By Martin Jay
During this account of a few of the crucial strategies in sleek existence and proposal, Professor Jay investigates how language can't fail to alter and mediate adventure. the themes he treats variety from "theory" and "experience" to the which means of "multiculturalism" and the dynamic of "cultural subversion", and one of the thinkers he engages are Bataille, Foucault, Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Lyotard.
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Extra resources for Cultural Semantics: Keywords of Our Time
Here I am speaking of the timehonored notion of empirical evidence, the supposedly "hard" facts that are prior to the attempt to imbue them with larger meaning. Although this notion or experience is objective, or at least intersubjective, rather than subjective or ethnocentric, it too challenges the hegemony of theoretical or conceptual mediation. However widely strong versions of realist, positivist, or empiricist approaches have been discredited, however much even the natural sciences have come to accept the "theory-laden" quality of their observations, it is nonetheless true that, a few French philosophers of science aside, most current thinkers on the subject reject the idea that theory produces its objects solely out of its own activity.
Here too, intellectual history has helped keep alive ideas and approaches that the currently dominant academic paradigm refuses to take seriously. Because of its hybrid status, European intellectual history has, moreover, often attracted scholars who fit somewhat uncomfortably in the traditional disciplinary rubrics of the academy. Although more widely accepted in history departments than their counterparts in Europe, where intellectual history is rarely even an established subfield, they nonetheless are often ostracized for being too theoretical or abstruse, while their concern for "high" ideas is decried as elitist.
No aesthetic theory, that is, can see itself as utterly external to the works it theorizes about simply because such works are always already mediated, to one degree or another, by theoretical considerations of genre, medium, or evaluation. They are, to be sure, not reducible to merely a function of such considerations, a reduction that even the so-called conceptual art of the 1960s and 1970s ultimately resisted. Duchamp's "readymades," after all, were both effects of the artist's performative statement, "this is a work of art," and the application of that performative to visually present objects open to a formalist or symbolic interpretation in less theoretical terms.