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Description - Arts of Impoverishment by Leo Bersani

Why taunt and flout us, as Beckett's writing does? Why discourage us from seeing, as Mark Rothko's paintings often can? Why immobilize and daze us, as Alain Resnais' films sometimes will? Why, Leo Bersnai and Ulysse Dutoit ask, would three acknowledged masters of their media make work deliberately opaque and inhospitable to an audience? This book shows how such crippling moves may signal a profoundly original - and profoundly anti-modernist - renunciation of art's authority. Our culture, while paying little attention to art, puts great faith in its edifying and enlightening value. Yet Beckett's threadbare plays "Company" and "Worstword Ho", so insistent on their poverty of meaning; Rothko's nearly monochromatic paintings in the Houston Chapel; Resnais' intensly self-contained, self-referential films "Night and Fog" and "Muriel" all seem to say "I have little to show you, little to tell you, nothing to teach you." Bersnai and Dutoit consider these works as acts of resistance; by inhibiting our movement toward them, they purposely frustrate our faith in art as a way of appropriating and ultimately mastering reality. As this book demonstrates, these artists train us in new modes of mobility, which differ from the moves of an appropriating consciousness. As a form of cultural resistance, a rejection of a view of reality - both objects and human subjects - as simply there for the taking, this training may even give birth to a new kind of political power, one paradoxically consistent with the renunciation of authority.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674048768
ISBN-10: 0674048768
Format: Paperback
(210mm x 140mm x mm)
Pages: 256
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 17-Jan-1994
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Leo Bersani

Leo Bersani is the Class of 1950 Professor of French at the University of California, Berkeley.

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