MAPH Week 7: Never more than a moment

Between too early and too late, there is never more than a moment.  –Franz Werfel

I am a huge fan of early.  I am the guy who routinely arrives at the theater forty-five minutes to an hour before trailers begin, who waits on the bench outside the classroom biding his time while the preceding class finishes, and who can be found casting hairy-eyeballs after all those who arrive at the party fashionably late.  My punctuality is not the result of a virtue, but a phobia–namely the fear of inconveniencing someone else.  But that is not precisely true.  My fear is that it will be noticed that I have inconvenienced someone else.  My penchant for punctuality also results for the fear of missing something important. Generally speaking, this wait-inducing habit of mine has served me well at my education as I am a card-carrying member of the Cult of Done.  Yet, at the U of C in this crazy thing we call MAPH, I am discovering that there is a necessary, yet precarious, balance between rushing to get done and waiting until one knows what one has to do.

If all that seems to theoretical to be intelligible, allow me to give an example.  I have two largish papers to write by the end of this quarter–which is only a couple of weeks away.  These are the sort of papers that determine one’s entire grade in the class so neither a poorly chosen topic nor a badly researched/ written project is an acceptable possibility.  Ideally my work this year should be–or would ideally be–cumulative.  That is, it would be preferable if the things that I focus on throughout the year intellectually or–better yet–materially contribute to my final thesis.

My thesis proposal at this point is orbiting around the idea of intentionality as it is subverted or controverted–that is denied–by artistic appropriation.  In order to address the topic I must have:

1) a plausible defense of an aesthetic artifact as containing or as projecting the intentionality of a creator

2) a plausible argument that audiences are under an ethical obligation to interact with the aesthetic artifact according to the creator’s intention

3) a plausible claim that demonstrates either the legitimacy or illegitimacy of appropriation as

a) a “parallel” act of authorial intention (the original intent and the appropriator’s intent are related but not interrelated such that subversion or denial is NOT possible)

b) a “composite” act of authorial intention (the original intent are interrelated such that subversion or denial is possible)

Far from having already made up my mind whether appropriative art is ethically defensible or indefensible and struggling to find a philosophical framework to justify that conclusion, I am actually undecided and counting on my classes and outside reading to contribute to some leaning one way or another.  As such, I would really like these two papers to supply some insight.  However, I’ve struggled to find a facet of either of my “big paper” classes–the Aesthetics of Hume and Kant and Contemporary Problems in Analytic Philosophy–that would do the job.

Fortunately, week seven appears to have been “the Moment” between too early and too late in which I discovered apparent inconsistencies in both the aesthetics of Hume and the theory of representation championed by Hilary Putnam both of which should further my research on intentionality in appropriation.  Thus, Thursday evening was a good night for a brief–and relatively inexpensive–dinner out to celebrate.  Now, I have two papers to write in less than two weeks.  Why do I feel suddenly late rather than “in the moment?”



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