue, language, and lingo, and not on the might of its syllogism Consequently, the dominance of language via rhetoric, that shifts the bala nce of power toward aesthetic judgment. Of course, this ethic draws the criticism of perspectivism and oh heavens, no creati on. (Nehamas 1998, 148). Yet they are for relativism tested. That being said, what can change are the chief suppositions, and possibly more importantly the significance we con sign to these truth claims Even Nietzsche states that accuracy and mendacity are vital to our existence as humans Hence, truth does not contain an unrestricted worth; truth is not always to be embraced Whether the truth is good is contingent on the c ircumstances of a given situation Philosophical
127 standpoints are consequently to be evaluated by their value, and yet, that value is innate and harkens back to aesthetic judgment. ways. Some thinkers the Frankfurt school Marxists Adorno and Marcuse seek, for example, the sham of exchange value in capitalist societies. In fact, Adorno rates the aesthetic life as the highest form of existence: Art, contemplation and language. Its advantage to all kinds of intellectual appearance lies in its clout to educate that the design of understanding is a delusion. In other words, art is and grasp the concept of non identity The hunt for newness in art can be significantly altered to an exploration for non identity, yet Adorno is not asserting that this task is less absurd than a que qua reality. the impossible trick of trying to identify the non ( Adorno 2005 33). Non identical art only thrives when such art surpasses its deliberate purpose. Consequently, for Adorno a notion of exterior and corresponding truth is the key because the abstractness in art establis subjective truth. 6 As stated above, this Marxist or neo Marxist notion of aesthetics assumes an exterior truth that has value, and it is not one that I endorse in this work. That being said, aesthetics itself has been linked Critique of 6 for society and pol itics.
128 Judgment, epicurean response to the artistic piece. Of course, Kant rather famously changes his mind about the nature of aesthetics between the first critique and the third critique. As discussed previously, aesthetics is hence a way to have a notion of intrinsic value without a foundational idea of truth; the aesthetic understanding consists in the suitable pleasure of an item for its own sake. However, to overcome the obvious traps of nihilism, aesthetics must offer something more than hedonistic pleasure: It is, more 7 likely delight Arendt and Nietzsche, aesthetics is the pleasure in valuing itself ; it is the enjoyment taken in ruling something important or in appreciating it. In other words, aesthetics is what is left when we are stripped of god; it is a way of caring for the world even if one does not under stand it. It is important to note that aesthetics is not the same, though is clearly linked, to sthetics itself, as defined above, is a sense in which we value things, and such valuing becomes a key component of various aspects of the aesthetic existence. Yet, one could value things besides art in an aesthetic sense. So, hence, these two things related? Clearly this discussion could fill a tome and it somewhat said, a little expl anation can help clarify my distinctions. linked. To assist us in this discussion, I turn briefly to the classic work of Martin 7 This is a Kantian term that captures quite accurately the notion of aesthetics.
129 Heidegger. 8 Heidegger, in his importa states that art defines both the artist and the art. There is a specific method of creation and revealing that Heidegger associates with the origin of the work of art. There are generally two ways of exami ning the process of artistic development: self creation or revelation. In other words, some thinkers believe that the artist him/herself is a sovereign being who either creates the world or represents the world, yet in both views the artist is kind of lik e a God in respect to the work of art. Heidegger rejects the notion of artist as God, and argues that art allows Being as conceived in the special Heideggerian sense to rise above the rest of beings. The artist must act as a kind of processor for Being, a nd he/she should not be concerned with control or mastery. 9 Once mastery is a concern, the relation between aesthetics and art becomes a much more difficult one to understand because it is now a relation of instrumentality. However, if the artist nurture s an accessible and understanding attitude toward the world, then art will no longer be in tension with aesthetics on a conceptual level and, according to Heidegger, it will allow Being to come forth. In this Being coming forth, humans see the mystery and yearning of the aesthetic, which, on my reading, Heidegger sees as the beautiful. Hence, the Heideggerian aesthetic astonishes humans into a kind of tranquility so that the whimsy of Being can arrive from the ordinary beings Hence, the artist acts as n either a translator nor a creator, but as a type of facilitator of the aesthetic. Like Alain Badiou later, who I shall discuss in length later in this essay, Heidegger conceives of art as an 8 My understanding of Heidegger is indebted to 9 This issue of mastery is tied to the later concern of aesthetic mastery over the individual. Please see the next section for a more in depth discussion.
130 event or happening, and, as such, the artist is tied to a feelin g openness. In this sense, art does not show the truth, it suggests a kind of existence, of Being, that allows people to be distinctly human. Hence, aesthetics and art are linked, like a strand of DNA/RNA, and are tied to uniquely human type of understan ding. For, as Heidegger suggests, the work of art has an origin Being aesthetically in the world but no sovereign ruler. Whereas one might see a tension at least on a theoretical level between aesthetics and art works, a gesture toward the Heideggerian notion of the origin of the work of art helps mitigate this tension. For Heidegger, art permits Being to come forth aesthetically, yet this is different as seen below Aesthetic Individuality: Nietzsche, Foucault, and Rorty Well, since age twelve I felt like I'm someone else, 'Cause I hung my original self from the top bunk with a belt A major strand of aesthetic reasoning and hence the key to an aesthetic three key advocates of this stance: Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Richard Rorty. There have been of course other thinkers who have aligned themselves with this theory, and, in fact, Nietzsche and Foucault were particularly influenced by aspects of classical Greek thought. Nevertheless, in the context of this chapter I will focus on t he afore For Nietzsche, art is explicitly linked to politics and ethics. Art, even in the conventional sense, is connected to questions of authority and moral opinion. Artists are occupied in the exceedi ngly ethical enterprise of ranking types of human reality. But
131 for Nietzsche art is more than just an engagement with the rankings of existence. Art is a kind of force, an almost primal drive. For Nietzche (2000 59 ), art is a cadence that anifests an ardent desire to refashio In other words, the straightforward twofold antagonism between facade and reality. Truth emerges through the cadence of perc eption, speech, composition and iconography. In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche clearly (1967 5 life and the world justifie Given this, the key to Nietzschean ethic aesthetics is bold orig inality. An aesthetic outlook requires 299, 270 ) asserts that individuals should develop into artists who create not only art qua art, but also artists who craft their own lives aesthetically For Nietzsche, the aesthetic life is one of art as action, life as art. In other words, Nietzsche wants to invert the Kantia n approach with a more active notion of aesthetics. Put another way, art itself represents the will to live: the meaning as it is rding to Nietzsche, is one who lives his life as a work of extraordinary art. Life should be a creation of art. Similarly, Michael Foucault wants to explicitly include aesthetics into a notion of ethics. The entire notion of aesthetics and specifically the aesthetics of the self is depends upon the fervent desire for individualized self direction, upon the reverie of a
132 wonderfully intended prejudice. As mentioned above, Foucault takes some of his cues from the early Greeks, and he argues that Greek ethics were not code based, but relied of a well balanced individual. Foucault moreover shows esteem for the Greek principle of care of self. but moves beyond traditional notions of morality. Instead of inve stigating the code based tradition of ethics, Foucault is much more interested in exploring the ways in which we discipline ourselves into certain behaviors. Technologies of the self are contingent, non (Emerling 2005, 150). Though the disciplines maintain the technologies of the self, it is creation. Aesthetic self creation ransform themselves in order 2003, 146). This transformation of the individual is essentially an aesthetic experience. Foucault stated in a 1983 interview that h e wondered why art was limited to a group of From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think that there is only one art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life. (Foucault 1996, 350). applies a level of resistance to the disciplines and the social relations of power. This aesthetics of existence is fundamentally a way for individuals to resist dominance and
