Art and Life in Aestheticism: De-Humanizing or Re-Humanizing by Kelly Comfort

By Kelly Comfort

Paintings for art's sake addresses the connection among artwork and existence, among the classy and the social, and promotes the previous time period over the latter one in each one example. even though it has lengthy been argued that aestheticism goals to de-humanize paintings, this quantity seeks to contemplate the counterclaim that such de-humanization may also bring about re-humanization, to a deepened dating among the cultured sphere and the area at huge and among the creative receptor and his or her human life.

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Lamar Journal of the Humanities. 4:1 (1978) 59–64. Ortega y Gasset, José. The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture,and Literature. Trans. Helene Weyl. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968. Pater, Walter. Walter Pater: Three Major Texts (The Renaissance, Appreciations, and Imaginary Portraits). Ed. William E. Buckler. New York: New York University Press, 1986. Perejo Vadillo, Ana. Women Poets and Urban Aestheticism: Passengers of Modernity. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Sheldon Pollock has described the “coercive cosmopolitanism” of the Roman Republic and Empire and its Latin language and literature where participation in the cosmopolis is militarily “compelled by the state” (596) in contradistinction to the “voluntaristic cosmopolitanism” of the spread of Sanskrit as a literary culture through “the circulation of traders, literati, religious professionals, and freelance adventurers” (603). In nineteenth-century France, we see a sort of replay and ultimate failure of the first kind in Napoleon’s military conquests and imposition of the Napoleonic code, replaced by the “peaceful” competition of trade.

If we take seriously his idea of the “bizarre” as essential to beauty, then we should expect to find a similar notion in his analysis of the beauty of modern life in Paris. The “bizarre” is the element within a culture that is arresting to that culture as well as to others, and here fashion fits the bill. In other words, the couturier’s dream is finally not so different from the shock and beauty of cosmopolitan discovery, and similarly functions as a distillation of cultural meaning. It is ironic that the “bizarre” in later decades would become associated with decadence since Baudelaire attempts to forestall such an association by making a case for the real decadence of its opposite: the decadence of the commonplace, of Everyman of the Second Empire, the complacent reader of newspapers who has forfeited his free will in the very expectation of inexorable technological progress, the complacent viewer of art whose judgment relies on moribund models of beauty.

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