Saturday, July 12, 2008

Gover, K. "Review of Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei's THE ECSTATIC QUOTIDIAN." NDPR (July 2008).

Gosetti-Ferencei, Jennifer Anna. The Ecstatic Quotidian: Phenomenological Sightings in Modern Art and Literature. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 2007. The quotidian is an elusive and paradoxical phenomenon. Like the anthropologist whose very presence changes the society she intends to study, everydayness is transformed as soon as we try to reflect on it, since it is by definition that which recedes into the background. It seems that the only way to gain traction on the quotidian is through a kind of dialectic, whereby the familiar and the strange are held in contradistinction, each implying the other. Hence the paradoxical title of Gosetti-Ferencei's book The Ecstatic Quotidian, which means "stepping outside of an everyday familiarity": the ordinary can only be got hold of via the phenomenon of the extraordinary, and vice-versa. The conceptual starting point of this book is the observation that modernist movements in philosophy and art all share a distinctive turn toward everydayness as a theme. Gosetti-Ferencei notes that the modernist interest in the quotidian is fundamentally ambivalent: it is an object of both fascination and denigration. In contrast to those theorists who are critical of the everyday, seeing it as fallen, alienated, and empty, Gosetti-Ferencei announces in the introduction that her book takes an affirmative approach. As its subtitle indicates, the book offers "sightings" of the ecstatic-everyday as it manifests itself in modernist art and thought. Each chapter approaches the subject either through a thematic lens, such as childhood, or through a particular medium, such as poetry or painting. As the term implies, these "sightings" are a series of scholarly, detailed discussions of the topic rather than an argument or series of arguments that build to a conclusion. The Ecstatic Quotidian is an excellent resource for those interested in the intersection between phenomenology and the visual art and poetry that both influenced and was inspired by it. Gosetti-Ferencei's insightful reflections and thorough research shows the richness of the dialogue between modernist art and thought. While the book leaves some of the larger implications of this dialogue unexplored, it is a valuable starting point for an investigation of the ways in which art and philosophy were engaged with each other in modernism to a degree perhaps unprecedented in the Western tradition. . . . Read the rest here:

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