Dealing with Infinity: Art and the transformations of the symbolic order

Workshop | March 1 – 2, 2019 every day | 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. | 3335 Dwinelle Hall

 Niklaus Largier, Professor of German and Comparative Literature, Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion; David Marno, Associate Professor of English, Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

 Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion

This is a multi-day, interdisciplinary workshop. Presentations on Friday, March 1st will run from 10:00am-4:30pm., and from 10:00am-2:00pm on Saturday, March 2nd.

A genealogy of the historical forms of imagination or of attentiveness in literature and the other arts traces these forms back to epistemological realms that predate aesthetic experience: to the medieval formation of the soul, to attentiveness in prayer practices, and even further back to Aristotle and Plato (s. N. Largier, Marno). If the institution of secularity, first introduced by Luther, provokes – as Largier argues – the transposition and reconfiguration of mysticism into the new epistemological realm of aesthetic experience rather than a gap in history, if the modern invention of autonomous art should thus not be thought of as a novum but as a transformation or a shift in a historical continuum, then this question has another substantial dimension: What causes these shifts, what do these reconfigurations take account of?

The workshop discusses a double hypothesis: a. “Art” reflects the common condition that characterizes each cultural moment – what we might call the symbolic order (Draxler 2017). b. From within each moment of the symbolic order – or of the common condition – art is concerned with what we might call, to use Arendt’s term, a public space. Discussing the genealogy of aesthetic experience in this double regard requires us to take into account the transformations of the common condition (the symbolic order), and the corresponding transformations in the formation of a public space.

 nlargier@berkeley.edu, 510-367-0762