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More than twenty years after his death, Paul de Man remains a haunting presence in the American academy. His name is linked not just with deconstruction,but with a deconstruction in Americathat continues to disturb the scholarly and pedagogical institution it inhabits. The academy seems driven to characterize de Manian deconstruction,again and again, as dead. Such reiterated acts of exorcism testify that de Man's ghost has in fact never been laid to rest, and for good reason: a dispassionate survey of recent trends in critical theory and practice reveals that de Man's influence is considerable and ongoing. His name still commands an aura of excitement, even danger: it stands for the pressure of a text and a theorythat resists easy assimilation or containment. The essays in this volume analyze and evaluate aspects of de Man's strange, powerful legacy. The opening contributions focus on his great theme of reading; subsequent chapters explore his complex notions of history,materiality,and aesthetic ideology,and examine his institutional role as a teacher and, more generally, as a charismatic figure associated with the fortunes of theory.Because the notion of legacy immediately raises questions about the institutional transmission of thought, the collection concludes with two appendixes offering documentary aids to scholars interested in de Man as an institutional presence and pedagogue. The first appendix lists the courses taught by de Man at Yale; the second makes available a previously unpublished document, almost certainly authored by de Man: a course proposal for the undergraduate course Literature Zthat de Man and Geoffrey Hartman began teaching at Yale in the spring of 1977.
A Deleuzean Aesthetics of Existence
Deleuze's publications have attracted enormous attention, but scant attention has been paid to the existential relevance of Deleuze's writings. In the lineage of Nietzsche, Life Drawing develops a fully affirmative Deleuzean aesthetics of existence.For Foucault and Nehamas, the challenge of an aesthetics of existence is to make your life, in one way or another, a work of art. In contrast, Bearn argues that art is too narrow a concept to guide this kind of existential project. He turns instead to the more generous notion of beauty, but he argues that the philosophical tradition has mostly misconceived beauty in terms of perfection. Heraclitus and Kant are well-known exceptions to this mistake, and Bearn suggests that because Heraclitean becoming is beyond conceptual characterization, it promises a sensualized experience akin to what Kant called free beauty. In this new aesthetics of existence, the challengeis to become beautiful by releasing a Deleuzean becoming: becoming becoming. Bearn's readings of philosophical texts--by Wittgenstein, Derrida, Plato, and others--will be of interest in their own right.
On Baroque Aesthetics
The Aesthetics of Dependency from Kierkegaard to Joyce
Two ways of understanding the aesthetic organization of literary works have come down to us from the late 18th century and dominate discussions of European modernism today: the aesthetics of autonomy, associated with the self-sufficient work of art, and the aesthetics of fragmentation, practiced by the avant-gardes. In this revisionary study, Leonardo Lisi argues that these models rest on assumptions about the nature of truth and existence that cannot be treated as exhaustive of modern experience. Lisi traces an alternative aesthetics of dependency that provides a different formal structure, philosophical foundation, and historical condition for modernist texts. Taking Europe's Scandinavian periphery as his point of departure, Lisi examines how Kierkegaard and Ibsen imagined a response to the changing conditions of modernity different from those at the European core, one that subsequently influenced James, Hofmannsthal, Rilke, and Joyce. Combining close readings with a broader revision of the nature and genealogy of modernism, Marginal Modernity challenges what we understand by modernist aesthetics, their origins, and their implications for how we conceive our relation to the modern world.
In Romantic theories of art and literature, the notion of mimesis—defined as art’s reflection of the external world—became introspective and self-reflexive as poets and artists sought to represent the act of creativity itself. Frederick Burwick seeks to elucidate this Romantic aesthetic, first by offering an understanding of key Romantic mimetic concepts and then by analyzing manifestations of the mimetic process in literary works of the period. Burwick explores the mimetic concepts of "art for art's sake," "Idem et Alter," and "palingenesis of mind as art" by drawing on the theories of Philo of Alexandria, Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, Friederich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, Thomas De Quincey, and Germaine de Staël. Having established the philosophical bases of these key mimetic concepts, Burwick analyzes manifestations of mimesis in the literature of the period, including ekphrasis in the work of Thomas De Quincey, mirrored images in the poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and the twice-told tale in the novels of Charles Brockden Brown, E. T. A. Hoffmann, and James Hogg. Although artists of this period have traditionally been dismissed in discussions of mimesis, Burwick demonstrates that mimetic concepts comprised a major component of the Romantic aesthetic.
