Beauty and the Critic.
In its customary fashion, Artforum publishes the year-in-review issue with its cognoscenti’s pick of the best of what by any account, has been an unprecedentedly catastrophic stretch of time. In a short article, Hal Foster expectedly carries the torch of criticism, spearhead of progressive thought, past the funeral pyre that would engulf it. Perplexed if not slightly vexed by a friend’s comment that during the lockdown, art objects may have experienced a respite from the probing gaze of museum and gallery-goers, that they might elliptically have shared the détente affecting fauna, flora and fungi, he takes a stab at Speculative Realism’s insistence on the existence of a world independent of human agency. Suspicious of introjecting subjectivity into an object with the naïve animism promoted by this reinvigoration of “the great outdoors”, he nevertheless concedes that this “thought experiment”, particularly relevant in “the imminent collapse of the environment as a whole”, gives a taste of what such a world view might entail. But the “ancestral time” he claims we have been exposed to, the scientifically charted yet impossible to experience time before or after human cognition, is hardly the one that elapses on the screens of stolid zoom interfaces. The desolation has not as he and many others claim, eliminated sociability and the trivium in which it is cultivated, it has isolated it in a labyrinth of private walls, undesirable as this may be to most relation-bound affairs, an abrupt shift as with many other aspects of social life. A Translocation then and not a rehearsal of its absence for it maintains a presence in its dual-chambered argumentation. Wary that the object of criticism can evade his eyewitness, the astute dialectician resorts to Freud’s admonition that” we cannot imagine our own death, …(because) we find that we survive ourselves as spectators”. In a typically dialectical move, Hal Foster subjects the ontological claim of Speculative Realism to the work of the negative that yields his synthesis: the hope for a renewed sociability committed to the sociopolitical validation of the here and now. It is significant that in doing so, the seasoned critic alludes to Walter Benjamin’s notion of “the now of recognizability”. About a hundred years ago, Benjamin thought of critique as a creative collaboration with the work of art, an act that transforms both the criticizing subject and the criticized object in a grand search for truth. Resting on notions steeped in German romanticism, the critic does not pass judgment as much as become the co-author of the artwork by integrating it in a comprehensive system of signs, establishing a partnership that ultimately puts critic and artist on the same plane. His theses on the self-referentiality of all things and the activation of their references through criticism influenced the way art criticism understood itself from then on with at least the following consequences: as mentioned above, judgment gave way to the completion, consumption and systemization of the artwork by the critic who is raised to the status of co-creator. Furthermore, the work of art being inherently unstable, is susceptible to changes and thus engaged in a dynamic that ultimately leads it to become self-critical.
An embattled century later, the bankruptcy of criticism lurks in progressive thought’s crisis of intentionality. It is said that after having slipped into a dominant role vis a vis the object of its inquiry, critical theory is now haunted by the “scepter of affirmation”. In sharp contrast to its early aspiration of completing the artwork, “Critique can look but not touch. It can reveal but not change”. Because criticality “seeks to make the viewer/reader aware of hidden structures and assumptions”, it is accused of reserving an agenda of political change which it professes in order to raise awareness rather than simply skipping the critique of critique to provide unfettered knowledge through more affirmative techniques, examples of which are “defamiliarization and estrangement”. A ricochet across a couple of articles in the same issue of Artforum, although deserving a more attentive reading, reveals the general orientation of mainstream critique. A heroic gesture, in the sense of going against all odds, is salvaged from adversity like a siren light at the end of an inimical tunnel. Hope after uncertainty and doubt in Gerhard Richter’s Birkenau paintings. Hope for an analog anchor amidst the digital blitz storm of the Covid-19 era, in Sarah Sze’s installation maelstrom: “Images in Debris”. The spirit of the avant-garde marches on, torch in hand, but is it blazing the trail of progressive thought or flaring in the tail of a posthumous comet?
