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Archive for May 2008


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Just started reading John Roberts’s The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art After the Readymade, which is excellent from the get-go, potentially impasse-breaking, etc. More later on this book. But for now, a paragraph near the start:

What I am proposing in this book is a model of the ‘post-expressivist’ artist which actually takes on the challenges of expression and representation that now confront the artist of the new millennium. This means retheorizing what we mean by the artist as critic and representor in a world of proliferating doubles, proxies, simulations, etc. For what is increasingly clear (beyond the recent moments of the radical negation of authorship in conceptual art and critical postmodernism) is the need for a model of artistic subjectivity which refuses the bipolar model of interiority and exteriority on which modernist and anti-modernist models of the artist are usually based. (13)

Just for now: how absolutely unimaginable is that paragraph in a present-day work of literary criticism? The present tense verbs in the first sentence, the sense that a theory of art might be developed with actual application today – unthinkable. Sadly so…

Beyond disciplinary dysfunction and seemingly terminal wrong-footedness during poststructuralism’s ebb tide – and these are enough of a problem, believe me – the other thing that prevents the writing of aesthetics (rather than simply the history of aesthetics) is that we don’t know what we mean when we apply the a-word to literary works in the first place.

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May 1, 2008 at 9:42 am

Posted in aesthetics