Post Road Magazine #20

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Rebuilding Aesthetics from the Ground Up by Lindsay Waters

"I've got a twelve-year old son, and he's always bored, and so am I." - Thelonius Monster (aka Bob Forrest)
"Irony and ridicule are entertaining and effective, and. . . at the same time they are agents of a great despair and stasis in U.S. culture. . ." - David Foster Wallace

I am concerned about my ability to feel things. Artworks are contraptions manufactured and designed to trigger feeling. So many now claim they have difficulty feeling art—so many, I had not thought anomie had undone so many. Didn't Dr. Johnson say that "when people tire of Beijing, they have become tired of living"? So what is going on? Many of us appear to have grown to be anaesthetized to life. One main idea running through elite discourse in the 20th century in Europe shortly after E.M. Forster announced his mantra to the world, "Only Connect," was the rise of the fashion for disconnecting things, everything. Atomism, incommensurability, was the rule from Bertrand Russell in the first decades of the century to Paul de Man when we reached the last decades. Holism was trashed for being so 19th century!

We are suffering from a shortage of feelings. And it's not just Wall Street bankers, but even noted American novelists like Don DeLillo who seem to be stuck in the doldrums, revealing, as the New York Review of Books puts it, only a sort of "studied numbness" that seems to be designed to convey "existential bafflement and dismay." ...more

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