Saturday, July 24, 2010

harold bloom and firsties! in art

Nehamas quotes Harold Bloom as saying:“the degree of aesthetic value is the degree to which something is done that was never done before, the extent to which human imagination has been expanded.”

I need to find what's being quoted here, because this looks super implausible. Is he saying that if it turned out that someone else had written something very similar to Shakespeare, but it had been lost, than Shakespeare would not have asthetic value? Really?

I mean something like this might very well be true for art that was made at the far boundaries of what history has preserved e.g. Sappho. Does anyone seriously think that we should suspend judgment on whether Sappho is any good until we know (which we may never know) whether she had any excessively similar predicessors.

My neo-kantian story has a nice story about why doing something radically new should be CORRELATED with aesthetic merit: i.e. if you are inventing a genere verses continuing one, there will be more aspects of your story that you have particularly chosen to fit with your main themes and other choices (hence more curiosity porn in finding out how theses aspects of the story to do fit), as opposed to aspects which you have just carried over without thinking because it is part of the genre, and hence seems normal. So it's not surprizing that we *associate* stylistic innovation with aesthetic merit. But to identify the two, as Bloom appears to, is totally crazy!

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