Beauty and the Beast
Michael Taussig University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress GT499.T39 2012 | Dewey Decimal 646.7
Beauty and the Beast begins with the question: Is beauty destined to end in tragedy? Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Colombia, Michael Taussig scrutinizes the anxious, audacious, and sometimes destructive attempts people make to transform their bodies through cosmetic surgery and liposuction. He balances an examination of surgeries meant to enhance an individual’s beauty with an often overlooked counterpart, surgeries performed—often on high profile criminals—to disguise one’s identity. Situating this globally shared phenomenon within the economic, cultural, and political history of Colombia, Taussig links the country’s long civil war and its bodily mutilation and torture to the beauty industry at large, sketching Colombia as a country whose high aesthetic stakes make it a stage where some of the most important and problematic ideas about the body are played out.
Central to Taussig’s examination is George Bataille’s notion of depense, or “wasting.” While depense is often used as a critique, Taussig also looks at the exuberance such squandering creates and its position as a driving economic force. Depense, he argues, is precisely what these procedures are all about, and the beast on the other side of beauty should not be dismissed as simple recompense. At once theoretical and colloquial, public and intimate, Beauty and the Beast is a true-to-place ethnography—written in Taussig’s trademark voice—that tells a thickly layered but always accessible story about the lengths to which people will go to be physically remade.
These seven essays offer fresh perspectives on beauty’s role in revelation. Each essay features a hermeneutical approach informed by the contemporary study of aesthetics. Covering a series of texts in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, from Adam and Eve in the garden to Jesus on trial in the Fourth Gospel, the authors engage beauty from three overarching perspectives: modern philosophy, contextual criticism, and the postcritical return to beauty’s primary qualities. The three perspectives are not harmonized but rather explored concurrently to create a volume with intriguing methodological tensions. As this collection highlights beauty in the narratives of scripture, it opens readers to a largely unexplored dimension of the Bible. The contributors are Richard J. Bautch, Jo-Ann A. Brant, Mark Brummitt, David Penchansky, Antonio Portalatín, Jean-François Racine, and Peter Spitaler.
Bertolt Brecht once worried that our sympathy for the victims of a social problem can make the problem’s “beauty and attraction” invisible. In The Beauty of a Social Problem, Walter Benn Michaels explores the effort to overcome this difficulty through a study of several contemporary artist-photographers whose work speaks to questions of political economy.
Although he discusses well-known figures like Walker Evans and Jeff Wall, Michaels’s focus is on a group of younger artists, including Viktoria Binschtok, Phil Chang, Liz Deschenes, and Arthur Ou. All born after 1965, they have always lived in a world where, on the one hand, artistic ambition has been synonymous with the critique of autonomous form and intentional meaning, while, on the other, the struggle between capital and labor has essentially been won by capital. Contending that the aesthetic and political conditions are connected, Michaels argues that these artists’ new commitment to form and meaning is a way for them to depict the conditions that have taken US economic inequality from its lowest level, in 1968, to its highest level today. As Michaels demonstrates, these works of art, unimaginable without the postmodern critique of autonomy and intentionality, end up departing and dissenting from that critique in continually interesting and innovative ways.
THE BEAUTY OF BEING, A COLLECTION OF FABLES, SHORT STORIES AND ESSAYS, is Abiodun Oyewole's debut collection of prose. Oyewole writes frankly about his experience as a young poet and activist, and provides life lessons with fables and a fascinating travelogue that promotes resilience and self-care to his readers. As the title suggests, THE BEAUTY OF BEING investigates a natural, moral, and sacred spiritual being of self-love, reminding readers if they use these elements as part of the beauty within, endless possibilities await. In his fables, Oyewole has a unique eye for the tiniest details that sheds light on the whole. In his essays, he provides an analysis about The Last Poets, the state of poetry today, and shares first-hand accounts of what activism means to him. Perhaps the most riveting part of this book are his stories of remembrance, which at first glance read like a travelogue but when closely examined, is a love story with a beautiful mediation on grief and loss. Throughout THE BEAUTY OF BEING, Oyewole brilliantly yet subtly interweaves mediations on race, class, culture, life and death, illusion and reality, while deftly showcasing several points of view in a contained space. In THE BEAUTY OF BEING, Oyewole connects to readers with sincerity, humor, heart and grace.
