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Archive for June 18th, 2006

beauty and politics

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Isobel Armstrong, on Eagleton’s The Ideology of the Aesthetic:

Eagleton’s is a worst-case reading, and has to be attended to. But the best answer to this case might well be to retheorize a flagrantly emancipatory, unapologetically radical aesthetic. This would refuse the conservative reading of the aesthetic as that which stands over and against the political as disinterested Beauty, called in nevertheless to assuage the violence of a system it leaves untouched, and retrieve the radical traditions and possibilities with which the idea of the aesthetic has always been associated. I would regard with dismay a politics with subtracts the aesthetic and refuses it cultural meaning and possibility.

I’m not entirely satisfied with the “flagrantly emancipatory” aesthetic that Armstrong proposes in the chapter on Eagleton, which takes a somewhat predictable shape defined by experimentally contradictory betweenness and ambiguous play, but I am sure that she’s asking the right question in the paragraph above.

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June 18, 2006 at 11:49 pm

Posted in aesthetics, theory