"Beauty" in the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, part 6

Jean-Francois Lyotard defines postmodernism in terms of the sublime, as that which, ‘in the modern, puts forward the unpresentable in presentation itself, that which denies itself the solace of good forms’ (1984). Postmodernism presents what is unpresentable, excessive, regardless of order and perfection: the postmodern sublime. Yet, Lyotard understand politics as that unpresentable. Postmodern art and postmodern politics are intimately related in the name of the sublime, reevoking its relation to art. The role of the unpresentable in Lyotard is not to reinstate order and perfection but to interrupt the rule of form in the name of multiplicity and heterogeneity, to resist the tyranny of neutrality. The issues are ethical and political, an immeasurable responsibility to give form to what escapes form, to give voice to those who have been silenced, a responsibility frequently borne by art.

Postmodern beauty is Dionysian as well as Apollonian, detached fro the rule of genius, inseparable from rapture, terror, and disorder, linked with the sublime, all expressions of profusion and heterogeneity.

Leave a Reply