Now available in English for the first time, translated by the poet Jack Hirschman, this beautiful collection of poems by the Algerian poet Jean Sénac (1926–1973) was originally published when he was forty-one. Sénac represented the hope of the new generation of Algerians who were celebrating their independence from France after 130 years of colonialism, and in the tradition of René Char and the early Albert Camus, he portrayed an Algeria whose land and people would finally sing with their own voice. Sénac celebrates revolution, love, and the body, beginning with the resonant verses: “And now we’ll sing love / for there’s no Revolution without love.” He sang, as well, of beauty: “No morning without smiling. / Beauty on our lips is one continuous fruit.”
From the 1890s to the 1930s, a growing number of Germans began to scrutinize and discipline their bodies in a utopian search for perfect health and beauty. Some became vegetarians, nudists, or bodybuilders, while others turned to alternative medicine or eugenics. In The Cult of Health and Beauty in Germany, Michael Hau demonstrates why so many men and women were drawn to these life reform movements and examines their tremendous impact on German society and medicine.
Hau argues that the obsession with personal health and fitness was often rooted in anxieties over professional and economic success, as well as fears that modern industrialized civilization was causing Germany and its people to degenerate. He also examines how different social groups gave different meanings to the same hygienic practices and aesthetic ideals. What results is a penetrating look at class formation in pre-Nazi Germany that will interest historians of Europe and medicine and scholars of culture and gender.
Addressing contemporary interest in the relationship between metaphysics and ethics, as well as the significance of beauty for ethics, Alice Ramos presents an accessible study of the transcendentals and provides a dynamic rather than static view of truth, goodness, and beauty.
A central concern of nearly every environmental ethic is its desire to extend the scope of direct moral concern beyond human beings to plants, nonhuman animals, and the systems of which they are a part. Although nearly all environmental philosophies have long since rejected modernity’s conception of individuals as isolated and independent substances, few have replaced this worldview with an alternative that is adequate to the organic, processive world in which we find ourselves. In this context, Brian G. Henning argues that the often overlooked work of Alfred North Whitehead has the potential to make a significant contribution to environmental ethics. Additionally inspired by classical American philosophers such as William James, John Dewey and Charles Sanders Pierce and environmental philosophers such as Aldo Leopold, Peter Singer, Albert Schweitzer, and Arne Naess, Henning develops an ethical theory of which the seminal insight is called “The Ethics of Creativity.”
By systematically examining and developing a conception of individuality that is equally at home with the microscopic world of subatomic events and the macroscopic world of ecosystems, The Ethics of Creativity correctly emphasizes the well-being of wholes, while not losing sight of the importance of the unique centers of value that constitute these wholes. In this way, The Ethics of Creativity has the potential to be a unique voice in contemporary moral philosophy.
In her insightful study, Fashioning Diaspora, Vanita Reddy carefully maps how transnational itineraries of Indian beauty and fashion shape South Asian American cultural identities and racialized belonging from the 1990s to the late-2000s. She observes how diasporic subjects engage with and respond to various encounters with Indian beauty and fashion.
One of the first books to consider beauty and fashion as a point of entry into an examination of South Asian diasporic public cultures, Fashioning Diaspora examines a range of literature, visual art, and live performance. Through careful analyses of novels by Bharati Mukherjee and Jhumpa Lahiri, young adult literature, performance art by Shailja Patel, as well as objects of popular culture including an Indian American fashion doll, and beauty and adornment practices, Reddy challenges fashion and beauty as a set of dematerialized, overly commodified cultural practices. She argues instead that beauty and fashion structure South Asian Americans’ uneven access to social mobility, capital, and citizenship, and demonstrates their varying capacities to produce social attachments across national, class, racial, gender, and generational divides.
