Jean-Paul RIOPELLE, L'hommage à Rosa Luxemburg, 1992 (détail)[ * ]




PRÉSENTATION

De prime abord, le présent numéro de Æ qui regroupe plusieurs recensions et articles propose différents points de vue qui permettent de redécouvrir des auteurs qui ont marqué profondément le discours esthétique. À première vue, les trois essais rassemblés constituent un lieu mixte où réfléchir tantôt au symbolisme français, tantôt au jugement esthétique et éthique en regard de l’environnement, tantôt au sens de la musique. Or, par-delà la diversité des voies proposées, des questions essentielles sont ravivées au cœur de la pensée esthétique.

Avec « Habitude Against Itself : Re-defining the ‘Symbol’ in Turn-of-the-Century French Visual Symbolist Discourse», Adi Efal revisite le symbolisme français et s’intéresse au concept important de « déformation » qui résiste à la notion traditionnelle d’imitation, par son affranchissement de l’histoire et sa ré-appropriation distincte du passé. Préoccupé par les rapports entre musique et langage, Michael Woods en interroge les sens et la portée tout en faisant écho à la faculté de juger kantienne. Pendant que sévissent de profonds bouleversements climatiques à l’échelle planétaire menaçant la nature et l’humanité, Frédéric Abraham aborde, à partir de la perspective de l’éthique de l’existence chez Martin Seel, nos rapports à la nature.

Ainsi, nous pourrions dire qu’à leur façon, ces trois essais nous ramènent à des thèmes universels, soit les relations de l’homme au temps et à la nature, à l’éthique et à l’esthétique qui ne sont pas sans ranimer des réminiscences des trois critiques de Kant, chacun des auteurs y ayant recours, à un moment ou un autre, pour appuyer son argumentation. Cette rencontre imprévue mais productive nous rappelle combien demeure toujours vivace la pensée kantienne, en ce début de XXIe siècle.

La rédaction


EDITORS' PREFACE

Although eclectic in appearance, Volume XIII of AE harbours distinctive lines of continuity and convergence that bring three otherwise disparate texts into a fruitful intellectual encounter. At first glance, i) an enquiry into French symbolism, ii) an exploration of aesthetic judgment and humanity’s ethical duty towards the environment, and iii) a discussion of the meaning of music in relation to language appear only remotely connected subjects. Yet these topics foreground perennial questions within the discourse of aesthetics: i.e., the artist’s reactions to, and reconfigurations of, tradition; humanity’s ethical and aesthetic relation toward nature; and the expressive limits and possibilities of artistic performance. These themes are not exclusive to the essays included herewith; they are broad matters that permeate the study of aesthetics more generally. 

In her essay, “Habitude Against Itself,” Adi Efal revisits the French Symbolists’ notion of the symbol, introducing the important concept of “deformation” as a resistance to the servile imitation of tradition. She argues that one cannot view French Symbolism, “and especially its later phase, as simply Idealist or Neo-Platonist.” The discourse of late visual Symbolism, she claims, must be grasped anew as part of the general transformation of French thought occurring circa 1900. This discussion of French symbolism reminds us that the artist resists and re-appropriates the past in ways which reflect the human subject’s quest for distinctive identity, weighed down by the burden of history and imprisoned by the strictures of time.

 In a prize-winning student essay, Frédéric Abraham pores over the ideas of Martin Seel to address questions of ethics, aesthetics and global space. Humanity’s moral responsibilities have been deemed defining features of rational, human existence since the Enlightenment. Today, however, given an ecologically ravaged planet, a humanist ethic is slowly inching beyond the limits of its traditionally anthropocentric perspective, extending respect not merely to the human other, but to the awesome powers of nature itself, a formidable force with which we must now reckon in moral and material terms. In an era of increasing ecological instability, Abraham’s enquiry is particularly timely; its queries compel us to weigh how our aesthetic perception of nature can be linked to a humane ethic confronting global peril. 

Since time immemorial, the need to share aesthetic perceptions through art—the need to codify different subjectivities in a common expressive medium, with the aim of producing a sensus communis—has proven ontological. But philosophical debates continue to rage as to how certain performing arts convey meaning, if at all. In a discussion of music and language, Michael Woods engages critically with the claims of Deryck Cooke and Susanne Langer, arguing that “although music is not a language, because no specifiable unit of a musical composition can be said to be declarative or even referential, it can still be said to have a meaning. And ‘meaning’ is not being used in any attenuated sense, even less in any idiosyncratic sense; rather it is used with the same force in which we talk about the meaning of a given meaningful sentence, which has an intention, but no denotation.” 

Insofar as they rework universal themes (the human subject’s relation to time, morality and aesthetic expression), the essays here form a triadic pattern reminiscent of Kant’s three critiques. The Symbolist artist’s response to the habitual, durational and punctual facets of time recalls the problem of causality in The Critique of Pure Reason; the subject’s sense of moral duty before the condition of the environment could find a home among the ethical precepts underlined in The Critique of Practical Reason, and a musical language, whose non-referentiality parallels the disinterested nature of the aesthetic judgment, may be said to echo key aspects of The Third Critique.  Although not necessarily Kantian in penchant, all three authors – at some point − invoke Kantian assumptions to marshal their respective arguments; implicitly, their theoretical efforts remind us that Kantian philosophy is an indomitable presence, scarcely possible for the modern mind to shunt aside.

The Editors

 


 
Top / Début
Table of Contents / Table des matières
Next Article /
Article suivant