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Currently reading: The Intellectuals and the Masses (1992) - John Carey
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Chloe (1875) - Jules Joseph Lefebvre
Chloe (1875) - Jules Joseph Lefebvre
Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1836 – 1911) was a French figure painter. He was an instructor at the Académie Julian in Paris. He is chiefly important as an excellent and sympathetic teacher who numbered many Americans among his 1500 or more pupils. One of his famous students was the Scottish born landscape painter William Hart. Georges Rochegrosse was his pupil. He was long a professor at the École des Beaux-Arts.
His paintings are usually single figures of beautiful women. He created a great sensation with his "Reclining Woman" (1868). Now in the Luxembourg, "Truth" (1870), a nude woman holding aloft a mirror, is probably his best-known work. His other works include "La Cigale" (1872, National Gallery of Victoria); "Chloe" (1875, Young and Jacksons Hotel Melbourne); "Mignon" and "Graziella" (1878), both in the Metropolitan Museum, New York; "Slave Carrying Fruit" (1874, Ghent Museum); "Yvonne" (1876, Luxembourg); "Diana Surprised" (1879, École des Beaux-Arts); "La Fiametta" (1881), from Boccaccio; "Psyche" (1883); ""Lady Godiva" (1890); "A Daughter of Eve" (1892).
Among his best portraits were those of M. L. Reynaud and the Prince Imperial (1874). Among his many decorations were a first-class medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1878 and the medal of honor in 1886. He was a Commander of the Legion of Honor and a member of the Institute. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Joseph_Lefebvre [May 2006]
See also: 1875 - academic art - erotic art
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Roll over Adorno: Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Audiovisual Media (2006) - Robert Miklitsch
Roll over Adorno: Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Audiovisual Media (2006) - Robert Miklitsch [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
From the Back Cover
What happens when Theodor Adorno, the champion of high, classical artists such as Beethoven, comes into contact with the music of Chuck Berry, the de facto king of rock ’n’ roll? In a series of readings and meditations, Robert Miklitsch investigates the postmodern nexus between elite and popular culture as it occurs in the audiovisual fields of film, music, and television—ranging from Gershwin to gangsta rap, Tarantino to Tongues Untied, Tony Soprano to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Miklitsch argues that the aim of critical theory in the new century will be to describe and explain these commodities in ever greater phenomenological detail without losing touch with those evaluative criteria that have historically sustained both Kulturkritik and classical aesthetics.
"Robert Miklitsch loves popular music and the movies, and he’s not afraid to theorize about it. This intriguing book makes theorists of the popular accessible at the same time that it makes rock and film even more fascinating." — Krin Gabbard, author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture
"The undercutting of the distinction between classical and rock music is one of the great insights of this book. Miklitsch sees how classical music is not really autonomous in the way that someone that Adorno would claim. It, instead, suffers from the same heteronomy that infects rock music. By working to eliminate the barrier between high and low, the author helps to open us up to a whole new way of experiencing the aesthetic, a mode of experiencing that we must adopt in order to exist within contemporary culture." — Todd McGowan, author of The End of Dissatisfaction? Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment
See also: Robert Miklitsch - Theodor Adorno - black music - rock music
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: A Theory of Popular Culture (1944) - Dwight Macdonald
In 1944, meanwhile, Dwight Macdonald, an editor of Partisan Review, published his seminal essay “A Theory of Popular Culture” – to which T.S. Eliot paid the compliment in 1948 of saying that he believed Macdonald’s was the best alternative to Eliot’s own Notes Toward the Definition of Culture. Macdonald for his part refined his views in 1953 with the essay, “A Theory of Mass Culture,” later expanded in the long essay, “Masscult and Midcult.” Roger cites Eliot frequently in his book, but he does not cite the American Macdonald – though truth to tell, Roger seems to me rather closer to Macdonald than to Eliot. --Culture: High, Low, Middlebrow, and Popular by Mark C. Henrie via http://www.isi.org/lectures/text/pdf/henrie10-15-04.pdf [May 2006]
Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982) was an American writer, editor, social critic, philosopher, and political radical. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwight_MacDonald [May 2006]
The New York Intellectuals were a group of American writers and literary critics who advocated left-wing, anti-Stalinist political ideas in the mid-20th century. The group is also known for having sought to integrate literary theory with Marxism. Several New York Intellectuals were educated at the City College of New York in the 1930s, and many were associated with the left-wing political journal The Partisan Review. Writer Nicholas Lemann has described the New York Intellectuals as "the American Bloomsbury". Writers often considered among the New York Intellectuals include Philip Rahv, William Phillips, Mary McCarthy, Dwight Macdonald, Lionel Trilling, Clement Greenberg, Irving Kristol, Sidney Hook, Irving Howe, Alfred Kazin, and Daniel Bell. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Intellectuals [May 2006]
See also: T. S. Eliot - mass culture - popular culture theory
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Revolt of the Masscult (2003) - Chris Lehmann
Revolt of the Masscult (2003) - Chris Lehmann [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
We live in an age of "popular culture"--another term, to some, for an organic mess of marketing strategies aimed at giving us the illusion of choice. From Oprah Winfrey's Book Club to presidential politics, however, distinctions of taste are more accurately understood to be "blunt instruments of antidemocratic elitism." So argues Chris Lehmann, in a discussion that ranges over the work of Edward Shils, Clement Greenberg, and Jonathan Franzen with equal ease. The resulting pamphlet is an impassioned plea for the rebirth of culture with content.