We all know there is a politics of skin color, but is there a politics of hair?In this book, Noliwe Rooks explores the history and politics of hair and beauty culture in African American communities from the nineteenth century to the 1990s. She discusses the ways in which African American women have located themselves in their own families, communities, and national culture through beauty advertisements, treatments, and styles. Bringing the story into today's beauty shop, listening to other women talk about braids, Afros, straighteners, and what they mean today to grandmothers, mothers, sisters, friends, and boyfriends, she also talks about her own family and has fun along the way. Hair Raising is that rare sort of book that manages both to entertain and to illuminate its subject.
From Queen Latifa to Count Basie, Madonna to Monk, Hole in Our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music traces popular music back to its roots in jazz, blues, country, and gospel through the rise in rock 'n' roll and the emergence of heavy metal, punk, and rap. Yet despite the vigor and balance of these musical origins, Martha Bayles argues, something has gone seriously wrong, both with the sound of popular music and the sensibility it expresses.
Bayles defends the tough, affirmative spirit of Afro-American music against the strain of artistic modernism she calls 'perverse.' She describes how perverse modernism was grafted onto popular music in the late 1960s, and argues that the result has been a cult of brutality and obscenity that is profoundly anti-musical.
Unlike other recent critics of popular music, Bayles does not blame the problem on commerce. She argues that culture shapes the market and not the other way around. Finding censorship of popular music "both a practical and a constitutional impossibility," Bayles insists that "an informed shift in public tastes may be our only hope of reversing the current malignant mood."
Peter Ackroyd’s writing is obsessed with the defining heterogeneity of London—its rich diversity of human experience, mood, and emotion, of actions and events, and of the tools through which all of this heterogeneity is represented and reenacted. But for Ackroyd, one of the foremost of the so-called “London writers,” this energizing heterogeneity also has a sinister side, largely originating outside social norms and mainstream pathways of cultural production. Touching on everything from occult practices to the plotting of radical groups, crime and fraud, dubious scientific experiments, and popular, dramatic forms of ritual and entertainment, Ackroyd contends that these forces both contest prescribed cultural modes and supply the city with its characteristic dynamism and capacity for spiritual renewal.
This idiosyncratic London construct is particularly prominent in Ackroyd’s novels, in which his ideas about the city’s nature and his connection to English literary sensibilities combine to create a distinct chronotope with its own spatial and temporal properties. A Horror and a Beauty explores this world through six defining aspects of the city as Ackroyd identifies them: the relationship between London’s past and present, its uncanny manifestations, its felonious tendencies, its inhabitants’ psychogeographic and antiquarian strategies, its theatricality, and its inherently literary character.
The Invisible Dragon made a lot of noise for a little book When it was originally published in 1993 it was championed by artists for its forceful call for a reconsideration of beauty—and savaged by more theoretically oriented critics who dismissed the very concept of beauty as naive, igniting a debate that has shown no sign of flagging.
With this revised and expanded edition, Hickey is back to fan the flames. More manifesto than polite discussion, more call to action than criticism, The Invisible Dragon aims squarely at the hyper-institutionalism that, in Hickey’s view, denies the real pleasures that draw us to art in the first place. Deploying the artworks of Warhol, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Mapplethorpe and the writings of Ruskin, Shakespeare, Deleuze, and Foucault, Hickey takes on museum culture, arid academicism, sclerotic politics, and more—all in the service of making readers rethink the nature of art. A new introduction provides a context for earlier essays—what Hickey calls his "intellectual temper tantrums." A new essay, "American Beauty," concludes the volume with a historical argument that is a rousing paean to the inherently democratic nature of attention to beauty.
