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Type: Thesis
Title: Histoire(s) of art and the commodity: love, death, and the search for community in William Gaddis and Jean-Luc Godard.
Author: Marwood, Damien
Issue Date: 2014
School/Discipline: School of Humanities
Abstract: In the absence of a transcendental, communal ground for art, Hermann Broch declares that the artist no longer knows if he is “a saint or a salesman”. The works of William Gaddis and Jean-Luc Godard expose the limits of thinking in terms of such an opposition. Both dramatize the artist’s “imprisonment in immanence” after Kant, while also insisting on the strict separation of art and commerce to the point of devising formulations of art and truth best described as secular absolutes. Both artists desire to somehow “save” or “redeem” the world. However, by embracing the all or nothing of the Romantic “sacred flame” of art, both risk achieving only the latter. This is demonstrated via both artists’ responses to the perceived social effects of the commodity: the challenge to the sensus communis posed by the phantasmagoric world of advertising, and the disintegration of community in a world of relationships reduced to exchange. Though on opposite sides of the sensus communis debate, and working from two different conceptions of love, both artists attempt to outmanoeuvre the commodity by defining an ethics of love and the gift that is also an ethics of the Other. Despite the initial attraction of Godard’s formulation of love as eros over Gaddis’ use of agapē, ultimately both ethics are vulnerable to a similar critique: where one looks infinitely backward, the other looks infinitely forward, and both can be accused of an incompatibility with politics. That neither position is inevitable is illustrated through the work of Michel Serres and Jacques Rancière, philosophers whose critiques of harmony and consensus demand an art based not on unity, order, and truth, but on democracy, chance, and fiction.
Advisor: Kerr, Heather Beviss
McCann, Benjamin Edward
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Humanities, 2014
Keywords: Gaddis; Godard; art; commodity; advertising; community; utopia; love; death
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