30 April 2021

Karen Kurczynski—Aesthetics Make an Appearance

Kurczynski, The Art and Politics of Asger Jorn

p. 105—on the Statsgymnasium in Aarhus
Rational, ordered, rectilinear, Apollonian, the building stands for everything Asger Jorn critiqued in architecture: geometries so harmonious and restrained that they became almost lifeless; the aesthetic celebration of structure and engineering that rejects almost anything decorative, organic, or irregular.
Here is a quite curious and loaded usage of "aesthetic;" or perhaps it is the usage of "decorative" in opposition to it which is the curiosity. The implication in any case is clearly of self-referentiality, formalism, and the specialist intellect run amok; that is, of a panoply of traits which I at least would consider to comprise one of the foremost ANTI-aesthetics, or perhaps non-aesthetics, as in that which does not engage with the senses in their basest form. Indeed, it seems (not only here) that the classbound conception of Aesthetics per se has gradually overtaken its literal/historical meaning: the word doesn't just denote the highbrow, it is highbrow; there is then no term left (or not one with wide circulation/currency) for the much simpler (but NOT therefore also Lower) question of sensation, perhaps not even for the sensation-intellect synapse, which is where we NEED this word most. Customarily this interface becomes a brick wall; so it is here, to the extent that a yet larger, more glaring slippage of concepts manifests: "aesthetic" opposed to "decorative."

[from a notebook, 2018]

[Now: this note itself is a hot mess in the usage department. I'm sure it was late after work. But you get the idea.]

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