This is my riff on Susanne Langer’s quote: “Art is the objectification of feeling, and the subjectification of nature.” Langer’s quote, which apparently riffs on Herman Melville, is from her book Mind: an Essay on Human Feeling (1967/1982). While the quote caught my attention, I was piqued by being unfamiliar with Langer’s work. I will begin to remedy this by reading her essay “Language and Thought,” which appeared in Ms. Magazine in 1953.
I am not sure what irritates more: the tendency to scrub female intellectual contributions or the leave-no-room for other thought that resulted from the Theory Bubble of the late 20th century. This bubble expanded to perform an unqueer reorientation of intellectual thought that feels rather like the Christian resetting of time. But this time, there was no Harrowing of Hell through which the previously lived “righteous” might play forward. At least Moses got to pass in the Harrowing, but alas not Plato. You have to love the irony within the delimitation of dominant theoretical discourse–post-structuralists in, structuralists out. My cursory peek at Langer’s work feels productive, and I look forward to learning more.
Moreover, all too often the discussion of the erotic in art has been considered objectification–and only as such. This considers the object under a very specific lens while completely missing its subjective point or potential. This function is what animates the object and makes it–art?
I am glad Langer’s quote appeared in my info feed, and I look forward to reading more of her work.