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Aesthetics in Dialogue

Applying Philosophy of Art in a Global World

Edited By Zoltan Somhegyi and Max Ryynänen

The impact of aesthetics is increasing again. For today’s scholars, aesthetic theories are a significant companion and contribution in studying and ana-lysing cultural phenomena and production. Today’s scene of aesthetics is more global than what it is in most disciplines, as it does not just include scholars from all over the world, but also keeps on applying philosophical traditions globally
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6 The Varieties of Kitsch: Ethical, Artistic and Political Dimensions (Katya Mandoki)


Katya Mandoki

AbstractHermann Broch, the initiator of the discussion on the concept of kitsch, grappled with a variety of meanings to the term that almost a century later still remain open and ambiguous. He claims that “[t];he essence of kitsch is the confusion of the ethical category with the aesthetic category; a ‘beautiful’ not a ‘good’ one is the aim; the important thing is an effect of beauty.” (Notes on the problem of kitsch, 71). This proposition raises several questions. Where exactly does the kitsch factor reside: in the category confusion, in the lures of beauty, in the negligence of the ethical or in the search of effectism? In this chapter I will explore how or why an aesthetic category challenges art’s basic assumptions such as the pursuit of beauty, slides beyond its original field and becomes an ethical and even a political category. It is intriguing to revise this particular concept as a common node to cross-disciplinary approaches and its implications.

Keywords: kitsch, kitschmensch, künstlerkitsch, hyperkitsch, mystikitsch, ethikitsch, kitschaktivism

Kitsch is a German word coined in the 19th century and popularized in the early 20th century that, lacking exact translation in other languages, roughly denotes bad taste or a pretentious imitation of something of value, the aesthetically fake or simply sentimentalism, the corny and tacky. Various authors attempted to define kitsch from philosophical, artistic, and ethical approaches without a conclusive result, since while it is understood as a kind of art...

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