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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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19 Towards a Topology of Aesthetic Immersion (Harri Mäcklin)

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Harri Mäcklin

AbstractWhat happens when I lose myself in an artwork? In common parlance, aesthetic immersion is often portrayed as a transportation into the work’s world: for example, while reading an engrossing novel, I am no longer in the place I physically inhabit but, at least in some sense, in the book’s fictive world. This view can be called the “travelling theory” of aesthetic immersion. But in what sense am I in the work’s world? Do I really go somewhere in and through aesthetic immersion?

In this chapter, I examine the experience of aesthetic immersion from the perspective of Martin Heidegger’s topological phenomenology. I argue that aesthetic immersion can be systematically described as a change in the perceiver’s mode of being-in-the-world. My main claim is that aesthetic immersion is not a matter of going into another world but of a reorientation of place-awareness altogether: in turning away from the lifeworld, which constitutes the there of my existence, towards the work’s world, which I can never inhabit, my awareness of space, time, meaning, and selfhood are fractured in ways that manifest themselves experientially as aesthetic immersion. I therefore argue that the experience of “going elsewhere” that characterises aesthetic immersion has a more complex phenomenological structure than what the travelling theory suggests. As such, this article points towards a need for a topological phenomenology of aesthetic immersion.

Keywords: aesthetic experience, immersion, phenomenology, place, topology, Martin Heidegger

It is not uncommon to hear claims...

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