Cover

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

The book on my desk, in the Loeb Classical Library series, puts together three works: Aristotle’s Poetics, Longinus’s On the Sublime, and Demetrius’s On Style. The first two have a claim to a greater influence on theory of representation in the West than any others before or since. We might say, what Aristotle and Plato are for philosophy, Aristotle and Longinus are for aesthetic thought, two opposed poles, from which theory of representation...

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1 Charisma and Art

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pp. 11-47

Max Weber’s much-cited definition holds up well in reference to personal charisma. Weber refers to charisma as

a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers or...

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2 Living Art and Its Surrogates: The Genesis of Charismatic Art

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pp. 48-75

Imagine the living body as a medium of art, the way stone or brass are media of sculpture. Anthropologists know well the benefits of reading the body as an artwork. Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the founders of social anthropology, envisioned a ‘‘new humanism,’’ not based on the study of classic works, but rather of living man, living language, and living facts: ...

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3 Odysseus Rising: The Homeric World

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pp. 76-97

In book 5 of the Odyssey, Odysseus washes up on a beach, naked, brine-soaked and scum-crusted, after twenty days of struggle with the ocean. Poseidon, having learned from Zeus that he cannot prevent his enemy’s return home, redoubles his efforts to make the blinder of his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, suffer as much as possible along the way. Odysseus is ...

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4 Icon and Relic

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pp. 98-133

Max Weber spoke of ‘‘pure forms’’ of charismatic personalities: shamans, berserks, prophets. The idea that some social roles might manifest charisma more distinctly than others is useful, if we put aside the romantic historicizing of Weber’s theory (ancient charisma was pure, modern has weakened to artifice) and the suggestion of archetype and copy implied by ‘‘pure ...

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5 Charismatic Culture and Its Media: Gothic Sculpture and Medieval Humanism

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pp. 134-161

Hildebert of Lavardin, bishop and poet, visited Rome in the last years of the eleventh century. Probably on his return to the north in 1100 he wrote an elegiac praise of the city’s ancient ruins, ‘‘Peerless Rome’’ (‘‘Par tibi Roma nihil’’). At the poem’s core is a burning admiration for the art of the ancient Romans, ignited by the sight of the pagan gods carved in marble, ...

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6 Romance and Adventure

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pp. 162-184

One of many bizarre incidents in the romance Lancelot, or The Knight of the Cart by Chrétien de Troyes occurs in a churchyard cemetery. Lancelot is in quest of his mistress, Queen Guinevere, who has been kidnapped by a villainous knight named Meleagant and is held captive in ‘‘the land from which no stranger returns.’’1 Lancelot comes mysteriously upon this church. Its walled cemetery abounds with ‘‘beautiful tombs’’ (line 1857)....

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7 Albrecht Dürer’s Self-Portrait (1500): The Face and Its Contents

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pp. 185-203

The suggestion of a living force present in the person or the world depicted is a strong element of charismatic art. What I see in Sargent’s Lady Agnew and what Rilke sees in the headless statue of Apollo is more than what the naked realism of the work ‘‘by itself,’’ stripped of charisma and aura, conveys. When that force is both human and superhuman, natural and supernatural ...

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8 Book Burning at Don Quixote’s

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pp. 204-224

Obsessive reading of chivalric literature turns the mind of a respectable elderly gentleman. He is seized by a fascination with chivalry so consuming that he regards himself as a knight-errant out of season, called upon to revive the glorious institution of knight-errantry but bedeviled by malicious and envious enchanters who succeed in transforming the chivalric world ...

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9 Goethe’s Faust and the Limits of the Imagination

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pp. 225-266

On his way through the phantasmagorical landscape of the ‘‘Classical Walpurgisnacht’’ to fetch Helen of Troy out of the underworld in Goethe’s Faust Part 2, act 2 (‘‘At the Lower Peneios’’), Faust hitches a ride on the back of the centaur Chiron. They have an informative conversation, Faust asking questions like a tourist in time, Chiron answering with sententious superiority...

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10 The Statue Changes Rilke’s Life

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pp. 267-287

Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem ‘‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’’ is a defining ‘‘myth’’ of charismatic art exercising a transforming effect. Here is the poem in the original:

Wir kannten nicht sein unerhörtes Haupt,
darin die Augenäpfel reiften. Aber
sein Torso glüht noch wie ein Kandelaber,
in dem sein Schauen, nur zurückgeschraubt,
...

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11 Grand Illusions: Classic American Cinema

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pp. 288-320

‘‘Cheek to Cheek’’ is one of the most famous, most quoted sequences in the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It is set in the context of a moral problem for Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) in the movie Top Hat (1935). She met persistent suitor Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) in England. He flirted, he ignored her repeated snubs and attempts to get him off her ...

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12 Lost Illusions: American Neorealism and Hitchcock’s Vertigo

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pp. 321-346

The movies did not exactly get smaller in the period 1939–1960, but they got less glamorous, and the glamour that remained was either trivialized, stripped of mystery, or inflated to pomposity. The cinema in one of its major postwar trends veered away from big, charismatic representation. It worked on an agenda of deflating it, bursting the illusions about glamour ...

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13 Woody Allen: Allan Felix’s Glasses and Cecilia’s Smile

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pp. 347-369

New York City must breed charisma, awareness of it, fear of it, desire for it. It cultivates and admires the big ego and the brassy personality in a way that sets it apart from Los Angeles, the other city of the big ego, but whose self-conception is more frail than the New Yorker’s, undercut by the secret conviction that big personality is flash not brass, glitz, phoniness, and hollow ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 370-378

This book has pointed to some aspects of art viewed through the lens of charisma, aura, hypermimesis, the sublime. ‘‘Showing’’ and ‘‘pointing’’ are techniques more deeply complicit with my approach than what the ordinary usage of those words indicates. As mediating acts they are very different from interpreting. A reader cannot interpret and at the same time ...

Notes

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pp. 379-416

Index

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pp. 417-424

Acknowledgments

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pp. 425-425