The Merleau-Ponty Aesthetics Reader (book review) Merleau-Ponty

Galen A. Johnson, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Michael B. Smith (Translator)


241017: this is a great if familiar selection of three important essays by merleau-ponty. i have read these essays before, i have not read the critiques on these essays. 1) 'cezanne's doubt', 2) 'indirect language and the voices of silence', 3) 'eye and mind'. first come individual introductory essays, the essays, the critiques by other writers...


1) is an essay i have now read a few times (4) and was this time inspired to get some art texts to look at some of cezanne's work again, as i had previously gone by memory, but reading this essay made me look at how he developed from impressionist techniques to the beginnings of modern art. this is much on cezanne's art, biography, some reference to leonardo da vinci, some argument that his work is not reduced to psychology, shows how much thought, work, aspirations, defined his project...


2) another essay read (4) expands his reference of artists from Van Gogh, Matisse, Klee, etc., and contrasts m-p with for example Sartre, arguments for how work is written in response to sartre's 'what is literature', how with words you have more precision or 'ductility', less direct essence, that by structure one is communicating, not by direct speech but in silence...


3) read before (3) this argues that the art, artist, subject, are all necessarily 'flesh', that the artist must be embodied, that the mind must be in the gestures, the eye must precede the mind, that 'style' is more than commodity fetish, that it is how the artist is in the world, that the line becomes thinking, that the ontology of m-p's visible invisible requires element, flesh, reversibility, depth, transcendence, vertical time...


as a collection the critiques following the essays are very good, even to the extent i do not follow them. as i am not studying this work, i take these as if lectures by profs, though i am not asking clarification or interpretation of these works. there is further work on cezanne's art, disputes with Sartre, on 'style', on 'mirror stage', on Lascaux (cave paintings), on philosophical neglect of colour, against 'world as picture', on 'action painting'... great resources for further thought...

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