"Think that the age of the pamphlet ended with Thomas Paine? Think again. Chicago-based Prickly Paradigm Press has launched a series of broadsides aimed at knocking holes in conventional thinking wherever it's found. . . . In Revolt of the Masscult, Chris Lehmann--deputy editor of Book World--assails the blurring of 'mass' into 'popular' culture and the 'comforting impression that all mass entertainments are as freely chosen as, say, our political leaders or our forms of worship.' . . . Lehmann enlists everything from Dwight Macdonald's Masscult, Midcult, and High Culture to the Jonathan Franzen Oprah's Book Club dustup of 2001 to plead for a return to culture that means something--that, in other words, has actual rather than market value."--Jennifer Howard, Washington Post
See also: mass culture - revolution
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: The Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination (1973) - John Carey
The Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination (1973) - John Carey [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Bottled babies, wooden legs, walking coffins, corpses, umbrellas, waxworks, locks and living furniture - these are a few of the obsessions the author uncovers while investigating the strange poetry of Dickens' imagination. This book sees Dickens as, essentially, not a moralist or social commentator but as an anarchic comic genius, who was drawn irresistibly to the sinister and grotesque - murderers, frauds and public executions. Separate chapters are devoted to Dickens' interest in violence, sex and children, as well as to his humour and his symbolism. "The Violent Effigy" includes essays on "Bleak House" and "Little Dorrit", which stress Dickens' imaginative generosity and virtuosity. --via Amazon.co.uk
See also: violence - Charles Dickens - John Carey - imagination
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Dickens and the Dream of Cinema (2003) - Grahame Smith
Dickens and the Dream of Cinema (2003) - Grahame Smith [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Taking his cue from Walter Benjamin's concept of each epoch dreaming the epoch that is to follow, Grahame Smith argues that Dickens' novels can be regarded as proto-filmic in the detail of their language as well as their larger formal structures. This possibility arises from Dickens' creative engagement with the city as metropolis, as it emerges in the London of the 1830s, plus his immersion in the visual entertainments of his day, such as the panorama, as well as technological advances such as the railway which anticipates cinema in some of its major features. The book offers a new way of reading Dickens, through the perspective of a form which he knew nothing of, while simultaneously suggesting an account of his part in the manifold forces that led to the appearance of film towards the end of the 19th century.
About the Author
Grahame Smith is Professor Emeritus of English Studies at the University of Stirling.
Review by Ken Mogg:Accordingly, taking my lead from Ed Buscombe's trail-blazing article “Dickens and Hitchcock” (17) I offer here, in condensed form, some pointers to my own conviction that it is Alfred Hitchcock (born London, 1899) and not Orson Welles (born Kenosha, Wisconsin, 1915) who has the best claim to be considered the cinema's single most legitimate “heir” of Dickens and the story-telling tradition in which he wrote. --http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/books/04/31/dickens_dream_cinema.html [May 2006]
Ken Mogg, in Melbourne, Australia, writes and lectures on Alfred Hitchcock and related topics. He edits the MacGuffin journal and website.
