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Matei Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch,

Postmodernism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1987. 395p.



Historically, the emergence and the development of the avant- garde seem to be closely
linked to the crisis of Man in the modern desacralized world. S
1925, characteristic of new art: Dehumanization
Nineteenth century art consisted of fiction of human realities.
"The antihumanistic urge of writers and artists during the first decades of the
twentieth century was not only a "reaction" (against romanticism or naturalism)
but a strangely accurate prophecy. Distorting and often eliminating man's image
from their work, disrupting hisnormal vision, dilocating his syntax, the cubists
and the futurists were certainly among the first artists to have the consciousness
that Man had become an obsolete concept, and that the rhetoric of humanism had
to be discarded." [125] Q H
Nietzsche, 1880s, announced final demise of Man and advent of the Superman
Death of God and death of Man (metaphors signifyig the final collapse of
humanism under influence of modernity's nihilism
saw that modernity recognized that humanism was no longer viable as a doctrine,
and that once God was dead, Man too had to clear the stage of history. [126]
Leftist critique of humanism in general, seen clearly in Marx
De-individualization of history
"Man ...described as ..a bourgeois concept, ideological heritage of revolutionary
struggles of the bourgeoisie against feudalism. In those struggles the concept of
Man was used as a weapon against the concept of God, on which the whole feudal
system of values had been based. But Man--even the most orthodox Marxist
would admit--is only an abstraction. History could not possibly be made by Man:
it is a product of class struggle..." [126-7] R
Marxism questions Man's Promethean capability of both making and transcending
history. ... Humanism is only an "ideology,"...
Not until 1960s - Antihumanistic interpretaion of Marx
Theoretical revolution, see humanism's practical function as an ideology; see
Marx's theoretical antihumanism as the precondition of knowledge of the human
world itself.
Marxism's ambiguity between science and ideology makes it elastic
Makes it appeal to aesthetically rebellious avant-garde from Dada and
surrealism to diverse neo-avant-garde movements of now (1987).
Guglielmi argues that no ideology can any longer give us a convincing rationale
of the whole reality...Existing ideologies can only instruct us how to behave as
men with civil and social responsibilities. Marxism in the West appearls only for
social life and action--rejects socialist realism
Many neo-avant-garde writers and artists are connected with activities of varous
New Left groups derived from Marx - possibly because of its ambiguity
Crisis of Man, reached stage of Death of Man, become a philosophical cliché.
Foucault (1967)Concludes that " for the Western Wrold 'man is a recent invention'
(dating back to the end of the eighteenth century) and this invention seems
already to have become obsolete." [130]
Deleuze (1971): Man is simple "une machine d&eactue;sirante."
Book is radical critique of the orthodox psycholanalytical view of the
unconscious: "Freud's 'expressive' approach, with all its theatrical associations,
should be dismissed and replaced by a nonanthropomorphic 'productive theory':
the unconscious works like an industrial unit, it is a factory of desire" [130]
Poggioli: The avant-garde thinker or artist is particularly susceptible to the scientific
Strategy of dehumanization, rejects organic or biological assumptions of romantic
philosophy and literary theory
One result of crisis is relativism.
"Even in literary criticism value judgments are considered increasingly irrelevant.
THe structuralist method is overtly against any kind of preoccupation with
value.... Some left-oriented critics ... find moral reasons for rejecting ... a
hierarchic conception of literature and aesthetic value.
Leslie Fiedler, prophet of postmodernism, advocates that criticism ought to go
Pop. Q
Draws a distinction between "the elistist exile" of the author with a small
audience and "best-sellerdom" as a form of communicating with a larger
public via Pop...." [131]
Aware of politics implicit in this position, a populist, even anarchist stance
based on an impatience with all distinctions of kind created on the analogy
of class-structure society."
Crisis of ideology seen in anti-teleological drive.
Leonard Meyer, "The music of the avant-garde directs us toward no point
of culmination--establishes no goals toward which we move." [132] S


From Modernity to the Avant-Garde

The "Avant-Garde" Metaphor in the Renaissance: A Rhetorical Figure
The Romantic "Avante-Garde": From Politics to the Politics of Culture
Some Mid-Ninettenth-Century Writers and the Avant-Garde
Two Avant-Gardes: Attractions and Repulsions
Avant Garde and Aesthetic Extremism
The Crisis of Avant-Garde's Concept in the 1960s
Avant-Garde, Dehumanization and the End of Ideology
Avant-Garde and Postmodernism
Intellectualism, Anarchism, and Stasis

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