Saturday, May 8, 2010

ars gratia artis

While in the past I had no great interest in aesthetics or the philosophy of art (that's right! they are two different subjects!), of late it has been of great interest. In the past, when my main haunt was ontology, my appreciation of beauty could really go only as far as calology, which studies the beautiful, not qua beauty, but as a transcendental of being (the transcendentals of being, i.e., are the One, the True, the Good, and the Beautiful); in this case, beauty is simply one of many revelations of ipsum esse. The closest, back then, that I came to an appreciation of ars gratia artis was reading Oscar Wilde. This led to a pursuit, in fiction, that led ultimately to my beloved Dashiell Hammett, whose artistry pleases me infinitely.

But some newer experiences have opened me up to a whole new range of appreciation and philosophy of art, and below is a list of these influences. Right now I simply list them; perhaps at a later date I'll make some annotations. I make here no distinction between literature and film.

An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis

"The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot

The Arts of the Beautiful by Etienne Gilson

Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino

Citizen Kane by Orson Welles

I should also say that the entire corpus of film noir is pivotal as well. I first began watching noir films because of their underlying Weltanschauung, but they soon led me to a way of viewing art qua art -- and, of course, film especially -- which I hadn't anticipated. Color looks different, the whole world looks different, once you've resurfaced from an immersion in the realm of noir.

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