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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The New Aestheticism

Although I was unaware that it existed until today, I think that I am part of this larger movement called "new aestheticism" in literary criticism.  Of course, I have no idea whether they are doing it interestingly or well (those who use that term). I think this arose because I always needed to think that the study of literature has to be invested in literariness in some sense, not in strip-mining works for their political content.

One piece of the puzzle is Felski's critique of critique. Another is simply my own investment in avant-garde words in which you can't just take the content out and ignore the writing itself.

One point Felski makes in a chapter called "Context Stinks" is the crudity of thinking of contest like a box. You put the work in a box and everything else in that box is part of its "context."

Of course, the rap on aestheticism was that it was thought to be right wing.  But why cede aesthetics to the right wing in the first place? Isn't that a carry over from Stalinist social realist doctrine?  It now seems wholly artificial.

I am also much less interested in judging things than I once was. You can basically have your mainstream poets who don't speak to me and I'll keep mine. Being non-judgmental (up to a point) is tremendously freeing, because now I don't even have to defend work I think is valuable.

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