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Toni MorrisonMemory and Meaning$
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Adrienne Lanier Seward and Justine Tally

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781628460193

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2015

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628460193.001.0001

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Aesthetic Activity

Aesthetic Activity

(p.207) Aesthetic Activity
Toni Morrison

Claudia Brodsky

University Press of Mississippi

A politicized aesthetics is just as germane to fascism as an aestheticized politics; despite different conceptual origins, the results of the two operations verge upon the same: politics rendered aesthetic or aesthetics rendered political are names of things supposedly transformed into something they previously were not. Toni Morrison’s writing departs from the very different assumption that aesthetic experience—the experience, identification, and fabrication of beauty—is political. And indeed, what could be more political than seeing beauty—new, irrefutable beauty—where nothing had been seen at all: than rendering what had been viewed, paradoxically, as invisible, the most compelling thing your mind’s eye can imagine, and which imaginings it cannot then erase. This essay argues that Morrison’s writing recalls the distinctly historical theory of the enhanced political effectivity of art advanced by Benjamin and the epic and explicitly subjective narrative of Marcel Proust. (143 words)

Keywords:   Walter Benjamin, Marcel Proust, aesthetics, politicized aesthetics, beauty

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