Notes: The Frankfurt School of Critical Theory Lecture by. Prof. Paul Fry at Yale University

Why Marx? Why so much Marx? Why is it Marx who seems to stand behind the idea that the social criticism of art is the best and most relevant way to approach the subject matter?

The most devastating critique of existing ideas about things, of states of affairs that, as it were, meander along without too much self consciousness is the Marxist one, together perhaps with the Freudian one.

linguistic unconscious / linguistic pre-conditioning
psychoanalytic unconscious
political unconscious

Marxist Aesthetics : What are the options for a Marxist critic in aesthetic terms?


Is ideology conscious or unconscious?

Marx and Engels: Ideology is essentially the belief that perspective is truth. The way in which things appear from the material and economically-grounded standpoint of my own consciousness is not just the way they appear to me, but the way they actually are.

The way I view the world is universally the way the world is.

> characterized each dominant class in turn

to be seduced by the aura of the work of art is to experience the work of art ideologically as a commodity (Benjamin)

art is the product of a mode of production/labor

How should art reflect, critique society?

form = mode of production

a expose the social dynamic as it exists to understand the world, realistically but not tendentiously (not an open POV), seeing class relations as they really are
b socialist realism

> has been appropriated by the bourgeoisie

participation (Benjamin)
aesthetic of intermittent attention
one is oneself in a communal spirit engaged with the very mode of production of the work of art

modernist totality (Adorno)
awareness of total composition
thought of the whole
the perfect local transforms the individual into an acquiescent purchaser/happy conformism
only individuals are capable of consciously representing the aims of collectivity
the achieved authentic totality of a work of art models the totality of a collective state
implicit politics in pure form (collection of parts) modeling the achievement of a collective society

folk art, folk ways, oral culture, pop culture
in the expressions of longing, in the work of the dispossessed and oppressed, a kind of utopianism, a romance, a projection of a possibility on the future simply unavailable in the real world; the principle of hope (Ernst Bloch)

[to be continued]


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