Written with a verve that is all too rare in serious criticism, this expanded and refurbished edition of The Invisible Dragon will be sure to captivate a new generation of readers, provoking the passionate reactions that are the hallmark of great criticism.
A Study of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University Kingdom of Beauty shows that the discovery of mingei (folk art) by Japanese intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s was central to the complex process by which Japan became both a modern nation and an imperial world power. Kim Brandt’s account of the mingei movement locates its origins in colonial Korea, where middle-class Japanese artists and collectors discovered that imperialism offered them special opportunities to amass art objects and gain social, cultural, and even political influence. Later, mingei enthusiasts worked with (and against) other groups—such as state officials, fascist ideologues, rival folk art organizations, local artisans, newspaper and magazine editors, and department store managers—to promote their own vision of beautiful prosperity for Japan, Asia, and indeed the world. In tracing the history of mingei activism, Brandt considers not only Yanagi Muneyoshi, Hamada Shōji, Kawai Kanjirō, and other well-known leaders of the folk art movement but also the often overlooked networks of provincial intellectuals, craftspeople, marketers, and shoppers who were just as important to its success. The result of their collective efforts, she makes clear, was the transformation of a once-obscure category of pre-industrial rural artifacts into an icon of modern national style.
In this abundant space and isolation, the energy lords extract their bounty of natural resources, and the curators of mass destruction once mined their egregious weapons and reckless acts. It is a land of absolutes, of passion and indifference, lush textures and inscrutable tensions. Here violence can push beauty to the edge of a razor blade. . . . Thus Ellen Meloy describes a corner of desert hard by the San Juan River in southeastern Utah, a place long forsaken as implausible and impassable, of little use or value—a place that she calls home. Despite twenty years of carefully nurtured intimacy with this red-rock landscape, Meloy finds herself, one sunbaked morning, staring down at a dead lizard floating in her coffee and feeling suddenly unmoored. What follows is a quest that is both physical and spiritual, a search for home.
In Glen Canyon waters rose, inundating petroglyphs and creating Lake Powell. Now the Colorado River basin is experiencing the longest dry spell in modern history—one that shows alarming signs of becoming the new normal.
In A New Form of Beauty photographer Peter Goin and writer Peter Friederici tackle science from the viewpoint of art, creating a lyrical exploration in words and photographs, setting Glen Canyon and Lake Powell as the quintessential example of the challenges of perceiving place in a new era of radical change. Through evocative photography and extensive reporting, the two document their visits to the canyon country over a span of many years. By motorboat and kayak, they have ventured into remote corners of the once-huge reservoir to pursue profound questions: What is this place? How do we see it? What will it become?
Goin’s full-color photographs are organized in three galleries—Flora and Fauna, Artifacts, and Low Water—interspersed with three essays by Friederici, and an epilogue gallery on Fire. The book includes two foldout photographs, which allow readers to fully see Lake Powell at high water and low water points
Contemplating humanity’s role in the world it is creating, Goin and Friederici ask if the uncertainties inherent in Glen Canyon herald an unpredictable new future for every place. They challenge us to question how we look at the world, how we live in it, and what the future will be.
This anthology is remarkable not only for the selections themselves, among which the Schelling and the Heidegger essays were translated especially for this volume, but also for the editors' general introduction and the introductory essays for each selection, which make this volume an invaluable aid to the study of the powerful, recurrent ideas concerning art, beauty, critical method, and the nature of representation. Because this collection makes clear the ways in which the philosophy of art relates to and is part of general philosophical positions, it will be an essential sourcebook to students of philosophy, art history, and literary criticism.
