File spoon-archives/bourdieu.archive/bourdieu_1998/bourdieu.9806, message 9

Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 22:32:48 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: An interart field?

On Thu, 11 Jun 1998, Tim Dolin wrote:

> What I mean is that Victorian novels drew upon pictorial techniques for
> certain effects, and genre paintings assumed a familiarity with multiplot
> novels in their pictorial narratives. They exchanged (and transformed)
> elements. In some sense they belong in a field together, since they are
> engaged in some kind of struggle with each other for the authority to
> define legitimate art and even social reality itself, but that is clearly
> impossible since the fields are self-evidently distinct, aren't they?

Not at all. Their distinctness is itself mediated, i.e. expressed through
a different set of institutions, materials, and ultimately markets
(literature on the one hand, and the visual arts on the other), which are 
all, however, tied together on the global level of a world-dominating
British capitalism. Not all realities are identical; some are indeed
hegemonic, some are just wish-fulfillments which don't have the British
Navy to back up their claim, and therefore have to seek out a different
legitimation structure (e.g. the second Napoleon, or German
Wilhelminism, or French Impressionism, etc.).

This difference or distinction (Bourdieu's term) is
not, in other words, outside of history, but must always be
rethought and reexamined as a kind of index of historicity itself.
This is why Bourdieu spends so much time moving from the subjective
habitus (space of aesthetic production) to the objective field of
positions (space of aesthetic consumption), and then back again: not just
to get away from the whole sterile words vs. image debate, but to
historicize the entire edifice of national culture as a moment within the
larger trajectory of the global cultural dynamic of capitalism.

It goes without saying, of course, that you can't just say the magic
word, "capital" and expect that to solve anything; you need to set the
local and global poles of the analysis in motion towards one another,
before making aesthetic judgements, i.e. do a lot of very hard digging, as
Bourdieu always does in his work.

-- Dennis



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