The French Aesthetics of Contingency

Num°12 LUCK
Spes proxima alciati 1536 Livret des emblemes

French literary modernity has, since the Renaissance of the 16th century been increasingly concerned with the experience of contingency, with the circumstantial, fleeting, and unpredictable incidents of human life. Three writers stand out for the central and explicit place they accord to chance: Blaise Pascal, Charles Baudelaire, and Stéphane Mallarmé.

Each of them wrote about the subjective experience of everyday life as pleasant or unpleasant, beautiful or ugly, and in that sense they can be said to be concerned with aesthetics. They were not philosophers (at least by professional formation or even by self-definition) but reflected quite seriously on the interrelated issues of perception, time, beauty, boredom, dress, and painting. They are concerned not only with issues of fine arts and poetics but also with chance in everyday life, with what has been called “aesthetics from below.” Although two of them wrote in the 19th century and one in the 17th, their works are interrelated, as will be apparent.

Let us begin with Baudelaire, whose “poetics of contingency” has been widely recognized, especially in the wake of the writings of Walter Benjamin. The poem À une passante (To a woman passing by) encapsulates Baudelaire’s positive valuation of chance as forming the basis for aesthetic experience.

À une passante


La rue assourdissante autour de moi hurlait.

Longue, mince, en grand deuil, douleur majestueuse,

Une femme passa, d’une main fastueuse

Soulevant, balançant le feston et l’ourlet;

Agile et noble, avec sa jambe de statue.

Moi, je buvais, crispé comme un extravagant,

Dans son oeil, ciel livide où germe l’ouragan,

La douceur qui fascine et le plaisir qui tue.

Un éclair… puis la nuit! — Fugitive beauté

Dont le regard m’a fait soudainement renaître,

Ne te verrai-je plus que dans l’éternité?

Ailleurs, bien loin d’ici! trop tard! jamais peut-être!

Car j’ignore où tu fuis, tu ne sais où je vais,

Ô toi que j’eusse aimée, ô toi qui le savais!

The French Aesthetics of Contingency

scarica pdf
Commenti disabilitati

Numero 12 LUCK ottobre, 2014 - Autore:  Condividi


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

porno porno izle porno porno film izle