See also: Charles Dickens - Alfred Hitchcock
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Charles Dickens as Hitchcock's main artistic forebear
It's high time that I spelled out here why I consider novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) to have been Hitchcock's main artistic forebear. To that end, it will be helpful if I work through some of the points made about Dickens by Prof. John Carey in his splendid book, 'The Violent Effigy: A Study of Dickens' Imagination' (1973). So here goes. Carey introduces his subject by noting how closely Dickens conforms to Keats's argument about the poetic character: that it is essentially amoral and unprincipled. (Here the poetic character sounds remarkably like Schopenhauer's concept of the cosmic Will, which is indeed an amoral life-death force, essentially 'blind'.) Imagination matters above all else. 'Almost any aberration ... from drunkenness to wife-beating can be found eliciting at various times both Dickens' mournfulness and his amused toleration.' Any topic is grist to the mill of Dickens's imagination. And something very similar may be said about Hitchcock. He did, after all, tell Truffaut that no considerations of morality would have stopped him making Rear Window (1954), which he saw as an exercise in creating 'pure film'. (I believe that ultimately Hitchcock came to see 'pure film' as analogous to Will. It's significant, perhaps, that after expressing to Truffaut the sentiment just quoted, he added: 'Well, isn't the main thing that they [the anxieties expressed in his films] be connected with life?') Prof. Carey continues his argument in an opening chapter on "Dickens and Violence" where he notes how 'a leading characteristic of Dickens' mind [is] that he is able to see almost everything from two opposed points of view'. A prison may appear at different times as a hideous deprivation of freedom and as a cosy retreat from the world. You think of Hamlet's remark in one of his soliloquies, 'There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.' The poet-prince then adds, 'I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.' But the true creative artist isn't stopped by bad dreams! He throws himself into all of his characters and their worlds with a burning enthusiasm, an intense imagination, which is itself akin to 'pure film'! [Editor's note. It will be interesting to compare the above with passages in Grahame Smith's book 'Charles Dickens and the Dream of Cinema' (2003). I also think of Walter Pater's dictum: 'All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music.'] --http://www.labyrinth.net.au/~muffin/hitch_and_dickens_c.html [May 2006]
See also: Charles Dickens - Alfred Hitchcock
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: High art and mass culture
This module takes as its starting point Andreas Huyssen's contention that mass culture is modernism's “other”. Along with several other critics, Huyssen diagnoses at the heart of modernism a fundamental disdain for the popular and the mass, and a concomitant retreat into an increasingly esoteric intellectual elitism. We will examine the canonical texts of high modernism both in the context of the wide range of popular cultural forms which proliferated during the period, and alongside the realist texts which continued to be written. Do the canonical texts of high modernism necessarily express the disdain for mass culture Huyssen perceives? How do such texts compare in this respect to the apparently more “democratic” forms of realist writing? And, is disdain ever qualified by a modernist fascination with the exhilarating novelty of new forms of mass culture?
Preliminary reading.--Dr Katherine Mullin via http://www.leeds.ac.uk/english/postgrad/pgmodules/modmasscult.htm [May 2006]
To prepare for the module it would be useful to read the asterisked text below. It would be useful to read either, or both, of the other two in addition:
*John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (London: Faber and Faber, 1992)
Andreas Huyssen, After The Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1986).
Peter Nicholls, Modernisms: A Literary Guide (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995).
I've been finishing up Andreas Huyssen's After the Great Divide, which is about the relationship between high art and mass culture in different literary and theoretical movements in the twentieth century. He points to the frequently-observed fact that canonical modernism tended to characterize and identify itself by means of a consciously exclusionary strategy, defining itself in a paroxysm of anxiety over being "contaminated" in some way by mass culture. (This is a tendency that is documented extensively in John Carey's The Intellectuals and the Masses.) But, he points out, the culture of modernity has been more complicated than that, and the relationship between high art and mass culture more volatile and problematic. --http://www.stuttercut.org/exam/archives/literature/000306.php [May 2006]
See also: nobrow - "high culture" - Modernism - other - mass culture
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Beyond a Joke : The Limits of Humour (2006) - Sharon Lockyer (Editor), Michael Pickering (Editor)
Beyond a Joke : The Limits of Humour (2006) - Sharon Lockyer (Editor), Michael Pickering (Editor) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Humor is pervasive in contemporary culture, and is generally celebrated as a public good. Yet there are times when it is felt to produce intolerance, misunderstanding or even hatred. This book brings together, for the first time, contributions that consider the ethics as well as the aesthetics of humor. The book focuses on the abuses and limits of humor, some of which excite considerable social tension and controversy. Beyond a Joke is an exciting intervention, full of challenging questions and issues.