A quick historical sketch of the European Enlightenment suggests that the emancipation movement bifurcates in two strands that seek their own universality. A knowledge and education driven society in contrast to a market-bound mercantilist one. Culture and commerce in terms of ideals and their application, must thereafter legitimate themselves through three prisms, be it narratives of legitimation (Francois Lyotard) or credit horizons (Bernard Stiegler), in cadence with Kant’s three monumental critiques of pure reason, practical reason and judgment. The three categories in question are namely ethics, epistemology and aesthetics. It is clear that the latter takes a subordinate role in relation to the other two. The category of taste that lies beyond judgment does not carry the same weight as moral law or scientific evidence. It must at its best adjust to ethical imperatives and /or statistical proof. The fact that aesthetics takes a back seat to these more robust disciplines is evident in the representational role ascribed to it. That it is a token of exchange in an economy of law and order is corroborated by the stronghold of the entertainment industry, the use of art as ornament and occasional therapy, not to mention the propagandist adornments it brings any establishment and institution. The aesthetic is given the mission of turning such determining paradigms as basic needs, the repetitive action of nourishing one’s self for instance, into a fulfilling ritual with the bravura of the culinary arts. Liminal states are also induced by aesthetic portals that lead behaviorism into an observance of ceremonial performance. Given that each category has its own mode of abstraction, what is at stake is to liberate the one proper to aesthetics, namely its capacity for the arrangement of sensible information. The Greek root aisthesis stands for sense perception in contrast to noesis or intellection but we must remember that the former is not without cognition and is not simply the informer or vehicle of the latter. Jacques Ranciere calls its management “the distribution of the sensible” (Le partage du sensible) with the Marxist attention to class struggle which he understands through mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. In a literary context, Dostoevsky maintains that as far as the human enterprise, we have all the necessary parts to make it work but cannot fit them together. The mereological relation between whole and parts unfolds differently in each of the three categories. The one proper to ethics and epistemology is tightly dualistic in its treatment of particulars and generals. Arrived at deductively with the former’s predominance of an absolute and inductively with the latter’s stress on relativity and its prehension of contingency. General principles are applied to particulars in ethic’s polarization of whole and parts while phenomena are broken down into receding systems with epistemology. In both cases, a dialectical movement ensures the concatenation of parts into a comprehensible whole, usually considered as more than the sum of them. Although aesthetics also grapples with the abstraction of whole and parts, it differentiates itself in the irreducibility it accords the object for rather than seeking the absolute imperative that will serve as a paradigmatic model or being concerned with the infinite relativity of knowledge, it is firmly anchored in the object, reinvesting the abstraction back into it so to speak. Thus, neither morality nor being a pet to social science are its chief attributes. Therefore, no matter how abstract, the artwork retains a vector of concreteness, a grain or timbre that seals its singularity, which is the reason why it fails when it is merely the illustration of an idea. This fixity or space in which an object is moored constitutes a topos even when it is a diachronic event. Its abstraction is visceral, does not precede it but is secreted by it because objects by their contiguity, adjust to each other rather than abide to an overarching rule or commonly held ethical law. One is reminded of the “good neighborliness” that is the chief criterion behind the organization of the Warburg library. Here good taste is not a secondary, supporting attribute but a fundamental force in its arrangement’s capacity for suggesting novel combinations. Aesthetic relations are contractual, always ready to break a universal law for mutual benefit. The relations of the parts to a whole are open-ended in that the parts being themselves whole relate to the whole as another part, each part having a different relationship to the whole. This whole acts like the blank space in a sliding tile puzzle, allowing the movement of the tiles, like the gap into which the parts enter for their transformation, the plane on which they enact their metamorphosis. The contiguity of objects makes their characteristics or qualities as perceived by other objects, travel through contagion yet even though distributing those qualities, they keep an untapped singularity because no law applies to them beyond the requirements of the pact they make with each other. Furthermore, what is being copied is always a translation and necessarily a change, displacing the false issue of representation aesthetics has been shackled with as it endures being overshadowed by science and religion. Playing second fiddle to morality and technology, cinema, arguably the major artform of the twentieth century, has largely become an agent of simulation and a tool of commodification rather than a champion of metaphor. Relegating aesthetics to the task of representation, of being the sensory channel for the unhindered expression of socio-political and economic complexes, dictates the only valid framework in which art objects are received and understood and robs it of its true dimension and power.
