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september 20 / october 2009


The familiarity and predictability of...

...[t]he quotidian is that background in contrast to which new discoveries emerge and we are surprised; and more pointedly, it is a necessary condition for surprise, the regularity in contrast to which something new and unexpected occurs. Unfamiliarity, wonder, and mysteriousness are both embedded in and turnings-away from familiarity and predictability. These turnings-away, our stepping outside of the ordinary, do not leave it behind, but draw energy and vivacity from this deviation.

Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei, The Ecstatic Quotidian, p. 1

Is it an Eros of sensibility, of appreciation, this “tension between everydayness
and ecstasis” (1)?

The “tension…becomes essential in manifestations of modernism, reflected in the interweaving expressions of literature, visual art, and phenomenology…. An intimacy between the quality of life and ecstasis that can occur with reflection on it…” (1-2).
An intimacy of interweaving is born from an Eros of appreciability.

The intimacy between the object of reflection, the everyday quality of life, and the act of reflection, is affirmed when writers and painters look for the origins of artistic creativity within the quotidian experience (3-4).

Since I’ve been influenced by the work of Merleau-Ponty, Rilke, and Heidegger, I’m thrilled to read that Gosetti-Ferencei considers “[t]he triad of phenomenological sightings, modern art, and literature…wonderfully illustrated in the writings of…Rilke…” (6).

Heidegger’s investment in Rilke, and Merleau-Ponty’s in Cézanne, make it all the more remarkable that the painter most important to Rilke’s poetic-phenomenological discoveries was Cézanne (ibid).

Reflective absorption in the perceptual world leads to consideration of the structure of everydayness, which is then transformed by the poetic or aesthetic intensity with which it is considered. Rilke discovers a heightened intimacy by way of analogies between the inner life and the inner space of things in the world... (6)

She comes to dwell in how...

...the ecstasis of vision is considered as a form of silence….how certain forms of aesthetic ecstasis—the feeling of stepping-outside of ordinary vision in a heightened contemplation or cognitive stimulation—evade the linguistic analogy (10).

It is a tromp l’œil effect:

The metaphysics of tromp l’œil is a teasing and sometimes ironic play with the familiarity of everydayness… (ibid).


Whereas Arthur Danto celebrates Warhol’s work as ushering in the end of art—after which anything can be art—its resonance with tromp l’œil suggests a persistent self-reflective tension within the act of painting itself (11).

She might better have said:…self-reflective tension within the act of seeing. How it is that “anything can be art” is that “ordinary” existence—therebeing, Heidegger calls it—may become, at best, an artful bearing or artistic worlding.

I’ve been quoting from the “Introduction” to her book. Near the end, she says:

Within the broader framework of [the last] chapter, attention will be paid to mimetic gestures in contemporary art to determine how mimesis contributes to productive reflections on quotidian life (ibid).

OK, but if one considers seriously that anything can be art (given a fruitful sensibility), then one might be especially sensitive to mimetic gestures in everyday life, not needing mimetic gestures in art to determine how, say, persona plays to disclose one’s character and how character plays to disclose one Self. Art enriches inasmuch as already seeing finds determiniate contribution. So, we’re complements: She brings art to the day and makes the day exciting. I’m given enthralled appreciation (some days) and would (ideally) make art of that which It gives (as elder Heidegger heard of ‘Es gibt)’.

Anyway, I do agree that…

…one must…pose questions about the relation between reflection upon quotidian life and life as it is lived and [so, too, value] a renewed capacity for preservation and transformation. The question that then arises for contemporary [life, as for] art is whether a provocation of ecstasis, as an aesthetic departure from reflection on everydayness, can be a source for revitalization [or, better, development, sophistication, maybe even grand flourishing] of the everyday that opens new expressions of the feeling of life and new possibilities for its reconfiguration.

So, love the possibilities of assemblage and gardening, hybridity and bricolage. Let yourself be witnessed as an art, your array of personae and your characters be some pointillism of life.



  Be fair. © 2019, gary e. davis