About the Author
Sharon Lockyer is Lecturer in Media Studies, De Montfort University. Michael Pickering is Reader in Culture and Communications at Loughborough University. Product Details
See also: humour - cultural studies - politics
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1549/1576) - Étienne de La Boétie
Discourse of Voluntary Servitude (1549/1576) - Étienne de La Boétie [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
In 1550, Etienne de La Boetie wrote his classic work of political reflection, Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, which laid the ground work for the concept of civil disobedience, and as such, has exerted an important influence on the traditions of dissidence from Thoreau and Ralph Emerson, to Tolstoy, to Gandhi.
Along with the complete text of Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, this edition includes a comprehensive 100-page biography, written by 19th century author Paul Bonnefon, on the life and times of de La Boetie. It was the only one ever written, and it has never before been published in English.
About the Author
Etienne de la Boetie was a sixteenth-century political philosopher.
See also: 1500s - obedience - politics - French literature
2006, May 28; 19:05 ::: How the Other Half Lives (1890) - Jacob A. Riis,
How the Other Half Lives (1890) - Jacob A. Riis, [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
THERE is another line not always so readily drawn in the tenements, yet the real boundary line of the Other Half: the one that defines the "flat." The law does not draw it at all, accounting all flats tenements without distinction. The health officer draws it from observation, lumping all those which in his judgment have nothing, or not enough, to give them claim upon the name, with the common herd.
This edition edited by Luc Sante
Jacob August Riis (May 3, 1849 - March 26, 1914), a Danish-American muckraker journalist and slum and school reformer, was born in Ribe, Denmark. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Riis [May 2006]
How the Other Half Lives
How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York was a pioneering work of photojournalism by Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant reporter, published in 1890, in which he documented the squalid living conditions in the slums of New York City.
Though published to garner public sympathy (which it did), Riis's tactics in acquiring the revealing photographs have been the subject of much criticism, as he broke into private residences and even accidentally started numerous fires due to the dangers of using then-primitive flash technology in the close quarters of the wooden tenement structures.
Riis's idea inspired Jack London to write a similar exposé on London's East End, most notably Whitechapel. It was called People of the Abyss. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_the_Other_Half_Lives [May 2006]
See also: documentary - 1890 - photography - New York
2006, May 27; 19:05 ::: Grind House: the Sleaze-filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature (2006) - Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez
Grind House: the Sleaze-filled Saga of an Exploitation Double Feature (2006) - Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
This 250 page hardcover companion book to GRIND HOUSE offers fans an insider’s look into the making of the hotly anticipated double feature by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Filled with cast and crew interviews, hundreds of full-color photographs, never-before-seen conceptual art and an in-depth history of the grindhouse genre by the directors themselves, GRIND HOUSE: THE SLEAZE FILLED SAGA OF AN EXPLOITATION DOUBLE FEATURE is the essential fan’s guide to the two-fisted bloodbath of the year.
Plot Outline of the film: Two 75 minute horror movies written by Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez put together as a two film features. Including fake movie trailers in between both movies. --http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0462322/ [May 2006]
See also: grinhouse cinema - Quentin Tarantino - exploitation film
2006, May 27; 19:05 ::: Culture and Society 1780-1950 (1958) - Raymond Williams
Culture and Society 1780-1950 (1958) - Raymond Williams [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Book Description "The earliest ideas on culture, Mr. Williams claims, developed in opposition to the laissez-faire society of the political economists. As the ideas on culture took shape, on the one hand, they became identified with a 'whole way of life.' On the other hand... culture became a court of appeals where real values could be determined. Culture, thus separated from the whole society, was associated with the idea of perfection through the study of the arts... Mr. Williams contrasts the ideas of ' culture as art' and 'culture as a whole way of life,' and commends the latter... the book should definitely be read by all those interested in English intellectual history." -- M. S. Wilkins, Political Science Quarterly via Amazon.com
Culture and Society, by Raymond Williams, 1958. How the notion of culture was developed in 18th, 19th and 20th century writing.
