Aesthetics & Alienationby Gary Tedman
Aesthetics has recently become the focus of greater attention, and is now seen as a central problem in critical cultural theory and Marxism. This places Gary Tedman's work at the forefront of this concern, where his concepts of the aesthetic level and of aesthetic state apparatuses have proved to be a challenge even to many conventional Marxisms as well as
Aesthetics has recently become the focus of greater attention, and is now seen as a central problem in critical cultural theory and Marxism. This places Gary Tedman's work at the forefront of this concern, where his concepts of the aesthetic level and of aesthetic state apparatuses have proved to be a challenge even to many conventional Marxisms as well as mainstream academic cultural theory.
Beginning with an immersion in the work of Louis Althusser, Tedman sets out the concepts for an aesthetic theory that expands on and offers solutions to some difficult problems in the Marxist theory of social mediation [(cult of personality, for example), the space between Marx and Freud, the question of feelings, and the role of art and media in class struggle. He takes issue with the Lacanian interpretation of Althusser's work, and returns us to the Marxist Althusser in the process.
- 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!