133 fixed power relations. Yet, though Foucault is influenced by certain elements of Greco Roman thought, he rejects the notion that self realization occurs in the polis: Foucault does not hold an Aristotelian view of politics as the advantaged location of self realization. In fact, Foucault embraces The dandy articulates a firm upheaval in opposition to con sumerist values and utilitarian existences. Additionally, the dandy is subtly subversive; it is destined to clarify the limits that civilization places on people. The dandy also rejects strict code based ethics, and embraces individualism. Of course, Fo ucault does not believe there is actual freedom here. Seppa (2004 ,9 aesthetics of the self, one remains tied to control m echanisms and outside forces Yet, the aesthetics of the self is as much freedom as Foucault allows the postmodern subject, and that freedom is directly connected to aesthetic individuality. Like Nietzsche and Foucault, Richard Rorty celebrates the notion of aesthetic individuality. Given the postmodern commitment to the discarding metaphysics, Rorty (1989 36 cre ation of meaning This aesthetic self creation is the great possibility of humanity; it is what separates humans from animals. Humans can, as Rorty stat Accounting for this notion of self creation without a fundamental telos, Rorty sees the only standard, albeit a subjective one as ultimately an appeal to aesthetics. Humans life as if it is a poem. Rorty explicitly acknowledges his debt to Nietzsche in advocating the aesthetic life. The Nietzschean
134 see the poet, in the generic sense of the maker of new languages, as the vanguard of the species Though Rorty shows some desire to move beyond the elitism of the Nietzschean world (Ibid, 7) links human self by the use of a new voc abulary understand the world the symbolic order w e use to make meaning possible. Hence, novel metaphors the new use of vocabulary for speaking differently, rather than for arguing well, is philosophy and of life self creation, as well describe the world develop. Nietzsche, Foucault, and Rorty all advocate a form of aesthetic individuality as basis for ethical behavior. There are, of course, differences in their philoso phies, yet all three reject a code based notion of ethics in favor of a more flexible value system. In the next section I shall explore the potential harm in such a world view. The Problems with Aesthetic Individuality The notion of aesthetic individuality appears to solve many problems of a world without a solid metaphysical foundation. In fact, from the days of Walt Whitman and before there has been a sense that aesthetic self creation is tied to a notion of mastering the universe. Yet this alleged mastery is the root of a latent problem with the
135 notion of aesthetic individuality: The mastery, in fact, is just an illusion, and not a very compelling illusion. Just as Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida argued that one cannot control meaning of a text once it enters the world, an individual cannot control Hannah Arendt (1958 ,184 ) keys into this problem when she writes: Although eve rybody started his life by inserting himself into the human word through action and speech, nobody is the author or producer of his own life story. In other words, the stories, the results of action and speech, reveal an agent, but this agent is not an au thor or producer. Somebody began it and is its subject in the twofold sense of the world, namely, its actor and suffer, but nobod y is its author tic actions amount to aesthetic self creation. Aesthetic self Panagia (2006 74 constructed of moral agents and principles comes to force as they are l ikened to pieces of work actions. Art implies a social interaction, even wh en one is alone It is true that Arendt, like Ni etzsche, sees beauty in action. They both respond to the end of metaphysics by self consciously aestheticizing deeds. In other words, justifying end. That being said, as political individuals we are never free. A rendt makes it extremely clear that she does not believe we have control over our political actions. The following passage is so eloquently written it is worth quoting in length: Because the actor always moves among and in relation to other acting beings, sufferer. To do and to suffer are like opposites sides of the same coin, and the story that an act starts is composed of its consequent deeds and
136 sufferings. These consequences are boundless, because action, though it may proceed from nowhere, so to speak, acts into a medium where every reaction becomes a chain reaction and where every process is the cause of new processes. Since action acts upon beings who are capable of their own actions, r eaction, apart from being a response, is always a new action that strikes out on its own and affects others. Thus action and reaction among men never move in a closed circle and can never reliably be most limited circumstances bears the seed of the same boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change the very constellation. (Arendt 1958, 190). Hence, for Arendt ours actions, though they define us, are not committed in isola tion. Of course, a thinker like Foucault would also likely admit that we cannot be sovereign in the aesthetics of the self. Nevertheless, the implication of his thought tends to encourage a kind of aesthet ic fact, this notion of sovereignty is the key distinction between Arendt and Nietzsche. Arendt argues that skill is evident only in terms of the chance provided by serendipity. Humans become who they are, as Nietzsche would argue, through achievement and the accomplishment of a discrete method of action. Arendt makes an equivalent argument when she asserts that human reveal themselves in virtuosic exploits. I fin d this distinction to be compelling; especially in the sense that Nietzsche has a tendency Being a part of a greater constell social networks, which is ironic given his notion of the aesthetic self. Again, quoting possibly Nietzsche and Rorty (as I characterize them) hope to build an aesthetic system
137 whereas Vincent van Gogh is the model: The forlorn artist creating art in a lone studio. The other option, according to the ethics of aesthetic individuality, is to live life as art. Galt version, th e artist (individual) lives a rather solitary life. It is as if aesthetic individuality forces people to live like Robinson Crusoe: a castaway in the universe of meaning and existence. This loneliness is exacerbated by the fact that an individualistic aesthetic is often less rewarding even on its own terms. In fact, it is hard to understand how individual worst possible outcomes are to be discovered a fraud or to be boring. Yet, it seems that one could find meaning in the already crafted role s of society. In other words, autonomy can and often is expressed in the freedom to define ourselves through an already existing lifestyle or language. Not all people are compe lled toward Nietzschean self creation. In my mind, there is no reason why self creation should be incompatible with being like others, unless aesthetic existence is conflated with radical individualism. Indeed, the compulsion to create oneself in a novel fashion, as advocated by supporters of aesthetic individualism, can itself be seen as a form of non autonomy: a bondage to the new and individualistic. Hence, can humans as Mama Cass suggests have a society of people all dancing alone to individual musi c? This would certainly not be the world of aesthetic individualist Sally Bowles. In other words, though some humans have hyper individualistic strands of personality, many others find gratification in fulfilling
138 already defined roles. Hence, aesthetic individualism does not answer the problems of (post)modern society; it creates even more anxiety. philosophy of art, and how its aesthetic reflects the remnants of metaph ysics. That purpose will have grave implications for our consideration of world that introduces it: The purpose of art will be an emotional loss to be lamented. Ne vertheless, the fact that tangible objects hold a transcendental utility. In fact, i t is telling that objects where this transcendental utility is mainly transparent, because, for Heidegger, the investigation of past significance is an inquiry of the transcendental thoughts of humans. This ventual loss of meaning (Heidegger 1971, 49 52). For instance, when God stops being the transcendental foundation of significance, then the perception of God transforms, as does the connotation of actions ruled by this conception. Given this, the fundame ntal nature of sense experience is not a historical; historicity occupies the character of the forms of action with which humans are troubled. In other words, for Heidegger what brands the place of the transcendental in contrast to the margin is the way i n which we examine and test truth. This does not signify what is our manner of conceptually capturing reality (Ibid, 33). Such realism assumes various
139 types of the subject o bject dichotomy. In fact, in this context, one would need to assert that things or art works were simply there and we might then presently carry our cognitive and judgment making faculties to these items. From that viewpoint, it would then develop into mainly sufficient for awareness; in other words, to chase the trail of Kant. In his Kantian move, Heidegger admits that we deem a proposal true even about art if it properly symbolizes wha t there is Heidegger subsequently inquires as to how a verity can be exposed as to match an intellectual proposal, and the proposal of verity, if it was not previously the case that the verity was obtainable proceeding to and autonomously of the proposal representing it. Heidegger (Ibid, 51) writes: How can fact show itself if it cannot stand forth out of concealedness, if it cannot stand in in the unconcealed? If such did not concur, then the fact could not become binding on the proposition Heidegger chases a deep study of the circumstances for the option of being truthful. In fact, Heidegger concedes that reality has customarily meant accuracy or connection. Overall, the deduction of truth correctness that implies unconditional determinations must attempt to ground aesthetic individualism in its metaphysical remnants, the question remains as to how far one can push a hermeneutic answer to an ontological question. In other words, Arendt correspondence theory of truth in the context of aesthetic individualism violates both the post foundational assumptions of Nietzsche and company. Ultimately, aesthetic individualism is an intellectual dead end.
