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Ruben Aguilar Aguilar April 10, 2018 Social Theory The Art of Losing Art
The Oxford Dictionary defines art as “The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works tobe appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” (Oxford Dictionary). What inspires a person to create something out of nothing is unknown. For most, it could be a way to express their inner feelings or thoughts. While art has become more abstract and accessible to most throughout time, what is of concern here is that modern society has taken the meaning out of art because it is no longer an escape from reality due to the modern industrial. In this paper, I will analyze and discuss how Helbert Marcuse’s theory of the one-dimensionality of advanced industrial society is supported by the film Fight Club. Marcuse’s theory of one dimensionality consists of multiple parts. First, Marcuse claims that there were two orders, or cultures, at some point before the advanced industrial society, capitalism. “The truth of literature and art has always been granted as one of a ‘higher’ order which should not and indeed did not disturb the order of business” (Marcuse, 1964:61). Prior to capitalism, there were two social orders. Social reality is what society is, forming the first dimension. The second dimension is formed by the higher arts such as the opera, symphony orchestra, and literature. “The “high culture” in which this alienation is celebrated has its own rites and its own style. The salon, the concert, opera, theater are designed to create and invoke another dimension of reality” (Marcuse, 1964:63-64). In other words, higher arts provided an escape from social reality, artistic alienation. Arts were used as the medium to confront “that which is not” with “that which is” (Marcuse, 1964:66). The advance industrial society has since made this 2-dimensional society into a 1-dimensional one through a process that he calls Repressive Desublimation. “The absorbent power of society depletes the artistic dimension by assimilating its antagonistic contents” 1
(Marcuse, 1964:61). Sublimation, as defined by Sigmund Freud, is the process by which humans turn sexual instincts into acts of higher social valuation, such as artistic and scientific activities (Britannica). Therefore, desublimation is the process by which the individual’s own interests are no longer of interest, but the benefit of society as a whole is, which sets the status quo. “Artistic alienation is sublimation. It creates the images of conditions which are irreconcilable with the established Reality Principle (Marcuse, 1964:72). Thus, the higher arts not only provided an escape from social reality, they were also a means of refutation, or revolutionary acts. However, when desublimation takes place, this characteristic is lost due to the one-dimensionality of the new society, formed by both dimensions. “The Pleasure Principle absorbs the Reality Principle; sexuality is liberated (or rather liberalized) in socially constructive forms. This notion implies