This brings us elliptically back to the status of critique presented earlier with the notion that it is possible to escape the insidious work of dialectics that correlates subject and object and adopt an inter-objective perspective, in which object is understood as entity, or the minimum it takes to form a unity, and which is both an object of intentionality and has its own, independent reality. In this respect, the assessment of beauty is not exclusively in the eyes of the beholder for there is always a myriad of unique responses by other beings interacting in a web of attraction and repulsion. Thus, rather than stake a single vantage point, even the detached one of Archimedes, a multiplicity of valid perspectives promotes an affirmative approach that can revitalize criticism which, having “run out of steam” since its romantic stirrings with Walter Benjamin came to the flat-footed situationist confrontation of Guy Deborg. If the dialectician who is seeking a synthesis by working the negative, is best portrayed by the alchemist who transmutes the base into the precious, the counter image of the juggler honors the special character of both the lowly and the lofty and considers the virtues of lead as much as gold’s. Objects, situations and events are irreducible for the juggler. None can in fact alter any other, it is just that in time some new ones are tossed in and existing ones dropped.
If arguments based on proofs, refutations and equations fall within the domain of ethics and epistemology, metaphor is the language of the aesthetic. Unlike parables and demonstrations, metaphor begets new meanings through transversal associations. Dialectics is not exactly at home here. Metaphor is not the plasticity of one term and the salutary synthesis that remedies its loss of identity. The refutation of irreconcilables that makes dialectics a doctrine of reconciliation is expectedly repudiated as compromise by its non-adherents. The vector or sweep of a metaphor does not drain its objects in a unilateral Pacman itinerary. Rather, it picks up parts of each, even though in a specific sequence, to generate its new object, no more a synthesis than a singular child is of its parents, considering it would not be the exact replica of its siblings. The object of dialectics is an augmented subject with history at its teleological end. Metaphor frees the object from both dialectic ends.
The fact that the art object has no immediate validity until it is properly talked about, because it is after all a by-product of language, is indication enough that the metaphoric ability of objects is pushed into the pit of representation in which as a receptacle, it must play form for content. By contrast, when the two major categories of understanding pour over the aesthetic, it is often with an unbridled eroticism. Forbidden fruit, evil temptation, object of pornographic reproduction. Because the beautiful is a given whose repartition escapes our control, its allusion to a meta-human self-sufficiency in the face of fatality seems enough reason for supermodel cannibalism. Its detachment from miasma begets the reverence of dead tissue by zombie necrophiliacs. Beauty pivots on the abject or what cannot be contained without disgust, vertigo or horror. It is made all the more unattainable for being a state of innocence lost but humans never kill for ice cold beauty. Some demonic force must incite them to the madness induced by the outrage in the face of such a disinterested phenomenon, such a manifestation of self-sufficiency in a world kneaded by suffering, ugliness and misery.
Making beauty the paradigm of art is telling half the story because it is also about its other, the abject, which makes it a matter of permanent negotiation and not some detached firmament of perfect forms, a transcendent condition occluded from its own putrefaction and put at the service of another agency. This western notion of beauty, predominant although not exclusive, observes a canonic ideal rather than the conditions of a live body. The geometric mastery and mathematical perfection of a genetically engineered specimen distances itself from the beast of putrefaction and decomposition, the threat of vermin and decay at its polarized end. Prior to it being equated to truth by Plato and mimesis by Aristotle, beauty in the Homeric face of Helen that launched a thousand ships eventually contorts in the viper riddled head of Medusa. The dual curtains of Eros and Thanatos set the stage for beauty because no ideal can exempt itself from the vectors of attraction and repulsion that govern all forms, the forces that pull apart and the forces that bind to create the very possibility of attraction between differentiated objects. Outside western culture, Australian aborigines call this mesh of death and rebirth dreamtime. Antonin Artaud wanted to manifest the unsuppressed cyclic nature of this same force in his theatre of cruelty. In any case it was not until the triumvirate of Nietzsche, Marx and Freud that the unilateral notion of beauty lost its mantlepiece status to approximate the character it has always assumed in other cultures. Because the polarization of the abject and the sublime in the midst of which beauty oscillates is symptomatic of western culture’s treatment of the aesthetic, the glacial breathtaking sublime divorces itself from its abject inversion and establishes the throne of beauty over a domain exempt from the ravages of contingency. A world of turmoil and mess lays at its impassive feet, but in the swamp of its negative image the dejected do not fail to revendicate their rights. The bi-polar fascination with gore, the wretched, the gothic, the horrific insist that beauty in its immaculate conception, cannot divorce itself for too long from the omnivorous corrosion that drags it back into the festering pool of its impure inception. The apotropaic instrumentalization of beauty, beacon of ultimate detachment, rises above its negative image. A secret bond with simulation begets its multiplication and assimilation as model and paradigm, in a fixity impervious to distortions that would mar the immaculate virginity of the commodity. Where beauty was synonymous with life itself, the packaging now makes the gift, flagging its innocence lost in the face of depravity.
