One of the emerging themes across our course readings has been the tension between what we might call Pure Form and its Other. We saw this in Plato’s privileging of the Forms (Ideas) over the Mimetic function of Art, and now we see it in Kristeva’s inverse treatment of the Pure and the Impure through the phenomenon of the Abject. The Form vs. Otherness tension is like that between Modernism and Postmodernism, between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’, the ‘said’ and the ‘saying,’ the State and its ‘exiles,’ ‘ presence’ and ‘becoming’, ‘speaking’ and ‘writing’, etc. Some of the topics it has related to include: truth and knowledge, subjectivity, being, impulses/drives, culture and morality, language and signification, and art/artistry.
Some examples might include: Nietzsche on the ‘formalism’ of the Apollonian vs. the ‘otherness’ of the Dionysian, and Conceptual Knowledge vs. Metaphor as basis of Truth; the ‘otherness’ of Aristotle’s performative Mimesis vs. Plato’s representationalist Mimesis; the Sublime ‘otherness’ in Longinus and Burke vs. ‘formalist’ subjectivity and truth; Schiller’s Aesthetic Education as ‘other’ to Plato’s program of Education; Schopenhauer’s formalism about the Will/Desire yet the apparent ‘otherness’ of artistic Ideas; Heidegger’s account of Dasein’s being-in-the-world as ‘other’ to the ‘formal’ accounts of subjectivity and knowing (and the otherness of aletheia to traditional ‘truth’ in Sect. 44); Derrida’s ‘othering’ of pure meaning (speech) by way of the deconstructive play of the trace/arche-writing; and so on. Sometimes what looks like a case for ‘otherness’ also ends up showing signs of ‘formalism’; what looks like a stress on ‘impurity’ sometimes slides to the ‘pure’; and sometimes the ‘formal’ and ‘pure’ forgets its internal ‘otherness’ and ‘impurity.’ Kristeva’s notion of the Abject is perhaps the most intensified profile on the Pure Form vs. Otherness tension. She handles the tension by giving a phenomenological account of how the Abject not only happens, but is also something around which subjectivity, culture, religion, and literature emerge/operate.
The purpose of this final inter-textual assignment is to work out some central ‘profiles’ on the Form v. Otherness relation. A ‘profile’ in this case means a comparison of two thinkers on important facets of it in terms of issues revolving around art/artistry, knowledge, and subjectivity. Looking back over the course readings, what are three pivotal profiles on the Form vs. Otherness relationship, how should they be understood, and what in your opinion should they teach us about the life of knowledge and art today? Each profile would be a comparison between two thinkers; so you would cover a total of six thinkers (feel free to include more should that help draw out important issues). Argue for the best way to identify and interpret these profiles, say what we should notice about the links/transitions between them, and then conclude by saying where they leave us per the Form vs. Otherness tension in relation to the arts and imagination today.
In some cases you may find yourself returning to your prior interpretations of texts, which is good. Feel free to work with those, but don’t repeat your writing from prior assignments.