August 2nd, 2004

Finally finished book

namely, Aesthetics and Art Theory, an Historical Introduction, by Harold Osborne, written in 1968. It stops short of the "Art Is Dead" theory and the "Art is what the Artworld Says It Is" theory, but neither of these interests me much, so that's not a problem.

This book, like others on the topic, lays great stress on Kant's contribution to aesthetics. I am thinking that I should take another look at his Critique Of Judgment. In the past, I have found it a frustrating book, and I expect to find it so again!

In Art and Cognition, Rand says that "the father of modern art is Immanuel Kant (see his Critique of Judgment)."

I've looked at the book, and read some commentary on it, but I'm still trying to understand exactly how the paternity is to be traced. Perhaps he is merely the grandfather of modern art?

Off the top of my head, here is what strikes me as most off about Kant's aesthetics. He pursues a strategy of trying to find the purely aesthetical, in a way that reminds me of his strategy of trying to find the purely ethical. In both cases he tries to remove normal biological interests from the picture. In both cases he imagines rules or laws that are isolated from such interests.

There is something puritanical in all this. Imagine you are looking at a beautiful nude painting of a person you would find attractive in real life. Kant's position seems to be that if you really look at it *aesthetically* then your response should not involve your natural biological interests. This can't be right.

I say "Kant's position seems to be" because he is not the clearest of writers.

Rhyme of the day:

Why seek aesthetic purity
In prose of such obscurity?