There is the socially ratified convention of beauty with its multiple industries establishing the mainstream denominator of the esthetically preferable, the canons and cultural guidelines with their promise of a singular state of bliss. There is beauty that expires with human finitude and the one unaffected by it which is what motivates its pursuit. But if so much the object of desire then also the source of malediction in its capacity to transcend personal taste, even human apprehension, with the sublime that Kant identified as the infinitely large and also its molecular other, the infinitely small. This sublime has turned cataclysmic in having absorbed its own inversion and is now crisscrossed by “hyperobjects” defying containment in any sentient or sapient category. From the macro to the microcosm, global warming to deadly viruses, incommensurability has turned catastrophic.
The Dadaist object encapsulates two major aesthetic innovations of the 20th century, collage and the ready-made. The cut and paste methodology is instrumental in dislocating the commonly held and coveted ideals of beauty. The cultural impassivity to which it belongs, the measure and proportion dictated by the canons of the Greek figure or the golden mean that contribute to its placidity, the moral judgments lurking in its repose, are all challenged by raw gestures that short circuit its sovereignty. The icy immobility of beauty condemned by Baudelaire is convulsed by the dejected flux of the abject, the shaker and mover that completes its dynamic cycle. The 19th century flaneur transits into a situationist derive, Dadaist confrontation into detournement, a recontextualizing tactic that assigns other functions to existing structures, thereby obviating their ordinary sense which is but the product of inurement. Throughout, there is the indication that beauty cannot remain static and must keep pace with the agitations of its abject counterpart.
It is ironic that the original meaning of aesthetics survives in common parlance with anesthesia, its negative. Desensitization or the suspension of sensory perception for the performance of a surgical operation. A willed, noetic act, to use aisthesis’ opposite term, to adjust, repair or alter the perceiving subject. Because it is primarily concerned with experience, aesthetics in the twenty first century is central to the reevaluation of the subject that has been dethroned and decentered. The arbiters of beauty having succumbed to fragmentation, the left-over terrain is doubly dangerous for being mined with simulation. It can be said that the world is replete with art, which is more than ever a symbol of status and exceptionalism, a blasted trojan horse to the nth power of deceit, the property of the select over the excluded and dispossessed, more than ever a normalizing soporific acting as a decoy for an instrument of control. Alternatively, this fragmentation may be of a unity that never was, or at least certainly not a sustainable one, a stance that would unleash the compositional possibilities of the aesthetic disengaged from continuous, unilateral growth and while maintaining cycles of attraction and decomposition within the full dynamic scale of beauty, regroup the parts into countless wholes.
