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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.
Materials Science, Materialist Poetics
Poetry, or poi sis, has long been understood as a practice of making. But how are experiments in the making of poetic forms related to formal making in science and engineering? The Limits of Fabrication takes up this question in the context of recent developments in nanoscale materials science, investigating concepts and ideologies of form at stake in new approaches to material construction. Tracing the direct pertinence of fields crucial to the new materials science (nanotechnology, biotechnology, crystallography, and geodesic design) in the work of Shanxing Wang, Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bök, and Ronald Johnson back to the mid-century development of Charles Olson’s “objectist” poetics, Nathan Brown carves out a tradition of constructivist, non-organic poetics that has developed in conversation with science and engineering. While proposing a new approach to the relation of techn (craft, skill) and poi sis (making, forming), this book also intervenes in philosophical debates concerning the concept of the object, the distinction between organic and inorganic matter, theories of self-organization, and the relation between “design” and “nature.” Engaging with Heidegger, Agamben, Whitehead, Stiegler, and Nancy, Brown shows that materials science and materialist poetics offer crucial resources for thinking through the direction of contemporary materialist philosophy.
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 this book, the noted intellectual historian Frank Ankersmit provides a systematic account of the problems of reference, truth, and meaning in historical writing. He works from the conviction that the historicist account of historical writing, associated primarily with Leopold von Ranke and Wilhelm von Humboldt, is essentially correct but that its original idealist and romanticist idiom needs to be translated into more modern terms. Rehabilitating historicism for the contemporary philosophy of history, he argues, "reveals the basic truths about the nature of the past itself, how we relate to it, and how we make sense of the past in historical writing."
At the heart of Ankersmit's project is a sharp distinction between interpretation and representation. The historical text, he holds, is first and foremost a representation of some part of the past, not an interpretation. The book's central chapters address the concept of historical representation from the perspectives of reference, truth, and meaning. Ankersmit then goes on to discuss the possible role of experience in the history writing, which leads directly to a consideration of subjectivity and ethics in the historian's practice. Ankersmit concludes with a chapter on political history, which he maintains is the "basis and condition of all other variants of historical writing." Ankersmit's rehabilitation of historicism is a powerfully original and provocative contribution to the debate about the nature of historical writing.
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.
The roots and evolution of two concepts usually thought to be Western in origin-musica mundana (the music of the spheres) and musica humana (music's relation to the human soul)-are explored. Beginning with a study of the early creeds of the Near East, Professor Meyer-Baer then traces their development in the works of Plato and the Gnostics, and in the art and literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Previous studies of symbolism in music have tended to focus on a single aspect of the problem. In this book the concepts of musica humana and musica mundane are related to philosophy, aesthetics, and the history of religion and are given a rightful place in the history of civilization.
Originally published in 1970.
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