Marxist Aesthetics: The foundations within everyday life for an emancipated consciousness (Routledge Revivals)
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Originally published in 1984, this study deals with a number of influential figures in the European tradition of Marxist theories of aesthetics, ranging from Lukacs to Benjamin, through the Frankfurt School, to Brecht and the Althusserians. Pauline Johnson shows that, despite the great diversity in these theories about art, they all formulate a common problem, and she argues that an adequate response to this problem must be based on account of the practical foundations within the recipient's own experience for a changed consciousness.
character of the image of humanity portrayed in classical realist art. The Aesthetics, as we have seen, argues that the cathartic impact involves a shock of recognition. The realist work’s totalising perspective on individual particularity and the scope of capacities and dispositions which characterise a stage in human history allows the recipient to recognise his/her own species character. For Lukács, the work of art is to bring about a change in the recipient’s whole personality. When the
recognise the falsity of a fetishistic conception of reality. Lukács goes on to contest the viability of the A-effect as a consciousness-raising technique. Lukács has no argument with the general terms of Brecht’s account of the necessity for an effect of alienation in the reception of the art work. He agrees that the work should produce estrangement from the fetishistic perspective of everyday life. He maintains, however, that the major dramatists of the classical theatre, Schiller and
of the particular instance generates the need for a radical break from a continuous series of crises. Adorno, on the other hand, argues that from the eversameness of the particular instance arises a retrogressive ‘demand for totality’.16 He suggests that the contemporary public demands the reassurance offered by a false conception of the distinctiveness of the, in fact, standard event. Since Adorno argues that everyday life generates not a radical need but, rather, a retrogressive demand, it
needs produced in consumer society: ‘Technological progress multiplied the needs and satisfactions, while its utilization made the needs as well as their satisfactions repressive; they themselves sustain submission and domination.’7 This position represents a substantial alteration to the view expressed by the early Marcuse. His account in the late 1930s and early 1940s of the pre-revolutionary character of the struggle against fascism had meant a full endorsement of an orthodox Marxian
different positions which the two classes occupy in the social totality means that reified immediacy is raised to the level of consciousness through ‘specific categories of mediation.’14 Immediacy for both capitalist and worker is governed by a reified antinomy between the social as a ‘natural’ object and the individual as apparent subject. This reified immediacy is, by virtue of his/her position in the production process, subjectively confirmed for the capitalist. The capitalist’s attempts to