Oblique gazes : the "je ne sais quoi" and the uncanny as forms of undecidability in post-Enlightenment aesthetics

  • The article compares the aesthetic notions of the "je ne sais quoi" (as it emerges in the Renaissance and is widely debated in the eighteenth century) and of the 'uncanny' as theorized by Ernst Jentsch and Sigmund Freud in the early twentieth century. Its hypothesis is that both notions, in situating aesthetic experience in a liminal space between pleasure and trouble, can be considered after-images of non-aesthetical notions - notions that belong to the domain of the sacred and have metamorphosed as forms of aesthetic undecidability through the paradigmatic fracture of early modernity. The article focuses on depictions of female figures directing their gaze upward - in the iconography of Sade's Justine, in popular imagery connected with Lourdes apparitions (1858), in medium photography, and in the images taken by Charcot of his hysterical patients at the Salpêtrière - and argues that they become a Warburgian Pathosformel indicating a space of undecidability and 'nonsense' between the subject and otherness.

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Author:Fabio Camilletti
Parent Title (English):Tension/Spannung / ed. by Christoph F. E. Holzhey. - Wien : Turia + Kant 2010. - (Cultural Inquiry ; 1) - ISBN 978-3-85132-616-1
Publisher:Turia + Kant
Place of publication:Wien
Document Type:Part of a Book
Date of Publication (online):2019/10/14
Year of first Publication:2010
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2019/10/16
Tag:Je ne sais quoi
Aesthetics; Hysteria; Post-enlightenment; Uncanny
GND Keyword:Das Unheimliche; Ästhetik; Maria; Lourdes; Freud, Sigmund; Hysterie <Motiv>
Page Number:21
First Page:71
Last Page:91
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft / ICI Berlin
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen