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A Culture of Recycling / Recycling Culture?

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Edited By Wojciech Kalaga, Marzena Kubisz and Jacek Mydla

The purpose of this volume is to address the notion of cultural recycling by assessing its applicability to various modes of cultural and theoretical discourse. The word «recycling» is here used collectively to denote phenomena such as cyclicity, repetition, recurrence, renewal, reuse, reproduction, etc., which seem to be inalienable from basic cultural processes. Part of our purpose in proposing this theme is a desire to trace, confront, interrogate, and theorise the surviving phantoms of newness and paradigms of creativity or dreams of originality, and to consider the need, a necessity perhaps, to overcome or sustain them, and, further, to estimate the possibility of cultural survival if it turns out, as it may, that culture is forever to remain an endless recurrence of the same.

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Preface7

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Preface The purpose of this volume is to address the notion of cultural recycling by assessing its applicability to various modes of cultural and theoretical discourse. The word “recycling” is here used, collectively to denote phenomena such as cyclicity, repetition, recurrence, renewal, reuse, reproduction, etc., etc., which seem to be inalienable from basic cultural processes. From the Platonic ideals of the circle and circular movement, the idea of the wheels of Fortune and their ongoing applications in the artistic representations of the human condition, through that of the Nietzschean eternal recurrence and the Freudian return of the repressed right down to William B. Yeats’ apocalyptic visions of the gyres – cyclicity and circularity seem to have predetermined the ways in which the Western mind represented itself. T. S. Eliot’s conviction that “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists,” famously abolished the romantic belief in the self-standing, all-creating, auto- legislating prerogatives of the Poet. Walter Benjamin’s conception of the “mechanical reproduction” and Harold Bloom’s hypothesis of the anxiety of influence and the “return of the dead” have diagnosed a state of cultural exhaustion. The idea of recycling conceived as a cultural necessity administers what seems to be a lethal stab to conceptions of creativity prefigured at the dawn of modern times, as in Edward Young’s praise of the Original Genius, opposed to mere imitators and propped up ideologically by dedication to...

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