Solid Objects by Douglas Mao

By Douglas Mao

During this provocative and wide-ranging learn, Douglas Mao argues profound pressure among veneration of human construction and anxiousness approximately production's risks lay on the center of literary modernism. concentrating on the paintings of Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens, Mao indicates that modernists have been captivated via actual gadgets, which, considered as items, looked as if it would partake of a utopian serenity past the achieve of human ideological conflicts. lower than quite a few old pressures, Mao observes, those writers got here to revere the making of such issues, and particularly the crafting of the murals, because the top-quality warrantly of that means for somebody lifestyles. but additionally they came upon troubling contradictions the following, due to the fact any type of making, be it handicraft or mass construction, may be understood as a contravention of the nonhuman global through an more and more predatory and imperialistic subjectivity. If modernists started by means of embracing construction as a try of that means, then they often ended by means of trying out creation itself and discovering it wanting.To make this example, Mao interweaves social and political background with readings in literature, the visible arts, philosophy, and economics. He explores modernism's relation to aestheticism, existentialism, and the tradition of intake, becoming a member of present debates at the politics of engagement and the social meanings of paintings. And he exhibits conclusively, during this elegantly written and regularly miraculous paintings, that we won't comprehend the theories and practices of modernism with out addressing the query of the article and production's ambivalent attract.

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Solid Objects

During this provocative and wide-ranging learn, Douglas Mao argues profound stress among veneration of human creation and anxiousness approximately production's risks lay on the middle of literary modernism. concentrating on the paintings of Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis, Ezra Pound, and Wallace Stevens, Mao indicates that modernists have been captivated by way of actual gadgets, which, considered as gadgets, looked as if it would partake of a utopian serenity past the succeed in of human ideological conflicts.

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And when he pockets his treasure, Woolf’s narrator observes (in a manner highly evocative of Benjamin’s portrait of the book collector) that he may have done so under the impulse which leads a child to pick up one pebble on a path strewn with them, promising it a life of warmth and security upon the nursery mantelpiece, delighting in the sense of power and benignity which such an action confers, and believing that the heart of the stone leaps with joy when it sees itself chosen from a million like it, to enjoy this bliss instead of a life of cold and wet upon the high road.

In the 24 INTRODUCTION book that follows, I use “modernism” or “high modernism”15 mainly to refer to a body of texts with somewhat fluid boundaries that would usually include writers like Woolf, Joyce, Stein, and perhaps Toomer, while more often excluding writers like Sandburg, Corelli, McKay, and perhaps Toomer; and though I have not always succeeded in keeping this sense of “modernism” as sharply distinct from the other as we might desire, I have tried to stick to terms such as “early twentieth-century” where generalizations about the whole period in imaginative writing are at issue.

In this ambivalence, the modernists showed themselves true heirs of the aesthetes of the previous century, who bequeathed them not only a belief in the unqualified importance of art and an aversion to (certain aspects of) Victorian morality but also a complex relation to the culture of the commodity in which horror and surrender were not only compounded but, at times, scarcely distinguishable from each other. One of my projects in what follows is to extend further recent scholarship’s exploration of this inheritance, and indeed it will become apparent that in the field of literary history aestheticism is to this book what Existentialism is in the field of philosophy and, perhaps, what commodification in the field of history proper.

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