When first published, this work was widely regarded as having overturned conventional social and historical thinking about culture. It argues that the notion of culture developed in response to the industrial revolution and the social and political changes it brought in its wake.
This is done through a series of studies of famous British writers and essayists; beginning with Edmund Burke and William Cobbett and also looking at William Blake, William Wordsworth etc. Continuing as far as F.R. Leavis, George Orwell and Christopher Caudwell.
The book is still in print, in several editions. It has also been translated into many foreign languages. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_and_Society [May 2006]
See also: culture - society - Raymond Williams
2006, May 27; 19:05 ::: In Defence of High Culture (2001) - John Gingell
In Defence of High Culture (2001) - John Gingell [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The authors attempt to outline a notion of high culture and its role within education, following a broad modern tradition springing from Matthew Arnold. The book is written with a concern for clarity and argument that is not always found within that tradition, and the authors reject the elitist conclusions of many who have followed the tradition, such as Eliot, Leavis, Bantock and Scruton. The different chapters deal with Matthew Arnold as the founder of this tradition, questions of choice and conceptions of culture, the notion of 'the best' that has been thought and written, popular culture, 'high culture' and how not to think about it, and with cultural pluralism and the plurality of cultures. A distinctive theme of the book is the plotting of a path between subjective and objective approaches to culture, and the drawing of parallels between the philosophy of culture and the philosophy of science. The authors make clear what they take to be the implications of their argument for education, and for secondary schooling in particular.
About the Author
John Gingell is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at University College, Northampton.
See also: high culture
2006, May 25; 19:05 ::: Crowds and Power (1960) - Elias Canetti
Crowds and Power (1960) - Elias Canetti [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Elias Canetti's 1981 Nobel Prize was awarded mainly on the basis of this, his masterwork of philosophical anthropology about la condition humaine on an overpopulated planet.
Ranging from soccer crowds and political rallies to Bushmen and the pilgrimage to Mecca, Canetti exhaustively reviews the way crowds form, develop, and dissolve, using this taxonomy of mass movement as a key to the dynamics of social life. The style is abstract, erudite, and anecdotal, which makes Crowds and Power the sort of work that awes some readers with its profundity while irritating others with its elusiveness. Canetti loves to say something brilliant but counterintuitive, and then leave the reader to figure out both why he said it and whether it's really true. --Richard Farr
"Canetti dissolves politics into pathology, treating society as a mental activity--a barbaric one, of course--that must be decoded."--Susan Sontag
Elias Canetti --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elias Canetti [May 2006]
See also: power - group - 1960 - mass
2006, May 25; 19:05 ::: The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (1962) - Jürgen Habermas
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society (1962) - Jürgen Habermas [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, by Jürgen Habermas, was published in 1962.
It is an account of the development of a bourgeois public sphere in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and its subsequent decline. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Structural_Transformation_of_the_Public_Sphere [May 2006]
See also: Jürgen Habermas - 1962 - opinion - mass media - bourgeois - public sphere
2006, May 25; 19:05 ::: Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere (2003) Melba Cuddy-Keane
Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere (2003) Melba Cuddy-Keane [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
[John] Carey's argument in The Intellectuals and the Masses is "that modernist literature and art can be seen as a hostile reaction to the unprecedentedly large created by late nineteenth-century educational reforms." --Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual, and the Public Sphere (2003) Melba Cuddy-Keane , page 3[May 2006]
See also: John Carey - Virginia Woolf - High Modernism - public sphere
2006, May 24; 19:05 ::: The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (2004) - Richard Wolin
The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism (2004) - Richard Wolin [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Fifteen years ago, revelations about the political misdeeds of Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man sent shock waves throughout European and North American intellectual circles. Ever since, postmodernism has been haunted by the specter of a compromised past. In this intellectual genealogy of the postmodern spirit, Richard Wolin shows that postmodernism's infatuation with fascism has been widespread and not incidental. He calls into question postmodernism's claim to have inherited the mantle of the left--and suggests that postmodern thought has long been smitten with the opposite end of the political spectrum.
