Aesthetics & Alienationby Gary Tedman
A complete and original theory of aesthetics based on Marx and Althusser in the modernist Marxist anti-humanist tradition (Brecht, Althusser, Benjamin, Adorno). The main concepts that arise from this work are: the aesthetic level of practice, aesthetic state apparatuses, aesthetic interpellation, and pseudo dialectics, all of which are used to understand the role… See more details below
A complete and original theory of aesthetics based on Marx and Althusser in the modernist Marxist anti-humanist tradition (Brecht, Althusser, Benjamin, Adorno). The main concepts that arise from this work are: the aesthetic level of practice, aesthetic state apparatuses, aesthetic interpellation, and pseudo dialectics, all of which are used to understand the role of aesthetic experience and its place in everyday life. - In the space long thought as necessary to fill spanning the gap between Marx and Freud, the author proposes that aesthetics can be located and defined in a concrete way. We are therefore looking at a domain involving and implicating feelings, affections, dispositions, sensibilities and sensuality, as well as their social role in art, tradition, ritual, and taboo. With the classic Marxist concepts of base and superstructure divided into levels, economic, ideological, andpolitical, the aesthetic level of practice is the area that has traditionally been mostly either missing or mislocated and, especially perhaps,misrepresented for political reasons. The importance of this level is that it fuels and supports the media, or as Althusser described it the 'traffic' (or mediation) between base and superstructure, although for Althusser this was ideological traffic.Here, this is also defined as aesthetic. From this vantage point, we begin to be able tosee aesthetic state apparatuses, analyse how they function, both in the past, historically (for examplefirstlyin art history), and today, in the contemporary political context,tograspthe role that art and feelings, along with affective alienation, plays inour culture as a complete and, in fact,cyclical reciprocating system.
- Hunt, John Publishing
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- 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
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I found this book easy to read despite dealing with the traditionally complex philosophical issue of “aesthetics”. It is billed as a whole and original theory and this may in fact be true. My ears pricked up from the intro: art history in academia and its limitations. The first chapter laying the ground rules of the author’s concept of an “aesthetic level” is simple to follow, written for “people” to understand. It proposes and largely proves the existence of an extra level in social communication alongside the economic, political and ideological in the form of the “aesthetic level”; based on Marx’s “artistic” construction and content of his famous 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, on Althusser’s Ideological State Apparatuses, on Freud’s concept of the emotions and on Benjamin’s The Author as Producer. This is a level of human sentience and feeling, so important in determining and emotionally cementing other levels. He has a point, opinions and preferences for everything are usually based on “gut reactions” and “good” or “bad” feelings, not on computational analysis. The role of human sensuality, a materialist aesthetic, therefore underpins politics and economic too. According to the author this role is omitted from many theoretical disciplines and most importantly from the theory of the left i.e. there is no materialist theory to determine aesthetics, feelings, sensuality and therefore choices in lifestyle, culture, ideology, politics so missing the necessity for a potent social arts policy and its political and ideological importance. According to the author this has many negative repercussions in socialist social policy, he explains how in a chapter on Soviet Avant Garde art. It’s opened my eyes to a whole load stuff, a different universe I knew was there and have been dreaming of but couldn’t quite put into words. A bit like Freud talking about things people were burnt for, “telepathy” “predictions” and “dreams” and showing they were all just part of material nature named the human psyche. Maybe this book has the potential to set everyone right in a different way. So simply understood but so true, you know it’s been there all the time but just didn’t see it. Quite potent!