The disinterestedness at the core of Kant’s deontological imperative is mirrored by his suspension of judgment concerning taste. It is as if relegated to the service of science and religion, aesthetics is recreated as their negative space, the background against which they stand in unison or adversity. But polarities in the aesthetic realm do not translate into dichotomies because an aesthesis that has its own share of noesis generates currents of variation that make the pursuit of knowledge one of furthering nuance rather than overdetermination. Red and green, hot and cold, light and dark do not aggregate into pairs of opposites but are nodes in a live mesh, stretching and contracting to the (binary yet solely) operative forces of fusion and fission. Aesthetic interventions also come in bold, often sweeping strokes but do not lack assiduity and sometimes tyrannical precision. One is reminded of Wittgenstein’s application of Kant’s “architectonics of reason” while engineering and building his sister’s villa. “Exact mathematical planning with an aesthetic aspiration, faithfulness to detail as an enabling principle, creative transposition of pure thought with materials from the environment, and all with the goal of granting a secure shelter to human beings placed in the world without reason” His decision to raise a ceiling 3 cm after it was completed testifies to how much aesthetics can adhere to ethical absolutes in order to secure a seamless sense of the world.
Tintin’s pedagogical adventures are praised for articulating moral lessons. The ethics that permeates Herge’s oeuvre is founded on the acceptance of the presence of evil even though it does not stand the chance of perturbing the implicit order of things. However, in a telling exception, he consecrates “Les Bijoux de la Castafiore” to the aesthetic dimension. It is noteworthy that the only album that contrasts the feminine to Tintin’s androgyny (at the periphery of his adumbrated boyishness) reveals that all of its moral dilemmas are mere misunderstandings in an absence of any fundamental evil. As Jean-Luc Marion observes, “there is no real villain and the entire adventure consists of successively acquitting all of the accused” adding that since evil holds no fascination, there is no Hegelian anti-hero in his creation, making the ill-intentioned characters rather fall into derision and ridicule. Unlike the other albums of Tintin’s adventures, there is no travel in “Les Bijoux de la Castafiore”. Everything happens at Moulinsart, which emphasizes locality or topos without the distraction of foreign lands and this is articulated in affluent, sedentary private property versus the nomadic lifestyle of the wretched gypsies. Tintin and Haddock’s moral resolution is to give them a place to stay on the castle grounds, a clear position in regard to the current migrant crisis and an ethical choice in aesthetic cloak. From a different aspect, it is hard to ignore that the aesthetic is overtaken by the sign’s mediatization and telecommunication. For along being caught in a web of moral misprisions, Herge also suggests with his portrayal of avant-garde culture from the prism of the ninth art, that aesthetics is caught in the harness of simulation, slowly but surely draining it of authenticity.
Judith Butler who ushered the third wave of feminism by denouncing the binary mode of gender, ever so eager to do away with the dualism that has carved the rigid determination of the sexes, chooses Hegel as the thinker of alterity. Resting on the paradigm of his “recognition that I am bound to the other who is bound to me, and that both of us are bound to a living world (that) illuminates our status as living creatures…” But choosing the founding father of dialectics as the theoretician of our access to the other raises at least two issues: First that it is arguably difficult to find thinkers that have made otherness the core of their philosophical investigation prior to the European Enlightenment. Second, that Hegel, despite his insistence on the relations that determine the individual “who wants no one to be like him or equal to him” and whose fury he understands, is really the recuperator of a single-minded synthesis that absorbs the other into the self-same. “I cannot do away with the other without also doing away with myself” is not a surprising assertion from someone who believes that entities hold no reserve outside of what is circumscribed by their relations. With a theoretical scarecrow to ward off any form of essentialism, intended to promote cultivated fields of Deleuzian multiplicities, this good intention has on its flip side, tolerant relations that bypass the genuine recognition of the players and at its worst, the sinister aspect of a sameness inebriated by all the in-vitro possibilities of otherness. To couch this concern concretely in recent events, it is significant that Bruno Latour, the thinker of non-hierarchal networks has pointed out that the main lesson of the Covid-19 pandemic is the contradictory dynamics we have been exposed to, in that we have to avoid others in order to protect them. A paradoxical situation that shifts our focus to the real otherness of the non-human world we take for granted but alas, predictably accompanied by intense socio-political divisions pitting every determination against its contrary. Similar to Hal Foster’s observation described earlier, the strange plea for social withdrawal emphasizes the notion of the “vacuum-sealed”, ultimately isolated objects of OOO. Graham Harman who passionately defends the irreducibility of the object in regard to the multiple relations it entertains as it does to its own qualities, is accused of coming “dangerously close to the dogmatic metaphysics he so energetically disavows”. The culprit is the “transcendent core that withdraws from access”, suspected of harboring phallogocentric vestiges and because as Xenofeminism, a movement consumed by the issue of foreignness, also emphatically insists, “there is no state that cannot be changed”. We might extrapolate on a future in the image of a transhuman spaceship propelled by the engines of accelerationism, left and right, and Prometheanism which transmutes nihilism, the recognition of the fact that we are already dead, into an opportunity for unparalleled growth. Swan song of a salutary parasite. Coming back to our protagonist, Hegel who assumes to know the other on its own terrain, in fact ascertains it from a third perspective, the detached and hypothetical point of Archimedes. It so happens that the vantage point deemed a neutral seat for the arbiter of judgment is already the context and habitat of another. In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is the non-human virus itself and it creates antagonism among its victims when everybody is its victim. Perhaps more pertinent to the situation and a better antidote to the human apprehension of duality is the figure of Sextus Empiricus, the roman skeptic philosopher and physician who makes the other a priority, no matter the stripe, through a suspension of judgment applied into diligent practice.
