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Art After Metaphysics Paperback – November 16, 2013
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About the Author
John David Ebert is an independent scholar and author of seven books, including "Post-Classic Cinema," "The Age of Catastrophe," "The New Media Invasion," "Dead Celebrities, Living Icons" and "Celluloid Heroes & Mechanical Dragons."
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Top Customer Reviews
1) Chronos.The book begins with a very interesting synthesis of the typology of historical periods proposed by Jean Gebser and of that proposed by Peter Sloterdijk in the SPHERES trilogy. His synthesis includes the ideas of Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Michel Serres, Marshall Mcluhan, Hans Belting, Martin Heidegger, Arthur Danto, Cornelius Castoriadis, Vilem Flusser, Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, and many more thinkers. Ebert distinguishes 4 major epochs in the semiotics of art, and more generally of our relation to being: the pre-metaphysical period - the artist is a shaman, the metaphysical or perspectival period - the artist is an optician in Euclidean visual space, the modernist or aperspectival period - the artist is an archetypologist of geometric or anthroplological forms in multi-dimensional space, the contemporary or post-aperspectival period - the artist is a monadologist in a liquefied quantized fom-space.
2) Gaia. Ebert argues that the contemporary period began not in 1962 with Andy Warhol's "Brillo Boxes", but in the period immeditely after World War II with the Abstract Expressionists. Pollock and Rothko correspond to a moment of effacing and liquefying the modernist "iconotypes", and dissolving the shared multi-dimensional macrosphere of modernity. They herald in the contemporary period, where the artist can no longer presuppose a universal organised semiotic system, and is obliged to select and combine the signifiers of the present and the past, and hybridise them with new signifiers, into idiosyncratic, temporary, partial, multiple organisations, with no universal legitimacy. Initially the living center of art moves from Paris to New York, only to be disseminated into a mobile polycentric dispersive phenomenon spread over the whole planet. From Parisian art has become Gaiatic. Ebert devotes chapters also to Basquiat, Beuys, Richter, Kieffer, Beksinski, Nerdrum, Bacon, Hirst, Kapoor, Kounellis, Boltanski and situates their singular work within the general episteme of the contemporary world.
This is an ambitious work taking in a vast period of history, from the ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians to the contemporary world. Geographically Ebert moves from New York through the German artists to London, Rome, and Paris. The artists examined are very diverse, and allow Ebert to fill in his general frame with many more fine-grained analyses. Further, his categories are interdisciplinary or transversal, in that they apply to much more than artists and art works. To be sure, art has become a proliferation of singular semiotic processes, but frequenting the diverse art works that are elucidated with the help of Ebert's categories we find that our own lives are elucidated too. This is more than an academic manual, it is allso a useful guide to our own individuation in the pluralist ocean of foam that constitutes the semiotic and ontological background of our contemporary world.
In a way, the ideas reminded me of Charles Taylor, although Ebert has a complete different point of view, dealing more with religion and postmodern philosophy. Already in the nice book Art after Metaphysics, Spengler faded away and Heidegger (and Sloterdijk) became prominent in Ebert's writing. Personally, I think his ideas on language would be more interesting if discussed with Spengler's.
But ok! There are enough in-depth ideas in the book, especially the interpretation of Moses and the internalization of consciousness. I also like the references to ancient cosmology in his reconstruction of Gilgamesj. Don’t expect anything close to Jung or Liz Green. Ebert knocks on the doors of astrology, but only enters the rooms of philosophy.
The book is a nice essay.