Historisierung des Diskurses und Potenzierung ästhetischer Erfahrungen in der Literatur der (Post-)Moderne

and Corinna Dziudzia
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  • Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Neuere deutsche Literaturwissenschaft, Eichstätt, Deutschland
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Abstract

The paper is based on the assumption that modern art centralises aesthetic experience in a specific way, why it as well be may regarded – in contrast to the rather forced interpretation of art already opposed by Susan Sontag (Sontag 2001, 10) – as an appropriate mode for encountering art. However, the theoretical discourse on aesthetic experience is characterised by opposite poles, which will be examined in the first part of this paper. On the one hand, there is the utopian conception around 1800, in which the reflection on aesthetic experience originally is rooted, in Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man (cf. Noetzel 2006, 198) or Friedrich Schlegel’s imaginations of a life in art in Lucinde (cf. Dziudzia 2015, 38sqq.). On the other hand, the reflections in the German discourse at the beginning of the 20th century are marked in a conspicuously negative way, which can still be seen until the 1980s.

In the theoretical first part of the essay, a few cursory positions on the ›problem of the aesthetic human being‹ will be considered initially, which reject aesthetic views in everyday life and evaluate such tendencies as forms of social decay. Concerned about morality on the surface, these positions indeed aim at criticising individual lifestyles in a modern world, which, in particular, are opposed to conservative and collectivist ideas of society and morality. These discourse positions, which are ultimately ideologically grounded, then lead to the deliberate reflections on aesthetic experience, as they unfold most notably from the 1970s onwards, where they form the implicit background.

As will be shown, the explicitly negative evaluation expressed in the earlier positions then shapes the assessments of aesthetic experience of Hans-Robert Jauß (cf. Jauß 2007), Peter Bürger (cf. Bürger 1977) and Rüdiger Bubner (cf. Bubner 1989) as a fundamental, rather implicit scepticism. For the most part, their positions seem to make it impossible to think of the aesthetic experience as enrichment or to evaluate it positively, as is common in the US-American discourse, for instance.

The latter stance, which is, in essence, initiated by John Dewey and his consciously non-strict separation between art and everyday life as well as his decidedly anti-elitist understanding of art and aesthetics, is more in keeping with the utopian concepts of around 1800. However, his writings only find late distribution in Germany (cf. Dewey 1980). In contrast to Dewey’s position – and Susan Sontag’s explicit rejection of the interpretation as a violent act and the omittance of the sensual experience of the artwork (Sontag 2001) – the critical condemnation of aesthetic experience, which ultimately remains unfounded in the German discourse (because of its implicit ideological origin), now appears challenged.

In fact, attentive observation in an aesthetic stance becomes part of the aesthetic programme in modern art across the board (cf. Dziudzia 2015b). Bürger reflects on this and offers – especially in the examination of Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time – a productive proposal to grasp the ›aestheticizing perception‹ (as he calls it) as a literary technique. In his conception, Bürger refers to media as a specific ›projection area‹ of aesthetic experience, especially in literature around 1900. The ›imaginary fadings‹ (cf. Schmitz-Emans 2001) in modern literature are, following Bürger, to be further thought of as ›exponentiated‹ aesthetic experiences, which find their form not only around 1900 but also in more recent literature.

Therefore, in the second part of the paper and the exemplary reading of a contemporary German novel, Martin Mosebachs Der Mond und das Mädchen (The Moon and the Maiden), published in 2007, it is to be shown how aesthetic experience finds complex forms. In the specific shaping of imaginary fadings in the interplay of figure and narrator level, especially in recourse to the medium film to be observed therein, the ambivalence of the theoretical concept of aesthetic experience insinuates as will be argued.

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