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From the President
We just enjoyed a beautiful and busy autumn, and now winter is here with its own kind of beauty. In Beijing these days you may hear mention of ‘APEC blue’ - an expression of hope that air pollution will be eventually controlled. In keeping with the spirit of this idea, many Beijing residents show pictures through We Chat, a micro-electronic communication channel, of the beauty of cities free of pollution. Recently, I visited Beihai Park (North Sea Park), and Summer Palace in Beijing, and found that without pollution, Beijing is indeed a very beautiful city.
Concerning the city, I recall Heinz Paetzold’s view that our interest in beauty began with the countryside while aesthetics as a subject originates from cities. Now more and more people come into cities across the world. This movement is even more obvious in China, where hundreds millions of people are moving to cities. The migration from countryside to cities has been and continues to be the greatest change in China. China began as a country traditionally consisting of farmers. In such a rapid development of cities, aesthetics becomes of crucial importance, since they should provide beautiful places for living. The beauty of cities should not just be the symbol of wealth, nor simply a place for the exhibition of science and technology. Cities are places for people to live, rather than merely places for enjoying the views of skyscrapers. We need the skylines of cities, but also livability.
Over the past several months, I have travelled to conferences both in China, and in Australia, Germany, Britain and Russia. I was happy to visit Yasnaya Polyana, home of Leo Tolstoy, and the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research. In the respective conferences, we discussed issues including the news media, ecological aesthetics, and the aesthetics of cities.
In other news: the United States is now offering Chinese citizens a ten-year visa. Similarly, friends from US can also obtain a ten-year visa for visits to China. This change allows for much greater flexibility in making travel plans between the USA and China. I hope that our friends from Europe can also soon enjoy the same travel conveniences.
The IAA officers and our colleagues in Belgrade are now preparing our Executive Meeting and the IAA interim Conference in Belgrade (June 25-28, 2015). I will be happy to meet IAA delegates and guests in Belgrade where we will gather to discuss important issues in connection with our association and the pursuit of research in aesthetics.
Recently, the Chinese Society for Aesthetics elected new leadership, and I have been chosen as president of the society. Our next national congress is in the May in Chengdu (a city some of you visited in 2006). I hope we can all meet again soon at a conference in a beautiful Chinese city.
Gao Jianping, IAA President
Springtime in Beijing was, this year, too short. Short and very busy. Some of our good friends visited here, including Ken-ichi Sasaki, Curtis, Carter and Ales Erjavec, and I was very happy to meet them. I will enjoy seeing all of you in between the regular meetings of our Congresses.
Recently, I have attended several conferences in China and elsewhere. In early April, I went to Hangzhou for a symposium on the theoretic significance of Chinese ink-wash painting hosted by Pan Gongkai. We had a very good discussion there on the famous West Lake garden, a place traditionally called "Paradise on Earth" in China. Our friends, Curtis Carter, Richard Shusterman and Peng Feng, gave excellent presentations there. We also met other scholars including François Jullien and Cheng Chung-ying. Two topics discussed were especially interesting and deserve mention here: first, the physical brushwork as the traces of human action to signify the feeling and emotion, or states of mind of the painters, and second, the brushwork as the evidence of the painter's character as a morally exemplary human being. These two concepts represent two interrelated ways of thinking about and interpreting Chinese ink-wash painting.
A little later in April, I went to Chengdu (The city where many of us met in 2006. I hope you still remember this city where the Executive Committee meeting of IAA voted to approve Beijing as the venue for the 2010 IAA Congress). At this 2014 Chengdu conference, two key concepts attracted the attention of the participants. First, contemporary literary theory and secondly, its trans-cultural travel. "Contemporary" and "contemporarity" are important concepts because people are considering the possibilities to go beyond the post-modern and post-modernism. The introduction of so many different theories into China has contributed to confusion among Chinese scholars. They now wish to return to their own ways of living and artistic practices. Their aim is to find possibilities for focusing on their own practices while continuing to introduce the theories from abroad. Secondly, the matter of the trans-cultural travel of theories is important. During the 20th century, many theories have become influential internationally. Most of them originated from Europe and became internationally influential by way of their reception and development in the USA. Now, as theories travel to China, it is hoped that their reception and development here can become theoretically significant and fruitful in the future as well.
The Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology aims to encourage and promote research in aesthetics that draws inspiration from the phenomenological tradition as broadly understood, where “phenomenology” is inclusive of, but goes beyond the limits of, intellectual practices associated with the tradition and its well-known representative thinkers. Unique in the English speaking world, the journal welcomes scholarly articles written in a phenomenological vein as well as analyses of aesthetic phenomena by researchers working on phenomenology within analytic philosophy.
The field of the Journal of Aesthetics and Phenomenology is further defined by its close connections with the arts and culture, including the reality of human experience and its environment. Besides philosophical rigor, the journal puts emphasis on both creativity of ideas and precision of language. It provides a platform for new innovative ideas crossing the boundaries of both philosophical traditions and traditionally accepted fields of research in aesthetics.
Gimme Shelter. Global discourses in aesthetics contains a series of reflections on the impact of globalization on the arts and the aesthetic reflection on the arts. The authors – fifteen distinguished aestheticians from all over the world - discuss a variety of aesthetic questions brought forth by the aforementioned process of globalization. How do artistic practices and aesthetic experiences change in response to these developments? How should we articulate these changes on the theoretical level? When reflections on the significance of art and aesthetic experiences can no longer pretend to be universal, is it still possible to lay claim to a wider validity than merely that of one’s own particular culture? What type of vocabulary allows for mutual – dialogical or even polylogical – exchanges and understandings when different traditions meet, without obliterating local differences? Is there a possibility for a creative re-description of globalization? And is there a meaning of ‘the global’ that cannot be reduced to universalism and unification? Can we seek shelter in a legitimate way?
Yearbook No. 15 is now available in a free Open Access edition and may be downloaded at the IAA Yearbook section of this website.
Figural uniquely offers a platform for scholars and workers of the humanities and the arts as well as the social and natural sciences to publish sayings and apophthegms that express aesthetic concerns or relate to aesthetic issues. The word "aesthetic” is not here restricted to some vague idea of beauty or formal matters; rather, the aesthetic refers to the experience of meaning (as in Hans-Georg Gadamer’s interpretation) at the crossroads of culture and sense perception (as implied in the ancient Greek etymology of the word – aisthesis). Our conception of the aesthetic goes therefore beyond the narrowing field defined by 18th century Europe.
Of course, the appearance and style of aphorisms, or any writing for that matter, are essential but only inasmuch as form and content become indistinguishable. What we care about is the Way that goes beyond skill, as Chuang Tzu would have it. We are interested in aesthetic aphorisms that find thoughtful ways to express perceptual experiences of the reality of this world and to renew such a reality through creative imagination.
The publication series does not aim at providing theoretical explanatory models or narratives of any kind; instead, we seek to publish aphorisms that are neither abstract nor figurative, but “figural,” as Gilles Deleuze defined the word when referring to painting in his Francis Bacon (1981) – aphorisms that are thought, written, and hopefully read as such.
CALL FOR PAPERS
Contemporary Aesthetics is an international, interdisciplinary, online journal of contemporary theory, research, and application in aesthetics.
Contemporary Aesthetics (CA) is an international, interdisciplinary, peer- and blind-reviewed online journal of contemporary theory, research, and application in aesthetics. Contemporary Aesthetics has begun its tenth annual volume and invites submissions of articles that bear directly on contemporary aesthetic theory and concerns, as well as current reassessments of traditional issues. Articles that are primarily historical or that focus on particular art works or individual artists are not appropriate to the mission of this journal. The discussion should be accessible to an audience across disciplines and promote conversation across fields and practices. We welcome the use of visual images, auditory, or video clips to illustrate the text. The length of articles is normally no greater than 5,000 words but should not exceed 7,000 words, including an abstract and notes. Please go to http://www.contempaesthetics.org/pages/guidelines.html for more information about requirements, formatting, and guidelines for submission.