What Art Is Like, In Constant Reference to the Alice Books

What Art Is Like, In Constant Reference to the Alice Books

Miguel Tamen
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 132
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  • Book Info
    What Art Is Like, In Constant Reference to the Alice Books
    Book Description:

    This comic, serious inquiry into the nature of art takes its technical vocabulary from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. It is ridiculous to think of poems, paintings, or films as distinct from other things in the world, including people. Talking about art should be contiguous with talking about other relevant matters.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06795-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction: WHAT TO EXPECT
    (pp. 1-3)

    This short book reacts to a prevailing mode of explaining art; according to that mode, art is to be explained by collecting opinions and definitions of art, summaries of philosophical claims, and critical judgments put forth by third parties. The purpose of this book, instead, is tentative and decent: to proffer a general sense of difficulties and to try to describe what art is like.

    It is a reactionary book, and in two main ways. The first is that it only talks about a few problems and indirectly suggests that there are few general problems about art. Among these, attention...

  4. 1 Ideas (§§1–55)
    (pp. 4-23)

    §1. Alice comes across a book and remarks: “It’s all in a language I don’t know.” Then she corrects herself: “Why, it’s a Looking-glass book, of course! And if I hold it up to a glass, the words will all go the right way again.” Many people believe that certain books, often poetry books, are, by definition, written in a foreign language. It is clear that they don’t mean a language like Swedish. It is not clear, however, what they mean.

    §2. When you say that a poem is written in a foreign language it’s of no consolation that someone...

  5. 2 Furniture (§§56–103)
    (pp. 24-47)

    §56. “I like the Walrus best.” For you to say such things there is no need to imagine that the Walrus is an honorary person any more than to use the word ‘fish’ about him you are required to imagine him to have grown honorary gills. And you don’t need any honorary psychology or honorary biology or honorary morality to deal with the Walrus. What you already more or less know from your various worldly interactions will amply suffice. Why would you need to imagine the Walrus to be a person in order for you to say that you rather...

  6. 3 A Mistake (§§104–150)
    (pp. 48-72)

    §104. Many things are introduced, to you and by you. Talk is a common means of doing so. When you get your introductions wrong, a few of those things may complain. (“I’m not a serpent, I tell you!”). Most things, however, don’t talk back. They are insusceptible of correcting their own descriptions. What you call art never remonstrates. Unremonstrancy, however, is not a sign of art. Oysters, atoms, places, and nonexistent people are in this respect just like quintets and poems. It is not only that they cannot talk, but that they are insusceptible of reacting to having been talked...

  7. 4 What Happens (§§151–199)
    (pp. 73-98)

    §151. What happens is something that happens to you. It is not that you need to fall off any horse. It happens to you in the quieter sense in which your thoughts, perceptions, feelings, or beliefs happen to you. You know that other people also have those, but you may easily tell yours from theirs. You wouldn’t talk about art the way you do if what would happen would only happen to other people. Of course, when you talk about art, you may and often do talk about other people’s beliefs. But talking about other people’s beliefs is not talking...

  8. Analytical Table of Contents
    (pp. 101-106)
  9. Index of Citations
    (pp. 107-110)
  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 111-112)
  11. Index
    (pp. 113-117)