Theorizing the Avant-Garde: Modernism, Expressionism, and the Problem of Postmodernity (Literature, Culture, Theory)

By Richard Murphy

In Theorizing the Avant-Garde Richard Murphy mobilizes theories of the postmodern to problem our figuring out of the avant-garde and assesses its significance for the debates between theorists of postmodernism similar to Jameson, Eagleton, Lyotard and Habermas. Murphy reconsiders the vintage formulations of the avant-garde and investigates the connection among paintings and politics through a dialogue of Marcuse, Adorno and Benjamin. Combining shut textual readings of quite a lot of movies in addition to works of literature, this interdisciplinary undertaking will attract all these attracted to twentieth-century modernist pursuits and postmodernity.

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Diese Mo¨glichkeit ist dem Expressionisten schon beinahe eine Formel geworden, die das Erleben von vornherein in Gegensa¨tzen gestaltet. ’’ 163 The poetics of tension implementing upon the encompassing ‘‘chaos’’ a robust semiotic constitution which exorcises the spirit of uncertainty by means of mapping out the field via extremes and by means of implementing a feeling of unavoidable necessity upon it. yet secondly whereas supplying a feeling of the concrete it however strikes within the wrong way and clear of any latent realism via at the same time ‘‘abstracting’’ from the genuine (‘‘that is linked to the transparent rejection of psychology in Expressionism’’ 570). forty four that's, it features by means of displacing consciousness from the person (‘‘this one guy, this one woman’’), and transferring it in the direction of the extra generalized units of social or epistemological opposites, the ‘‘possibility of decreasing the chaos, through extrapolating the item and setting apart it, fixing it in its oppositional dating . . . ’’ (569). forty five Like Kokoschka’s play the expressionist ‘‘Stationen-’’ and ‘‘Verku¨ndigungsdramen’’ (‘‘proclamation’’ or ‘‘prophesy plays’’) are equally dependent at the foundation of opposing forces in so far as they normally signify the conflict fought out via a messianic figure bearing desires of a brand new order of mankind opposed to the previous, fallen global which needs to be transcended. The stations at the direction of the hero, the religious pilgrim, could be understood in equally stark, manichaeistic phrases as representing the forces of evil which tempt him from the line of redemption. within the romantic melodrama of post-revolutionary France, the dichotomy among solid and evil is fought out via these at the one hand who might shield the outdated regime with its decrepit values, and people nonetheless who try and institute a brand new republic of beliefs and virtues. In expressionist writing we find a truly comparable ethical polarization. a few of the performs of the expressionist move reply equally to the historic illness of the days, taking over suggested melodramatic gestures and attitudes which convey analogous longings for a brand new progressive order, but – general of the character of the ‘‘expressionist revolution’’ as an everlasting and ongoing technique instead of as a teleological scheme of terminal reconciliation with fixed targets and beliefs – which sofa this idealism in such tentative and ‘‘unrealistic’’ phrases that its complete strength can basically be felt as a basic forty four forty five ‘‘das bedingt die scharfe Ablehnung der Psychologie im Expressionismus. ’’ ‘‘Diese Mo¨glichkeit, das Chaos zu verkleinern, indem guy das Ding herausnimmt und es in seiner Gegensa¨tzlichkeit fixiert, isoliert. . . . ’’ 164 Expressionist drama and the melodramatic mind's eye expression of the repressed ‘‘ethical and psychic forces’’ in society. The melodramatic rhetoric of extra within which this idealism is couched has a deeply ironic or ‘‘duplicitous’’ impact: on the very second of articulating its ambitions its grandiloquence is working at one other point to undermine the message by way of displacing it into an airy and unreal international.

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