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Kant and Tolstoy. Art as Judgment about a Form Or Art as Infectious Emotion. Vermeer: Woman in Blue. Vermeer: Woman Reading a Letter. Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” vs. A Medieval Cruxifix. Kant’s Aesthetic of Communicable Pleasure. Disinterested Interest—An Appeal to Taste

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kant and tolstoy

Kant and Tolstoy

Art as Judgment about a Form


Art as Infectious Emotion

kant s aesthetic of communicable pleasure
Kant’s Aesthetic of Communicable Pleasure
  • Disinterested Interest—An Appeal to Taste
  • A Public Sentiment—We Share a Judgment
  • Purposiveness without a Concept of Purpose—”The Rose is without a Why”—Beauty
  • Expression of Feeling rather than of a Concept—Form not Subject
tolstoy s aesthetic of communicating feeling
Tolstoy’s Aesthetic of Communicating Feeling
  • By means of perception, I can feel the same feelings as another who expresses them.
  • Art infects us with feeling.
  • Almost all of life involves the activity of art—jokes, lullabies, mimicry, clothing, utensils, religious icons, stories, speeches etc.
  • Not beauty but human communion through feeling.
  • Art is dangerous—better that all art be banished than all art is tolerated.
four versions of the annunciation
Four Versions of the Annunciation
  • Fra Angelico ??
  • Leonardo DaVinci
  • Sandro Bottecelli
  • El Greco
from figurative to abstract
From Figurative to Abstract
  • Vermeer
  • Turner
  • Klee
  • Abstract Expressionist Artist
  • O’Keefe
self portrait by rembrandt
Self Portrait by Rembrandt
  • The power of the canvas to emulate a gaze.
  • The mystery of the artist who, through a painting, gazes from outside at his own gazing from within.
  • Who is looking at whom, as Rembrandt’s “persona,” his painted likeness, looks out from the canvas?
the place of the sublime
The Place of the Sublime?
  • That which overwhelms our capacity to respond
  • Not strictly aesthetic for Kant, since the sublime undermines contemplative judgment and so the beautiful
  • The genre of Horror is that of the sublime
horror in persona and swf
Horror in Persona and SWF
  • Horror is the excitation of our sense of the uncanny, (german unheimlich—”not at homeness”)
  • In the uncanny we find either a) we have become “other” to ourselves, totally outside of who we are; or b) the “other” outside ourselves has possessed us from within
  • The familiar is made absolutely unfamiliar, or the unfamiliar is made absolutely familiar.
  • The word Persona suggests a mask, that one’s identity is a play act, a role.
  • The horror of flickering lights on a screen becoming a world we are absorbed in. For Bergman, simply viewing a film is horror.
  • The viewer struggles to determine who is real and who is not in the film.
  • The two characters are in a struggle about being possessed and being dispossessed. But the viewer ends up implicated in this struggle. We do not know with which figure we should empathize.
  • Elisabet possesses Alma, even as Elisabet finds herself dispossessed of her life.
  • Ally is possessed by Hedra, as Hedra adopts Ally’s styles of clothing, hair and gesture. Hedra even finds a boyfriend who looks like Ally’s boyfriend.
  • Conversation in no way works as it did in Persona—to unveil or hide deep secrets that threaten to undo the lives of the two participants.
  • The possession of Ally come “from without.” Ally is never overwhelmed from within. The possession is not uncanny but consumptive. Ally’s life is being enjoyed by, eaten up by Hedra
  • The viewer never questions with whom to have empathy. The film is about Ally’s struggle with Hedra, the outsider. The outsider never violates Ally from within.