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“Away from the Aesthetic in Culture”

Life will always be aesthetic. That’s just an unavoidable fact — it’s that way in nature even with the difference in the sexes. It is though when culture becomes aesthetic, or lacking in inner virtue, as it were, that I really get mad and feel that we’re living in dystopian times. Camille Paglia, in her rejection of the optimistic ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, writes that “Aggression comes from nature; it is what Nietzsche is to call the will-to-power” [1]. This would counteract what she provides as Rousseau’s idea that “aggression, violence and crime come from social deprivation — a poor neighborhood, a bad home.” Certainly, one look at the animal kingdom’s feasting ways should obliterate any idea of animals’ invariable kindness and docility, or of their constantly virtuous comportment.
But as regards culture, ideally it should always be something that rescues us from the pestilent chaos of nature and helps us coexist — whether it’s music, comedy or just a good ol’ end table. It is my opinion that true comedy on television is almost dead and that Key and Peele were publicized and praised in large part because they fit an aesthetic mold — they have the correct appearance for mainstream television. Certainly, the wave in the last two decades of “adult” cartoons should indicate people’s particularity in exact visuals. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (which apparently has shortened its name to just “Awkward Black Girl” though I still have a soft spot for the old, full title) was something that seemed to resound as edgy and dangerous, but also everyday and universal, and familiar, which art often is. Granted, part of the show’s appeal was showcasing Issa Rae’s common frustrations. So it is comedy as punctilious illuminator of what we try to hide, rather than the ideal of what we want to see, which should prevail.
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[1] Paglia, Camille. Sexual Personae. Vintage Books, 1991, p. 2.

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