Friday, 30 November 2012

Marcuse and Art

I have just been reflecting a little on Marcuse's aesthetics in his book The Aesthetic Dimension . According to Marcuse, in modernity art has been institutionalised in a way that legitimates a particular kind of 'disinterested' comtemplative attitude towards the world. As such, art possesses a certain kind of autonomy from society and politics athat allows it to stand as their critic. More specifically, art, in Marcuse's view, has the power to negate society as it currently exists by offering a kind of escape from an oppressive society into oneself and one's own experience. I was wondering whether anyone might provide specific examples of art works that have provided just this function for them, a kind of interior escape into another world, a world that this one might in fact one day become? Neil

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Fashion and Materiality

Last night, we welcomed Prof Tom Fisher from the School of Art and Design who spoke to us on the topic of 'fashion and materiality'. Tom argued that in conceptual terms that fashion is essentially a contradictory phenomenon - being both individualistic yet conformist, democratic yet elitist and highly particular yet completely universal. He went on to examine the philosophical aspects of a number of sociological theories of fashion and explored why fashion seems to be an essential characteristic of modernity through its propagation of the idea of taste-cultures and individual lifestyles. Fashion, he suggested, signifies the radically contingent aspects of the modern, its sense of possibility as a series 'of things that could just as well be otherwise'. Fashion seems to be essential to much of human life today and philosophers have had very little to say about it - the most important thinkers in this regard being social theorists (especially, as Tom reminded us, the 20th century German social theorist Simmel). Plato was famously anti-fashion (more interested, like most Greek philosophers, in the eternal and immutable). Is fashion open to philosophical reflection or must the philosopher be 'anti-fashion'? Neil T