Tag Archive: aesthetics


Cross-posting this piece by Emil from A(s)cene. Taylor’s coral reef art is beautiful. See also the discussion of Donna Haraway’s “String Figures” lecture and Bruno Latour’s 11 theses on capitalism

 

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It will be quite an event for Peirce scholars.

My proposed paper will be on applications of Peirce to film theory, and in particular the two neo- (quasi-?) Peircian approaches that I present in Ecologies of the Moving Image. The first of these builds on Sean Cubitt’s three-part typology of the image (pixel–cut–vector, which I rework as spectacle–sequentiality–semiosis); I’ve written about it before on this blog and elsewhere. The second develops Peirce’s three normative sciences (aesthetics, ethics, logic) into a logo-ethico-aesthetics of viewership.

Here’s a quick encapsulation of the latter:

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Morton’s poetry

Tim Morton writes beautifully. His “Objects as Temporary Autonomous Zones,” published in the most recent issue of Continent, is a beautiful illustration of this. I could say he writes poetically, but that would be suggesting that his writing is not itself poetry, but only looks and feels like poetry — which would mean succumbing to a distinction between the essence of Morton’s writing and its appearance, and to a rift between the two, that I’m not prepared to commit to (though I think that Morton is).

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This is the concluding part of a three-part article. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 here. They should be read in the sequence in which they were published.


 

The True, the Good, and the Beautiful

All of this can be related to the triad of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful — or, in their Peircian sequence, aesthetics, ethics, and logic. Aesthetics, as Peirce conceived it, is most directly concerned with firstness; ethics, with secondness; and logic, with thirdness.

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The Bill Cronon-Wisconsin Republican party tangle is making me — and many others, judging by the responses I’ve seen on academic listservs — think a little more deeply about how we use our e-mail addresses. Like many, I’m troubled by the possibility that someone could ask to see my e-mail correspondence on any old topic. But I also recognize that they have that right, or something like it, and that the same Freedom of Information laws allow me to ask for others’ e-mails — not everyone’s, but anyone’s who works for a publicly funded institution, like a university. That’s part of the price we pay for a public culture, which keeps us from the Hobbesian state of everyone’s liberty (with guns) against everyone else’s. It’s also what makes that culture vulnerable, but that makes it all the more important to use our public profiles in ways that enhance that culture’s viability.

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I like to follow extended think-fests (such as conferences) with brief flights away from cerebrality, at least for a couple of days where possible. So following the SCMS, I visited the Santa Monica Mountains, which included a hike up La Jolla Canyon and Mugu Peak at the northern end of the range, and another up Solstice Canyon and the Sostomo Trail/Deer Valley Loop. Both were beautiful, as it was a great time to be there — warm, sunny, breezy, their chaparral and riparian vegetation in full bloom this time of year. Then I drove up from Malibu via Mulholland Highway to Hollywood — having recently re-read Mike Davis’s case for letting Malibu burn (in The Ecology of Fear) in preparation for it — and then walked from Griffith Observatory to the top of Mount Hollywood to get a great view of the whole LA area, somewhat muted by smog but not nearly as much as it would have been several years ago.

(As for letting Malibu burn, well, some of the monster homes did remind me a little of Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, although (a) burning and exploding are not the same thing, (b) there’s still a fair bit of land set aside in the public/private patchwork of the area to keep environmentalists at least somewhat happy, and (c) I might even consider living there myself if I could afford it ;-).)

The irony, and this is part of the point, is that getting away from thinking tends to trigger new synaptic connections for thinking. This time the connections revolved mainly around two sets of foci, one having to do with the raison d’etre of my teaching, research, and writing (which I’ll leave aside for a future post), and the second having to do with aesthetics and Peircian phenomenology. I’ve been thinking a lot about the latter recently — especially Peirce’s classification of experience into firstness, secondness, and thirdness — and wondering why it was that, for all the thousands of pages he wrote during his prolifically unpublished life, he had very little to say about aesthetics and ethics. In fact, he often admitted his ignorance of both of them, even as they fit into important places within his philosophical system. (He took aesthetics and ethics to be two of the three divisions of “normative science,” the third being logic, and the three corresponding, respectively, to the beautiful, the good, and the true.)

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Steven Shaviro has a very nice post about Kathryn Bigelow following her Best Picture and Best Director wins at the Oscars. Shaviro celebrates her “poetics of vision” and aesthetics of “sensory immersion.” On her earlier film Point Break, he writes:

“everything comes out of, and returns back to, the element of water. Bigelow shows us the ocean and the beach as they have never been shown before. The images from this film that remain most in my mind are all those telephoto lens shots of waves breaking on the shore. (Though the images of bank robbers in Presidential masks are also pretty wonderful — especially the shot of “Reagan” as cheerful incendiary). Surfing and skydiving are both modes of activity in which beautifully vapid male bodies give themselves over to the primordial elements. The homoerotic tension/attraction between Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze is itself immersed in the dynamics of waves and water. Surfer hedonism is taken up and transcended by the universal upswelling of a fluid dynamics.”

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