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Against Voluptuous Bodies: Of Satiation Without Happiness
In their nlr article, ‘Spectres of the Aesthetic’, Dave Beech and John Roberts critique what they call ‘the new aestheticism’, identifying my book The Fate of Art as providing the philosophical articulation of a movement which they suggest includes the writings of Andrew Bowie, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, T. J. Clark, and Charles Harrison.  The central faults they find in the new aestheticism, with its self-conscious return to the aesthetic theory of T.W. Adorno, include the abstraction of art and the aesthetic from social theory; the consequent perpetuation of aesthetic discourse and analysis without adequate acknowledgement of social (and cultural) divisions; the mistaken reification of aesthetic value against partisan claims; the misconstrual of the autonomy of art and aesthetic discourse as simply separate or isolated from dominant social practices, and thus as non-dialectical, entailing thereby a return to a naive, Romantic faith in immediacy; and, in virtue of these abstractions and reifications, the new aestheticism’s siding against both the non-aestheticized pleasures of the body and the plural, different voices that now, truly, make up the world of culture of which art is but a part. What is puzzling about this critique is the disconcerting modesty of its conclusion: perhaps we should continue doing the social history of art as per usual; and further, we should stop searching for the value of art, but see even autonomous art as constituted through the shifting valences of the irreducibly plural, conflicting voices contributing to it.
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- Julian Stallabrass: In and Out of Love with Damien Hirst
- Dave Beech, John Roberts: Spectres of the Aesthetic
- Malcolm Bull: The Ecstasy of Philistinism
- Andrew Bowie: Confessions of a 'New Aeshete': A Response to the 'New Philistines'
- Dave Beech, John Roberts: Tolerating Impurities: On Ontology, Genalogy and Defence of Philistinism