Pretty Modern is a riveting account of Brazil’s emergence as a global leader in plastic surgery. Intrigued by a Carnaval parade that mysteriously paid homage to a Rio de Janeiro plastic surgeon, anthropologist Alexander Edmonds conducted research that took him from Ipanema socialite circles to glitzy telenovela studios to the packed waiting rooms of public hospitals offering free cosmetic surgery. The result is provocative exploration of the erotic, commercial, and intimate aspects of beauty in a nation with extremes of wealth and poverty and a reputation for natural sensuality. Drawing on conversations with maids and their elite mistresses, divorced housewives, black celebrities, and favela residents aspiring to be fashion models, Edmonds analyzes what sexual desirability means and does for women in different social positions. He argues that beauty is a distinct realm of modern experience that does not simply reflect other inequalities. It mimics the ambiguous emancipatory potential of capital, challenging traditional hierarchies while luring consumers into a sexual culture that reduces the body to the brute biological criteria of attractiveness. Illustrated with color photographs, Pretty Modern offers a fresh theoretical perspective on the significance of female beauty in consumer capitalism.
What does it mean to have a sense of place? Through history, memoir, poetry, and fiction, the writers of these essays answer this question in a variety of ways, giving us their collective history of natural Arkansas. They speak of the interrelationships of humans and nature, and of the struggles for balance between economic realities and landscape preservation. The book evokes the sheer physical diversity of the Natural State, from the Ozarks and the Boston Mountains to Crowley's Ridge, the Grand Prairie, and the Delta. But far more than mere geography, these are places of intense meaning: sites of enlightenment, conflict, comfort, and vivid experience. Rivers and mountains, plains and forests — these are shorthand terms for specific, beloved, storied places.
For a woman in the Western world, there is no escaping beauty. Either she possesses it, or she lacks it. If she lacks it, she may hope to gain it. If she already has it, she will certainly lose it. But what is "it"? Not an objective thing, Francette Pacteau tells us, but a generic term for an unspecifiable number of psychological experiences in the mind of the observer. What these experiences are, what causes them, and how they manifest themselves as a notion of beauty is the subject of this book.
Less interested in the contingent object of desire than the fantasy that frames it, Pacteau considers the staging of the aesthetic emotion. Her analysis extends from the Classical ideals of beauty, through Renaissance poetry to the recent formulations of Hollywood. Her book is an ambitious attempt to describe the mise-en-scène of beauty within a particular field of representations – that of the beauty of a woman.
Three Faces of Beauty offers a unique approach to understanding globalization and cultural change based on a comparative, ethnographic study of a nearly universal institution: the beauty salon. Susan Ossman traces the images and words of the beauty industry as they developed historically between Paris, Cairo, and Casablanca and then vividly demonstrates how such images are embodied today in salons located in each city. By examining how images from fashion magazines, film, and advertising are enacted in beauty salons, Ossman demonstrates how embodiment is able to display and rework certain hierarchies. While offering the possibility of freedom from the tethers of status, nation, religion, and nature, beauty is created by these very categories and values, Ossman shows. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, she documents the various rituals of welcome, choice-making, pricing practices, and spatial arrangements in multiple salons . She also reveals ways in which patrons in all three cities imagine and co-opt looks they believe are fashionable in the other cities. By observing salons as scenes of instruction, Ossman reveals that beautiful bodies evolve within the intertwining contexts of media, modernity, location, time, postcolonialism, and male expectation.
It is now two and a half centuries since Jean-Jacques Rousseau first wrote so evocatively of natural man in Social Contract and of experiential education in Emile. His emphasis on the early years as a crucial part of life drove the Romantic reconceptualization of childhood—the idea that children have a special knowledge of nature, politics, and spirituality to teach their elders as well as the other way around. William Wordsworth’s assertion in the “Intimations Ode” that children’s souls come “trailing clouds of glory” from God has continued to haunt Western literature and culture in spite of attacks from writers and critics from then until now, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Robert Thomas Malthus, T. S. Eliot, Judy Blume, Jerome McGann, and Jacqueline Rose.
Displaying careful scholarship, sophisticated use of contemporary literary theory, and close readings of texts while recovering and analyzing materials from more than two centuries of British and other Anglophone cultural history, this collection of new essays traces the evolution of the Romantic child. The contributors play off one another, both within the three traditional historical periods—Romantic, Victorian, and modern/postmodern—and across intellectual and disciplinary categories.
