By Charles Bernheimer

ISBN-10: 0801867401

ISBN-13: 9780801867408

ISBN-10: 0801874645

ISBN-13: 9780801874642

Charles Bernheimer defined decadence as a "stimulant that bends notion off form, deforming conventional conceptual molds." during this posthumously released paintings, Bernheimer succeeds in creating a severe idea out of this perennially trendy, hardly ever understood term.

Decadent Subjects is a coherent and relocating photograph of fin de siècle decadence. Mature, ironic, iconoclastic, and considerate, this amazing choice of essays exhibits the contradictions of the phenomenon, that is either a situation and a frame of mind. In looking to convey why humans have did not supply a passable account of the time period decadence, Bernheimer argues that we regularly mistakenly take decadence to symbolize anything concrete, that we see as a few type of agent. His salutary reaction is to come back to these authors and artists whose paintings constitutes the topos of decadence, rereading key past due nineteenth-century authors corresponding to Nietzsche, Zola, Hardy, Wilde, Moreau, and Freud to rediscover the very dynamics of the decadent. via cautious research of the literature, artwork, and song of the fin de siècle together with a riveting dialogue of the numerous faces of Salome, Bernheimer leaves us with a desirable and multidimensional examine decadence, all of the extra vital as we emerge from our personal fin de siècle.

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Extra info for Decadent subjects : the idea of decadence in art, literature, philosophy, and culture of the fin de siècle in Europe

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Nietzsche spends far less time suggesting how to deal with the decadent historicism of his age than he does diagnosing its symptoms. He recommends “the unhistorical and the suprahistorical [as] the natural antidotes to the stifling of life by the historical, by the malady of history” (UM, 121) and offers the following definitions: “With the word ‘the unhistorical’ I designate the art and power of forgetting and of enclosing oneself within a bounded horizon; I call ‘suprahistorical’ the powers which lead the eye away from becoming towards that which bestows upon existence the character of the eternal and stable, towards art and religion” (UM, 120).

Religion and art, about which Nietzsche has little to say here, are the products of a healthy culture that, like the Greek, uses the past to nourish a vital thrust into the future. There is, of course, more to Nietzsche’s essay than this summary suggests. My purpose is not to give a full analysis of the essay or to                  critique its positions. Rather I want to focus on what I take to be the center of his interest, the degeneration of historical insight as a lamentable sign of cultural decadence.

At this point Nietzsche, the teacher of life’s affirmation, seems to be as negatively critical of life as are the moralists whom he berates for condemning life from a position they mendaciously claim to be outside it. Such antinatural morality is, he maintains, “the very in                 stinct of décadence, which makes an imperative of itself. ’ It is a condemnation pronounced by the condemned” (TI, 491). The projection of moral goals—which causes a division of the world into an unchanging universe of truth and an apparent one, this one, that is changing, false, and hence “ought not to exist” (WP, 317)—is, he declares, “a dreadful tool of décadence” (WP, 316).

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Decadent subjects : the idea of decadence in art, literature, philosophy, and culture of the fin de siècle in Europe by Charles Bernheimer


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