Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 21:44:35 -0500 From: Mary Murphy&Salstrand <ericandmary-AT-earthlink.net> Subject: Re: Aesthetics as a super-model Hugh So nice to hear from you again, my old cyber-friend. This group is like exotic desert flowers who only come to life once every several years after a sudden burst of spring showers. Your comment reminds me of Barnett Newman's famous quip; Aesthetics is to artists what ornithology is to birds. Of course, that didn't stop Newman himself, an artist, from engaging in his own aesthetic theorizing. One of his essays, The Sublime is Now, had a good deal of influence on Lyotard himself. Even you, while you attempt to privilege art over theory, still seem to be operating with your own implicit theoretical assumptions. When you say that artists make art like bees make honey or trees make leaves, are you arguing for some kind of biological determinism? Should our scientists be searching for an art gene? Personally, I do not see how Lyotard can be accused of setting up models that attempt to limit the artistic freedom of artists. He has always argued for a very avant-garde conception of art. Asking the question what is art? artists extend the boundaries of art in a very fluid way and this has always been a basic premise with Lyotard. His conception of the sublime doesn't invoke nostalgia for some lost absolute, it encourages experimentation and paralogical artistic moves. However, beyond this advocacy of art, aesthetics is important for philosophy because it is often the sole locus where the body emerges. Through reflective judgement, subjective feelings and the experience of pleasure and pain, the philosopher comes to remember that he or she is also made of flesh and blood. Through various concepts such as the sublime, the figure, the event and the differend Lyotard asks of philosophy again and again that it engage in an anamnesis of the body. He does not allow these systems of representation to ever forget who it is we are in the moment of our nakedness. Thus, while it remains true for philosophy that aesthetics is not everything, for those of us who are in the world and have been passed over, denied, forgotten and obliterated; aesthetics is perhaps the only truth that continues to matter.
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