The Utopian Function of Art and Literature: Selected Essays
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These essays in aesthetics by the philosopher Ernst Bloch belong to the tradition of cultural criticism represented by Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin. Bloch's fascination with art as a reflection of both social realities and human dreams is evident in them. Whether he is discussing architecture or detective novels, the theme that drives the work is always the same - the striving for "something better," for a "homeland" that is more socially aware, more humane, more just.The book opens with an illuminating discussion between Bloch and Adorno on the meaning of utopia; then follow 12 essays written between 1930 and 1973, on topics as diverse as aesthetic theory, genres such as music, painting, theater, film, opera, poetry, and the novel, and perhaps most important, popular culture in the form of fairy tales, detective stories, and dime novels.Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) was a profoundly original and unorthodox philosopher, social theorist, and cultural critic. The MIT Press has previously published his Natural Law and Human Dignity and his magnum opus, The Principle of Hope. The Utopian Function of Art and Literature is included in the series Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.
“immemorial,” before the beginning of the world, and according to Baader and Schelling the repercussions of this immemorial element portend nothing good. Thus Baader maintains, after positing causal nexus and finiteness as the principal determinants of our world, that finiteness suggests a prisoner, the latter, however, a crime committed before the world existed for him. This world is continually linked to an original sin, spreading repercussions of misfortune, which the fall from grace only
landscape. Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus, Goya’s Naked Maja preserve the light surrounding Cythera. In Goya’s work the light emanates undiminished from the white pillows, from the licentious and cool flesh-tone, from the vital lines: this nude, too, lies on an island. Especially the so-called impure thoughts are clearly those of these pictures themselves. They are the lustful Utopian reason to which their figures lead and in which they are situated. But Cythera exists as if there were nothing in the
during the ever so sentimental old pastoral poetry, at least during the Renaissance; the Golden Age with ancient classical characteristics also containing Oriental characteristics. The original of the Cythera poem is located in that Renaissance the same way as the Renaissance was drawing its magic gardens from Saracen, from Saracen-Gothic memories, those where the bucolic borders the tropical, borders the non-temperate zone. The unveiled distance of Cythera page_288 contains this kind of
into thought. This Marxist principle of knowledge is also valid for the reality, which is present as cultural heritage. Omnia mea mecum porto: the chariot of world history only carries that with it that forges itself forward out of the past. It carries only that luggage that can be used actively and in a worthwhile way for the future, not that which is antiquated. It carries only that which has an order to be sealed. To be sure, the chariot is part of a process that carries this living heritage
ideal principles as orientation points for words, not for actions. Such formal principles flourished largely in England and became the religion of dead slogans in North America. The American Declaration of Independence and then the American Constitution contained their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; their principles of liberty, justice, morality, and law were still conceived from the citizen’s standpoint – the principle of property rights, less illuminated by Bengalese