140 The aesthetic event is something as evident, as immediate, as indefinable as lov e, the taste of fruit, of water. We feel poetry as we feel the closeness of a woman, or as we feel a mountain or a bay. If we feel it immediately, why dilute it with other words, which no doubt will be weaker than our feelings? Jorge Luis Borges (from Though I do not wish to follow Nietzsche and his friends down a blind alley, I am also not willing to abandon the aesthetic as a view of life, both individual and social. Yet I do not believe the answer lay in aesthetic ind ividualism. Given this objection, a contemporary life, yet it does not fall into the atomistic traps of aesthetic individualism. Badiou is unequivocally not a postmodernist. He disagrees with Lyotard and Derrida, and with the linguistic turn in philosophy. Badiou opposes the overpowering consequence of language for philosophy. He main tains the place of truth instead of the contemporary laboriousness of the post structuralists. Additionally, Badiou does not run away from metaphysics or ontology. In fact, Badiou is explicitly trying to develop truth That being said, Badiou like Foucault and his brethren embraces the notion of aesthetics as a fundamental aspect of life. However, Badiou has a unique view of aesthetics and how it interacts with philosophy and the truth. Embracing notions of ontology, B adiou sees the ontology of the world as periodically being shaped by aesthetic events. (There are according to Badiou, but they are less important for the discussion here.) These events alter the relations of the underlying ontolog y of the world.
141 set theory is ontology. Hence, a study of set theory is essential to any comprehensive full explanation of set theory is way beyond the scope of this essay; nevertheless, it is important to understand some basic aspects of how Badiou understands set theory. For further explan ation I would direct readers to Being and Event For Badiou, mathematic set theory is a way to confront the notion of both individual and multiple identity. In some sense, it solves the same intellectual rupt Plato. Meaning for Badiou is defined as the inequality amid the reason of enclosure and the logic of belonging. In other words, the assigning of sets of identity shapes the underlying ontology of the universe. The Badiou sch olar Peter Hallward (2003 9 ) way that the traditional or premodern distinction of finite and infinite dissolves in a single homogeneous dissemination, in excess of an y closure and in violation of any definitive For Badiou set theory explains the very notion of difference. Badiou (2007 3 ) Axiomatics would be a formal organization of th e decision that comes after its realization. The ontological decision, properly said, concerns multiplicity without the transcendence of the one and then, following that, axiomatics is the mathematical realization of the proper formalization of this decis ion. Naturally, with axiomatic, one will also have a logical choice but the choice would be on a logical world. The world in which one is installed depends on the ontological choice and not the contrary. A precise or technical example, concerning infinity, because there is no problem for the axiom of choice in the finite. In reality, the form of the axiom deals wi th the infinite.
142 For Badiou, different sets are constituted as ou r frames of realities. These sets and the multiplicity of the single. Fidelity to the set, as it is arranged in the current axiomatic, is the key to understanding reality. As opposed to a view of difference that reli es on Lacanian slippage via Derrida or on negative dialectics, such as suggested by Frankfurt school scholars, Badiou sees 33 inevitable inference that the other is Other than the other as absolutely pure multiple and total diss This rather awkward language can be understood as Badiou arguing that truth is relational; it is decided by the relative sets of different ides is precisely a way of describing terms whose only distinguishing principle is distinction itself the distinction inscribed by an true empty set is never reache d. in a cognit ive sense by placing individual items into sets. These sets do not make sense if they are empty, and no fixe d, but they are also not created arbitrarily: the sets are products of events that both create and reshape the relations of sets. Of course, we all understand that an individual item is not defined by the set, but the set lets us begin to understand the world. Hallward (2004 85 do with the substantial complexity of any individual taxpayer as a living, thinking person. Such elemental complexity is always held to be infinitely mu ltiple they
143 even somewhat shape the world but the sets do not complete our understanding. Understanding is complete, relatively, when fidelity is found. B adiou (2007 6 ) continues: In Being and Event, I studied exclusively the ontological destiny of fidelity. What interested me in Being and Event was demonstration that there exists a multiplicity which corresponds effectively to the production of fidelity which is the generic multiplicity, a generic subset. Thus it is an intra ontological demonstration concerning fidelity and that is to say, effe ctively, that there is a real possibility to think the result of the process of fidelity as a multiple and we would not have to search for something outside the ontology itself. It is not something like another type of being, so the truth is not transcend ent. Finally, then, the truth is inside the situation. Truth is multiplicity, as I have said, as well as the demonstration, the deduction of all that concerns the concept of generic multiplicity. With respect to the ontology, we have a ded uctive framewo rk As the above quoted passage indicates, illuminates how truth can be both universal and the foundation of truth, and all events break and re affirm social structure. An event for Badiou is like a supernatural tornado that comes in and destroys some houses, creates confusing pandemonium, and then magically lays the foundations for some new buildings. Badiou (2003 57 59 savoir in Christ in a fashion that helps clarify the procedure of such happenings: [T]he moment the real is identified as an event, making way for the division of the subject, the fifures of distinction in discourse are terminated, because the position of the real instituted by them is revealed, through the retroaction of the event, to b performs them in abundance becomes master for him who demands them. If one questions philosophically, he who can reply becomes a master for the perplexed subject. But he who declares without prophetic or miracu lous guarantees, without arguments or proofs, does not enter into the logic of the master. Declaration, in effect, is not affected by the emptiness (of the demand) wherein the master installs himself. He who declares does not attest to any lack and remai ns withdrawn from its fulfillment by the figure of the master. That is why it is possible for him to occupy the place of the son. To declare an event is to become the son of that event. That Christ is Son
144 is emblematic of the way which the evental declar ation filiates the declarant (57 59). To declare an event, one to which people are compelled to act with fidelity, is to finite appear infinite in our new faithfuln ess to the truth event. Badiou is often vague or obtuse when discussing the truth procedure of an event. 6 7 ion of an event is illuminating: An event is that moment when the ordinary rules according to which things thus made consistent if for a passing instant is exposed as what it i s, as pure inconsistency or pure indetermination. Since inconsistency can never be presented in the normal sense of the word, no such event can endure: it is never possible to prove that an encounter with inconsistency actually took place. The impact of the encounter depends entirely on the militant conviction of those who affirm its occurrence and elaborate some means of developing it s implications. As seen above, an event necessarily contains a sense of aporia. It is a rupture; a 10 One cou ld compare the aesthetic event to the way people describe so 2005, 30). For Badiou truth allows us to understand the world in different ways. Given this notion of an event, truth universal yet contingent is fidelity to an event. Badiou is rather explicit concerning his notion o 232 ) writes: 10
145 I call fidelity the set of procedures which discern, within a situation, those of an eventual multiple. In sum, a fidelity is the apparatu s which separates out, within the set of presented multiples, those which depend upon an event. To be faithful is to gather together and distinguish the becoming relationship which refe rs, at the most sensitive point of individual experience, to the dialectic of being and event, the dialectic whose temporal ordination is propo sed by fidelity. When an event ruptures the ontological sets of society, people can hence choose in a loose versi to be faithful to the new arrangements. These new arrangements are hence no longer viewed as the product of rapturous event, or of chance, but of the logical continuous extension of underlying s to the subject or subjects, who declare fidelity to fidelity to a contingent event. And given that Badiou rejects the notion that thought is mediated via language, he can also reject the poststructuralists notions of the non subject. In other words, the event is almost similar to the Lacanian real it is something we know and that affects us, but that which is almost impossible to label or describe. A L a Distance Politique ). Specifically, Badiou (2009 71 ) identifies four types of truth events: love, art, politics, and sci ence These four types of events allow for renewal of p hilosophical truth. Badiou (2005 340 infinitely truths concerning situations; truths subtracted from knowledge. Though one might be
146 tempted to see philosophy as empty without poetry, this is not e xactly true for Badiou. possibility of all four aspects of truth, otherwise, philosophy simply ceases to exist Though there are four different types of truth events, aesthetic events are often the m ). Aesthetic truth, like all truths, begins with an event a rupture that is then sustained by fidelity of sub jects. Handbook of Inaesthetics Badiou (2005 9 ability to create philosophical truth: Art itself is a truth procedure. Or agai n, the philosophical identification of art falls under the category of truth. Art is a thought in which artworks are the Real (and not the effect). And this thought, or rather the truths that it activates, are irreducible to other truths be they scientif ic, political, or amorous. This also means that art, as a singular regime of thought, is irreducibl e to philosophy etics as a simple variant of traditional Arendtian judgment, but this would be a vulgar misstatement. Events create using the language of Hallward and Deleuze a new paradigm of truth, and fresh way by which we examine the world. Once an event occurs, nor mal philosophy the tweaking of the positions inside a truth regime can occur. The conflation of poetry doubts that such is possible or desirable, for Badiou philosophy and a rt are (and should be) separate after a truth altering event.
