Friday, February 19, 2010


“In the medium of beauty, people have been allowed to partake of happiness. But even beauty has been affirmed with good conscience only in the ideal of art, for it contains a dangerous violence that threatens the given form of existence. The immediate sensuousness of beauty immediately suggests sensual happiness.”

“For Nietzsche beauty reawakens ‘aphrodisiac bliss.’ He polemicizes against Kant’s definition of the beautiful and opposes to it Stendhal’s assertion that beauty is ‘une promesse du bonheur’.”

“The real gratification of individuals cannot be contained by an idealistic dynamic which either continually postpones gratification or transmutes it into striving for the unattained. It can only be realized against idealist culture, and only against this culture is it propagated as a general demand: the demand for a real transformation of the material relations of existence, for a new life, for a new form of labor and of enjoyment.”

“Beauty will find a new embodiment when it no longer is represented as real illusion but, instead, expresses reality and joy in reality. A foretaste of such possibilities can be had in the unassuming display of Greek statues or the music of Mozart or late Beethoven. Perhaps, however, beauty and its enjoyment will no longer fall to art at all. Perhaps art as such will have no objects.”

Herbert Marcuse, “Über den affirmativen Charakter der Kultur,” 1937

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