By Elizabeth Wilson
Ranging from Marcel Proust to tarot readings, from city making plans to interiors, Elizabeth Wilson investigates an underlying Puritanism in severe remark on concerns as large ranging as Roger Federer and C S Lewis, Surrealism and model and the connection of faith to fan tradition.
She questions why excitement seems suspect, whilst client society incites it and turns lifestyles into leisure. She questions why there's such worry of elitism while even as the lovers of mass tradition are held in contempt. Subverting traditional perspectives, her indirect perspective presents startling insights on either primary and marginal cultural experiences.
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Extra resources for Cultural Passions: Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers
The very poverty of the urban surfaces, the unrestored façades and unplanned side streets exuded a sense of the enduringness of London – almost the more so because of the bomb damage. indd 47 L O O K I N G B A C K WA R D S : N O S TA L G I A M O D E Meanwhile, the strangers treading the pavements dressed drably enough in their class uniforms. Men wore hats in those days; bowler hats, homburg hats, trilby hats, the latter when worn with suede shoes suggesting something a little more daring, a refugee from the racecourse, an ex-RAF officer, a conman perhaps.
Yet although these might seem to have emphasised the arbitrary, Surrealism was not ironic, since for André Breton, for example, the apparently unintentional did have a hidden meaning. Meanwhile, in music, harmony was overturned and the fine arts rejected realism in favour of abstraction. Much of this work was a deliberate refusal of the pleasure traditionally expected from cultural works. In the 1950s this modernism – the work, for example, of Jackson Pollock – became the poster for the individualism of the ‘free world’; that is, the United States and Western Europe challenging the conformity of the Communist bloc.
3 Long before the Enlightenment, then, Plato strongly distinguished between reason and feeling, very much to the detriment of feeling. It followed that poetry and other arts had no place in education. Poetry and drama were ‘lies’ (a view revived in eighteenth-century hostility to the developing novel form). There was no sense here that poetic and fictional works could produce insights and truths about life and human nature, even if not literally true. (Aristotle argued against this view, when in his Poetics he suggested that the emotions sustained by an audience when watching a tragedy or listening to music, had a purgative effect, purifying and uplifting the audience by the expression and resolution of emotions that might be upsetting in everyday life.
Cultural Passions: Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers by Elizabeth Wilson