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Guilty Knowledge, Guilty PleasureThe Dirty Art of Poetry$
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William Logan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166867

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166867.001.0001

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Against Aesthetics

Against Aesthetics

(p.1) Against Aesthetics
Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure

William Logan

Columbia University Press

This chapter presents a scathing polemic against calls for aesthetic statements from critics. It argues that while aesthetics is a rational profession for the philosopher, it is a mug's game for the working critic. Writing about one's aesthetics is like a magician revealing his secret or a pickpocket returning a mark's stolen wallet. Most aesthetic statements are of value only if they are vague enough that they offend no one. It is further argued that a critic should have principles rather than aesthetics. He should have tastes, though never at the cost of praising the bad book seductive to his taste rather than the good one that offends it. He should also have prejudices, but not ones that blind him to merit.

Keywords:   aesthetic statements, critics, aesthetics, principles, reviews

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