Although the culture inherited from the Enlightenment has come under severe criticism for being heliocentric in its privilege of an ideal too dislocated from its material roots, too concerned with photosynthesis over mycelial growth, as Michael Marder, a philosopher focused on plant life maintains, the advocates of an obdurate Hegelianism continue to insist on ever more light to conquer the negative resistance of collective suspicion. To the former, dialectics which is anti-vegetal in its embrace of the total transparency of reason, eliminates the obscurity of a nourishment providing soil. Vegetal thinking and the politics of which he draws a parallel, is always engaged in a cycle of growth and decay. The hylomorphism of plants, their confluence of matter and form, provides a compelling model for an anarchic exfoliation of non-identitary metamorphosis. The latter on the other hand, maintain that the absorption of the negative has the infinite capacity to reconcile opposites. Catherine Malabou extrapolates on the notion of plasticity which she grounds in scientific evidence with Epigenetics, the study of heritable changes that do not involve genetic mutation (the way ADN is interpreted by ARN on the cellular level). The ability of the subject to give and receive form, to be the sculpted effect and causal sculptor of its destiny, is according to her, at the very heart of Hegelian dialectics. Identity only exists in its transformation and this predication is the operative force in the master and slave relation where the oppressed revendicate themselves on the right side of history. The #metoo movement is such an indictment of the controlling master and an acknowledgement of the suppressed slave . Yet the torch of recognizance is often passed from master to master, alienating the slave from a concession that reserves the last word. But regardless she asserts, sexual identity undetermined by biology will eventually rest on the dialectical reconciliation of those who purport it does and those who do not. Michael Marder would remind us that plants are perverse in this respect and boast a sexuality that never comply to a rigid dichotomy. Duality does not have to be expunged to later be condemned as a blinder-bound straitjacket. Suppleness is of the essence and identity politics freezes the vegetal movement of growth and contraction, stiffening it into a hard mass. Catherine Malabou in her way as well contrasts the transformative function of plasticity to elasticity, a stretchability that imparts no significant change, save signs of wear and tear, with which she for example indicts capitalism for the imperative of continuous growth it inflicts on individuals. Plasticity, which is also native to neuroscience and the arts, is according to her, the true agent of change but also runs the risk of hardening into the rigidity of plaster. In French, the word has the additional meaning of explosive. From protean to resilient, pliable to meretricious, a virgin clay to mold and a credit card to swipe, plasticity bears its own share of semantic elasticity. By another stretch, the metaphysics that emphasizes the hard-won synthesis obtained by the subject’s encounter with adversity is reflected in the most basic narrative tenet of the movie industry, the protagonist’s struggle against either a villain or a catastrophe in a rite of passage that leads to a transformation, usually the happy ending promoted by its commercial enterprise. This metaphysic’s foundational concept of unity is unable to assimilate the discontinuity of plants, which is why Hegel could not breach their internal fragmentation, rather thinking of them as dynamic units of a lowly order. While a solution only prescribed by one side of an opposition cannot be satisfactorily agreed upon by the other, dialectics with its intention bound for contradiction, functions like the sleeping aid of an insomniac. For vegetal thought in contrast, an acceptance of discontinuity is piece and parcel of immortality. Simultaneously form and matter, organism and environment, life is a continuum without frontiers, and its only antithesis is pitting plant against plant, one end of a cycle against its other. In the realm of aesthetics, the parallel is the schism between the regime of beauty and its beast, the abject. The severance that creates the monstrous inequities of endemic poverty and privatized wealth also sends beauty to chase its pornographic tail end.