In probing chapters on C. G. Jung, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Georges Bataille, and Maurice Blanchot, Wolin discovers an unsettling commonality: during the 1930s, these thinkers leaned to the right and were tainted by a proverbial "fascination with fascism." Frustrated by democracy's shortcomings, they were seduced by fascism's grandiose promises of political regeneration. The dictatorships in Italy and Germany promised redemption from the uncertainties of political liberalism. But, from the beginning, there could be no doubting their brutal methods of racism, violence, and imperial conquest.
Postmodernism's origins among the profascist literati of the 1930s reveal a dark political patrimony. The unspoken affinities between Counter-Enlightenment and postmodernism constitute the guiding thread of Wolin's suggestive narrative. In their mutual hostility toward reason and democracy, postmodernists and the advocates of Counter-Enlightenment betray a telltale strategic alliance--they cohabit the fraught terrain where far left and far right intersect.
Those who take Wolin's conclusions to heart will never view the history of modern thought in quite the same way. --http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/titles/7705.html [May 2006]
One of the crucial elements underlying this problematic right-left synthesis is a strange chapter in the history of ideas whereby latter-day anti-philosophes such as Nietzsche and Heidegger became the intellectual idols of post-World War II France--above all, for poststructuralists like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze. Paradoxically, a thoroughgoing cynicism about reason and democracy, once the hallmark of reactionary thought, became the stock-in-trade of the postmodern left. As observers of the French intellectual scene have frequently noted, although Germany lost on the battlefield, it triumphed in the seminar rooms, bookstores, and cafés of the Latin Quarter. During the 1960s Spenglerian indictments of "Western civilization," once cultivated by leading representatives of the German intellectual right, migrated across the Rhine where they gained a new currency. Ironically, Counter-Enlightenment doctrines that had been taboo in Germany because of their unambiguous association with fascism--after all, Nietzsche had been canonized as the Nazi regime's official philosopher, and for a time Heidegger was its most outspoken philosophical advocate--seemed to best capture the mood of Kulturpessimismus that predominated among French intellectuals during the postwar period. Adding insult to injury, the new assault against philosophie came from the homeland of the Enlightenment itself. --http://www.pupress.princeton.edu/chapters/i7705.html [May 2006]
See also: Nietzsche - fascism - irrationalism - counter enlightenment - postmodernism - seduction
2006, May 24; 19:05 ::: Madame Bovary's Ovaries : A Darwinian Look at Literature (2006) - David P. Barash
Madame Bovary's Ovaries : A Darwinian Look at Literature (2006) - David P. Barash [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
As a new species of literary theory, what the authors call Bio-Lit-Crit, it signals a reduction to the absurd. Their starting point comes from Northrop Frye, of all people, who famously declared literary criticism "badly in need of an organizing principle, a central hypothesis which, like the theory of evolution in biology, will see the phenomena it deals with as parts of a whole." But such a principle already exists, "needing only to be recognized and developed." And, ironically, "it is the same one that Frye gestured toward so longingly: evolution." --http://www.goodreports.net/reviews/madamebovarysovaries.htm [May 2006]
See also: Madame Bovary - Charles Darwin - sociobiology - literature
2006, May 25; 19:05 ::: Madame Bovary (1991) - Claude Chabrol
Madame Bovary (1991) - Claude Chabrol [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Plot Synopsis: In nineteenth-century France, the romantic daughter of a country squire (Emma Rouault) marries a dull country doctor (Charles Bovary). To escape boredom, she throws herself into love affairs with a suave local landowner (Rodolphe Boulanger) and a law student (Leon Dupuis), and runs up ruinous debts. This film version closely follows Flaubert's novel and includes most of the famous scenes, such as the wedding, the ball, the agricultural fair, the operation on the clubfoot, and the opera in Rouen.
Madame Bovary (1857) - Gustave Flaubert [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
- It is very difficult, if not impossible, to sympathize with Emma, an utterly unlikable character. Except for the period before her marriage.
- If Madame Bovary is a retelling of Don Quixote, with both protagonists being reading Romantics, which books did Emma read?
