1910: The Emancipation of Dissonance by Thomas Harrison

By Thomas Harrison

The 12 months 1910 marks an remarkable, and mostly unrecognized, juncture in Western heritage. during this perceptive interdisciplinary research, Thomas Harrison addresses the extreme highbrow fulfillment of the time. targeting the cultural weather of heart Europe and paying specific awareness to the existence and paintings of Carlo Michelstaedter, he deftly portrays the reciprocal implications of alternative discourses--philosophy, literature, sociology, song, and portray. His fantastically balanced and deeply educated research presents a brand new, wider, and extra formidable definition of expressionism and indicates the importance of this stream in shaping the inventive and highbrow temper of the age.1910 probes the recurrent issues and obsessions within the paintings of intellectuals as various as Egon Schiele, Georg Trakl, Vasily Kandinsky, Georg Luk?cs, Georg Simmel, Dino Campana, and Arnold Schoenberg. including Michelstaedter, who dedicated suicide in 1910 on the age of 23, those thinkers shared the basic matters of expressionism: a feeling of irresolvable clash in human life, the philosophical prestige of loss of life, and a quest for the character of human subjectivity. Expressionism, Harrison argues provocatively, was once a final, determined test by means of the intelligentsia to safeguard the most venerable assumptions of eu tradition. This ideological desperation, he claims, was once greater than a non secular prelude to international struggle I: it was once an unheeded, prophetic critique.

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It is this analysis of human vision which begins with Munch, van Gogh, and Cézanne. In presenting both the natural and the symbolic grasps of vision as unstable, painting shifts its focus from the object to the subject of vision. Even where the canvas does not show a literal self-portrait of the artist but only a naked, awkward body, as in Cézanne 's Male Model of 1900, human reality is still the focus of the formative act, as difficult to make graceful as any sensory object. The post-impressionists bequeath to the expressionists the problem of the link between natural and symbolic data, between impression and expression, between figures and the many ways they can be envisioned.

They were too egocentric for Kandinsky's taste, too dramatic and confessional, too subjective (Kallir 1984: 60–61; Vogt 1980: 52). And yet, with his crude and stylized faces, Schoenberg was ultimately more typical of pictorial expressionism than his Russian friend. The climate of prewar painting, and of expressionism in particular, is created by a rejection of the placid harmonies of impressionism on the one hand, and of naturalistic imitations of physical nature on the other. The main inspirations for expressionism are Vincent van Gogh, Edvard Munch, and Paul Cézanne; sexuality, physical and emotional dynamics; the "primitive directness" of non-European arts.

The last essay of his collection makes the paradox clear: The basis for the formal realization of experience is tragic disunity. If mysticism lies in "suffering the All," or in dissolving one's "identity" into the outer, objective world, then tragic experience lies in "creating" the All (Lukács 1910–11a: 160). Mysticism consists only in passive submission to one side of life's polarity; tragedy means active engagement in the polarity. A similar development unfolds in Rilke's The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge .

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