Modern Japanese Aesthetics is the first work in English on the history of the Japanese philosophy of art, from its inception in the 1870s to the present. In addition to the historical information and discussion of aesthetic issues that appear in the introductions to each of the chapters, the book presents English translations of otherwise inaccessible major works on Japanese aesthetics, beginning with a complete and annotated translation of the first work in the field, Nishi Amane's Bimyogaku Setsu (The Theory of Aesthetics). In its four sections (The Subject of Aesthetics, Aesthetic Categories, Poetic Expression, Postmodernism and Aesthetics), Modern Japanese Aesthetics discusses the momentous efforts made by Japanese thinkers to master, assimilate, and transform Western philosophical systems to discuss their own literary and artistic heritage. Readers are introduced to debates between the unconditional supporters of Western ideas (Onishi Hajime) and more cautious approaches to the literary and artistic past (Okakura Kakuzo, Tsubouchi Shoyo). The institutionalization of aesthetics as an academic subject is discussed and the work of some of Japan's most distinguished professional aestheticians (Onishi Yoshimori, Imamichi Tomonobu), philosophers (Kusanagi Masao, Nishitani Keiji, Sakabe Megumi), and literary critics (Karatani Kojin) is included. Modern Japanese Aesthetics is a sophisticated and energetic volume on the process that led to the construction of aesthetic categories used by Japanese and, later, Western scholars in discussing Japanese literature and arts. This important work will be essential reading for anyone concerned with the formation of a critical vocabulary in Japan.
Psychoanalysis, Photography, Deconstruction
This book grows out of a longstanding fascination with the uncanny status of the mother in literature, philosophy,psychoanalysis, film, and photography. The mother haunts Freud's writings on art and literature, emerges as an obscure stumbling block in his metapsychological accounts of the psyche, and ultimately undermines his patriarchalaccounts of the Oedipal complex as a foundation for human culture. The figure of the mother becomes associated with some of psychoanalysis's most unruly and enigmatic concepts (the uncanny, anxiety, the primal scene, the crypt, and magical thinking). Read in relation to deconstructive approaches to the work of mourning, this book shows how the maternal function challenges traditional psychoanalytic models of the subject, troubles existing systems of representation, and provides a fertile source for nonmimetic, nonlinear conceptions of time and space.The readings in this book examine the uncanny properties of the maternal function in psychoanalysis, technology, and literature in order to show that the event of birth is radically unthinkable and often becomes expressed through uncontrollable repetitions that exceed the bounds of any subject. The maternal body often serves as an unacknowledged reference point for modern media technologies such as photography and the telephone, which attempt to mimic its reproductive properties. To the extent that these technologies aim to usurp the maternal function, they are often deployed as a means of regulating or warding off anxieties that are provoked by the experience of loss that real separation from the mother invariably demands. As the incarnation of our first relation to the strange exile of language, the mother is inherently a literary figure, whose primal presence in literary texts opens us up to theunspeakable relation to our own birth and, in so doing, helps us give birth to new and fantasmatic images of futures that might otherwise have remained unimaginable.
Music, Science, Ecstasy, the Body
In this capstone work, the late Bruce Wilshire seeks to rediscover the fullness of life in the world by way of a more complete activation of the body's potentials. Appealing to our powers of hearing and feeling, with a special emphasis on music, he engages a rich array of composers, writers, and thinkers ranging from Beethoven and Mahler to Emerson and William James. Wilshire builds on James's concept of the much-at-once to name the superabundance of the world that surrounds, nourishes, holds, and stimulates us; that pummels and provokes us; that responds to our deepest need--to feel ecstatically real.