Disunified Aesthetics

Disunified Aesthetics: Situated Textuality, Performativity, Collaboration

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Disunified Aesthetics
    Book Description:

    Aesthetics is a field still rooted in an understanding of a unified process where small numbers of people produce, commodify, and consume objects called "art." Disunified Aesthetics deconstructs the literary object by invoking the critic's stance toward the written works with which they engage. Lynette Hunter's performative explorations provide a distinctly different way of understanding contemporary creative processes. Disunified Aesthetics takes up twenty-first-century aesthetics through an investigation of recent Canadian writing. The book is both a series of insights into literature and poetics of the last two decades and a story about moving from a traditional view of the relation between the artist, art, and its reception, to a more radically democratic view of aesthetics and ethics. Hunter addresses a range of Canadian women's writing, as well as close studies of the work of Robert Kroetsch, Lee Maracle, Nicole Brossard, Frank Davey, Alice Munro, Daphne Marlatt, and bpNichol. Disunified Aesthetics is a creative, challenging, and original investigation of textuality, performance, and aesthetics by a leading and innovative scholar.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8959-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. introduction
    (pp. 3-22)

    There are a number of voices in this book and its attendant web-based performances.

    Over the past fifteen years I have developed a series of written commentaries on contemporary Canadian literature that have worked in varying ways with performative counterparts. I have pursued pressing questions about aesthetics and ethics, and in doing so I have also pressed the essay form into different generic shapes the better to address those questions. I have great respect for the essay as a genre, yet for me its traditional form at times leaves out much that I would like to be taking into account...

  6. part one situated textualities
    • commentary
      (pp. 25-32)

      The essays and performances in this first section are concerned with what Art and aesthetics mean in the enfranchised democracies of the twentieth century. They explore the relation between the critic and the text within an aesthetic paradigm focused first on the way in which the state permits a “subject” certain representations that make the individual recognizable within ideology, and second on the ability of “art” to challenge these allowed images of subjecthood. The artist in liberal social contract states has been consistently employed, directly or indirectly, by people with money and property central to the power of the state....

    • 1 Opening Robert Kroetschʹs The Puppeteer: Being Wedded to the Text
      (pp. 33-54)

      Three strands are gathered into the following critique: a commentary on textual ethics of readers and writers, a discussion of certain aspects of gender studies, and a concern with the domestic. All three find particular focal points inThe Puppeteer, Robert Kroetsch’s novel published in 1991. This text elaborates on various dilemmas experienced by people within relatively empowered groups: groups which, like anyone with an interest in capitalism, enfranchisement, and nation-state democracy in Anglo-American Western countries, learn to repress and discard a lot of daily life, and yet be also self-conscious that they are doing it or they might miss...

    • 2 Trying to Say Womenʹs Writing in Canada: I Am a Very Dirty Critic
      (pp. 55-78)

      This chapter carries out a series of critiques in the present of 2011 while exploring essays associated and contemporaneous with the performance “Cooking the Books” (1996–2000). In simple terms, I knew that there were things I valued that did not get talked about, that were crowded out by the representations that were supposed to satisfy me, that providedenough. I could see these values in the lives of many people and figured that if I worked on a range of them I would come up with ways of valuing. This is a common process in literary criticism and in...

    • 3 Learning to Listen Indigenous Womenʹs Writing in Canada: Presence, Rehearsal, and Performativity
      (pp. 79-102)

      I had moved from knowing that putting aesthetic experiences into boxes got us nowhere – it was an explicit assimilation – to working in like-minded groups of situated knowledge and standpoint epistemology in which we attempted to build vocabularies from the differences we each found. In this process of situated textuality, we were netting together grounds where they had never existed, arresting that moment of work and putting it out into sociocultural structures where occasionally it achieved fit. That fit then went in many different directions, sometimes toward beauty, sometimes toward disruption, sometimes toward representation or the articulation of desire,...

  7. part two performativity
    • commentary
      (pp. 105-114)

      Although the liberal humanist social contract had consistently been disrupted for three centuries – often only to join it – challenges over the twentieth century had more obvious manifestations than in earlier years. One of these was the franchise which, as discussed in previous chapters, had the effect of introducing a structure that both called for assimilation and claimed the possibility of difference and change. This is the fundamental doublethink structure of modern liberal democracy, in place since the late sixteenth century. The franchise exposed the doubleness, put into motion events that would gradually break the liberal humanist social contract...

    • 4 Labour Notes for ʺBodies in Troubleʺ
      (pp. 115-146)

      The following essay is a mixed genre script performance. The site is an interview between Susan Rudy and Lynette Hunter held on 18 August (Tape 1) and 19 August (Tape 2) 1998 about the lecture performance “Bodies in Trouble.” The interview is cited at the beginning and intercuts the entire piece. The right-hand side of the script includes Lynette Hunter’s responses to questions posed by Susan Rudy and contexts for the site, and is put together by Lynette Hunter. Much of this section is descriptive rather than analytical. The left-hand side of the script, constituted by Susan Rudy, is also...

