By Frederick Luis Aldama

ISBN-10: 0472073001

ISBN-13: 9780472073009

Via a sequence of provocative conversations, Frederick Luis Aldama and Herbert Lindenberger, who've written largely on literature, movie, song, and paintings, find a spot for the discomforting and the customarily painfully disagreeable inside of aesthetics. The conversational layout permits them to commute informally throughout many centuries and plenty of paintings varieties. they've got a lot to inform each other concerning the arts because the introduction of modernism quickly after 1900—the nontonal song, for instance, of the second one Vienna university, the chance-directed song and dance of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, the in-your-faceness of such diversified visible artists as Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Egon Schiele, Otto Dix, and Damien Hirst. They show besides an extended culture of discomforting artwork stretching again many centuries, for instance, within the final Judgments of innumerable Renaissance painters, in Goya’s so-called “black” work, in Wagner’s Tristan chord, and within the subtexts of Shakespearean works reminiscent of King Lear and Othello. This ebook is addressed instantly to students of literature, artwork background, musicology, and cinema. even though its conversational structure eschews the normal conventions of scholarly argument, it offers unique insights either into specific artwork kinds and into person works inside of those varieties. between different concerns, it demonstrates how contemporary paintings in neuroscience may supply insights within the ways in which shoppers procedure tricky and discomforting artistic endeavors. The publication additionally contributes to present aesthetic thought by way of charting the discussion that is going on—especially in aesthetically demanding works—between author, artifact, and client.

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The words wonder and astonish are central to its vocabulary. Though not of course to the concept of the beautiful, which did not depend on discomfort and in fact defined itself through its distance from disquieting emotions. The wonder and astonishment that Descartes describes here when we encounter something unanticipated represent the kind of jolt that often results in discomfort—­as readers of this book may have felt when they first noted the Robert Arneson self-­portrait on the cover. FLA: I detect a strong odor of philosophical idealism wafting through the air with Descartes.

FLA: Might authors and artists generally create blueprints that teach us to override knee-­jerk emotions of disgust together with any sense of an ethics built on in-­group versus out-­group? After all, don’t we learn to 38 aesthetics of discomfort do this in other contexts (such as a lack of revulsion when a caretaker is changing a child’s soiled diapers)? We might ask, then, if we have social and biological limits to the making and consuming of art that triggers base, negative emotions. HL: The social limits keep changing as artists—­and their interpreters—­ push these limits further.

HL: These so-­called flesh-­and-­blood consumers can all be taught how to view works of art—­for instance, to see the subtlety in the textures and even find bits of other colors in the seemingly monochrome paintings I just mentioned. But an audience’s reaction can only be controlled up to a point. FLA: We’ve all had the experience in the cinema when an audience laughs instead of shrieks while watching a horror film. Often, this is a consequence of the audience’s distinguishing between what is old hat and something innovative as well as its understanding that which is blatantly bad and that which is well made.

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