As in the architectural consideration of the spaces between the buildings that overshadow them, aesthetics has become the non-dialectical challenge to the edifices of ethics and epistemology, the portentous, shifting plate beneath the science and religion complex and the overdue harbinger of life-affirming arrangements to come.
 Hal foster. Seriality, Sociability, Silence. Artforum. December 2020. Year in Review.  Quentin Meillasoux. Beyond finitude. The work that kicked off the Speculative Realist movement whose offshoots include OOO (Object Oriented Ontology)  Wolfram Eilenberger Time of the Magicians. Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the decade that invented philosophy. Romantic Theses.  Wolfram Eilenberger. Time of the Magicians. Romantic Theses.  In addition to the phenomenological reference, meant as triggering the adverse outcome of a desired effect such as for example, the inability to sleep when insisted upon. A dynamic explored with lucid detail in both eastern and western cultures by Romain Graziani in “L’usage du vide”  Roger Rothman. Absolutely small. Aesthetics Equals politics. Edited by Mark foster Gage. Critique in this essay, sheds its dialectical baggage for the other detected in the margins of Kant’s Sublime and which articulates the anarchic force of the aesthetic dimension.  Michael young. The Aesthetics of Abstraction. Aesthetics Equals politics. Edited by Mark foster Gage. This essay provides a solid formulation of the ethics/epistemology/aesthetics problematic and maps the territory explored in much of what follows.  Roger Rothman. Absolutely small. Aesthetics Equals politics. Edited by Mark foster Gage.  Artforum. Best of 2020. December 2020. Jason Farrago on Gerhard Richter’s Squeegeed Birkenau paintings. Artforum. Reviews. December 2020. On Sarah Sze’s massive 2018 installation Images in Debris in Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Art.  Catherine Malabou’s Hegelian sourced concept of plasticity as opposed to elasticity to convey the dialectical process whose end result is the transformation of the initial subject. Explored further down.  Timothy Morton. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and ecology after the End of the World.  Time of the Magicians. Wolfram Eilenger. Technical Talent.  Jean-Luc Marion. Philosophie Magazine. “Quand Tintin arrive, le quotidien explose” December 12th 2020.  Judith Butler. Hegel for our times. Institute of arts and ideas. Nov. 22, 2019.  Object Oriented Ontology. See Graham Harman. Guerilla Metaphysics.  Aesthetics After finitude, 2016. In the introduction to the anthology edited by Baylee Brits, Prudence Gibson and Amy Ireland. In their view, Harman has strayed the furthest from the original premise of overcoming Correlationism as understood by Meillasoux in After Finitude.  Diann Bauer, member of Lacoria Cuboniks, a group of six women working internationally who proposed a 2015 manifesto: Xenofeminism: A politics of Alienation.  Hurling capitalism to its self-destructive conclusion, with far right or left inflections.  A direction of Speculative Realism taken by Ray Brassier  Michael Marder. On the vegetal movements in politics. YouTube. Hosted by Serpentine Galleries.  Catherine Malabou. Philosophie Magazine. September 2018. “Hegel invites us to permanently transform ourselves.”  If plasticity in epigenetics is about how the ADN is interpreted by the RDN, that is impermanently and reversibly, it would seem closer to elasticity. However, the large usage of the word includes phenotypic plasticity to scientifically designate the malleability of plants.  Michael Marder. Philosophie Magazine. Hors Serie. July 2020.