147 outside of logic is similar to the thought of Ernesto Grassi. A Vico scholar and an intellectual of modern rhetoric, Gra ssi asserts that the underpinning of all philosophy is a metaphor current restoration of humanism and hermeneutics Like many contemporary theorists, Grassi starts with distrust of Descartes. That being said, the similarity in thought to Hans Georg Gadamer is very telling: Both Gadamer and Grassi studied under Additionally, both Grassi and Gada mer saw rhetoric as essential to their assumptions. Yet Grassi found fundamental roots in rhetoric, and his description of how rhetoric event. Grassi (2001 7 ) writes: The metaphor is, therefore, th e original form of the interpretive act itself, which raises itself from the particular to the general through representation in an image, but, of course, always with regard to its importance f or human beings Though Grassi writes in the language of hermen eutics, and therefore places a lot of emphasis on interpretation, one can still see the common thread between Badiou and Grassi. Both thinkers believe that logic and philosophy rest on a foundation of a kind of creation and that such a creation is beyond the realm of logic to understand. Grassi (Ibid, 20) continues: framework for every rational consideration, and for the reason we are a rational, deduct ive point of view
148 shattering, but that may be more a matter of degree than of kind. Grassi l ike Badiou thinks that faithfulness to a Both Grassi and Badiou are influenced by Heidegger, and the notion of the event ideas of t ruth that are both universal and contingent. Events, for Badiou, are collective, but are ultimately based on fidelity to that event. That being said, even if one reads a and Grassi it is still possible to be unfaithfu l t o the event. However for Badiou, one can be unfaithful to the production of truth following an event, but once an event establishes truth then faithfulness is linked to the lack of a rupture. Truth continues once the event is established, at least unt il a new rupture occurs. Given this, my analysis of Badiou adds a Rancire style analysis of Badiouian notion of truth procedures. The events create a new alignment of aesthetic filters, of the afore mentioned aesthetic categories. In some sense this m anuscript is a long form discussion of alignment of filters, and how those filters interact. Badiou isolates the ontology of various spheres of existence: politics, love, etc. However, Badiou as even he himself acknowledges does not fully explore the int eraction of the spheres of truth, based on truth events. As noted previously, Rancire is very helpful in examining the interaction of the aesthetic and the political. In this sense, it is an assertion of this manuscript that the spheres are independent and co dependent, in the same way that events are both universal and contingent. Hence, using a well developed analysis of Badiou and Rancire along with Hedegger, Grassi, and
149 others this manuscript attempts to outline the intera ction of aesthetic truth events with creation procedure interpreted through Rancire position. science, and politics, but it is most pronounced for Badiou in the realm of aesthetics. Adorno / Marcuse and the postmodernism of Lyotard / Derrida / Foucault. Peter Hallward (2003 193 general characteristics of an aesthetic conception of things as a means, precisely, of nrepresentable reality of things Badiou looks for the quite exceptional consequences resulting from a fidelity to a couple of privileged artistic Hence, where the critical theorists look at art as a reflection of ideology, and the postmodernists view art as an outgrowth of the discourses of contemporary society, Badiou actually gives art a semblance of autonomy. of aesthetic individuality and a contrary position whether Marxist or Platonic that is possible via art (and love, etc), but not just anything is possible. (Cobussen 2005, 41 ). In a he (in)aesthetic event is tied directly to his ontology of set
150 set and belongs the particular is a key to understanding how Badiou explains the non instrumental value of art. In other words, it is a concern that art, seen only as an event t o which one can be faithful, hence only has util ity and not intrinsic or aesthetic value. In other words, does the value of art work lay in its ability to either convert people to a stance o f fidelity in accordance with its sensibility or in its usefulness in establishing a philosophical his discussion of the universal and the eternal. In a sense, Badio u addresses this issue when he talks about the way the eternal appears in the effective. In Logic of Worlds, which acts as a sequel of sorts to Being and Event Badiou (2009 13 eternal as it may be, a mathematical truth nevertheless appear for its eternity t o be In other words, if things appear to be effective, and as long as they remain effective, then they will be eternal. Badiou (2009 27 ) states in Philosophy in the Present ints as subject thoughts and the virtual recollection of those points. Thus the central dialectic at work in the universal is that of the local subject and of the global as infinite procedure. This diale ctic is v ultimately linked. Logic of Worlds of various images of a horse helps elaborate the issue here. Specifically Badiou examines the images of horses as found in the Chauvet cave, dated t
151 painted around 1945. In this sense we have two separate meanings of the image of the corresponded to empirical data mani festing itself to the artist as a visual impression. Hence, the images in the cave have a kind of utility, a naming, that is a key to early graphics. The Chauvet cave image supports a kind of correspondence theory of truth. In contrast, Pic asso is not con cerned with the same kind of utility. According to Badiou (2009 17 ) their legs, are only c omprehensible as modern operations carried out horses Hence, on one view, horse itself or the image of a horse has no inherent meaning. Its meaning is simply tied to its temporal moment. Badiou does think that the meanings of the various horses are different, but he does not think that this indicates that the term horse itself is has no eternal truth. On the theory ontology, he argues that the movement into existence of thought and the fidelity to that movement is where eternality exists. The movement to mark, to outline the with the always recognizable character o f it 19). In a perceptive passage worth quoting at length, Badiou writes about the meaning of the images of the horse: This means that as in the Platonic myth, but in reverse to paint an animal on the wall of a cave is to flee the cave so as to ascend towards the light of an idea. This is what Plato feigns not to see: the image, here, is the opposite of the shadow. It attests the Idea in the varied invariance of its pictorial sign. Far from being the descent of the idea into the sensible, it is that is what the Master
152 of Chauvet cave says. And since he says it at a remove from any visibility of a living horse, he avers the horse as what exists eternally for thought (Ibid) Fo r Picasso, Badiou argues, that the moment of creation represents the moment of an event that allows for the eternal. Hence, the subtraction of the horse as the artist separates the lines (or outlines) theory works. The moment of subtraction is the event to which fidelity springs. If meaning is defined by fidelity to the event, then both Picasso and the artist of Chauvet cave engage in the same thing: a fidelity to the meaning of the outline of the horse. It is true that the outline itself had a hunting utility in the days of the c ave, and in ike the artist bringing forth Being, the master of the Chauvet cave is neither corresponding to reality in an empirical or Platonic way nor creating reality. The master is, in contrast, bringing forth for Badiou means acting in accordance with fidelity to an event. Badiou (Ibid, 20) reations, from the hunter with his torch to the modern millionaire, it is indeed Horseness, and nothing else, w forth of reality in context of marks of subtraction. This same analysis can be applied to the discussi on of whether aesthetics can exist as a coming forth. Hence, art experienced i n a way that would make Dewey proud
153 is one kind of Being bringing forth, and art as an inter textual reference is another Being bringing forth. Or, put into Badiouian language, art experienced intrinsically and art discussed via intellectual debate is sti ll art that remains faithful to a certain artistic 11 Apparition, four brown English jacket christhair boys For Badiou, what is true is still aesthetic, but it is shaped by all (Hallward 2003, 6) Events take place in a situation in a given context ( Badiou 2006, 23). Hence, to described doubts about aesthetic self dependent somewhat es the effect that the collective, chance, and serendipity have on aesthetics, meaning, and truth. Additionally, Badiou allows for the fact that an aesthetic event can unfold suddenly or over a series of aesthetic works. In fact, t usually a single work as much as a cluster or works. artistic events can happen over time, and can almost be seen as a less conscious version of a Kuhnian paradigm shift. In fact, an entrenched sys tem of truths implies another outside system. In other words, all aesthetic systems imply a kind of cognitive noise. Cobussen (2005 31 ) 11 Logic of Worlds. Badiou asserts that Valery creates a kind of world of understanding. (2009, 455).
