The Ecstatic Quotidian
Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Penn State University Press
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The author would like to thank some people who helped to bring this book into being. Michael Richards at The Pennsylvania State University Press first drew editorial support for this book in an enthusiastic and careful reading. Sandy Thatcher, the director of the Press, gave helpful advice. Material for some chapters appeared in earlier formulation in articles in the following journals...
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This book is devoted to an examination, through art, literature, and phenomenology, of that which is, by definition, the most ordinary and habitually unnoticed. The ‘‘quotidian’’ is the sense of life built up in daily experience, by everyday habits, by the sedimentation of ordinary expectations of the world, but also by the tensions between the regularity of the familiar and...
1. The Quotidian and Literary-Phenomenological Departures from Everydayness
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In ordinary life, the familiarity of things, by its very nature, does not come to our notice. Only when we are surprised, when things are not as we expected, do we become aware of our expectations explicitly. Such awareness modifies everydayness. Because of this modification, as the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein has written, ‘‘unfamiliarity is much more of an experience than familiarity...
2. Sources of Ecstasis in Childhood Experience
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A proto-ecstatic latency underlying everyday experience is not merely the region of literary phenomena but also belongs to the structure of childhood experience. Maurice Merleau-Ponty declared that all his philosophical endeavors amounted to an attempt to recapture the experience of childhood. This declaration not only reflects a tone of wonder typical of Merleau-Ponty’s...
3. Literary Phenomenology from the Natural Attitude to Recognition
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In the first volume of Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und phänomenologischen Philosophie (Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and a Phenomeno-logical Philosophy), Husserl grants fiction—the fictional presentation of forms and their imaginative variation—a special relevance for the philosopher. Originary givenness is, while ordinarily primary for the phenomenologist, limited...
4. The Mysterious and Poetry of the World’s Inner Horizons
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While the world is not inherently mysterious for one who adheres to the strict scientific description of its essential structures, modern poetry seems in part devoted to defending the margins of unknowability that surround the horizons of the known. The mysterious suggests what is beyond the reach of everydayness, beyond the quotidian realm. It is opposed to the familiarity of...
5. The Painterly and the Poetic Image Between Rilke and C�zanne
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There is an implicit phenomenology in Rilke’s fascination with visual works of art, particularly paintings by Cézanne. Rilke found in Cézanne’s paintings an ecstatic transport from everyday perception, as they render strange, original, startlingly fresh perception of the familiar world and seem to breakthrough to the essence of things. For a poet who is concerned with sheltering...
6. The Silent Ecstasis of Vision
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In the wake of C�zanne an exclusive emphasis on vision seems to have become characteristic of much of modern painting. Some early critics of C�zanne argued that the isolation of vision in the experience of his paintings alienates art from real worldly experience. What his form of modernism introduces, it has been charged, is not only a break from the ordinary experience of seeing,...
7. Ecstatic Mimesis in Trompe l’Œil
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Cy Twombly’s blackboard painting (Untitled, 1970) afforded an occasion to consider the experience of visual art as an event between linguistic expression and the strange muteness of seeing. Another aspect of this painting is its simulation of trompe l’œil, a technique that fools the eye by presenting perceptual objects with disconcerting verisimilitude. Twombly’s painting, said...
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The aim of these reflections was not a critique or ethics of the quotidian, such as in the tradition of sociological and Marxist literature, nor were they meant to establish a philosophy of ordinary life. Rather, what has been presented here is an examination of the persistence of reflection on quotidian life as an interimplicating and driving theme in modern art, literature, and in phenomenology...
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Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: Literature and Philosophy
Series Editor Byline: A.J. Cascardi, General Editor