The Scandal of Pleasure: Art in an Age of Fundamentalism

Couverture
University of Chicago Press, 18 déc. 1995 - 251 pages
The Scandal of Pleasure is a report from the battle-ground of contemporary culture, a landscape littered with the remains of vilified artworks and discredited orthodoxies. Caught between extremists of the right and the left, standing mutely by as culture wars rage, liberal defenders of art have failed to explain the special value of aesthetic experience. This book counters the rise of fundamentalist thinking about the arts with a liberal aesthetic for our times. Steiner reminds us that aesthetic experience requires the ability to distinguish fiction from nonfiction, the figurative from the literal, the virtual from the real. But for fundamentalists, whether the Ayatollah Khomeini or Jesse Helms, such distinctions are meaningless; saying is doing, and a picture is no different from what it represents. Such literalism is at the root of the current uneasiness with difficult art; it threatens to undermine the entire basis of liberal thought and aesthetic experience. With patience and wit, Steiner uncovers the folly of this pervasive literalism. Art, she argues, is neither identical to reality nor isolated from it, but an imaginative realm tied to the world by acts of interpretation. To experience art, then, means to accept a paradox: we need not assent to a work in order to understand it, or be seduced by its ideology in order to take pleasure in it. Instead, we participate in what Steiner calls "enlightened beguilement?" Yet pleasure and beguilement have tended to embarrass most academics. How, Steiner wonders, can liberal defenders of the arts ever expect to persuade a skeptical public if they deny or ignore the value of aesthetic experience? Writing to heal the breach between experts andthe general public, Steiner offers a new critical vocabulary, one robust enough for an age when art is provocative and often deliberately confrontational. In an increasingly hostile political environment, her book is a necessary guide to understanding the current crisis in the arts.
 

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THE SCANDAL OF PLEASURE: Art in an Age of Fundamentalism

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Sanity, sanity, sanity, as Steiner squarely addresses a number of contemporary cultural conflicts and teases out their subtler meanings. While Steiner is the chair of the English department at the ... Consulter l'avis complet

The scandal of pleasure: art in an age of fundamentalism

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Steiner (English, Univ. of Pennsylvania) takes on the Mapplethorpe/Serrano/NEA blowup, the Ayatollah's death sentence on Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses, the Dworkin-MacKinnon anti-pornography ... Consulter l'avis complet

Table des matières

INTRODUCTION
1
The Perfect Moment
9
The Literalism of the Left
60
Fetish or Fatwa?
94
La Trahison des Clercs
163
Enlightened Beguilement
209
Droits d'auteur

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