Contemplating Art: Essays in Aesthetics
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Contemplating Art is a compendium of writings from the last ten years by one of the leading figures in aesthetics, Jerrold Levinson. The twenty-four essays range over issues in general aesthetics and those relating to specific arts--in particular music, film, and literature. It will appeal not only to philosophers but also to musicologists, literary theorists, art critics, and reflective lovers of the arts.
psychology, has in the past thirty years or so revolved around an opposition between feeling (or sensation) based, and thought (or cognition) based, approaches. The former holds that at the core of an emotion is an internal feeling or set of sensations, while the latter holds that at its core an emotion is a particular kind of thought, judgment, or evaluation. While the feeling approach has trouble accommodating the intentionality (or objectdirectedness) and amenability to reason of many
to the visual arts. ‘Wollheim on Pictorial Representation’ was written as a contribution to a symposium in honor of the distinguished aesthetician Richard Wollheim, and begins with a sympathetic summary of his highly inﬂuential account of depiction in terms of the successfully realized intention that viewers have a certain sort of seeing-in experience faced with a picture depicting a given subject. While agreeing with the basic thrust of Wollheim’s account, which makes a certain sort of visual
making-ﬁctional criterion, these can be accommodated as well. Eventually, though, I turn to ﬁlms containing nondiegetic music that is not, by that criterion or any other, reasonably construed as narrative. The music in such ﬁlms instead serves other sorts of artistic function, ones attributable directly, I will argue, to implied ﬁlmmakers. One of the least ambiguous narrative uses of soundtrack music in mainstream ﬁlm occurs in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 blockbuster, Jaws. I have in mind the ‘shark’
from the implied ﬁlmmaker? That is to say, is it ﬁctional that Thornhill is not truly in peril, or at least that the narrator knows he is not? Or is it rather that Hitchcock is telling us, on the sly, 172 Music that he does not intend to do away with his main character at this point? It is hard to say which, but in a ﬁlm whose borderline self-conscious or modernist character has often been remarked, this is perhaps not surprising.⁴¹ Most of the music in Peter Weir’s Witness, composed by
Experiences often have no unequivocal beginning and ending points. They characteristically do not start up with the sharpness of a pistol crack, nor do they characteristically close with a full stop. Many experiences have indeterminate beginnings, and take shape slowly. Often, rather than ceasing abruptly, they simply fail to continue developing or ramifying, though exactly where and when may remain elusive. This blurriness-around-the-edges is evident enough with traumatic experiences, such as