By Birgit Mara Kaiser
A interesting comparability of the paintings of Heinrich von Kleist and Herman Melville.
Figures of Simplicity explores a special constellation of figures from philosophy and literature—Heinrich von Kleist, Herman Melville, G. W. Leibniz, and Alexander Baumgarten—in an try and get better substitute conceptions of aesthetics and dimensions of considering misplaced within the disciplinary narration of aesthetics after Kant. this is often performed basically by way of tracing quite a few “simpletons” that populate the writings of Kleist and Melville. those figures are usually not completely ignorant, or silly, yet uncomplicated. Their simplicity is a fashion of pondering; one who writer Birgit Mara Kaiser the following indicates is affective considering. Kaiser avers that Kleist and Melville are experimenting of their texts with an affective mode of pondering, and thereby proceed, she argues, a key line inside of eighteenth-century aesthetics: the relation of rationality and sensibility. via her analyses, she bargains an summary of what pondering can appear like if we take affectivity into account.
Birgit Mara Kaiser is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Utrecht college within the Netherlands.
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Extra info for Figures of Simplicity: Sensation and Thinking in Kleist and Melville (SUNY series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory)
After 1852, Melville turned to tales, and Pierre stands at the threshold of this. The tales, as we will see, engage much less explicitly with philosophy and the pool of names so frequent in Moby-Dick and Pierre, yet perform philosophical moves all the same. Although Pierre remains entangled in his endless ruminations— “ineffectual speculations” (BBS, 84) from which Billy Budd, as we shall see, opts to refrain—Melville also has him make attempts toward the afﬁrmation of the inexplicable as inexplicable.
This is somewhat like the confused murmur heard by those who approach the seashore, which comes from the accumulation of innumerable breaking waves. 55 As long as none of the many small perceptions stands out from among the others, they receive the same attention and their effect is of equal power. Their perception is confused. However, as soon as at least two waves are perceived as “heterogeneous enough to become part of a relation that can allow the perception of a third, one that ‘excels’ over the others and comes to consciousness” (F, 88) 16 Aesthetics the differential relation between them allows the third to pass the threshold of attention.
We can even say that there is all at once a virtually inﬁnite number of them contained in our sensations. 48 Every concept or clear-distinct idea is the conscious enumeration of the distinct marks of an object. ”49 Contrary to Leibniz, Descartes had not only argued that to the extent to which they contain anything confused, ideas “participate in nothingness,” but Descartes also—as Deleuze observes, and he marks a crucial difference between Descartes and Leibniz here, crucial for our reading of Baumgarten’s reception of Leibniz in opposition to Wolff—“believed that the real distinction between parts entailed separability” (F, 5).
Figures of Simplicity: Sensation and Thinking in Kleist and Melville (SUNY series, Intersections: Philosophy and Critical Theory) by Birgit Mara Kaiser