Marxist Aesthetics: The foundations within everyday life for an emancipated consciousness (Routledge Revivals)
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Originally published in 1984, this study deals with a number of influential figures in the European tradition of Marxist theories of aesthetics, ranging from Lukacs to Benjamin, through the Frankfurt School, to Brecht and the Althusserians. Pauline Johnson shows that, despite the great diversity in these theories about art, they all formulate a common problem, and she argues that an adequate response to this problem must be based on account of the practical foundations within the recipient's own experience for a changed consciousness.
relationship between the truth of the art work and the falsity of everyday thinking. The process of enlightenment cannot be explained merely in terms of a cognitive distinction between art and everyday life. The work of art presents not merely an alternative standpoint but specifically acts to effect a change in the recipient’s consciousness. It seems that, in order to account for the emancipatory impact of the art work, an aesthetic theory is required to establish the basis upon which the
the proletariat’s social existence, the theorists of the 2nd International simply derived a conception of the inevitable transition to socialism from an account of the essential laws at work in the economy. According to Lukács: ‘Vulgar marxist economism bases itself on the “natural laws” of economic development which are to bring about this transition by their own impetus.’4 Lukács argues that proletarian revolution must be conscious transformation of the existing social order. Unlike the
the existing social order was an imminent possibility. Read in this light, it appears that for ‘The Affirmative Character of Culture’ it is the proletariat which is to release and realise the desire for a better life locked within the classical works of bourgeois culture. While this early article sets out the core of Marcuse’s theory of culture, his view on the means by which the progressive aspect of bourgeois art is to be liberated changes over the years. After describing the main line of the
possible. Moreover, the specifically practical nature of the problem characteristically formulated by aesthetic theories suggests that Anderson’s severe assessment of the merely esoteric nature of their concerns is unjustified. We have seen that Marxist aesthetic theories cannot appropriately be content with merely discovering in the truth of the artistic reflection an alternative to the fetishistic perspective of everyday life. Because they typically attempt to establish the practical,
ideology, 128–9, 131–5;on genre, 128–9; on ideology, 127–9; on literature and education, 132–5 Marcuse, H., 95, 145–7; and Adorno, 98, 107; and Benjamin, 99; on the counter-culture, 107–8; on culture, affirmative character of, 102–5, critical character of, 102, 104–5, 109;and Freud, 99, 101, 105;and Lukács, 100, 102 Markus, G., 36, 39 Marx, K., 10, 11, 36, 39, 53, 97 McDonough, R., 16 McLennen, G., 122 Mitchell, S., 61, 62 Piccone, P., 17, 25 Poulantzas, N., 18–19 Radical needs, 5,