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Witkacy. Logos and the Elements

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Edited By Teresa Pękala

This book focuses on Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, philosopher and controversial artist. It expresses the opinions of philosophers, museologists and artists, for whom Stanisław Ignacy Witkacy’s 130th birthday anniversary became an opportunity to view his works from the perspective of postmodernity. The authors concentrate on Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz as eminent and prophetic philosopher concerned about Western culture with its waning metaphysical feelings, master of gesture and poses, anticipating the postmodern theatricalization of life.

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Is the Hell Fusty? On Witkiewicz’s Metaphysics of Evil (Ewa Łubieniewska)

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Ewa Łubieniewska

Is the Hell Fusty? On Witkiewicz’s Metaphysics of Evil

“We live without being aware of the ultimate horror of Existence and see it only in second-rate plays” says the hero of Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf1 (Witkiewicz, 1972a; 566), who, in the play, pays with his destruction for his quest for the metaphysical dimension of the world. The question asked today for chances of metaphysics in contemporary art contains a tacit suggestion that a metaphysical experience possesses an indisputable value. This was so for Witkacy, at any rate, who regarded theater (in his proposed vision) as the last bastion of metaphysical experiences. Is giving the artist similar tasks still within today’s dominant performative conception of theater? Particularly if it is impossible to specify what an experience of this kind actually is?

We generally assume in a pre-established way that it is a spiritual experience that, paradoxically, reconciles us with what the abovementioned Karmazyniello called the “ultimate horror of Existence”. Witkacy does not allow us to lose sight of this overriding perspective in relation to the presented course of events (although we may feel anxious whether the coming touch of metaphysics will bring the expected “harmony” to the art recipient).

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