- Inspired by seeing the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. "Why read the book if you can see the film?". Other films of literary classics on my to-do list: Remembrance of Things Past and Ulysses.
See also: Madame Bovary - adaptation - Claude Chabrol - Isabelle Huppert - 1991
2006, May 25; 19:05 ::: Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming (1908) - Sigmund Freud
In his 1908 paper, ‘Creative Writers and Day-dreaming,’ Freud compared the imaginative writer with the daydreamer. Both writers and artists slip into a vivid, guided daydream when they create a piece of work. This ‘creative trance’ represents a contrived balance between waking and dreaming consciousness. This state is similar to lucid dreaming, in which the dreamer wakes up inside the dream and can therefore guide and observe events. In both states, the unconscious is consciously accessed. --http://dreamunit.net/text-en/04/johnson.shtml [May 2006]
In this essay, first published in 1908, Freud explores the nature of literary imagination and aesthetic pleasure. It follows Delusions and Dreams in Jensen\'s “Gradiva”, his first work to deal explicitly and systematically with literature and aesthetics. In essence Freud equates the function of creative writing with the motive force of dreams: the work of art, like a dream, involves the “(disguised) fulfilment of a (suppressed or repressed) wish”. He treats the artist as an egotist shaping infantile phantasies into acceptable adult form. The creative writer resembles the child at play, who “creates a world of phantasy which he takes very seriously – that is, which he invests with large amounts of emotion – while separating it sharply from reality.” The child is able to distinguish the boundaries between play and reality, and can readily link imagined objects to tangible reality. Unlike the child at play, however, adults tend to be ashamed of their phantasies and secret wishes and have to mask or conceal them because they may conflict with or be impermissible in the social world. Yet, as Freud observes, sources of pleasure are only reluctantly and incompletely renounced in psychic life. Thus, creative writing becomes a substitute or surrogate for this childhood play. Just as children construct alternative worlds to fulfil their wishes, so writers play out their latent desires in fictional form. The German language preserves the link between childhood play (“spiel”) and imaginative writing in terms such as Lustspiel (“comedy”, or literally, “pleasure play”) and Trauerspiel (“tragedy”, or literally, “mourning play”). --http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5653 [May 2006]
See also: Sigmund Freud - daydreaming - writing - 1908
2006, May 24; 19:05 ::: The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895) - Gustave Le Bon
The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895) - Gustave Le Bon [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
One of the greatest and most influential books of social psychology ever written, brilliantly instructive on the general characteristics and mental unity of a crowd, its sentiments and morality, ideas, reasoning power, imagination, opinions and much more. A must-read volume not only for students of history, sociology, law and psychology, but for every politician, statesman, investor, and marketing manager.
Gustave Le Bon (May 7, 1841 – December 13, 1931) was a French social psychologist, sociologist, and amateur physicist. He was the author of several works in which he expounded theories of national traits, racial superiority, herd behaviour and crowd psychology. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustave_Le_Bon [May 2006]
See also: group - sociology - psychology - 1895
2006, May 24; 19:05 ::: Méry Laurent (1882) - Édouard Manet
Méry Laurent (1882) - Édouard Manet
Méry Laurent (real name Anne-Rose Louviot) (born 1849 in Nancy; died 1900 in Paris) was a well known demi-mondaine and muse to several artists in 19th century Paris.. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9ry_Laurent
See also: demi-monde - muse - modern art - Édouard Manet - 1882 - French art
2006, May 24; 19:05 ::: Modernity and Modernism : French Painting in the Nineteenth Century (1993) - Various
Modernity and Modernism : French Painting in the Nineteenth Century (1993) - Francis Frascina, Tamar Garb, Nigel Blake, Briony Fer [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
This volume is part of a four-volume series about art and its interpretation in the 19th and 20th centuries. The books provide an introduction to modern European and American art and criticism that should be valuable both to students and to the general reader. This first volume focuses on aspects of Realism, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in Paris between 1848 and 1900. Discussing works by Courbet, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Morisot and other great painters of the period, the authors demonstrate how some historians view this art as representative of the social, historical, and economic circumstances in which it was produced, how the painterly effects of the art are evaluated and how a feminist perspective can help to explain art works and change our perception of them.
See also: modern art - modernity - modernism - 1900s - French art
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