154 catastrophe inscribed in every order; in fact, there is no order that does not contain disorder within itself, no music that does not have noise at its fringes, no order that can exclude powers that pushes this order to it s own limits Hence, to place this contention uage of set theory, the relations of the sets always imply a tension that is the root of the potential event that changes the sets. This is not to say, in a Derridean fashion, that all statements of truth contain their own deconstruction; it is to insist that truth is relational and that all relations imply a non relation. music British Invasion of the 1960s: explicitly in the arrival on the international scene of the Beatles and the change they created in popular music. Given this, I will briefly explore this connection, and hence examine how the arrival of the Beatles can be explained via art can create truth, but it is truth in the context of humanness. (Hallward 2003, 197, 198 ). Hence, one cannot imagine that Badiou asserts a kind of sovereign creation, even thought artistic creation is or can be As Badiou (2005 29 ) teaches us that the world does not present itself as a collect ion of objects Yet, it is not brand new creation, but creation in the context of the existing ontological sets and fidelity to such sets. f the event to the arrival of the Beatles, one must look inside the aesthetic nature of music creation. Mark Cobussen (2005 36 ) writes such a superb description of this process that it is important to quote it extent:
155 Musicians can practice, surround the mselves with kindred spirits and brilliant co musicians, create an inspiring atmosphere, but they never know if, how, and when it will happen. An intangible moment. It happened for example at a Miles Davis concert at the North Sea Festival in the Hague, the Netherlands. Miles, ill, on the wane, played in an uninspired manner, through the audience. For th is note they had come and everybody knew it (including the band members). An evental dimension beyond the will of an individual. Though the progression of creation for the Beatles was slightly different given that they played pop music, not jazz, the meta process is roughly the same. The Beatles left Liverpool, for Hamburg, an uninspired band with some potential and good taste, and they returned to Liverpool a collective transporting a wholly original view of popular l back in Liverpool at the Litherton Town Hall describe listeners in shock. Many people stared, some rioted and rushed the stage: Wooler (the promoter) had failed, in first few seconds, to take note of it. Part of the ugly, frightening, and visceral in the way that it (2006 78 79 ) discussion of the Beatles is so perce ptive that there is vast merit in quoting Marcus in near completion: exploded. People looked at the faces (a nd the hair) of John, Paul, George,
156 & ro of the actual record you could just go out and buy this stuff? and who play ed a twelve string guitar and as far as I knew listened to nothing but Odetta began to muse that by the Bea was the air. through the dark, suddenly spooky room, was instantly recognizable and like nothing we had ever heard. It was joyous, threatening, absurd, arrogant, determined, innocent and tough, and at matter of musi c, but of event the Beatles has the markings of an aesthetic event exactly as Badiou envisioned. One might think it is problem that Marcus cannot explicitly explain his fidelity to the new aesthetic choice of the Beatles. Yet, Badiou understands that, to certain extent, the universal is explained by fidelity to an event. Hence, any explan ation of such fidelity is a (Badiou 2009, 31) Specifically, the Beatles represented an aesthetic of possibility of the new Immediately aspects of the old world s hort hair, pristine I III V harmonies, un ironic reverence to authority were rendered archaic. The old societal divisions were also one of which Heidegger would be pro ud was demanded of both our artists and our
157 populace. Erin Kealey (2006 116 ) Heideggerian terms: As we fall into the shared world of everyday concerns, authentic individuality is stripped away. Rather than disclosing what Heidegger calls our own most potential, we exist inauthentically as nameless members of the crowd. In authentic existence becomes one without a home, or our own Dasein ) is controlled by average place for himself and does not take an active role in shaping his own possibilities. to alert him to possibility of an aut hentic existence Yet this quest for authenticity is not based on the atomistic philosophy of aesthetic the aesthetic event, t Kealey 2006, 116). This appreciation of the collective was ingrained in the entire Beatles event. Previous groups often focused on one star and his backing band, a kind of capitalist / labor relation (e.g., Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Smoky Robinson and the Miracles, etc). Or, in contrast, other pop groups seemed to represent nameless collectivity (e.g. the Drifters or the Crystals). Yet the Beatles were individualistic everyone could name all four Beatles and I doubt a culturally literate westerner today, over forty years later, would be stumped as to name them however, there was also no clear star of the band. The Be atles celebrated their individual characters and the collective notion of the band also. The Beatles was both singular and takes lead vocal, John and George will back him up; or George and Paul together will back u p John. George frequently takes the lead, and, on simple vocal lines, sometimes
158 (Sullivan 1995, 12 0 ). This new form of individuality, based on idiosyncratic personal natures and on a sense of solidarity, is at the core of the whole social philosoph y of the baby boomers. One only needs to look at the recent retirement advertisements featuring Dennis Hopper to see that the boomers have remained faithful to this unique mix of ego ism and collectivism. Though the Beatles shaking their heads and screaming slightly similar way to Elvis Presley shaking his hips, the Beatles did it as four musicians together not as a solitary uber singer. The new Lennon M cCartney songwriting partnership also recreated reality. As opposed to a traditional partnership where the roles of the participants are set Lennon and McCartney were partners in a unique way. Like their music, there were few if any rules to the boundari es of the partnership. This was helped by the fact that Lennon and McCartney agreed early on that any song composed by either of them posing byline. (Ibid, 121). In one sense, this type of partnership recognized was present even when the other was not physically around 123). However, the Lennon McCartney part nership also esta blished that a unit could be egalitarian without being Sullivan (Ibid, 122) writes: [T]he very songwriting partnership [of Lennon and McCartney] was novel and, arguably, the first of its kind in history. In everything from show tunes to grand opera, the pattern over the centuries had been for a librettist to draw up a text from a written source or out of his own head, and for the of them wrote music and lyrics, an each edited t
159 t of equality to it McCartney received fifty percent credit for a song that was mostly written received credit for McCartney yet, at the same time, there were few guidelines for the partnership itself. It is possible that this freedom of process helped create such spontaneous sounding harmonies. basis of the vocal harmonies still astounds one: Singing in thirds and sixths below the vocal line above d throughout, but interjected, or used only at key em 120). In fact, their 126 ). As noted above, Lennon and McCartney tended to write songs that emphasized t the off notes that sounded somewhat discordant to the casual listener. Yet these harmonies were so amazingly inventive that they redefined the ontology of acceptable style harmonies in a set of i deas distinctive characteristics in this early period (and throughout their career generally) is the use of nonharmonic 125). Lik e Dorothy Gale
160 Beatles arrival. Certainly some of the Beatles impact was connected to the psychology of the west in early 1964 in particular of the U.S. and Britain. The U.S. had just lost its youngest elected president, John Kennedy, and a symbol of youth and vigor was wiped out in one violent act. The Beatles, I am sure, were a kind of anesthetic for the sadness surrounding the Kennedy assignation. Similarly, the conse rvative government in Britain was rocked by unprecedented sex scandals, and the newly elected labor part prime minister Harold Wilson celebrated its emerging young culture. Both countries had no desire to welter in their su ffering. Luckily the tutelary of musical beauty was about to bless the world. aesthetic event, but it was one that had clear political impacts. A new cognitive universe was created: one in which new poss ibilities were created class fellows without musical training being lauded by people like Leonard Bernstein and William Mann as th e greatest living composers, no problem. This new universe of possibilities rights movement. Truth be told, with this new freedom came a kind of narcissistic self indulge nce, which in turn led to a conservative backlash. In fact, no less of a conservative than Allan Bloom (1987) the arrival of the Beatles on th e cultural scene.
