Gary Banham
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Kant and the ends of criticism

This chapter presents an account of Immanuel Kant's 'invention' of aesthetics that allows its terms to become both operative within and yet also transformed by the practice of critical engagement with literary and visual works of art. The sense of a struggle between mechanism and life is Wyndham Lewis's version of the relationship between teleology and mechanism elaborated within Kant's Critique of Teleological Judgement. The chapter also presents an account of aesthetic criticism that makes clear the nature of its historical purchase. Criticism's ends can include the destruction of a work just as easily as its perpetuation and reproduction. The arrival of cinema and photography as contemporary means of production altered the condition of literature in terms of both its production and its criticism. The photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe are a reference of some import for discussing the nature of visual media.

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