Sensibility and the Sublime
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Philosophic attention shifted after Hegel from Kant s emphasis on sensibility to criticism and analyses of the fine arts. The arts themselves seemed as ample as nature; a disciplined science could devote as much energy to one as the other. But then the arts began to splinter because of new technologies: photography displaced figurative painting; hearing recorded music reduced the interest in learning to play it. The firm interiority that Hegel assumed was undermined by the speed, mechanization, and distractions of modern life. We inherit two problems: restore quality and conviction in the arts; cultivate the interiority the sensibility that is a condition for judgment in every domain. What is sensibility s role in experiences of every sort, but especially those provoked when art is made and enjoyed?"
these blinkers in most domains: habituated to a style but unfamiliar with its limits, we are befuddled by innovations that portend its demise. Painting or photography, theatre or film: we familiarize ourselves with the new medium or style, apply criteria validated in the other domain or experiment with new criteria, then wait while maturing judgments and feelings take the measure of work that comes to be better known. Nonrepresentational art and dissonant music 33 are evidence that we do
transgressions: a thoughtful critic realizes that his or her education and sensibility is a scrim that may preclude unbiased regard for a work at hand. v. Association: Sensibility’s primary qualifications—matters thought or perceived, liked or disliked—often provoke memories or feelings. Hume described this axis when he distinguished original from secondary perception: As all the perceptions of the mind may be divided into impressions and ideas, so the impressions admit of another division into
the artist knows the degree to which a work falls short of its directing idea. Our democratic ethos favors the right to judge but falters when asked to acknowledge the cogency of cultivated judgments. Taste seems effete; morally healthy people don’t have it because they refuse to preen. This is an odd prejudice. We rank wines and restaurants but denounce the elitism of people who make comparative judgments in music or painting: you are free to choose but don’t be uppity, don’t annoy us by what
physical truth: the sensorium reverberating within me is my experiential core. I express it to others in ways that join me to them; I know it in ways more intimate. Each person sometimes wakens to a pace that is slow and abiding. We reclaim sensibility from tensions that reduce it to social veneer; thought and feeling fill a space too often invaded by noise. 6. Rumination Distorted by competing roles and duties, frustrated by plans gone awry, selfhood wants healing and relief. Rumination is
I don’t exist, this implies, unless conscious that I do, for my claim to existence requires sufficient supporting evidence, evidence supplied if I am self-aware. But this demand—perpetual self-conscious oversight—is too strong to account for many things done well: learning to walk a tightrope or ride a bicycle, for example. Part of the uncertainty is the effect of confusing consciousness with self-awareness. Hard focus is critical to threading a needle or learning many tasks, though its absence