161 Despite the fueling of a conservative bac klash, the music itself and art in general became democratized after the 1960s. The Beatles and, of course, Bob Dylan made it safe for cultural snobs to pay attention to pop culture without fear of cum g arage bands sprang up all over the west, and there was a sense that anyone could be the Beatles. Of course, the Beatles themselves moved quickly away from the notion of a self contained group employing orchestras, studio experimentation, and other adornme nts but the notion that a group of musicians could create great art in a sweaty club in places like Hamburg and Liverpool remained. like all events as described by Badiou does not represent a complete break with the past. It is merely a re ordering of the underlying sets of aesthetic ideas; as if the masses were dancers whose terpsichorean activities blended ballet and experimental dance The Beatles arrival, in Badio u As Greil Marcus noted, reality changed after the Beatles. It is this notion a collective aesthetic event that creates a whole new version of reality that is an exemplar of words, the axiomatic of reality shifted somewhat after the Beatles arrived. The acceptability of long(er) hair, the physical expression of female desire, the unique notion of the individual triumphing within a group all of these notions where somewhat aff ected by the Beatles. This is not to overstate the case; certainly many other social factors, not to mention economic and political issues, helped to alter reality in the 1960s. However, the Beatles were one of these events that terms rearran
162 and the fidelity to which they felt compelled, was altered why four lower class men from Liverpool singing pop songs. Thinkers have recognized the socio political impact of the Bea tles. Robert Pielke (1986) Moreover, for some thinkers, the standard means for distribution of innovatory value is artistic artifacts. One can outline the 1960s upheaval ba and the shocking Little Richard. Middle class adolescence magnetism to forbidden figurative synthesis of white disenchantment and Afric an American resistance into a dissident reversal of the status quo. The obligatory confirmation of rebellious novel mores lives in the music of the Beatles, who helped propagate the exploration of greater autonomy, uniqueness, empathy, and accord in the s ubsequent decade. In fact, Joseph J. Mangano (1994) argues that the Beatles supplied a whole distinctiveness for the boomer generation. Ian MacDonald (1994 25 ) writes: The true revolution of the Sixties more powerful and decisive for the Western society than any of its external by products was inner one of feeling and assumption: a revolution in the head. Few were unaffected by and in the common man; a revolution (that is) readable nowhere more vividl y that in The Beatles r ecords (25) MacDonald continues, writing that the Beatles were revolutionary in good and bad ways and their music changed our perception of reality: The irony of modern right wing antipathy to the Sixties is this much misunderstood decade was, in all but the most superficial senses, the creation of the very people who voted for Thatcher and Reagan in the Eighties. It is, to put it mildly, curious to hear Thatcherites condemn a decade in which ordinary folk for the first time aspired to individual self de termination and a life of material security within an economy of high
163 root of this degenerative trait l ies in the psychological change induced into the Western life during 1963 1973: the revolution in the head which The Beatles played a large part in advancing and whose manifesto runs willy nilly through their work, rendering it not only an outstanding r epository of popular art by a cultural document of permanent signifi cance. ( Ibid, 29 33 ) Overlooking the ignorance of right McDonald writes, is an endeavor by the Beatles to discover a conduit to a laudable existence, as well an effort to transgress the limitations of their era. The Beatles, as per a Badiouian even, seemed to be both timely and timeless. Described in the terms of a politics of the mind, the Beatles represent a political revolution of cognition. Th e yarn is now a chaotic one. The contention in this chapter rests on the actuality that we can climb higher than post modern self aesthetics and squeeze a diverse vision of the interface co nnecting aesthetics and ethics/politics. As argued above, the Beatles showed us that individual plurality sees its sources in the plurality of the mind. Taken as a whole, there are abundant ways to interpret aesthetics into our lives. Undeniably, the in or even aesthetics in general cannot be answered, at least not until these aesthetics have been grappled aesthetic forms of the Be given the dangers lurking within this web, and the likelihood of becoming terribly missing within it is elevated. Even so, we must distinguish that intellectual refuge has its price tag. The Beat to formal musical security.
164 what argued could be a Badiou style event -a politics is to be tackled in the music of the Beatles. Its drive, on the other ha nd, is not en route to the understanding of explicit ambitions but somewhat toward the examination of the human existence that any such endeavored awareness must tackle. That there exists a politics of the mind in which th Badouian revolution can apply is an enduring inquiry that can scarcely be resolved. This is not to say that the Beatles and Badiou do not present us with some explicit political confrontations. Also, if we are to infer a pragmatically useful m essage from our that communicate to with our everyday political life, then it ought to defy our own plural not singular. Within culture, as within the mind, there are no algorithms for fairness. However much the components might linger; there is no surrogate for experiencing the world in a new way: a revolution in head. Returning to the story of my father and his sports car that never was, I think that shared a distrust for God like meta narratives, but he could still embrace the shared cultural event of the Beatles and his generation. Of course, the notion of aesthetic individuality read as a kind of hedonism generation. However, some underlying truths be they aesthetic, scientific, or etc have near universa they are not. But the truths are not entirely whimsical. As conservatives noted years ago, many people will feel as if their lives are meaningless if they adopt a Nietzschean
165 point of view. In contrast, Badiou allows ethical, social, and political theory to still have collective notion of beauty is ultimately celebrated without the fear of an empty exist ence.
166 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: VITAL AESTHETICS Form Battles Ressentiment I spent the previous five chapters discussing the various ways in which the formal aspects of art interact with political thought. This discussion sometimes criticized standard views of art and aesthetics, and it sometimes delved into various art works in order to examine the political implication of the formal qualities of art. However, this discussion has been short on explicitly prescriptive elements. And in this brief chapter, I attempt to address the issues raised here in a more normative vein. If one of the core So how can aesthetics en gage with politics in a way that is vital for our existence, a way that avoids the perils of wounded aesthetics ? One aspect of such an interaction would be to understand the proper way that aesthetics fits into the ethical. Prior to discussing this issue, I feel I must examine the concern of some thinkers about the aestheticization of politics. Walter Benjamin is one of the first thinkers to discuss the aestheticization of politics, and how such aestheticization leads to totalizing kinds of politics such as Fascism, and anachronistically Stalinism. Benjamin argues that politics taken as an art form can create a system that neglects the individual and sacrifices all to the artistic whole of the collective. discussed idea from Rancire that all politics are based on a kind of aesthetic regime. For e xample, for Rancire this manuscript I argued that works by creators as diverse as Phillip Roth, David Lynch,
167 and the Beatles tend to reflect or subtly change our ide as concerning the underlying aesthetic regime, a regime which affects the political. Yet, as seen here, my concern in this essay and this chapter is the way that the aesthetic interacts with the political and politics. I am not suggesting that aesthetics themselves would be a good basis for politics. To do so would be to not understand the proper relations between the aesthetic and the political. The aesthetic realm interacts with the political, on an experiential level that is not explained by the content based theories of Nussbaum and Rorty, but one could not base political thought or politics itself on aesthetics. To do would be to invite the complaints suggested by Benjamin and others. Of course, I do aesthetic s slave to a notion of content as truth is a poor basis for politics. However, my concern is addressing how the aesthetic realm usually expressed via art does and should affect the political. Gi ven this, a concern with vital aesthetics would be one that addresses the aesthetic realm as properly understood. but I feared that such a turn would simply normalize bio medical view of the world, as well as reinforce a binary mo ld to understanding the life 1 To even grasp the aesthetic realm as properly understood, I would suggest that we must destroy the gap implied by does it need to be concerned with politics. Ar t should, in an attempt to avoid wounded aesthetics, be politics. In this sense, I am discussing the notion of politics as I have defined earlier in this manuscript a definition of politics that combines the thought of Arendt and Rancire Put another wa y, if one understands politics in the Arendtian sense of creating meaning via action in a space of appearance, then art itself can be 1 My thoughts on this matter were influenced by conversations with Leslie Thiele.
