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Under RepresentationThe Racial Regime of Aesthetics$
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David Lloyd

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282388

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282388.001.0001

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The Aesthetic Taboo: Aura, Magic, and the Primitive

The Aesthetic Taboo: Aura, Magic, and the Primitive

Chapter:
(p.124) Chapter 5 The Aesthetic Taboo: Aura, Magic, and the Primitive
Source:
Under Representation
Author(s):

David Lloyd

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823282388.003.0006

“The Aesthetic Taboo” concerns the place of primitive anthropology in the aesthetic theory of Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno. It traces the influence of Freud’s Totem and Taboo through their work, in the concepts myth, magic, and aura. Neither thinker ever manages to escape the historical narrative of aesthetics: the transition from a state of necessity that defines the Savage as pathological subject, through a state of domination to an ideal state of freedom. Adorno and Benjamin continue to think within the traditions of Kant and Schiller. Yet in Aesthetic Theory magic images the sensuous remnant in the artwork that withstands rationalization. This “pathological” moment restores to the aesthetic its foundations in pleasure and pain and demands the destruction of the racial regime of representation. Its analogy with the Subaltern suggests another conception of life in common, predicated on the pains and pleasures of the pathological subject.

Keywords:   Adorno, Theodor, Benjamin, Walter, Freud, Sigmund, representation, subaltern

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