Acting Beautifully: Henry James and the Ethical Aesthetic - download pdf or read online

By Sigi Jottkandt

Addresses moral and aesthetic matters in 3 significant works through Henry James.

What is the problem with the ladies in Henry James? within the Portrait of a girl, The Wings of the Dove, and his brief tale "The Altar of the Dead," one lady returns to a monster of a husband, one other dies instead of confront the reality of her lover’s engagement, whereas another stakes her all on having a candle lit for a lifeless lover, in simple terms to in a timely fashion reject it. Exploring those unusual offerings, Sigi Jöttkandt argues that the singularity of those acts lies of their moral nature, and that the moral precept concerned can't be divorced from the query of aesthetics. She combines shut readings of James with suggestive excursions via Kantian aesthetics and set idea to discover the classy underpinning of the Lacanian moral act, which has been principally missed within the present force to find a Cartesian foundation for the topic because the topic of science.

"If ‘instant classic’ skill something in any respect at the present time, it skill Jöttkandt’s e-book! Henry James is the silent companion of Jacques Lacan: by no means pointed out in Lacan’s paintings, he still, in an uncanny manner, ‘stages’ all major Lacanian thoughts. Jöttkandt’s ebook brings this mystery hyperlink into the open: after interpreting it, our conception of either Lacan and James will switch essentially. those that freely choose to forget about this e-book are easily people who are bent to freely opt for stupidity!" — Slavoj Zizek

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Extra info for Acting Beautifully: Henry James and the Ethical Aesthetic (SUNY Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture)

Example text

Hence where the aim of aesthetics (at least in its form as “aesthetic ideology”) was to heal the split between phenomenal and noumenal realms, we now see how Jamesian (Kantian) ethics insists that our only possibility of freedom is found in maintaining that gap that splits the subject from itself. And where the aesthetic’s promise of unification was founded on what transpired as Osmond’s violent will to identity that we saw as powering the metaphorically driven exchange economy of the Bildungsroman’s aesthetic ideology, ethics requires the subject to step out of the economy of equivalency altogether and act, not for the sake of any pathological reasons, but from pure duty alone, which Kant calls the respect (Achtung) for the law.

But again, for Kant, it is precisely this impasse that provides the solution to the problem. Precisely because there is no guarantee that our actions will be ethical, because we can never step outside our phenomenal nature and see things as they are in themselves, an ethically grounded community can be formed. When Isabel discerns the gap in Madame Merle’s knowledge, she recognizes it as correlative to the gap in her own. It is around this gap, which Adorno would call “non-identity,” that the possibility of an ethical society forms.

Romantically imaginative still, she senses only the possibilities of which she will avail herself ” (113). Armstrong is right, I believe, to pinpoint Isabel’s choice as the result of a “fine theory,” but this stems less from her pride than from her mystified idea of the relation between ethics and aesthetics. ” Whereas Goodwood represents (among other things) the demands of sensuous impulse, while Warburton, despite his liberal tendencies, personifies the claustrophobic constraints of preexisting social and moral systems, Osmond presents himself as the perfect combination of both.

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