168 politics. Effective art that resonates with an audience should create meaning; it should be politics itself. If one want s to put it the context of Rancire various ways in which we redefine the distribution of the sensible. By creat ing meaning in this way, vital aesthetics is a way to battle Nietzschean ched to our own feeling of inferiority and the hence when we do not contemplate the way the world is acting upon us. Ressentiment tion of wounded attachments, and it is also fundamental to my argument concerning wounded aesthetics. However, art that by embracing the excitement of life, and hence the fluidity of social interaction. An embrace of the formal aspects of art, of the aesthetics in aesthetics, is a key interact with aesthetic experiences. Hence, it is reasonable to say that form is the primary way that we engage with art. In fact, being exciting and interesting in a formal way is one of the best ways to shape up the often interesting relationship between form and content. An embrace of form, whi ch would battle the underlying ressentiment of a world based on wounded aesthetics, busts out of our slavery to content, a slavery that Nietzsche might equate with an attachment to the Socratic. Bland form reinforces the this sense, bland form as a slave to content a form attached to wounded aesthetics based art tries to fill the gap tent or one could say the gap represented by the
169 lack of aesthetic quality with a Kantian loss of truth. In other words, art is sadly pushes ressentiment, and it decre ases the overall quality of life. However, an embrace of the excitement of form discourages a sickly kind of wounded aesthetics, and it shows us the w ays in which aesthetics can be vital In other words, a vital notion of aesthetics would embrace a kind of formal quality that would allow us to create meaning and hence engage in politics in various ways via art and aesthetics. Art itself would be a political act, and that act would not be dependent on the particular content of the kind of art; it would b e formed by the experience of the art itself. Various artworks would allow us to, in Rancire distribute the sensible in way that made us see the world in a new way. This seeing of the world enables us to redefine the political landscapes, in fa ct, one might suggest that the new way of seeing is political. And hence, vital aesthetics allows art to interact with politics in a way that properly embraces the various roles of the political and aesthetic. The Aesthetic Realm and Its Influence The aesthetic realm is the realm of experience valued by beauty, and hence a realm of experience whose value is assigned by the experience itself. (Panagia 2006, 5). To be valuable in the aesthetic realm is to be valuable in a non instrumental way non instru mental outside of immediate sense experience. Of course, this is not the only realm of life: As Heidegger suggests, there are ethical realms, political realms, legal realms, technological realms, as well as others. 2 However, as suggested in chapter 2 I am in no way attempting to create a hard and fast schematic for existence Put another way, I do not seek to establish a kind of ontological basis for reality such as Badiou. I acknowledge that these realms can overlap somewhat, and that they are not exclusive or totally distinct. However, I find such realms as a useful and p leasant way to break up the world.
170 two of this manuscript, the aesthetic realm helps to establish a kind of non foundational foundation for the ethical and political realm. Using the thought of Rancire I argued that aesthetics establishes a notion of seeing, and it is this seeing that shape s the political. Hence, properl y understood, the vital aesthetic has a role in grounding the political realm. A proper gratitude for the aesthetic realm would allow us to appreciate experience in a n appropriate way; it would allow us to value experience for the sake of understand the world itself is based on the creation of new surfaces, new appearances. This creation of new surfaces allows us to see the world in different ways because the distinct aspects of appearance are valued in different ways. In other words, various aspects of surface appearance are based almost entirely on the rearrangement of phenomena on those surfac es. To understand the world to value the surfaces is to determine what is worth identifying. This identifying determined what is seen, what is sensible is the basis of the link between the aesthetic and the political. Hence, a proper notion of aesthetic s, an aesthetics based on surface and form, properly interacts with the political realm by rearranging the surfaces of identification. To properly appreciate the aesthetic, on e needs to treat experience for its own sake. This is not to say that all expe rience should be treated in such a way that justifies experience for its own sake. There are moments when actions must be judged or appreciated for their instrumental value. Specifically, the technological realm is based on the notion that people use cer tain things for other purposes. Martin Heidegger is crucial to the understanding of technology here. According to Heidegger, modern
171 technology is troubling because it allows us to use all objects even possibly people as a kind of energy for another purpo se. The problem with this thought is that it allows us to justify the use of the whole world as a resource, as a thing to be held in reserve. Hence, the aesthetic realm and other realms, for that matter is always being troubled by the c reeping technologi cal realm. stance Technology changes us; the technological realm creeps over the whole world As the technological realm creeps in, we begin to see the whole world as a potent ial puzzle to be solved, a thing to be calculated. And hence when reality is solved, it is something to be exploited. Under this notion of reality, the summit of human This technological realm, on Hei simple calculation. Life is simply an algorithm. To have a fuller spirit, we need to experience truths of a variety of realms, not just technological truths. In other w ords, we need to be more than odds calculators. In this sense, the technological realm is not inherently dangerous; it is only dangerous when it colonizes the other realms. I finish this manuscript by turning briefly back to Immanuel Kant. On might vi ew the ethics of Kant as a way that insures that we not treat people as a means to an end, and that we imperative is essentially technological, and it is technological over a hundred years p rior imperative in The Critique of Practical Reason and the Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals. act only according to that
172 and act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same ti me Given these maxims, we can see that Kant is offended by the notion of treating people as a means and not an end. O n face this kind of ethics should form the basis of morality that would take seriously aesthetic experience because the aesth etic is ked to the notion of both logic and rule following. Kant developed the categorical imperative via mental contortions and logical experiments. In this sense, Kant uses people in service of the categorical imperative. When we treat people in accordance wi th the categorical imperative, we are actually using people in service of rule. And that rule, this categorical imperative, is the actual end of the human action in the Kantian realm. If people are acting in accordance to a rule, and not in accordance wi th human experience, then the actor is not actually treating humans as an end. In other words, when acting in accordance with the categorical imperative, one is not actually treating people as an end The categorical imperative is established prior to h uman experience, or at least, seen as a step away from the raw utilitarianism of Jeremy Benthem, or the more refined
173 philosophy of John Stuart Mill. Of course, this is another example where Kant is attempting to take aspects of the human condition that ar e dependent upon subjective judgment and make them act as if they are universal statements. Ethics and aesthetics, and science, are based on a kind of subjective understanding of the world. Kant wants to erase that subjective understanding. In contrast to the technological and c ode based rules of Kant, vital aesthetics would affect the political realm by bringing experience itself to bear on our views of ethics. With the aesthetic realm being respected, humans would approach ethical questions not in a juridical way, but in a way that allows us to judge ethical issues in regards to the experience itself. In this sense, one aspect of ethic s and hence of the moral, legal, and political is to examine the way that we, as humans, experience ethical issues themselves. For example, to decide whether to help a friend, one should determine the various imp lications of the experience of helping. Th e helping, the act itself, has experiential impacts. These impacts might make us act differently than if we applied the code of the categorical imperative. Hence, a world in which the aesthetic realm is properly understood, we would take into considerat ion the experiential impact of ethics. I am not suggesting that aesthetics would dictate any other realm I do not want to bait people into a Benjamin style criticism but the aesthetic realm should not be destroyed by any other realm of human experience. This notion of realm creep, or realm colonization, is a key to the destruction of the aesthetic realm. This concern for the destruction of the aesthetic realm is similar to the concern of critical theorists like Adorno and Horkheimer for the way that ins trumental reason destroys all other types of reason. It is disturbing that instrumental
174 reason destroys other types of reason, but I am discussing more than simply instrument al reason. Vital aesthetics is the notion that the aesthetic realm is properly u nderstood when it interacts wi th the other realms. As discussed in chapter one aesthetics acts as a kind of anti foundational foundation. Properly understood, the aesthetic realm informs the moral, legal, and political. Of course, the instrumental cree ps backward, but my concern is the destruction of the aesthetic via the way that, say, the ethical or the technological creeps in and obliterates the aesthetic. This is troubling. If wounded aesthetics is the ethical destro ying the aesthetic, then vital a esthetics is a way to appreciate the aesthetic realm properly. Vital aesthetics would focus on the experience qua experience. Experience itself directs th e aesthetic. In this sense, art, which is a kind of expression of the aesthetic, grants someone an experience when they engage in the art itself. Art brings forth the aesthetic by putting experience itself in the mix of our life. As discussed previously in this manuscript, when we focus on form the vital aesthetic experience is enhanced because th e experience itself is valued. This is essential for the proper understanding of the aesthetic realm. In the first chapter of this manuscript, I suggested that our understanding of the world is bas ed on the notion that life is based on appearance, and the only way we organize those appearances is via an aesthetic notion of creation. Thus, we understand the world in terms of ordering it according to aesthetic preferences. These preferences are both collective and individual, as explained by my applicat ion of the aesthetic thought of Rancire and Badiou. At any given time we feel rather certain of our aesthetic principles what Rancire might call the particular aesthetic regime but that
