Artistic Detachment in Japan and the West: Psychic Distance in Comparative Aesthetics
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A study of the notion of artistic detachment, or psychic distance, as an intercultural motif for East-West comparative aesthetics. It opens with an overview of aesthetic theory in the West since the 18th-century empiricists and concludes with a survey of various critiques of psychic distance.
experience of beauty, thus anticipating the notion of psychic distance developed by Edward Bullough. Schiller recognized the significance of Kant’s aesthetics for a philosophy of education. The revolution initiated by Kant’s aesthetics 42 — Artistic Detachment East and West was a shift away from an emphasis on beauty as the property of harmony or symmetry in the object to an artistic attitude of the subject in an act of disinterested contemplation. It is precisely because the experience of
phenomenology a suitable framework for elucidating “aesthetic attitude” theories of beauty in art and nature. Phenomenological analysis requires a shift from the “natural attitude” of already sedimented interpretations in the noetic context to the openness of the “phenomenological attitude,” which in its negative phase requires epoché or suspension of judgement and in its positive phase requires “fantasy variation” in creative imagination—thereby to disclose (open up) phenomena in their
aesthetics. In his various treatises Zeami articulates different aspects of riken no ken so that according to the context it signifies the detached contemplation of spectators in the audience during a nò play (Shikado, Goi, Yugaku Shudo Fuken, and Kyui), the detached contemplation of the nò actor that encompasses the awareness of the audience (Kakyo), and the detachment of aesthetic consciousness in general (Rikugi). With his theory of riken no ken Zeami thus clarifies that the aesthetic attitude
Edoperiod theory of aesthetic decadence formulated through an original creative synthesis of both Japanese and French traditions of aestheticism. In this context he describes how the aesthetic experience of iki requires a mental attitude of disinterested contemplation that derives from both the Japanese Buddhist notion of akirame (detached resignation) in the East and the désintéressement of French aestheticism in the West. As Peter N. Dale (1986:72) points out: “If Heidegger provided Kuki with
focal objects is to be correlated with the noetic act of positing, which constitutes its appearance through an aesthetic attitude of detached contemplation. Similar to the epoché of phenomenological aesthetics, detached contemplation of beauty in Zen involves a nonpositional noetic attitude of no-mind, no-thought, or without-thinking that neutralizes sedimented focal actualities habitually discriminated in the foreground so that events open up and come to presence in the expanded horizon of