An obvious predominance of images and aesthetic patterns exists today, not only in the current shaping of reality addressed so far, but in the current mediation and apprehension of reality as well. In earlier times, to count as being real, something had to be calculable; today it has to be aesthetically presentable. Aesthetics has become the new leading currency in the reality trade.
After dinner, Proust got into his taxi with his hosts, Violet and Sydney Schiff, and without asking, Joyce followed them in. His first gesture was to open the window and his second to light a cigarette, both of which were life-threatening acts as far as Proust was concerned. During the journey, Joyce watched Proust without saying a word, while Proust talked continuously and failed to address a word to Joyce. When they arrived at Proust’s flat at the Rue Hamelin, Proust took Sydney Schiff aside and said: ‘Please ask Monsieur Joyce to let my taxi drive him home.’ The taxi did so. The two men were never to meet again.
Proust wanted autonomy and beauty; Nietzsche and Heidegger wanted autonomy and sublimity; Nabokov wanted beauty and self preservation; Orwell wanted to be of use to people who were suffering. They all succeeded. Each of them was brilliantly, equally, successful.
the image of literature to be found in contemporary culture is tyrannically
centered on the author, his person, his history, his tastes, his passions; criticism still
consists, most of the time, in saying that Baudelaire’s work is the failure of the man
Baudelaire, Van Gogh’s work his madness, Tchaikovsky’s his vice: the explanation of
the work is always sought in the man who has produced it, as if, through the more or
less transparent allegory of fiction, it was always finally the voice of one and the same
person, the author, which delivered his “confidence.”
To see something as art requires something the eye cannot descry—an atmosphere of artistic theory, a knowledge of the history of art: an artworld.
2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.
3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.
How can one define a work amid the millions of traces left by someone after his death?
Art is the kind of thing that depends for its existence upon theories: without theories of art, black paint is just black paint.