By Elizabeth Wilson
Ranging from Marcel Proust to tarot readings, from city making plans to interiors, Elizabeth Wilson investigates an underlying Puritanism in serious remark on concerns as broad ranging as Roger Federer and C S Lewis, Surrealism and style and the connection of faith to fan tradition.
She questions why excitement seems suspect, while customer society incites it and turns lifestyles into leisure. She questions why there's such worry of elitism while whilst the enthusiasts of mass tradition are held in contempt. Subverting traditional perspectives, her indirect standpoint offers startling insights on either generic and marginal cultural experiences.
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Extra info for Cultural Passions: Fans, Aesthetes and Tarot Readers
Indd 45 L O O K I N G B A C K WA R D S : N O S TA L G I A M O D E took place during the First World War, so Freud’s optimism seems all the more surprising. This tragic sense of transience, he said, was similar to the process of mourning. The process of grief is a gradual but necessary process of detachment from a loved being or object. If this proceeds in a normal fashion, in the course of time the detachment will have been achieved, after which the individual can find new joys and new forms of attachment.
8 Pater’s overripe rhetoric has tended to win out over the radical dimension of aestheticism, while William Morris’ sincere commitment to socialism tends to be questioned in light of the fact that his enterprise, designing and producing aesthetic wallpapers and fabrics, became a massive commercial success with the Victorian bourgeoisie he despised. In fact, the political right quite often has had less difficulty with the aesthetic than the left, always bedevilled by another either/or question: whether art should be subordinated to politics, or whether politics should have a duty in regard to art whether art, if it is to be considered ‘good’, must always purvey a progressive message, or whether the artist’s first duty is to be true to his or her vision.
Nostalgia, it is assumed, always creates a saccharine past. We glamorise retrospectively a past that was, when lived, painful. The longing nostalgia expresses becomes a kind of aesthetic masochism. Yet the idea of pain, as the opposite of pleasure, is integral to the definition of pleasure itself and the sadness or longing of nostalgia has a glamour or a sweetness of its own. It was a Swiss doctor, Johannes Hofe, who in 1688 coined the term nostalgia to describe the longing for home experienced by soldiers on active service in foreign lands.