175 certainty relies on a fidelity to a contingent event. It is tied t o relying on an event to help create aesthetic categories of understanding. This aesthetic realm helps to shape the political realm by letting us understand the world, and, as thinkers such as Rancire Arendt, and Panagia suggest, this seeing is politica l itself. From Plato through Zizek, art is has always played an important part in the philosophical realm of the political. However, vital aesthetics would allow us to simultaneously respect art itself, and it also allows us to understand the way that ar t/aesthetics interact s with the other realms of human life. Vital aesthetics is an appreciation for the experience qua experience, with an emphasis on the way we appreciate the world via b eauty. Additionally, this vital view of aesthetics, as outlined in this manuscript, would experience a world that is continually constituted by the aesthetic understanding of the world. When we engage in the aesthetic realm, our perception is both expressed and shaped. An interaction with art, or something explicitly aesthetic, establishes a kind of order of perception that lasts for the time that one is interacting with said piece of art. This perception at once expresses the domain of the aesthetic regime, as well as it is subtly affects the regime that already exi sts. In this sense, vital aesthetics would be a universe in which various types of artistic experiences are grappled with in the continued perception of human existence. Given that the aesthetic realm organizes the seeing of the world, and it orders wha t would possibly be an ambiguous political ontology. The purpose of aesthetics is to organize and impose order, an order that is defined by our experiences of beauty. Yet, the basis here is experience. The afore mentioned aesthetic categories, which are tied to the specific aesthetic regime, make sure that things are organized and
176 comprehendible. This organization is tied to the way the aesthetic, ethical, and political realms eventually intersect. Vital aesthetics allows for a kind of uniting and, sim ultaneously, individually liberating interaction with experience. We are united because the aesthetic realm has some a common regime that allows us to communicate and understand the world. This is how artists can even begin to express meaning via beauty. One is tempted to view art in a way that is fragmented and individual. However, there are a substantial agreement as to the vocabulary and value of artistic works, and that agreement is tied to the aesthetic regime. For example, humans generally unders tand the language of cinema, a language developed by D.W. Griffith and that has evolved over years. The same can be said for, say, comic art. Jack Kirby helped invent the modern vocabulary of comic art, and that regime has evolved and changed through tim e. Yet, all individuals bring to this regime particular ideas about the beautiful. These individual ideas affect aesthetic regime by, as suggested above, limiting and delimiting the aesthetic regime. As suggested in a previous chapter, sometimes certai n aesthetic events completely reshape the regime in a sudden way. I argued that the arrival of the Beatles does this, but that is certainly not the only such event in the last fifty years or so. Of course, there are many other artistic works that might b Les Demoiselles d'Avignon Beloved, American Pastoral (d iscussed in this manuscript), Pulp Fiction, Composition X, Breathless, Twin Peaks (discussed in this manuscript), Infinite Jest, The Wasteland, Straight out
177 of Compton, Untitled (Skull), and many, many, others. It is not that these types of works rewrite our aesthetic realm in such a way that the old regime disappears. As explained previously in this manuscript, the event shakes the ontological foundation of the aesthetic regime. Yet, vital aesthetics is a key to allowing these events to unfold and properly int eract with the other realms. A world in which we engage with aesthetics as experience is a world in which we can grapple with the implications of the sensations themselves. In other words, the aesthetic realm properly understood allows us to both be part of the collective by interacting with the aesthetic r egime (category) and experiencing Badiou style events and to act as an individual by slightly modifying our own aesthetic interpre tations of artistic events. In the preceding pages, I examine the aesthetic realm and how it interacts with the other realms of human existence. Specifically, I explain how an approach based on vital aesthetics attends to the proper interaction of the a esthetic and the ethical/political, and the way in which people develop themselves a subject of sense perception through the experience of art. Aesthetics when removed from its wounded aspects make sense of the artworks via making sense of the world. If, as Davide Panagia (2009 148 ) aesthetics to allow our experience to filter into the ethical/political in a proper way. This is not to say that sensation must be filtered; it can, as Panagia suggests, have pre sense m aking political impact However, to make sense of certain artworks, and other aspects of the world in an aesthetic way, one must interact wit h the world properly via vital aesthetics aesthetics that take experience qua experience seriously Also, I am not suggesting that aesthetics should be a slave to its impact on the political. Such an approach would
178 contradict my own discussion of Kant and how his categorical imperative does not actually treat humans as ends. It is important to under stand that the aesthetic realm is one in which experience justifies itself. As discussed throughout this manuscript, this experience as qua experience, this vital aesthetics is, a phrase that seems redundant, vital to political existence. In these fina l moments I wonder if the reader would tolerate a slight divergence into a discussion of one my personal heroes: Sally Bowles. Speaking from a personal level, Bowles, is, to me, the lead in the musical play and movie Cabaret I, of course, realize that s he was a character from an Isherwood story, and that she is likely based on a real person in Weimar Germany. However, that is not how I have interacted with Bowles the majority of my life, and it is certainly not the context in which my opinions where shap ed. 3 The Sally of the musical danced away the troubles of Weimar Germany. As National Socialism began edging its way into all aspects of German life, the cabaret remained a place of relative freedom. In this freedom, people like the fictional Sally Bowl es acted out a life of meaningful decadence. To Sally, life is a seemingly chaotic, but it has an internal sense of order to it: It is hectic, but also controlled and somewhat calculated. One could see Sally Bowles as celebrating a life of hedonic excess. However, there is also an almost cheap, rather shameful, tendency to Sal sensibility that flies in the face of standard society. Nevertheless, this trashiness is fairly 3 The meta philosophical discussion of which Bowles is the Bowles properly understood is outside of my concerns in this manuscript.
179 welcome in the context of the cabaret. Bowles, overall, is an individual, but still s ubject to the collective and coordinated aesthetic order of the cabaret. It is possible that Bowles can be seen to represent simply the afore mentioned cheap and trashy hedonism. Yet, though Bowles behavior might be hedonistic, it has a self conscious qu linked to a kind of liberalism 4 where epicurean pleasure is a focus of the political and social calculus. Outside the dark corridors of the cabaret, another ae sthetic order was being created in 1930s German. This order was expressed in the growing rallies of the National Socialists and in the cinematic work of German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl. asterpiece Triumph of the Will was the exemplar of this new aesthetic. In Triumph, Riefenstahl blurs the distinction between the Nazi Party, the German State, and most importantly the whol e of German Swastika. The whole of German society, expressed in perfect harmony and order is seen as an innate beauty. And, of course, Hitler and the Nazis are the logical directors of the new aesthetic one that is in direct conflict with the chaos of both the cabaret and its political equivalent, the Weimar Republic and the failing liberal democracy. These tw o examples represent two competing aesthetic orders 5 Of course, 4 5 Again, I realize that Bowles is fi ctional and Reifenstahl is actually existed. Yet, I am using these two figures as examples here. It does not matter to me much that they could not have had an actual
180 found s o important. They both take the shadows and create new orders, new aesthetics. These surfaces and how we understand them whether via cabarets or triumphs of the will shape our political understanding of the world. Our encounters with art are crucial to t his shaping. In this sense, aesthetics may not allow us to recreate a kind of categorical imperative via Kant, but it does allow a kind of self that cares about our own experiences of beauty. And, this rediscovery of the aesthetic life places sense exper ience in proper perspective, a perspective that can be correctly united with politics and the political. discussion in 1938. There were cabarets in Weimer Germany, and given the music of Kurt We il and others, one assumes that the musical is not a bad representation of such places. Also, for the context of this discussion, the reader just needs to understand that these two orders could exist in competition.
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187 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH J. Maggio received his doctorate in political science from the University of Florida in 2010. Primarily focusing on political theory, his interests include the intersection of aesthetics, cultural theory, and political philosophy. He is particularly interested in the way that various forms of expression are linked to the politics of recognition. J. Maggio received a Juris Doctorate from University College of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of South Florida.