Time of Beauty, Time of Fear offers a stunning array of essays. In some, the authors focus on canonical texts by such writers as Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, Charlotte Smith, and Mrs. Molesworth. Other authors consider the Victorian concerns with missionary literature for children and with the boyish pastime of collecting bird’s nests, folk voices of the 1960s, homeschooling, the Teletubbies television program, and Alan Moore’s Promethea series of graphic novels. Measured in terms of both range and quality, this volume is destined to become essential reading for scholars from numerous disciplines.
Like 75% of American women, Ronnie Citron-Fink dyed her hair, visiting the salon every few weeks to hide gray roots in her signature dark brown mane. She wanted to look attractive, professional, young. Yet as a journalist covering health and the environment, she knew something wasn’t right. All those unpronounceable chemical names on the back of the hair dye box were far from natural. Were her recurring headaches and allergies telltale signs that the dye offered the illusion of health, all the while undermining it?
So after twenty-five years of coloring, Ronnie took a leap and decided to ditch the dye. Suddenly everyone, from friends and family to rank strangers, seemed to have questions about her hair. How’d you do it? Are you doing that on purpose? Are you OK? Armed with a mantra that explained her reasons for going gray—the upkeep, the cost, the chemicals—Ronnie started to ask her own questions.
What are the risks of coloring? Why are hair dye companies allowed to use chemicals that may be harmful? Are there safer alternatives? Maybe most importantly, why do women feel compelled to color? Will I still feel like me when I have gray hair?
True Roots follows Ronnie’s journey from dark dyes to a silver crown of glory, from fear of aging to embracing natural beauty. Along the way, readers will learn how to protect themselves, whether by transitioning to their natural color or switching to safer products. Like Ronnie, women of all ages can discover their own hair story, one built on individuality, health, and truth.
"What a splendid book! Reading it is a joy, and for me, at least, continuing reading it became compulsive. . . . Chandrasekhar is a distinguished astrophysicist and every one of the lectures bears the hallmark of all his work: precision, thoroughness, lucidity."—Sir Hermann Bondi, Nature
The late S. Chandrasekhar was best known for his discovery of the upper
limit to the mass of a white dwarf star, for which he received the Nobel
Prize in Physics in 1983. He was the author of many books, including The Mathematical Theory of Black Holes and, most recently, Newton's Principia for the Common Reader.
Weavers of Tradition and Beauty presents new information on contemporary Native American basketry of the Great Basin, largely from the viewpoint of the weavers themselves. In collecting their stories, Kathleen Curtis and Mary Lee Fulkerson traveled throughout Nevada, never dreaming their odyssey over back-roads and to reservations would stretch into years. Finding a deep connection to the people of the sage, the authors accompanied the weavers as they gathered and prepared their special willow, dyed the bracken fern root, and wove their baskets. Baskets—and the people who weave them—have always been revered and honored by Native Americans. Fulkerson and Curtis depict, in text and full color and black and white photographs, how their art prevails—even over adverse environmental, social, and economic conditions. Today, contemporary weavers continue their work by creating baskets in the manner of their ancestors. Teaching their children and grandchildren how to weave baskets, these artisans carry on a long and strong tradition. By documenting the basketry of Nevada's native people, the authors make a significant contribution in preserving this ancient and beautiful craft. Foreword by Catherine S. Fowler.
For over one hundred years, Navajos have gone to work in significant numbers on Southwestern railroads. As they took on the arduous work of laying and anchoring tracks, they turned to traditional religion to anchor their lives.
Jay Youngdahl, an attorney who has represented Navajo workers in claims with their railroad employers since 1992 and who more recently earned a master's in divinity from Harvard, has used oral history and archival research to write a cultural history of Navajos' work on the railroad and the roles their religious traditions play in their lives of hard labor away from home.