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Perniola mixes philosophy and aesthetics with clarity and erudition, whether he is discussing ‘strategic beauty’ in the work of Baltasar Gracian, the “anti-cynicism” of Carlo Michelstaedter, or Guy Debord’s notion of the secret. In his approach to such topics as periodization, the place of the mirror in Western thought, hermeneutics and utopianism, he draws from ‘high’ and “mass” culture with sometimes startling effect. The scope of Perniola’s enquiry is impressively wide, ranging from Pulcinella to the latest form of video culture, via baroque aesthetics. But his focus, always, is on contemporary experience, an experience brought about neither by a return of the repressed nor by future shock but by their enigmatic coincidence.
Enigmas provides an original and acutely perceptive guide to a condition in which ancient past and imaginable future are not merely similar, but can all to easily be confused.
|Preface to the English Edition|
|Pt. I||End-of-millennium Enigmas|
|1||Secrets, Folds and Enigmas||3|
|2||Video Cultures as Mirrors||22|
|3||Towards a Civilization of Things||39|
|4||Virtuality and Perfection||59|
|5||Art, Time and Space||71|
|Pt. II||Baroque and Neo-Baroque Enigmas|
|6||Baroque, Expressionism and Inexpressionism||91|
|7||Strategic Beauty and Enigmatic Ingenuity in the Work of Baltasar Gracian||111|
|Pt. III||Enigmatic Italy|
|8||Enigma and Inebriation in Twentieth-century Italian Painting||127|
|9||Enigmas of Italian Sensibility||141|