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The ontological earthquake

Freud's bourgeois paradox, the collapse of ideology, and the return of social questions to the ruling class are some of the themes in this essay collection.


Mikkel Bolt, Peter Borum, Else Marie Bukdahl and Ettore Rocca (ed.):
Hospitality in art and politics
Basilisk, 2016


Hospitality in art and politics is a three-language publication, and primarily intended as a tribute to the Danish cultural personality Carsten Juhl. Carsten Juhl was instrumental in ending the Marxist influence on Danish cultural life in the 1970s. In the eighties he helped to introduce "the postmodern state" into the Danish public.

At Freud's. "Avant-garde and the Problem of Intimacy" by Mikkel Bøhg is one of the best essays in the book. "The issue of the intimate in culture, in art and in their experience has for long periods up through the 20th century caused difficulties for both avant-garde and modernism advocates," he writes in the essay, which addresses the aesthetic and political rupture between the aesthetics of bourgeoisie and avant-gardeism from the end of the eighteenth century until the First World War, from the "secluded world of bourgeoisie" to the blast of all forms after the breakthrough of avant-garde. The essay becomes particularly interesting when Mikkel Bøhg enters into Freud's paradoxical homeliness, his willingness and ability to civilize his surroundings, while at the same time problematizing and revealing bourgeoisie and its "domestic disgust." Bøhg writes: "With his accumulating and cross-referencing collection of pictures and objects he got the interior turned against himself. "

New revolution? "A new beginning?" is written by Mikkel Bolt. The essay is about the disappearance and return of the working class, and the way out of Marxism and into postmodernism. Bolt opens by recording Eric Hobsbawm's book The Age of Extremes and Francis Fukuyamas The End of History and the Last Man.

Fukuyama portrayed liberal democracy as the end point of history. Hobsbawm highlighted the collaboration between capitalism and communism as the European liberation project, but ran out of alternatives following the fall of Soviet communism.

Of course, the liberal democracy at the end of history did not mean that history had ended and that paradise had now entered Earth, but that the understanding of history as a straightforward process was now over. Hobsbawm, for his part, was skeptical of the neoliberalist influence on culture and the economy.

However, neither the socialist nor the neoliberal project is particularly strong anymore. Instead, Bolt cites Thomas Piketty as someone who has managed to say something significant about the time after the world economy and the neoliberal and socialist collapse: "Piketty's presence on the bestseller lists is an expression of the return of social issues among parts of the ruling class," he writes . "The crisis continues and the solutions are still to come. […] The previously so victorious neoliberalism has lost its ideological status. "

Freud had the will and ability to organize his surroundings civilly, while at the same time questioning and revealing the bourgeoisie and its "domestic disgust."

The essay then discusses the emergence of the new working class in China, but also the new precariat, and the problem that masses of people are now living almost classless lives on the outskirts of capitalist society. In doing so, we have gained a new, global working class, the essay claims, and ask: "Maybe we have a new revolutionary subject, maybe it's a new beginning."

The narratives. "Lyotard between Philosophy and Art" by Else Marie Bukdahl addresses post-modernist Jean-François Lyotard's intimate relationship with visual art. Lyotard introduced the term the little story. The big story was created by Marxism, and was the sum of the great ideological dream of reason and enlightenment that would end in human liberation from material conditions. The big story broke down, the essay claims, in the encounter with the new information society. However, the narrative was not completely dead, because while the idea of ​​enlightenment was dying because the belief in reason, reason and order had suffered defeat, Kant's sublime was a groundbreaking and immeasurable system that was outside all political ideologies. Kant wrote: "But if we not only call something great, but absolute and in every respect great (beyond any comparison, that is, sublime), then we immediately realize that it is not permissible to search for an adequate scale outside this something, but only in this something itself. It's a size just like itself. " […] "The sublime," he continued, "is it in comparison with which everything else is too little."

The essay describes Kant's concept of the sublime as "an ontological earthquake". How can a work of art create an ontological earthquake? According to Kant, it was only nature that could produce such a thing, as nature in its most sublime state is without measurability for the human mind and feeling, and moreover without any artistic form. Yes, says Lyotard: The sublime can be found in modern art, among other things in suprematism's exploration of pure color, which has no limits in any direction – it is like "an infinite white sea"

The boundless community. Finally, let me take up the well-written and interesting essay "The Aesthetic Hope" by Ettore Rocca. IN Criticism of the judgment Kant wrote that the beauty of which recognition is associated with desire. There is a necessity in the aesthetic judgment, Kant wrote, which is not theoretically objectively necessary, but which is a exemplary must. One should expect a general adherence to the aesthetic experience of beauty, but one cannot make a general rule out of it. One cannot say that others mustn't or supports experience the beautiful in the same way or through the same objects as yourself, but you can say that they should do it. The essay therefore states that man can establish a community through the experience of the arts and the being of beauty. In the experience of beauty there is one subjective necessity. Art can thus not be based on a specific purpose, because then it becomes ideology. The essay concludes by saying that the aesthetic common sense is not only possible, but that it is itself possibility condition for all beauty experiences. It is in the free game between fantasy and sense that one experiences the beauty. And there is freedom.

Man can establish a community through the experience of the arts and the beautiful being.

Precisely in this breach of all purpose ideologies arose postmodernism. Thus, this direction did not break with all past or with   great stories, it broke with one great story, the story of the salvation possibilities of the great ideologies. Instead, postmodernism drew in another great narrative, namely that of the boundless aesthetic community in the free play between sensation and sense. The beauty experience in the pure work of art should have no ideological guiding, and the best postmodernist artists managed to establish a reality within the free play of sensation and cognition, but outside of all political ideologies.


Henning Næs
Henning Næss
Literary critic in MODERN TIMES.

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