Meliorism and excess aesthetics
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POPULAR INQUIRY: The Journal of the Aesthetics of Kitsch, Camp and Mass Culture, 12(2023):1
AbstractMeliorist pragmatism (or perfectionistic pragmatism), defended by Richard Shusterman, is a view in which ethical and political dimensions are intertwined with epistemological dimensions (Mathias Girel). Experience, the main issue in Shusterman’s aesthetics, which is focused on the body, is of great importance in the aesthetics of the digital era as well. The body has become significant again not just as a subject that affects our experience, but also as a subject-object that is particularly important when it comes to receiving messages from various digital forms and popular programs such as film, video games, selfies, social media etc. In this paper, the author begins with the thesis that the aesthetics of the digital era amounts to the aesthetics of excess (Gilles Lipovetsky), which is superficial and based on stimuli and external impressions. By considering the body indispensable from the aesthetic experience, and accepting the thesis of meliorism, it seems that the aesthetics of excess could be socially desirable, especially if we invoke Shusterman’s third argument for the aesthetics of popular culture, according to which entertainment plays a positive role in human life. However, in this paper it is argued that the above-mentioned aesthetic theory faces some other problems related with loneliness, emptiness, and passivity.
meliorism, body, digital age, aesthetics of excess, entertainment