Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I’d like to suggest that Jameson is hinting that criticism is the figuration (a cognitive map) of postmodern space. Jameson is calling for an aesthetic solution to the disjunction between “individual experience” and “a scientific or cognitive model” -- which I understand to mean the incomprehensibly complex societal, political, economic forces on a global level that inform the individual experience in both seen and unseen ways.

Jameson uses “Gide and Conrad” and other modernist writers as examples of artists who were able to create an aesthetic representation of their era. These writers, it seems, have successfully created a “cognitive map” of the modern experience.

Something interesting happens when Jameson discusses Brecht. He writes that with Brecht’s work “the cognitive becomes in and of itself the immediate source of profound aesthetic delight” (348). Jameson seems to be describing, and praising, the collapse of critical and aesthetic work. Brecht is an artist who has managed to make art this is criticism. Here it collapsing of intellectual and individual experience. [Jameson’s warmth in the passage show his love of criticism…]

Elsewhere Jameson writes that the “new and enormous global realities are inaccessible to any individual subject or consciousness” (350). It is impossible to comprehend the scientific/cognitive/global view of the world. Yet, although this superstructure is “unpresentable”, it can be alluded to through analysis of its effects in world of the subjective (in literature?). He writes “one of our basic tasks as critics of literature is to track down and make conceptually available the ultimate realities and experiences designated by those figures…” (350).

Jameson is looking for a formulation of individual experience and scientific model. Artists accomplished this in the modernist era. The best was Brecht. In his work Aesthetics become criticism. Today, it is impossible to represent the scientific model (aesthetically or otherwise). The only way to approach the scientific model is through critical analysis (of literature…art? society?). Therefore, I don’t think it’s stretching things too far to suggest that Jameson may see an aesthetic value in criticism, and that in this article he may be hinting that some criticism (his?) is the reverse of Brecht’s work. Modernism required aesthetics that approached criticism to offer a vision of the whole; postmodernism requires criticism that approaches aesthetics.

Jameson asks, 'what would successful, postmodern, cognitive mapping look like?' His essay implies 'this is what it looks like'.

(on the other hand, I'm not sure that he (or anyone) would argue that criticism can "grip the masses"...)

Briefly: Much of MC 25 is still fresh in my head from last semester. As a result I was in a good position to understand the first half of the Baudry article: the Cartesian mode of perspective and everything that comes with it, transcendence in the vanishing point, heterogeneous Greek space etc etc. But as soon as Baudry gets into the Mirror stage and Bataille on page 294 the article jumps off the tracks for me. It’d be great if we could unpack this in section a bit.

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