    • 5 FACE-WORK and Going to the End of the Line with Frank Daveyʹs Writing
      (pp. 147-163)

      Of course for some, semiotics is still that basic experience of realizing that no sign has a fixed meaning. Others like assigning meaning or getting into the old rhetorical pleasure of invention: finding many meanings.

      But then there’s also that point where terror takes over, where semiotics becomes a recognition that signs are often largely determined, what Laclau and Mouffe called hegemony, but what I still call ideology – similar but not identical concepts, concerned with the set of rhetorical practices that delineate the representations, the faces, we can put on.

      A resolution of that fear, for many semioticians, comes...

    • 6 The Inédit in Writing by Nicole Brossard: Breathing the Skin of Language
      (pp. 164-185)

      In her writing, Nicole Brossard continually engages with the work of translation. The translator is the reader-as-maker and offers us an analogy for a more inclusive sense of readers-as-makers. Perhaps because Brossard’s work is central to contemporary philosophical discussion, it has a long history of this process which itself becomes part of the fiction-making. And perhaps this long history also works with the way Brossard’s writing foregrounds both what she is saying and how she is saying it, so that she is doing as she does, in process simultaneously with installing, rehearsing in performance.Green Night in the Labyrinth Park...

    • 7 The Rhetoric of Masking in Writing by Alice Munro
      (pp. 186-210)

      Munro has a way of finding resonant phrases that signify overwhelming feelings: this sense of the grand style, a vocabulary and syntax that is more appropriate to intense emotions, and registered as important and valuable because it is happening to “types,” “standing in for” or allegorizing community-felt intensities. But with the difference that these “types,” like say Ibsen’s or those of postwar British drama, are fairly ordinary people.

      InHateshipthe people achieve their usually tragic intensity not because they are “better” or “worse” than others, but through the glimpse of their interiorized construction of suffering/pain/blame/shame. Munro conveys this through...

  8. part three collaboration
    • commentary
      (pp. 213-223)

      At present we have an aesthetic inheritance from the modern period that marginalizes many texts that do not contribute to sociocultural fit. While this may have been predictable under governments that excluded most of the populace from political and cultural power, today’s democracies need to respond to the diversity that is now asserted. Art-work is central to the way people adjust their bodies to social and political change.¹ It is vital to a felt knowledge of the diverse views and different ways of life that have been brought far more immediately into everyday experience by transnational rhetorics. Not all people...

    • 8 Daphne Marlattʹs Poetics: What Is an Honest Man? and Can There Be an Honest Woman?
      (pp. 224-252)

      The first part of this essay explores the changing position of aesthetics in a world of increasingly global influence and argues for a specific approach to public culture, rooted in a democratic humanism, that addresses the ambivalent effects of that influence. The latter part of the essay reads recent work by Daphne Marlatt and her development of the particular/collaborative in an attempt to design strategies for a democratic humanism.

      The underlying argument of this essay is that public culture is changing because of the changing nature of the nation. In an economically defined nation-state, culture has traditionally been split between...

    • 9 De-scribing Performance in bpNicholʹs Selected Organs
      (pp. 253-273)

      The writing here reads bpNichol’sSelected Organsin two movements, and asks its reader to see with the third eye, listen with the third ear, and feel with the third hand – the second hand being there in the present, in the process, ticking away. One movement is to commentary, as the writing performs the critical reading, forms through the commentary a constellation and a constitution of my own “critical self.” It’s a constitution insofar as it’s inflected by the ideological powers of politics and the society that make me up, and it’s a constellation in the Brechtian/Benjaminian sense of...

    • 10 Roget Falls in Love
      (pp. 274-286)

      “Roget Falls in Love: Crossing Margaret Atwood with bpNichol” 2007 Birmingham University (uk), “Beyond the Book” conference October 2007 “Case by Case Arts Policy in Canada,” TransCanada 2 plenary paper, University of Guelph

      1 The video record of “Roget Falls in Love,” Excerpt of the videohttp://vimeo.com/18439763

      2 The text ofRoget Falls in Love: How Analytical Thought Stops You Thinking,http://lynettehunterperformance.com/htmls/analytical-thought.html

      The rhetorical flow of installation and constellation with culture and society can be read from the vocabulary of this book in a number of ways. Working alongside hegemony with strategies of installation, like-minded groups collaborate in the process of...

  9. coda
    (pp. 287-288)

    The reason I chose Roget, Nichol, and Marlatt for these final essays was in my body. I retained a passion for their work, passion that reminds us every moment of every day that we are making difference.

    What would happen if Roget fell into a passion with the words he carefully separated and arranged, so they melted and merged and molded into each other instead of standing up for themselves? What does the human body do with passion? Passion is somatically durational. It lingers in the body. According to opera, it destroys us. The word is linked into roots about...

  10. notes
    (pp. 289-294)
  11. bibliography
    (pp. 295-306)
  12. index
    (pp. 307-318)