Abstract

This essay addresses the impact of synaesthetic aspirations on modernism, particularly as filtered through the nineteenth century legacy of music as the art to which other arts aspired. Music, accorded such an extravagant role, fostered melomania, serving largely as a license to fantasies of artistic emancipation from inherited means. While Wagnerism promoted a unification of all the arts on the model of the Gesamtkunstwerk, melomania prompted developmental initiatives unique to each art form. In either case, the perceived limits of a given art were felt as symptoms of pathos. But as Theodor Adorno recognized, this sense of loss offered a lesson about the role of art in the mass culture of modernity. In its retention of fugitive traces of an animal countenance, the artwork embodied what could not otherwise be simply declared.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1464
Print ISSN
0022-281X
Pages
pp. 1-20
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-10
Open Access
No
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