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For a new aesthetic
If one examines the recent history of social sciences, one is struck by the fact that they separated from philosophy some two centuries ago in order to create their own methods and documentation, except for aesthetics. This is explained by the fact that the relativism of styles, forms, tastes, materials and functions in the arts is so great that it seems impossible to extract from them a single planetary definition. Moreover, the arts, reflecting as they do the whole of man, call upon the social sciences, especially psychology and psychoanalysis, sociology and ethnology, philology and linguistics, and of course history.
However, these social sciences cannot explain what is specific to the arts, even though this is fundamental both for artists and for amateurs. A painful gap thus often develops between artists and their critics.
Consequently I devoted myself to research aimed at making aesthetics a fully viable social science. This implies a body of work and a method. The body of work is constituted by texts written by well-known artists in which they talk about their work and the works they either create or admire. It thus includes a vast diversity of styles, tastes, genres, functions and materials.
The methods involves the search for anthropological invariants buried in the works. As far as literature is concerned (since that is where I began), four invariants have been located. The first contains and dominates the three others, which spell out the means necessary to achieve one's goal. It is not and cannot be in the prodigious diversity of styles, tastes, genres, functions and linguistic levels since these diversities are very often mutually contradictory. It is in the effect.
Let us note that all the art manifestoes clearly state, suggest or at least do not deny that the successful work creates in the psyche of the reader or listener an “effect of life”. It acts on the imaginative powers of the human being, in collaboration with his freedom; it creates a system of echoes in the faculties or the aspects of the mind which provokes a characteristic impression of plenitude, either harmonious or overwhelming, happy or upsetting.
The three other invariants require that the work be coherent. It is the old rule of unity; nothing new here. Then the games with the words and forms. And finally the words must be viewed as concrete objects.
Now, these invariants make it possible to rethink all the literary techniques, especially figures, genres, styles, symbols and the relationships between poetry, prose and theatre. They also make it possible to give each civilization its own identity without any recuperation.
This research is reportes in full in the following works :
1. Le Pluriel du beau. Genèse du relativisme esthétique en litterature (Metz, Centre de Recherche Littérature et Spiritualité de l'Université de Metz, 1991, 354 p.).
2. L'Effet de vie ou le singulier de l'art littéraire (Paris : Champion, 2004, 400p.).